Decadent Downton-style dining in Knightsbridge, London
With the final series of Downton Abbey swiftly coming to a close, it’s with a heavy heart we bid farewell to our favourite aristocrats. With this imminent ending in the offing, we pose one simple question: what on earth does one to do following the sad departure of Downton? Sunday nights will never be the same again.
It’s been an eventful five years for the glamorous Crawley family and this Sunday will deliver their long awaited final chapter. Anyone else on the edge of their seats bursting with anticipation? So with this in mind, I thought I’d go all out Lady Mary Crawley style, and give the Downton gang the luxurious send off they so deserve.
We all long for a little glitz and glamour at some point in our lives, and what better way to do it than with a decadent afternoon tea in the heart of West London? The perfect afternoon pastime to break up a quiet Sunday stroll. Rest weary feet with fluffy scones, cream cakes and elegant finger sandwiches, all washed down with a glass of fancy fizz. After all, in the word’s of Virginia Woolf: “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” A Crawley family classic, one would imagine.
Located a stone’s throw away from bustling Knightsbridge and Hyde Park, the Gore hotel is a beautiful bolthole offering a little bit of luxury and a touch of relaxation. Whether you want to curl up away from the chaos of vibrant Chelsea, or if you just fancy an indulgent treat, the Gore is the perfect haven to relax and unwind in.
Renowned for playing host to a number of A-list rock and roll celebs, the Gore has welcomed the likes of Mick Jagger through to Queen Victoria, and of course the recent star of Downton Abbey, opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, who used to frequent the hotel regularly after her performances at the Royal Albert Hall.
It’s not difficult to see why this stylish sanctuary became a popular haunt for Dame Nellie. The reception is lavish, decorated with gilded accessories, oversized paintings and a sumptuous red carpet falls elegantly from the towering, winding staircase. We’re greeted by the friendly reception staff, who swiftly usher us inside the dining area.
Designed to resemble a French-style bistro with a touch of quintessential British glamour, the Bistro One Ninety is full of quirky personality. There are high ceilings, shimmering chandeliers, oversized brass mirrors and an eclectic collection of artwork displayed in ornately sculpted frames. It’s the perfect setting for refined Downton-inspired dining. I can envisage Lady Mary, Lady Edith and Lord and Lady Grantham daintily supping on afternoon tea in these sumptuous surroundings.
Playing homage to Downton and of course Dame Nellie’s famous Peach Melba dessert, the Gore has combined the classic British afternoon tea together with a touch of Downton decadence. Beautifully presented cakes, sandwiches and aromatic teas, accompanied by a refreshingly light, sweet peach bellini. Floral, light and elegant, this is by far the best bellini we’ve have ever tried, so good we simply can’t resist ordering another (beware it will disappear in a flash!).
The tea selection is synonymous with our surroundings; elegant and luxurious. We certainly do feel like ladies what lunch as we peruse the extensive tea menu. Such a tough job on a Sunday afternoon, but someone’s got to do it! Choose from spicy Darjeeling to sweetly scented Rose tea. We decide on sampling the Earl Grey, which is beautifully aromatic with subtle hints of citrus, and compliments our peach-infused bubbles perfectly.
The selection of finger sandwiches accompanying the tea are simple, flavoursome and wonderfully British. Tuck into silky smoked salmon with crème fraiche, cucumber with cream cheese, thick slathers of honey roast ham with sweet wholegrain mustard and a deliciously creamy egg mayonnaise with crunchy cress.
The towering sweet treats are delicately placed in front of us presented on a tiered ceramic cake stand, decorated with light, fluffy English scones and clotted cream, a selection of mouthwatering carrot cakes and chocolate brownies, topped with a creamy peach trifle and extravagantly chic, gilded macaroons, to add a little more decadence to our Downton dining experience.
The three tiers of rich, creamy cakes are difficult to devour after a serving of tasty sandwiches so the waitress kindly boxes up our lonely leftovers. (There aren’t too many though I assure you!). As it’s still relatively early on a Sunday afternoon, we pop into the bar to have a sneaky peek. Be warned – the candlelit, sultry setting is a little too inviting, so we’re tempted to order yet another beautifully presented peach bellini, whilst we relax, admiring the bar’s rock ‘n’ roll hall of fame.
This gorgeous afternoon treat will make the perfect girlie gathering, or a romantic afternoon date with the man. If you fancy going the extra mile, make the most of the experience and stay the night in the hotel’s luxurious Dame Nellie Melba suite.
Prices for the Dame Nellie Melba afternoon tea start from £30.00 per person.
Prices for the Dame Nellie Melba experience (stay and afternoon tea) start from £280 per room, per night inclusive of two Dame Nellie Melba afternoon teas.
To book The Gore’s Dame Nellie Melba afternoon tea and or an overnight stay, visit gorehotel.com or call 020 75836601.