If you should wander on down the whitewashed streets of Kensington, you’ll no doubt stumble across the beautiful 100 Queen’s Gate Hotel. Contained therein is Botanica, a tearoom set within a plant draped atrium dripping with cherry blossom and lime. Step inside their redolent quarters and brace yourself for a journey of the senses as part of their unique collaboration with luxury perfumer, Floris, London. Whilst flavour will always be the most important aspect of any afternoon tea experience, ‘Scentsation’ broadens our sensory horizons, stimulating scent, sights, textures and interactions, creating a truly unique experience.
Rather than rely solely on a gilded stand adorned with sumptuous cakes and delicious goodies that you cannot wait to gobble up with edacious glee (although there are still plenty of those on offer here), ‘Scentsation’ draws you in with intoxicating fragrance, a heady bouquet of cherry blossom and lime fills the air as you approach your table. If you’re not wholly keen on floral flavours then, please, do not fear. The floral notes of what you are about to be served are so nuanced, so flawlessly blended and intertwined with an abundance of different flavours, textures and temperatures, that there is nothing overbearing or overly flowery to be concerned about. The absolute genius of this experience is that the flavours are presented in such a gentle way before you are provided with options to enhance them, add an umami edge, or additional honeyed sweetness. No two experiences are the same, and there are no guidelines other than to, well, to create whatever pleases your senses.
Heading in to Botanica, you are greeted with flourishes of blushing blossoms and verdant, lush foliage. The surroundings, resplendent, yet cosy, are fresh and vibrant whilst retaining the opulence and grandeur of the hotel itself. Upon being seated, you will find a handy pairing guide tucked inside your napkin, containing gentle advice as to how to pair up your afternoon treats with the selection of additional toppings provided. Each table is furnished with a tray of toppings varying from sweet to savoury, light to umami, allowing you to create your own, truly bespoke experience. The thyme, pink peppercorn and sumac topping paired beautifully with the lemon desserts, the golden popping candy added an explosive surprise to the lime dome, the lavender honey (my personal favourite) added a delectable edge to the buttery madeleine, and the Himalayan salted dark chocolate was perfect with just about everything. There are no rules here, you are free to experiment and scatter toppings as you please, finding your own preference as you go. I even added a little thyme, pink peppercorn and sumac to one of my scones, along with clotted cream and a little jam. Whilst it’s not something I would have normally paired up at home, the freedom to experiment entices you to try flavour combinations you wouldn’t normally be inclined to throw together.
The afternoon tea itself comprises of three layers of treats: savoury sandwiches and flatbreads, featuring silky smoked salmon and spiced chicken, cakes and pastries, including the silky Buddha’s hand madeleine and fluffy, croquelin choux, crowned with a tier of scones accompanied by velvety clotted cream and zingy fruit jams. The teas, provided by the fabulous Whittard of London, include their famous Sakura blend (green tea and cheery) to compliment the scones, and Keemun, the perfect accompaniment for the lemon and lime notes of the baked desserts. If you’ve something to celebrate (or even if you haven’t), you can of course upgrade to the champagne option for an effervescent alternative.
For those wishing to elevate their experience, 100 Queen’s Gate Hotel are also offering an exclusive Floris hotel package. Alongside the ‘Scentsation’ Afternoon Tea, guests can enjoy an overnight stay in one of the hotel’s sumptuous suites, which also includes a complimentary full-size bottle of one of Floris London’s iconic fragrances. A VIP version of the Floris package will also be available to book, with the added element of a stay in the luxurious Queen’s Gate Suite, which boasts a private entrance with direct street access and up to four private bedrooms, alongside a behind the scenes tour of Floris’ Jermyn Street store, guided by either the Bespoke Perfumer or Perfumery Director. Following the tour, guests will have the opportunity to create a bespoke fragrance, choosing from a wide selection of fine fragrance bases and notes, the perfumer will slowly create a scent that is truly personalised to you, adding new accords to complement the guest’s taste until the unique fragrance is complete.
The Afternoon Tea Scentsation is an e-scent-tial (sorry) experience for any foodie, tea aficionado, purveyor of luxury fragrances, or anyone who enjoys delicious food in a sumptuous setting away from the hustle and bustle of the centre of London. You will be spoiled with exceptional culinary offerings, enveloped in bewitching scents, and looked after by the friendliest, most welcoming hotel staff in Kensington. An unmissable experience, the Afternoon Tea Scentsation is priced at £42.50 per person (£55 per person with a glass of Moet & Chandon Champagne) and can be booked directly at https://100queensgate.com/food-and-drink/botanica