A guest post for Da Steeps Speaks by Michael Ezra
It is that time of the year, the one where at least one Saturday afternoon will be spent traipsing around the shops of Regent Street, Bond Street and Oxford Street in the search of presents for loved ones for the holiday season. The whole experience is horrendous and you can see it on the faces of shoppers as they lug shopping bags full of presents through streets that are best purchased as a collection on the Monopoly Board.
The Connaught's Coburg Bar
A point inevitably arrives in the course of this nightmare day when one simply has to sit down, relax, and have a cup of tea. In order to do this one can spend about £2 and have, at best, a mediocre cup of tea at a myriad of places such as Starbucks, Pret A Manger, Costa Coffee or Caffè Nero. Nobody will come and serve you, as you have to queue up at a counter and place your order which you will have to wait to collect before you sit down. Not only will the tea be appallingly provided either in a mug (a mug!) or even worse, in a paper or polystyrene cup, it will be with a tea bag, and, if it is green tea, almost certainly with water at the incorrect temperature. Moreover, the chair that you will get to sit on, that is if you get a seat, will be uncomfortable. No doubt you will also be barged into by other customers. By the time you leave you will be more agitated than you were when you walked in. It is hardly a relaxing experience. There is another option.
Take a five minute walk to Carlos Place in the heart of Mayfair and approach the Connaught Hotel where you will be greeted by a cheery doorman smartly dressed with a top hat. Once inside, turn right, enter the Coburg Bar and take a seat in a very comfortable armchair by the fire. A polite waiter will then approach you and take your order while you can truly relax, perhaps, as was my case, with a book that you had purchased on the shopping expedition.
Tea at The Connaught
The advantages of ordering tea at a luxury hotel are manifold: they will have a wide selection, the tea will be high quality, fresh, and loose leaf and it will be served correctly. I chose my favourite: silver needle, a delicate white tea with an exquisite taste. A few minutes later my tea was brought to me: a wonderful pot of a delicious and refreshing drink. A cup and saucer appropriately made of fine bone china, a tea strainer with a container and a small side plate with three delightfully looking biscuits also appeared. The waiter pours the first cup and then leaves you in peace. The next hour disappeared as I drank three cups of tea from the pot and read numerous pages from my book. The biscuits tasted as good as they looked and the tea was divine. No one is going to hurry you up at the Coburg Bar. By the time I had finished I was totally relaxed and ready to pound the streets once more.
The bill, including 12.5% service, was £6.75. Admittedly, this is more than three times the cost of a cup of tea at one of the aforementioned vile places, but my word, the total experience is more than twenty times as good: a positive bargain.
For more information about the Coburg Bar at The Connaught go to: http://www.the-connaught.co.uk/the_coburg_bar.aspx
The Connaught, Carlos Place, London, W1K 2AL. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7499 7070. Website: http://www.the-connaught.co.uk