It’s one of those Autumn days where you’re not sure whether you need an umbrella, SPF or a pair of highly-insulated snow boots. We take a risk and drive to Burnham Beeches in the hope of going on an instagram-worthy autumn walk. As we drive down the country lanes, the sun decides to poke its weary head out of the looming clouds just at the moment we pass the Burnham Beeches Hotel.
“There it is! There it is!” my mum and I squeal in excitement, simultaneously regretting having such a big breakfast this morning. We’re off for afternoon tea in the new Laura Ashley tea room* and I’m mainly excited because not once in my 26 years on this earth have I been out for afternoon tea with my mum.
We drive down leafy lanes named ‘Pumpkin Hill’ and ‘Dove House Crescent’ and I feel like I’m in an American musical; any minute now my mum will burst into song about cake and tea and how ‘she longs to visit England in the fall’.
We arrive at Burnham Beeches, a scenic nature reserve populated with dog-walkers, bike-riders and instagrammers. Optimistically I jump out the car shoving my walking boots on and preparing for a hefty hike through the woodland (gotta make room for the cake). The beech trees are spectacular and as the breeze blows through the trees, tiny yellow leaves twinkle back and forth, reminiscent of a disco ball in a night club.
I actually felt more worthy of a visit to the Burnham Beeches hotel now knowing what the Burnham Beeches were and I was ready to have all the finger sandwiches and posh slices of cake.
We’re greeted by Fernando, the Deputy Manager of the hotel, who leads us to what he calls ‘his baby’: the brand new Laura Ashley tea room. It’s a muted pink with a dark wood floor, glass chandeliers and pristine white table cloths. We’re seated next to a sash window overlooking the front lawn. We order tea and prosecco, my two favourite liquids.
As we’re admiring the Laura Ashley teapots on display in a dresser, we’re presented with a tiny chocolate bonfire! Chocolate truffle logs, matchstick biscuits and white chocolate flames make up the sweetest novelty amuse bouche I’ve ever had the good fortune to eat. As a savoury gal, however, I can’t stop thinking about the egg and cress brioche buns that are about to grace our table. I practically salivate over Fernando, poor bloke, as he brings over a three-tiered cake stand adorned with scones, tarts, delices and bavaroises. The scones are light, the sandwiches fresh and the rose bavaroise fluffy.
I think my biggest flaw as a human being is my stomach. It’s just not big enough. I desperately want to taste a tiny rosemary and pumpkin cake, but for fear of being sick in my mum’s Skoda I refrain from trying it and just stare at it instead, wide-eyed and longingly. I somehow manage to finish my prosecco though, why don’t we ever get full of wine? One of life’s great mysteries.
Without hesitation Fernando offers to box-up the rest of our sweet treats and I contemplate how I’m going to hide the box from my dad when I get home.
Usually I find with an afternoon tea, there’s an element missing. The tea’s cold or the service is slow, but not at the Burnham Beeches Hotel. The room is warm, the service was outstanding and the food, faultless.
I leave feeling happy and full. Stuffed like a turkey and unable to eat another morsel. That is, until I get home and polish off another scone and an apple and cinnamon tart.
*This afternoon tea was complimentary for the purpose of review. See disclaimer for more details.