REVIEW: PORT LYMPNE AFTERNOON TEA
We experience the King of the Afternoon Tea Jungle
Afternoon tea in a dazzling mansion, which has welcomed everybody from Winston Churchill to Charlie Chaplin, with wall and ceiling murals of lions and giraffes - and the real things outside - plus sea views? Count us in.
Expectations are high as we take in the grand and eccentric surroundings of Port Lympne’s Grade II listed mansion, where we’ll be scoffing our scones. Built for Sir Philip Sassoon, the striking, Cape Dutch-style mansion sits within 15 acres of immaculate, landscaped gardens, complete with hippo water features. We walk past the made-for-Instagram pink, marble and flower-festooned Moroccan Courtyard - which hosts summer afternoon teas - and into the Martin Jordan Room, which is adorned with its namesake’s exquisite, hand-painted murals of dramatic wildlife scenes.
Despite meeting many of the beautiful creatures depicted on these walls just moments earlier at the park’s reserve - which is home to 700 rare and endangered animals - we were briefly silenced by their depiction in the extraordinary scenes around us, which cover every windowsill, door and inch of the room. Elephants and tigers leap across the walls, defending themselves from Man’s advances - a fitting theme for this reserve. And our daughter delighted in unraveling the stories over the next hour. We took our seats at the crisp, white linen tables, set with beautiful, wildlife-themed tea cups and individual tea timers, before a grand window overlooking the rolling green reserve.
Often, afternoon teas in impressive locations rely on the surroundings to do the talking. But not here. As the children gargled their cream-topped hot chocolates, they brought out a pair of three-tiered stands, laden with immaculate cakes and scones, plus plates of savoury goodies.
The moreish sausage rolls had pleasingly thin and crispy pastry with a generous pork, apple and sage filling. They were accompanied by finger sandwiches - egg mayo and cucumber with mint and cream cheese - and juicy, prawn cocktail tartlets. The stars of the show are the sweet tiers. A toothsome collection of homemade, beautifully presented cakes, from chocolate chip and mint cheesecake; passion fruit curd tart topped with baked merengue and lemon drizzle cake. They were joined by mountains of warm, crumbly raisin and plain scones, served with bowls of Cornish clotted cream and homemade jam. All of their food is sustainably sourced, with produce picked from the Port Lympne gardens. And it was so delicious, we made a valiant effort at stuffing our cake holes with it and inhaled the take-away boxes of left overs the following day, in less dreamy surroundings and with children much less civilised than the animals we'd admired the day before. You can enjoy the whole experience from £45, which includes access to the house and gardens plus discounted admission tickets (£6pp) to the reserve, including the truck safari. Click here to read our review of Port Lympne Safari Park Click here to read about our bucket-list, giraffe feeding experience
Port Lympne Hotel & Reserve, Lympne (Nr Hythe), Kent, CT21 4PD from £45pp
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