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March 30, 2010

The Dorchester’s New Tea Salon

The classic London hotel's spa has added a tea room for post-treatment treats.

LONDON—It seems as if the traditional English afternoon tea is being reinvented. First came The Berkeley’s Prêt-à-Portea, with cakes inspired by the twice-yearly runway collections. Up next was the Metropolitan’s healthy Afternoon De-Light menu featuring no-bread sandwiches, fresh fruit purées replacing unrefined sugars, and olive oil instead of butter. Now The Dorchester has joined the trend with Spatisserie. This 18-seat boîte of a salon with an Art Deco aesthetic—daybeds and wing chairs upholstered in silk, mohair, and leather, all accented in coral, lilac, and ivory—is adjacent to the hotel’s new spa. Although it serves light meals from noon to 8:30 p.m. daily—sushi ($32), a warm lobster salad ($43)—the rush is for an afternoon tea table, when women gather after their Vaishaly facials for bite-size mouthfuls of strawberry bavoirs, a specialty comprised of a sweet pastry case filled with diced strawberries and strawberry mousse and topped with gold gel and silver leaf. Not everything is good for you—the white macarons filled with chocolate ganache are a case in point. But with such dainty portions, where’s the sin? Spa-goers can even drink with less guilt: The menu features a skinny Champagne; the Laurent-Perrier Ultra Brut N.V. is only 60 calories per glass. Alcohol aside, it’s the delicately steeped teas we like best. The Japanese green tea infused with wild cherry blossom has a delicious twist to its lightness, while the organic plum, a warming mix that’s perfect for winter, is made from hibiscus flowers, ginseng root, cinnamon, plum, rosehip berries, and fresh mint. Afternoon tea, $55–$70; 44-20/7629-8888; thedorchester.com.