A global field guide to shopping, style and hidden gems
est. 2007

Top London tea spots: Parlour at Sketch

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With a reputation for displaying cakes “like jewels” (The Goddess Guide by Gisele Scanlon), it didn’t take long for me to sniff out The Parlour at Sketch when I first arrived in London.

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Located across the road from Vivienne Westwood on Conduit Street, it offers an avant-garde setting for taking tea. Think traditional private men’s club complete with dark-wood panelling meets edgy gallery with odd-matching furniture and a chandelier fashioned out of Angelpoise lamps. It’s the sort of place where a live bird in a Victorian wire cage is replaced by a mini LCD screen playing looping clips of the real thing. And the toilets? Let’s just say that Kubrick wouldn’t be disappointed.

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I was delighted to discover that said cakes were, in fact, exquisitely displayed in a carefully lighted glass showcase, and considering the location and setting, a reasonably-priced menu. Here, a delicious cream tea (fruit scones served with jam and clotted cream with a choice of tea) is £7.75 per person, compared to £10.75 at Liberty. Afternoon tea is also competitively-priced at £18.50 for the traditional line-up of assorted finger sandwiches, fruit scones served with jam and clotted cream, a selection of pastries and choice of teas.

The tea menu offers an excellent range catering for all tastes, with traditional blends and herbal infusions starting at £3. My pick is the deliciously-fragrant Jasmine Silver Fur for £4. There’s also a rather handy free Wi-Fi service, which I noticed quite a few people taking advantage of on both occasions I visited.

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Just keep in mind that despite the fabulous cakes and edgy gallery setting, the service is notoriously snail-paced. But what does that matter if you’ve got all the time in the world (or a few emails to write). And did I mention the toilets?

AWeekOfTea
Sketch
9 Conduit Street
London W1S 2XG
Tel. 020 765 94500
Nearest tube: Oxford Circus
Click here for a Wee Birdy map.

  • jenny wren

    I think Marie Antoinette would have loved dining here, don’t you think Top Bird!?

  • http://www.deliciousindustries.blogspot.com Delicious Industries

    Top recommendation! I had lunch at The Parlour yesterday and it was just as fabulous as you described!

  • http://londoneater.com Kang

    Great Stuff, I’ve been looking for a place to settle down for tea and this looks amazing.
    Will give it a try.

  • http://www.xanga.com/cookiedrops Kerry

    i have been looking for a place to go with my friend for tea and this looks like just the place to be! will definitely try it out when im in town :)

  • LDNAnon

    You know, one of your photos is from the Mandeville Hotel’s afternoon tea website, not sketch and not yours. Nice ripping off, shame you got caught.

  • Top Bird @ Wee Birdy

    Dear LDNAnon,
    No ripping off here, sorry. These images were obtained directly from Sketch’s PR. I’m a professional journalist, there’s nothing to hide here. I take most of my own shop photos, others are supplied by PR/designers/shops.
    My mistake for not crediting the images, although when I do use my own images it does get tedious crediting them all the time. And it’s quite commonplace to not credit images from PR.
    Thanks for stopping by.

  • LDNAnon

    Well if you’d been to Sketch for tea, you’d know that isn’t what it looks like, and that isn’t what their afternoon tea looks like either.
    If you’re a professional, perhaps you need to have respect for copyright.

  • http://www.weebirdy.com Top Bird @ Wee Birdy

    Dear LDNAnon,
    This isn’t an issue about copyright infringement (although I’ve been the victim of it myself hundreds of times online) or a case of “ripping off”.
    It MAY, however, be the case of scone/tea/sandwiches mistaken identity. I’ve had tea at Sketch a total of three times and can honestly say I thought that image portrayed the same tea.
    The offending scones have now been removed and hopefully won’t offend in the future.
    However, there are other ways that you could have brought this to my attention, without resorting to leaving a rather nasty and anonymous message accusing me of copyright infringement, and bringing my personal integrity into question.