Once upon a time in Kensington…
When you think of afternoon tea and storytelling at Kensington Hotel**, you might imagine little darlings preened and primped sitting attentively on stools, while their yummy mummies gossip in the background.
Well, think again.
It’s not that the mums aren’t well turned out (most of them were, although it was a mixed crowd including granddads) or that the children aren’t impressed by the storyteller.
But despite the undoubtedly classy surroundings, the atmosphere is far less ‘upmarket’ and much more ‘soft play’ than I could have foreseen. And this was absolutely one of its strengths.
As we arrived, babies and toddlers were already splayed out on bean bags, held rapt by a lady from the National Youth Theatre who was giving a lively reading from the classic Story of Babar.
We headed straight for the tables that were laid out with all sorts of goodies: sandwiches with ham and mustard, strawberry jam, egg mayo and cress; chocolate chip brownies, vanilla fairy cakes, fruit tarts and of course, scones with jam and clotted cream. A delicious spread.
The waiters dipping in and out of the room quickly served us tea and juice (on request) and frequently refreshed our tables with more cake and sandwich platters.
Even the activity tables looked good enough to eat.
Jed at 5 was just young enough to enjoy the reading, but Ezra (8) had no interest in going up front to hang with the ‘babies’. However, when they handed out copies of Babar to each child, Ezra happily read it from cover to cover.
The story session over, we carried on feasting and I chatted up a couple of friendly mums. Meanwhile the kids were wreaking havoc on the beanbags.
I was struck by how totally chilled out the hotel staff were about this rapid descent into mayhem.
Perhaps it’s the fact that the tea room was curtained off from other dining areas, but there was nobody shushing or making anybody feel uncomfortable.
Kids are allowed to be children here, while carers are allowed to hang back and scoff our faces. Win win.
Held on the last Thursday of the month, the entire event costs £40 per adult and child and includes a goody bag. I think this is a pretty good deal, when you compare with London afternoon tea prices in general.
Thanks to the Kensington Hotel for an entertaining outing that gave us a refreshing perspective on an utterly gorgeous venue!
The next Children’s Afternoon Tea and Storytelling at Kensington Hotel at 109-113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington, London, SW7, 5LR (South Kensington tube) will be held on Thu Mar 27 at 4-5.30pm. The event will feature members of The National Youth Theatre reading and performing from The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
**free review, all opinions my own