Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Turning 30 With a Spot of London Luxury

Woah there...I'm not talking about me. I'm still very much in my twenties, thank you very much. Well, for another year at least.

The 'old git' in question is, in fact, my beau and partner in crime, Daryl, and to mark his 30th year I pulled out all the stops, along with a little help from a very lovely press lady (thanks, Emma!) to give him a birthday to remember. He has just entered a new decade, after all.

Big Ben & beautiful blue skies....

Now, my chap's a huge fan of all things fine food, and along with VIP tickets to the BBC's Good Food Show in December, I booked us a two-night stay to sample the delicious treats on offer at the Flemings Mayfair hotel - which dates back to 1851.

As far as culinary indulgence goes, the weekend was like Christmas day x 1000 - with delicious morsels round every corner - I weighed myself on my return to discover I've put on four pounds. I kid you not.

Flemings Mayfair Hotel. Pic: Google Images

Flemings Mayfair was an obvious and very easy choice, due to its central London location and the fact I've been lucky enough to stay in the hotel three times before (in my capacity as a reporter/hotel reviewer at a local newspaper) and knew we'd be treated to the top notch service you'd expect from accommodation in one of the big smoke's most prestigious spots.

After a short train ride from Yorkshire, we made our way across London to Half Moon Street. It's been some five years since my last stay at the hotel but surprisingly for me (I'm devastatingly poor when it comes to navigation) I found my way there sans map - get me!

A Quick Lounge

Our room was still being made up as we arrived (we were early) so a quick lounge in the lobby it was, a  delicious cappuccino for me (in an art deco-esque mug) and a beer for Daryl. It's the little extra touches like a complimentary bowl of tasty fruit and nuts with your drink, and a handwritten welcome note in the room, which really go a long way to set such a hotel apart from others.

Ah, time for a break....

And the rooms were just as I remembered, cosy yet luxurious and offering all the space you'd need for a short break or overnight stay.
Flemings Mayfair's standard rooms

And because we all love something for nothing....I just had to snap the array of luxurious White Company toiletries on offer in the bathroom. You've got to love a complimentary shower cap, too. There's something great about stepping out of a shower, whipping off said cap and revealing perfectly dry hair, isn't there? Only in a hotel, eh? I mean...when do you ever use a shower cap at home?!
Toiletries by The White Company


After 'freshening up in the room' (read: re-applying make-up, combing hair and popping on a new cardi) we headed down to the bar to sample the hotel's Champagne afternoon tea - what a treat.

I'm a huge fan of afternoon tea and my chap's a huge fan of, well, food, so when Emma at Flemings offered to very kindly throw in a complimentary one we were chuffed to bits. And what an afternoon tea it was.
Mmmm, what to have?

With a huge range of teas on offer - all served the 'posh way', through a mini sieve - we were spoiled for choice. In the end Daryl settled for the lighter Assam variety while I chose South African red bush. We enjoyed this between slurps of an equally refreshing glass of champers - just the ticket.

A rare photo of the usually camera shy Daryl


And then the food arrived....on a pretty their-tiered cake stand.

On the top tier were dainty petit fours, including rose macaroons (or macarons to use their French name), mini mint chocolate cupcakes with pink swirly buttercream, hugely indulgent brownies, and strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.

On the second tier we enjoyed homemade scones with clotted cream, and marvelled at the deliciously light-looking Victoria sponge (which we couldn't even manage with all the other treats in store).


Delicious petit fours, Flemings Mayfair style


On the bottom tier - and for the 'first course' we tucked into sandwiches (with the crusts cut off, of course) filled with egg and cress, cucumber, smoked salmon and ham and mustard.

A welcome rest after a hectic morning travelling and dashing across London, we took in the pleasant surroundings, kicked back and relaxed. If you're planning an afternoon tea in London, consider having it here - it's one of the cheapest in the capital (I've done my research) and the treats on offer were a taste sensation.

