For me, afternoon tea is one of those occasions where you want to be taken away from reality for a couple of hours. A little bit of glamour, a lot of indulgence and a sprinkle of fantasy. London boasts a host of afternoon teas, from the classic scone and tea cup affair right through to the weird and wonderful. Whatever you fancy, it’s there with a tier of finger sandwiches and mini pastries for you to spoil yourself. I’m no expert but I imagine Sketch is up there with the best of them in the city.
Situated in Mayfair on Conduit Street, right in the centre of everything, Sketch offers all you want from an afternoon tea experience – exclusivity, fascination, indulgence, charm and the perfect setting to lap up the luxury. Walking through the black curtains, across the chalk hopscotch and through the enchanted forest themed Grace Room; there is something to marvel at with every glance.
After leaving my coat and bag in the cloak room I was taken through to the gallery, a room to keep all senses entertained at all times. Everything is draped in a dusky pink, the velvet chairs lined with a rose gold trim base, a grand circular skylight overlooking the room and the walls covered in David Shrigleys signature art – simple, slightly absurd and full of humour.
I joined my friend Stacey at our table and from the second we sat down, we were looked after – our every need attended to. Because it was 1pm on a Monday afternoon we played well-behaved and opted not to have a glass of bubbly but stick to a sugar high for our poison of the afternoon. As we waited for our treats we noticed that even the tableware had something to offer thanks to Shrigley. Stylish, white, ceramic and all with a message to share – again in true Shrigley signature style; simple and playful. Our favourite being the ‘Forget About It’ memo at the bottom of our cups.
Once settled I wanted to satisfy my curiosity about the famous Sketch toilets that people have talked about. From the hazy pink glow of the gallery I walked through to the bright white lights of the toilets and followed the sound of farmyard animals (yes, you read that right) up a large white staircase to be met with a futuristic wonderland – a space age, farm-yard, disco dancing room that fills you with imagination, almost making you forget that you are there to pee. A giant bird’s nest sits under a brightly coloured ceiling that looks over the space age cocoons topped with geese (not real ones) – you enter a pod to use the loo and are greeted with the sound of geese whilst you do your business – strange but true. Even the sinks had their own flare with wall sculptures, plinths, and quotes to see you on your way right.
Returning to a tower of delicacies, the mini offerings were an exploration in themselves. The classic finger sandwiches of cucumber, salmon and egg were jazzed up with caviar, a warm quail’s egg and fresh ricotta cheese. Warm cheese pastries wrapped up in paper and a yellow bow, tiny circular apple crumbles, mini macaroons and blueberry éclairs – all tasting too good not to say yes to a second round when asked by our waitress (who was also lovely). Although I opted for coffee as I’m not a tea fan they had a wide selection of really amazing sounding teas to go along with the finger food. We finished off with a fresh scone served with homemade jam and cream.
Sketch is a work of art, an experience to remember and definitely one worth trying. It’s a must for any afternoon tea lover. To be honest, I would advise you to go – even if it’s just to check out the toilets. This is another glorious London gem.