In April in my never ending quest for delicious scones, I teamed up once again with the delightful Dr Immy Smith, and we visited the Audleys Wood Hotel, in Basingstoke, Hampshire, to partake in their traditional afternoon tea.
One of the things I most enjoyed about their afternoon tea experience was their tea menu, which was fun and interactive. On arrival we were presented with a box containing jars of different Twinings loose leaf tea. Not only did the box look pretty but we could also open the jars and take a sniff. I throw caution to the wind and instead of sticking with Assam, my usual choice, I enjoyed Rosy Fig White Tea.
Our chosen teas arrived in individual, contemporary, glass teapots with infusers. On the top of the teapots there was a handy little rod which you could pull when your tea had brewed to your liking, which pushes up the infusers and stops the tea from becoming stewed.
We had both opted for vegetarian sandwiches which arrived on a platter to share. There was a tasty selection of cheese, cucumber, tomato and egg mayonnaise sandwiches on wholemeal and whole grain bread. We really enjoyed our sandwiches, as although they were quite traditional flavours, the high quality of the ingredients was noticeable. We were also offered the option of having our sandwiches replenished.
The pastries and scones were served warm and beautifully presented on a two tier cake stand. There were four large scones, which were wonderfully misshapen as home made scones are. Two fruit and two plain and topped with a dusting of flour.
Accompanying the scones were generous pots of locally sourced strawberry preserve and Tunworth clotted cream. Regular reader(s) will know I love my clotted cream and I have to say their clotted cream was exquisite, with both a marvellous flavour and a rich, creamy texture .
I equally enjoyed both the fruit and plain scones. They both had that perfect scone texture of being firm on the outside with a soft interior. They were both quite rustic and not too sweet and that complimented well the full flavours of both the preserve and the clotted cream. Definitely one of my favourite scone eating experiences of the year so far.
The top tier of the cake stand was groaning with a plate full of pastries. There were five sweet treats each, a chocolate tart topped with a raspberry, a Bakewell tart, white chocolate profiterole, coconut tart and a mixed fruit kebab (ensuring that we got our 5 a day).
The service throughout our visit was excellent, getting that perfect balance of being attentive but also unobtrusive. We enjoyed a very leisurely afternoon tea, we arrived for 3pm and it was about 7pm when we left. The hotel itself is impressive, a former private residence, it has been transformed into a small, luxury hotel, set in its own extensive grounds. Its décor is in a traditional, country house style with its original staircase, fine wooden panelling and decorative plaster work, which gives it a timeless elegance.
Our afternoon tea was served in the comfortable, Long Lounge and we were seated next to its magnificent fireplace.
The traditional afternoon tea was £19.50 per person which is amazing value when you compare it to how much this would cost in a comparable hotel in London. The whole experience at Audleys Wood Hotel was exceptional and the trip out of London was well worth it.
Ratings: Scones: 3, Accompaniments: 2, Service: 3, Ambience: 3, Overall: 11/12
Until next time…