If ever I’m asked which era I would have loved to live through, my answer will always be the same – the Swinging Sixties. From the Mary Quant dresses to the beehive hair, from the Motown masters to the Beatles and the Stones. It’s the music, the make-up, the explosion of self-awareness and human rights. There’s no doubt about it – the Sixties was something amazing. And to celebrate the decade of decadence and design, the Jumeirah Carlton Tower is celebrating its 1960s beginnings with a Sixties Knightsbridge Style exhibition and a Swinging Sixties Afternoon Tea. On display in an area of the hotel’s Chinoiserie lounge, the complimentary exhibition will run until November 20th and features photos taken in the hotel in the 1960s, as well as images and clothing from the Harrods archive.
Having taken a leisurely wander around the mini exhibition my guest and I seated ourselves in two luxurious armchairs in the lounge and happily sipped on a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut as we awaited the main event…
And when it arrived, this extraordinary main event was greeted with gasps. Sitting atop a stylish three-tiered serving structure fashioned in a very Sixties style, was the most delightful array of sandwiches, scones and pastries our eyes had ever seen. A lot of effort has been put into the presentation of this special Afternoon Tea, and the middle row of cakes was a beauty for the eyes to behold. Inspired by 1960s food trends, the treats include Yuzu Really Got Me – a sweet pastry tart with yuzu curd topped with Italian meringue – truly one of the most delicious things I have ever tasted; Swiss Rock ‘n’ Roll – 76% Belgian dark chocolate, lemon sponge, mascarpone cream and fresh raspberries; and Strawberry Cake Forever – Madagascan vanilla butter cream and Brockett hall strawberry preserve sponge cake. I cannot imagine how much work has gone into creating these mini masterpieces, but it was certainly worth it. It seemed a shame that they were gone so quickly, but our charming waitress happily topped us up every time a layer was wearing thin.
The sandwiches were just as carefully constructed, and a great savoury introduction to the tea. The scones were warm and light, not too overwhelming after all that cake!
There are dozens of different teas to try, and they can be topped up as often as you like, or switched should you decide to enjoy a selection. We got through the signature English Breakfast, a delicious Darjeeling, a lovely Lapsang Souchon and an aromatic and light Green Garden – which was so flowery and flavoursome I couldn’t put it down.
The Carlton Tower opened in 1961 as London’s first tower hotel and was the place to see and be seen in sixties Knightsbridge. Chelsea socialites flocked to the new Rib Room restaurant, and international stars came to stay – including actress Cyd Charisse and American playwright Tennessee Williams. Mary Quant used the hotel as a backdrop for her fashion shoots and a photo of Cyd Charisse taken on the roof of the hotel and a striking shot from one of Mary Quant’s fashion shows are featured in the exhibition. And as you relax in the open and inviting lounge you can see why the hotel has maintained its popularity over the decades. There’s an understated elegance and welcoming style that means whether you’re here for the afternoon tea or an informal business lunch, you don’t feel out of place despite the many Rolls Royces pulling up outside, and diamond-clad princesses passing you on the way to their superior rooms.
The launch of the Swinging Sixties Afternoon Tea coincides with the opening of the V & A’s headline exhibition ‘You Say You Want A Revolution? Records and Rebels 1966-1970’. Running until 26th February next year, this major exhibition explores the era-defining significance and impact of the late 1960s upon life today. As a hotel member of the V&A, Jumeirah Carlton Tower is offering guests an exclusive tea and ticket package for £55 which includes the Swinging Sixties Afternoon Tea, a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut champagne and a ticket to the V&A exhibition (worth £16).
- Located just off Sloane Street, on Cadogam Place, the Jumeirah Carlton Tower is a short walk from Knightsbridge station and within comfortable walking distance of the Victoria and Albert Museum. For more information and to book, visit www.jumeirah.com/sixtiesstyle