There are days when being a blogger that discusses all things ‘Small’ are pretty rubbish. Those are the days when you have to post something funny when you’ve had 48 minutes sleep because you spent all night cleaning up vomit and tending to fevers and standing in cat sick (yes, really). Then there are days which are brilliant because some very nice people over at It’s A PR Company have invited you and your Small to try out the new Mini Afternoon Tea that swanky London hotel, The Mandeville Hotel, has just launched.
There’s always a dichotomy that parents battle between doing nice things in nice places and taking your Smalls. Is it worth the hassle? Walking into anywhere that burns Diptyque candles indiscriminately, serves food on plates older than your nan’s sofa and does so accompanied by lashings and lashing of Prosecco is a delicious treat when you’ve bundled the Smalls off to someone (anyone!) but it can be enough to drive you to the Diazepam if you’ve got your Small.
Great news Small-Havers, the Mandeville Hotel has felt your pain. It’s heard your anguished cries and listened to your sad stories all about the person you used to be and the things you used to do. Nestled in the heart of Marylebone, just a few minutes walk from the West End is a beautiful building known for its kick-ass afternoon teas. Previously, this would have been the kind of place that people with pushchairs ran hurriedly past hoping that, on the way, you didn’t disturb the peaceful luxury of the people shoving scones and macaroons in their gob holes.
Screw that though. The Mandeville Hotel has, in its infinite wisdom, worked hard on creating a Mini Afternoon Tea that is every bit fabulous enough to keep your Small entertained and fed so that you might even forget they are there. Except you won’t forget they’re there because you’ll want to enjoy this experience with them.
Our waiter explained to us that they’d developed this, ‘…for women who still wanted…no,” he said, “…deserved Afternoon Tea and Prosecco (obviously, he was my favourite person in the world) despite having Smalls.” While this (and by now you should know me enough to know this) is right up my Strasse, this Afternoon Tea was about more than an effective distraction for Smalls while mamas got their Prosecco on. It turned out that this was actually an awesome experience that I wanted to share with my Small (accompanied by Prosecco, obvs.)
The Afternoon Teas are hosted in the Reform Social Grill – an eatery that combines a good mix of old-school charm and boutique hotel. Service might have been a little sluggish at first and my husband may have ordered Camomile Tea only to be presented with Caramel Tea but it was clear it was an honest miscommunication and, when it came down to it, the Caramel Tea was a hit. Then the food arrived.
Served on classic afternoon cake stands, the Mandeville Hotel offers two ‘grown-up’ versions: The Vintage Afternoon Tea and The Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea. For the sake of thoroughness our party ordered two Vintage Afternoon Teas and one Gentleman’s. We’re not reviewing the grown-up versions but suffice to say, they were great (except for the slightly ‘stale bread’ sarnies…eek!)
The Mini Afternoon Tea, on the other hand, was a slam dunk. A wooden board (at least it wasn’t vintage china) offered my Small a chicken sandwich (hot and in small pieces so easily manageable for even tiny hands), a posh fish finger sandwich (which I had to photograph very quickly before it was consumed) and a peanut butter jelly sandwich. On the side, my Small was presented with a beautiful lunchbox replete with Shark design (“Mama, look it’s Bruce the shark”) and stuffed to the brim with delicious sugar-filled treats. To wash it all down was an organic strawberry milkshake served in a sturdy vintage jam jar.
Honestly, hers was better than mine.
Yes, I wish they hadn’t shown her the contents of the lunch box before giving her the ‘proper food’ but aside from that I couldn’t fault them. My Small was overwhelmed with the excitement. She mixed some tea in a vintage tea-cup (yes, my heart was racing too) exclaiming that it was like being a princess and honestly, it kind of was. She felt like she was enjoying something special. She was excited, she was happy and most of all she was well-fed, even if 75% of what was in her was sugar.
So Small-Havers, book yourself a special afternoon with the girls drinking Prosecco and gabbing about whatever the flip you like because there’s a posh place in town where little people are as welcome as Louboutins. Go!