Fine Fragrances

After, we popped our coats on and headed out into that there London to enjoy the shops of Piccadilly and Mayfair. We headed first to Laduree, where I treated my pal to a few sweet treats for her birthday, and later to Penhaligon's, where I ummed and ahhed over spending a silly amount on perfume, before leaving the shop empty handed and instead heading to Hamley's toy shop. We later hopped aboard a rickshaw and enjoyed a breezy ride back to the hotel.

For our evening meal, we joined fellow Flemings diners in the hotel's The Grill restaurant - which served up a delicious array of mouth-watering steaks and sides.
Complimentary canapes
After being treated to complimentary canapes and delicious homemade bread, we devoured stunning starters - Daryl chose the parfait (pictured below) while I opted for a fresh beetroot and goat's cheese salad.

The parfait, in a sweet Kilner-style jar and served with rustic bread, chutney and salad


Beetroot and goat's cheese salad
Medium-rare steak with chunky chips

The starters were beautiful but it was the steak we really wanted to write home about. Cooked just to our liking with a mini bucket of huge, crispy chips and a well-dressed side salad. If you like your steak, you'll love it Flemings Grill style. The portion-size wasn't hugely overwhelming and there was just enough chips, too - a really tasty treat.
Strawberry dessert

After, I savoured every last spoonful of my favourite - Crème Brulee - while the normally non-sweet toothed Daryl was persuaded by our wonderfully attentive waiter to try this strawberry ice cream number. Daryl's verdict? "One of the nicest desserts I've tasted." Some praise indeed.

In all, the service was faultless and the food five star. A special mention for the staff at the hotel, too, who really couldn't do enough to ensure our weekend was a memorable one.

A Quick Breakfast

You'd think by the morning we'd have literally had our fill of food - but a quick breakfast of pancakes for Daryl and eggs Benedict for me and we headed out for some more shopping. We really are hardcore when it comes to food.
American-style pancakes with bacon

At lunch time it was onto the next pre-booked surprise - a three-course lunch at Brown's Hotel's Hix Restaurant, which saw us enjoy starters of sardines with beetroot and salad, and butternut squash soup, followed by the same main of chicken and all the trimmings, with a final flourish of blackcurrant trifle - yum. I'd booked the restaurant on recommendation from a friend and I wasn't disappointed. In fact, I'm looking into visiting the hotel again before Christmas. 

'Popping back to Penhaligon's'

We spent the rest of Saturday taking in the excellent street performers at Covent Garden, heading to Fortnum and Mason for a few goodies to munch in the hotel room in the evening, and popping back to Penhaligon's to splash out on that aforementioned perfume. I chose the fresh and powdery-smelling Ellenisia - (full review to follow) and my bank balance is decidedly smaller as a result - eeek. Still, I did the right thing, eh?

On Sunday we had yet another indulgent meal  - Daryl had smoked kippers for breakfast while I had a full English and a Continental. You can see exactly why I put those four pounds on now.

Smoked kippers for breakfast


Next stop, the aquarium. We met up with my sister, brother-in-law and three small nephews and marvelled at the penguins, turtles and all manner of underwater creatures, before spending a small fortune on the kids in the gift shop.
Turtles in the aquarium
A turtle takes a dive
Yes, I chose Slytherin


As we're new Harry Potter fans (since they've been shown on t'telly for the past few weeks) I couldn't resist a stop at 'Platform 9 3/4' before jumping on the train on the way home.

And that was that - the end of a brilliant weekend with great company in a truly fantastic four star hotel. A big thank you to all the staff at Flemings!


Disclaimer: Flemings Mayfair very kindly footed the bill for a night's stay, a beautiful afternoon tea and a delicious three-course meal with wine. And for that I am eternally grateful. As ever though here on ALTH, all views are my own and 100% honest, as always.

7 comments:

  1. Sounds like an amazing weekend! The food looks delicious.

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    1. It was delicious, back to a normal diet now - haha x

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Mat, it was great fun. Hope you're well.

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  3. Looks like you had a wonderful time & managed to fit in alot of fun things.
    Your room is amazing. I love staying in hotels, although they're never that fancy
    Happy 30th Birthday x
    http://www.letstalkbeauty.co.uk/

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