Review: Afternoon tea at Eastwell Manor

PUBLISHED: 13:27 04 November 2019

Tea is served in the plush, oak-panelled lounge (photo: Peter Kochia)

Tea is served in the plush, oak-panelled lounge (photo: Peter Kochia)

PETER KOCIHA Photography

One of the many things we excel at is afternoon tea, and in Kent there are few finer settings than Eastwell Manor

This historic country house hotel and spa owned by Champneys, sits amid 62 acres of private grounds, which lie within the 3,000-acre Eastwell Estate in the lush Kent Downs.

The original Eastwell Manor, built in neo-Elizabethan style in the 18th century, was the home of Prince Alfred from 1874-1893, during which time his mother, Queen Victoria, was a regular visitor. It was devastated by fire in the 1920s but the manor house was rebuilt in its original style, retaining some original features and plenty of historic charm.

Champneys has owned the property since 2017, renovating the bedrooms and creating an impressive spa. Always a favourite setting for many a special occasion, from birthdays to hen parties and baby showers, one that is both emminently affordable and universally adored (if not, strike that person from your friendship group!) is the timeless ceremony of afternoon tea. And at Eastwell Manor it is done very well indeed.

My Tea Guest and I were ushered into the grand oak-panelled lounge, overlooking the garden. It was a warm afternoon, but we were advised against the terrace with a single word of warning from our delightful young waitress Ashleigh: "wasps!"

Eastwell Manor (photo: Peter Kochia)Eastwell Manor (photo: Peter Kochia)

Our first, highly pleasurable task was to settle back in our plushly confortable seats and decide which blend of tea to go for from the eclectic menu of modern blends. My guest opted for warming sweet-ginger peach while I had the punchier chocolate and chilli - delicious and different.

Then it was time for that always marvellous moment when the three-tiered stand is brought to your table (with just the proper amount of ceremony) and the inevitable Instragram photo is discreetly snapped...

Having both avoided lunch (Ed: top tip), we feasted with relish on fine-cut sandwiches (including smoked salmon and cream cheese and egg mayonnaise), plump, home-made scones - plain and sultana studded - and hand-crafted petit fours so pretty you almost didn't dare touch. Almost.

Think opera cake (almond sponge with a coffee and chocolate filling and icing), key lime pie, lavender-enhanced Battenberg, raspberry and coconut macaroons, all in elegantly Lilliputian proportions.

One of my favourite elements was a plate of sausage rolls fresh from the oven, while MTG later confessed she could have polished off all the scones, jam and cream.

The real icing on the cake was meeting a lovely couple celebrating their Diamond wedding anniversary (and the husband's 80th birthday), complete with telegram from The Queen. A surprise treat from their family, they simply could not have looked happier.

The essentials

What: Country house hotel with a destination spa and golf course

Where: Eastwell Manor, Champneys Hotel & Spa, Boughton Lees, Ashford TN25 4HT

When: Mon-Fri, 1pm-5pm

How much: from £26 per person

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