Yesterday we visited The Goring Hotel for their Afternoon Tea with Teddy, the Shetland pony. Having put stories up on social media of our visit, I received quite a few questions and as such I thought a blog post would be the best place to share our experience.
We booked this tea quite a number of months back because I knew it would sell out immediately. It is only on from the 16 – 31 August, so in excitement we booked to attend on the very first day. When we booked we were asked to decided whether to have our tea in the main room, a table in the garden or as a picnic on blankets, also in the garden. I just knew it would rain so I opted for us to be seated inside. (I will come back to this…).
When we arrived we were greeted and asked to wait in the bar until afternoon tea started. It was a bit disheartening that we were totally forgotten about and it wasn’t the most welcoming start. Once we were seated, we were introduced to our server and Ita was presented with a little rosette. Our server was really friendly and was really patient with Ita when she asked for plain ham sandwiches. Although we had booked for 3 afternoon teas, when we were there I felt that the menu was not something Ita would enjoy so we requested only 2 instead.
The food. Now this was of course something that most wanted to know about. It was very beige as you will see in the photos and reel on Instagram. The only themed element appeared to be the pony shaped biscuit. Although it was nice, I did feel it could have been more visually themed. My understanding of this experience, was that it was an afternoon tea with a pony however, it is really just in honour of Teddys 2 week residence at the hotel. This only makes sense when you realise that Teddys owner is in fact a Goring… ahhh.
Before our tea we walked around the garden and had a very brief encounter with Teddy, maybe 2 or 3 minutes only. Given our expectations, I told Ita that we would pop back after our tea and that she could spend more time with the pony and I would take some photos too. However when we went outside afterwards, Teddy was inside his stable area and his owner was in conversation with another family and we felt a bit awkward waiting around. (This is not a criticism, his owner really is lovely). We decided to leave but on the way out the hotel manager asked me for my opinion on our experience. I really don’t know what came over me as I am usually a smile and nod kind of person, even when I am really dissatisfied… but for some reason I told him the truth, in that I felt the interaction with the pony was really limited and not what we expected. He was so kind and walked us right back out to spend some more time with Teddy and allow me to take photos!
Aside from the rosette, Ita was also given a really beautiful art set with special pencils and a print of Teddy to take home and colour in. It really is such a gorgeous set and such a thoughtful gift too. I believe younger guests are gifted a pony soft toy.
In respect to the hotel, it is absolutely beautiful. It is where Kate Middleton stayed the night before her wedding, so you can just imagine. However the tea room just does not fit in with the rest of the hotel. It isn’t as ornate and it feels really modern by comparison to other parts. In saying that, it is still a pleasant setting. My only gripe was that all of the windows were open in anticipation of summer sun, but actually it was such a cold day that it was uncomfortable in the room. The weather forecast doesn’t look to good over the next week or so and therefore I think the tea outside will be a real issue.
Teddy is such a beautiful and placid little pony. You can see how much his owner loves him and she is so patient. The staff were really friendly which always makes a real difference for me.
Did we enjoy the tea? We did. It was a really nice experience, I just wish my expectations were a bit less than they were.
Was it worth the £50pp price? Yes, I think so! This is within the normal realms of prices as goes afternoon teas in London and I think it was priced really fairly.
The afternoon tea is booked out completely but if you do want to go, I would recommend ringing the hotel to ask about any cancellations. You call contact the reservations team on +44 (0)20 7396 9000 or firstname.lastname@example.org
There is also a special overnight package which includes;
Full English breakfast
A guaranteed upgrade
The Teddy-themed Afternoon Tea for Two
A special Teddy memento
Complimentary mineral water
An online daily newspaper
24 hour access to the gym
This is at a starting price of £635.
If you are going soon, here are my tips.
Ask to be seated inside now! Do not wait until the day. Although you may think sitting outside will give you more of an experience with Teddy, I honestly do not think it will and frankly the forecast looks cold and miserable.
Make a point of seeing the pony both before and after to make sure you do get the experience you want.
Consider the menu before going and deciding whether it is something your child will enjoy.