We know the COMO brand well having stayed in their Bangkok property on one of our trips to Thailand, and the London property offers the same sleek and contemporary experience as the COMO Metropolitan Bangkok.
COMO The Halkin claims pride of place in Belgravia, a picturesque Georgian neighbourhood in central London, Belgravia is a short stroll to Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Hyde Park. We were kindly invited along to the Como The Halkin to experience their afternoon tea with a Spanish twist. Read on to find out what our London expert Gary thought of the experience.
The Afternoon Tea Experience
Afternoon Tea is served in the hotel’s The Halkin Bar and is created by the talented team at Ametsa the hotel’s Spanish influenced restaurant. The afternoon tea menu at COMO The Halkin draws on the principles of Basque cuisine offering a unique take on the British tradition, served with the flair and passion that has become the restaurant’s trademark.
COMO The Halkin’s recently launched new afternoon tea now features bespoke tea pairings by TeaLeaves. Connoisseurs in hand-crafted artisanal teas and wellness botanicals, each Tea Leaves tea has been artfully paired with a signature Basque dish from the Ametsa with Arzak kitchen, creating a unique sensory afternoon tea experience. Available in the newly renovated Halkin Bar, Ametsa with Arzak Instruction afternoon tea invites guests to choose from two savoury and two sweet dishes which have been paired with matching teas based on a comprehensive combination of tastes, flavours and ingredients. Each tea is presented to the table in special tea pairing vessels, taking special care to perfect infusions.
We were greeted by a calm and sophisticated lobby at Como The Halkin. The neutral colours and clean lines of this Belgravia hotel create a tranquil atmosphere away from the bustle of nearby Hyde Park Corner. You can tell that they deliberately take advantage of the difference between the impressive Georgian buildings that line Halkin Street and the discreet luxury they offer inside.
The gentle herbal aromas of the reception area hint at the deliberate calm that has been created inside this stylish and hidden hotel. Once inside, you would never think that the grand embassies around Belgrave Square Gardens were only a few metres away.
As soon as we sat down in the newly renovated Halkin bar, the waiter began to explain the menu, it was very clear that they definitely know their teas. Even before you reach the tea menu itself, tea is introduced in clever ways through some their matching cocktails.
We chose a Tea Collins – a refreshing Darjeeling and hibiscus twist on a Tom Collins cocktail. This was a perfect start to the afternoon. We also had a non-alcoholic Chai Cooler – spicy and ginger notes that made for an interesting iced tea to quench your thirst. You can also enjoy a glass of Cava and the recommended drinks menu was a great mix of classics with an Ametsa twist. A full bar menu is also available at an extra cost.
The range of tea on offer is impressive and we asked the waiter to select those that were appropriate with the menu. It was clear that we would be welcome to try as many of their teas as we wished. Three different teas were selected for us: Jasmine Pearls with the savoury plates, Mountain Berry to accompany the desserts (which was an off-menu choice made by the waiter), and a ginger and mint herbal infusion to finish, with a jug of runny honey to adjust the sweetness to your own taste. From the pouring ceremony and smells of the teas, we could tell that they were something special before we had even tasted them, and each one matched the food perfectly.
Jasmine Silver Needle
Organic Jasmine Sword
Keemun and Whole Rose
Ceylon with Aromatic Spices
Fresh Herbal Infusions
Fresh Ginger with Honey
Whole Rose Buds
Blackcurrant and Hibiscus
Rooibus Red Bush
Basque Country Savouries
The afternoon tea unlike other traditional afternoon tea is served in two courses a savoury then a sweet. We started with the savoury. There was a confidence conveyed through the delicacies served that told us the chef was very proud of both the concept of the English afternoon tea and the food of the Basque country in Spain. Each of the six savoury offerings were brilliantly explained by our waiter and we ate them in the order suggested.
There were some clever surprises, for example, the tomato, watermelon and strawberry soup was one of the highlights and went particularly well with the Jasmine Pearls tea. The introduction of some ingredients straight from the Basque Country was delightful, including Txangurro spider crab and Txistorra sausage. The crab was presented in a fun, edible shell which was reminiscent of a crab shell and the whole tasty morsel transported you to a rock pool. The Egg and Waffle was a satisfying combination of crunch with a smokey sauce and a perfect creamy egg yolk. The ham croquettes were probably the most traditionally Spanish thing on the plate. – two tasty bites that would liven any afternoon tea and they offer them as a bar snack too, along with other items on the menu.
Egg and waffle
‘Txangurro’ in a Shell
Tomato & Watermelon soup
Iberico Ham Croquettes
Txistorra Granary Sandwich
The sweet selection arrived on two plates and it was clear that we were in for a real treat as we worked through the six exciting desserts. They was a mix of Spanish favourites and some surprising but delicious curveballs. Once again, our waiter, Joab, talked us through everything we had in front of us.
The Piquillo pepper in the intense chocolate cake was an unexpected flavour but worked very well. I think the Catalan cream, churros and rice pudding would not have been out of place in a good Spanish restaurant. The fruity Mountain Berry tea that was selected for us accompanied the rich dark chocolate of some of the sweets just as well as it did the creamy and fruity notes of the others.
Pineapple Rice Pudding
Piquillo and Chocolate cake
Chocolate with Churros
The tableware shared the clean lines of our surroundings. The elegant simplicity of the plates, teapots, glasses and cups all showed off the food and drinks to their fullest. Everything we ate was in miniature but perfectly proportioned and delicately presented, which added to the joy of the robust and interesting flavours we discovered upon tasting. Served in straight simple lines on the plate, each savoury and sweet component was very different to the one next to it but once placed together it was a coordinated feast for the eyes.
We were warmly welcomed at the door and shown to our table in the bar. Our waiter, Joab was knowledgeable and took the time to explain the flavours and origins of what we were about to eat. Time was taken to check for allergies and preferences before we embarked on the quality experience of this afternoon tea.
Our afternoon tea at Como The Halkin was a wonderful two hours, away from the busy streets of West London. We were made to feel special whilst we dined. There is certainly nothing standard about this afternoon tea. Although the traditional influences are apparent throughout, the contemporary presentation of the food and the hotel’s uncluttered décor made for a modern and satisfying approach to afternoon tea in London. We have included this afternoon tea in our guide to the best Afternoon Teas In London.
Cost and Details
- £34 per person
- £40 with a glass of Cava
- £42 with a Sipsmith Cocktail
- £50 with a glass of Tattinger Brut Reserve Champagne
Address: 5-6 Halkin St, Belgravia, London SW1X 7DJ