The less adventurous amongst us might think afternoon teas are only served in 5 star hotels; however a recent visit to PAUL in Covent Garden proved that brave souls amongst us are often rewarded with surprising discoveries. It might not have the neoclassical grandeur of a high-end hotel lobby, but PAUL definitely offers a discreet sense of quiet elegance with well-cushioned seating and giant traditional wall murals.
In terms of value for money, this must be one of the best deals you will find in London with their well-portioned tea set at £25 for 2 people inclusive of a hot drink (or with a supplement upgraded to a glass of Champagne). You really begin to notice their attention to detail when you notice their pristine tea set and plates are all smartly branded with the PAUL logo and mentioning their long heritage of having been founded in 1889.
If the pastries and sandwiches lacked the intricacy and finesse in terms of presentation compared to your highly rated hotel alternatives, it more than makes it for it in terms of the faultless use of their ingredients. The bread tends to be a weak point for afternoon teas, it might taste stale or not made in-house daily. Here, the bread is pillowy soft and you would struggle to find anything better even if you spent years scouring the best hotels around the world. That is hardly a surprise given their illustrious history and the fact it takes 7 hours for them to produce a handmade loaf of bread daily. The smoked salmon, cheese and chicken sandwiches were all equally delectable.
You might have hoped for scones, but being very French, they have offered brioches instead which are also made fresh from their in-store bakery.
Thankfully their sweet offerings were few but finely chosen. Chocolate lovers rejoice as it included the very sinful Craquant: a dark chocolate sponge cake with chocolate mousse, a thin layer of crisp praline and a dark chocolate glaze. The other cake was a more fruity and creamy creation using mousseline cream and strawberries slice. This was finished off with their world-famous macaroons. Throughout the experience, you only felt nothing but premium ingredients were used for every single item.
An afternoon tea at PAUL really helps you to understand there is no substitute for experience and quality.