Waldorf Astoria Syon Park
It was never my intention to have afternoon tea this bank holiday weekend at the newly opened Waldorf Astoria Syon Park but due to a number of reasons, none of which I am going to bore you with, I did.
Syon Park is somewhere I am willing to bet most Londoners have probably never been to despite the fact it is only 20 minute drive from the West End. I would have also bet that it would be the last place a premiership footballer would hang out. Luckily I am not a betting man, as I would have lost my last bet. On Saturday night, the hotel played host to a number of Manchester United players after the Champions league final. I asked whether Ryan Giggs was one of those players. ‘No comment’ was the official word from management.
The hotel is within the grounds of the Grade 1 Listed Syon House which is owned by the Duke of Northumberland and still used as a residency by the family today. If you were staying at the 131 bed hotel your heart would sink upon arrival as the hotel neighbours a garden centre. Having to negotiate your wheelie case around garden centre trolleys ladened with compost and weed killer is probably not the first thing you want as a welcome to your £350 a room lodging for the night. If that were not enough to make you want to turn around and head back to your car, this 5 star establishment looks like a cross between a Travelodge and an out of town Tesco.
Walking in to the lobby it struck me that the interior designer must have lost a bet. The penalty being to use every colour ever manufactured by Dulux. The only thing missing to make it into a Dulux advert was an Old English sheepdog. We were led through the lobby to the Capability Dining, aptly named after Capability Brown who designed the original gardens.
The dining room is large and although it has all the obvious elements that make it a hotel dining room, it was pleasant. It reminded me somewhat of Koffmann’s in The Berkeley. Afternoon tea weighs in at an eye-wateringly expensive £32 per person. We opted for the Syon Park Cream Tea instead, for £16. Three homemade scones, clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. We ordered three between five people and this was ample.
The ‘show off’ element of the afternoon tea is the selection of different teas available. An engraved Harvey and Sons wooden box is paraded around the table, offering you the chance to pick up one of the eight bowls and smell the tea leaves inside. Although regular builders tea was the majority choice we also chose one of the three green teas on offer, called The Wizard. This tea was given its name as the 9th Duke of Northumberland is meant to be a big advocate of alchemy.
Service was exemplary. Not too fussy, not too slow and just the right sort of level of chumminess. The executive chef is Lee Streeton who has previously worked alongside Mark Hix at The Ivy, Le Caprice and Brown’s Hotel and the menu has tell-tale signs from his time with Hix.
A starter of Dorset snails with black pudding, wild boar bacon and garlic butter and a main of Cotswold white chicken with razor clams and yellow split peas both caught my eye on the a la carte menu that we were shown. Needless to say, although we are in Brentford, the pricing is still very much Mayfair. There is also a 2 course weekday set lunch menu priced at £22.
The phrase never judge a book by its cover comes to mind when reviewing this establishment. The place offers a unique experience, if that is what you are looking for, and the staff are fantastic. On the flip side, the place looks like a premiership footballer’s house from the inside. Mostly tasteless but with hints of some style, all the mod cons and clearly costing a packet.
Come to think of it, was that Imogen Thomas I saw at the bar?