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Review: The Hilton on Park Lane

Written by Kathy Lawrence

We’re always looking for opportunities for families to enjoy time together, so when the Hilton on Park Lane invited us to see what’s on offer for the “silver” generation, we went armed with a list of questions but prepared to enjoy. Our review looks separately at Afternoon Tea and overnight stays.

Afternoon Tea

Let me warn you now. This review of afternoon tea contains language bordering on the over-excited. If you don’t have time to read the whole thing, then take away the knowledge that tea was scrumptious and I would happily take my mother to the Hilton expecting that she would enjoy it.

And now the longer version. How do you beat the February blues? Afternoon Tea at the Hilton on Park Lane in London is an excellent antidote. This is not your standard sandwiches and cupcakes. This is approaching sublime.

Don’t expect chintz, squishy sofas and mismatched china. This a hotel restaurant that serves tea as well as many other meals, but none the worse for that.

Our table for two was small but comfortable. The full menu offers 16 Twinings teas and infusions to choose from in a wild array of flavours. The Redbush Caramel Velvet totally lived up to every word in its name. We also tried the Nutty Chocolate tea which tasted just like Ferrero Rocher, as well as the passion fruit tea which again lived up to its promise.

I’ve posted a photo of my sandwiches because it’s hard to describe how little like traditional sandwiches they were. Each topping was accompanied by a bread with its own flavours. The egg was on curried bread, the prawns on tomato bread. Truly delightful. I would recommend asking to keep the menu after you’ve ordered so you can check back on what it is you’re now enjoying. As a proper critic I would have probably taken a couple of bites of each to leave room for the sweet stuff, but I just had to eat it all.

Next up were the lightest scones we’ve ever tasted – plain and with chocolate chip. And served warm.

And then we moved on to a glorious selection of pastries and mini desserts. Although the event is billed as a Chocoholics Afternoon Tea, if like me you’d prefer your chocolate in a bar rather than a cake there is still plenty to choose from. And joy is unconfined when you find the cakes on the top tier are actually sitting on a large slab of marbled white chocolate. (Sorry, this is going rather over the top now.)

It’s too much to eat at one sitting and the staff are very happy to pack up what you’ve haven’t eaten into beautiful boxes to take home.

As well as the excellent tea, service is attentive. I know that they knew I was a journalist, but everyone was being well cared for. If you’ve special requirements they say you can just call ahead and discuss. Access is well organised too. While the restaurant is on three levels, there’s plenty of room for wheelchairs and the less upwardly mobile on the lower level. And acoustics are good too, with carpet in many areas so it’s easy to hold a conversation.

High scores then for Afternoon Tea at the Hilton. Stated charges are £39 pp with an extra £10 pp if you add champagne. There are deals to be found online though.

Weekend breaks

So how does the Hilton on the Park rate as a weekend away for travellers of retirement age and beyond?

The hotel is 28 storeys high but with an express lift system that – once you’ve got the hang of it – flies you to your floor in no time at all. There are a wide range of rooms available, so you can choose the level of luxury that suits you best. The hotel claims that the best prices are on its web site so it’s worth checking there to make choices.

As a location, it’s a short walk to Buckingham Palace and a longer walk to Piccadilly. There is a constant flow of taxis available to whisk visitors away to theatres, shops and other attractions from just outside the front door.

My taster night at the hotel was in a suite on the 14th floor. It’s a suite with a view out over Hyde Park and at many times of the year this must be entrancing. I just missed the Winter Wonderland that took over the Park through December to early January.

The suite itself was very comfortable with plenty of living and sleeping space and even a walk-in wardrobe. The beautifully appointed bathroom offered separate bath and fabulous walk-in shower. So it was a little strange that the loo was squashed up against the wall making it harder for anyone of width or height to use. Gripes generally were few. Some noise from the next room but none from the extremely busy road below. Food and drink in the room are extremely expensive, and in-room wifi is only provided free of charge to Hilton Honors guests.

For a special evening there’s the Michelin-starred Galvin at Windows at the top of the building. The Podium restaurant, where we had tea, was also serving dinner. We enjoyed a cocktail in the Polynesian-themed bar and grill in the basement. No dinner for me due to the vastness of the Afternoon Tea.

Breakfast is buffet style with plenty of choice. I’ve been assured that you can order whatever you would like or eat from an a la carte menu, although that wasn’t obvious at the time. It certainly works for anyone who’s got a full day ahead and wants to eat and go. Low point was the solitary teabag floating in an identical pot to the one that brought such pleasure the day before!

The hotel is pretty well geared to the less mobile. There are two disabled parking spaces in the car park and a range of ramps and lifts to help move around the hotel. There are also a number of accessible rooms with grab rails and alert pulls.

Service everywhere was excellent, with very little waiting and you can even use the express checkout to save queuing to leave. Inhouse facilities include a spa, exercise areas and a barbers.

As a luxury weekend away in London the hotel works very well. Even if the budget doesn’t fit, it’s still worth a visit for the tea.

This article was written in January 2016.

If you are planning a weekend break in London it’s a good idea to look at these two sites at the minimum to help with planning.

Visit London. A very useful site if you want to find out what’s on and where to go during your visit. We discovered the London Lumieres lightshow through this site.

Transport for London. Advice on changes in travel around London, including weekend closures and warnings about where there may be congestion. Well worth checking as there are often engineering works on tube lines at the weekend – as I found out to my cost. Also explains how to pay for public transport in London, something that’s changed a great deal over the last few years.

You may find these other articles interesting:

A quick guide to railcards for seniors and the disabled

Gift ideas for the over 70s

How to claim a lost pension

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