Guide to London | Afternoon Tea at Sketch

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I had two friends visit me last week. Well, I say they were visiting me when really, they just wanted to come to London and I happen to be here. Kel and I studied here together during my first semester abroad and have seen each other three times since, usually with me travelling to her home state, which I’ve come to love. Her best friend and roommate Mal and I met this past summer and became instant friends, so we were all really excited to be reunited in London. Kel made sure our week was packed with an equal balance of touristy things we’d done before and were going to introduce to Mal, along with new and exciting things none of us had done. A massive highlight for me was our booked afternoon tea at Sketch, just off of Oxford Street.

Having lived in London twice before and picking up a few issues of Time Out or checking social media for the latest London news, I’d seen Sketch raved about left, right and center. Everyone obsesses over the pink velvet furniture, quirky wall black and white doodles neatly arranged on the walls, and the less-than-normal-but-somehow-acceptable pods that make up the restroom. Sketch is all over Instagram and I’ve been itching to post some pink decor behind neat tiny finger sandwiches for AGESSSS.

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We were worried our black-on-black and autumnal aesthetics would clash horribly with the massive amounts of pink, but the lighting was warm enough to tone everything down and made for some difficulty in getting any of the colors to properly translate.

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The menu at Sketch is like most afternoon tea selections in London: a selection of finger sandwiches in really British flavors, mini tarts and cakes, and scones with clotted cream and jam. We went for the cheapest option: the Sketch Afternoon Tea, but trust me, we were thisclose to getting that Champagne option.

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The best thing about Sketch’s menu is the long list teas that mix traditional afternoon teas with more fun, flavorful options. I went for a vanilla tea and daaaamn it was so good! Honestly some of the best tea I’ve ever tasted. I just added a splash of milk and was good to go. My friends also really enjoyed their breakfast blends and herbal options, so the tea was the obvious winner. The food on the other hand….

Kelly and I tried being afternoon tea experts and told Mal the only way to do afternoon tea was to GO HAM on all of the desserts and then go in for the boring sandwiches before finishing off with the scones because you always regret eating all this bread and not having room for sweets. We were so wrong. I ate about half of each dessert because apart from the fruit tarte, they just weren’t what I had been used to, tbh. They were also kind of difficult to eat in a nice manner, as you can probs tell from the crumbs on my plate. Also, why was there a random knotted marshmallow??

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The savory options were the stars of the show in my opinion. I don’t think Kel and Mal felt the same as they ate fewer sandwiches than I did. I really liked the eggy one with caviar on top (middle) because I just like egg sandwiches in general and the salmon with cream cheese (left) was really good, but more fishy than I expected. The cucumber one was okay and the chicken was a bit weird. We did all agree that the mozzarella and pesto panini (right) was the best and ordered extra of that.

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Then we had plain scones with clotted cream and two types of jam. One jam was sweeter than the other, although I’m not sure which was which. We finished the tea with chocolate cake that sported a fun, colorful square pattern and while it was good, it was a bit dry. Kel and Mal seemed to have less qualms with our dining options than I did, but I’ve also done three afternoon teas before, one at the Savoy, and you really have to step up your game when that’s your competition and you’re charging around £50 (ps, my friend’s parents treated us to the Savoy because as if I would think to go there on my own). I also had really good food at the Cellarium in Westminster for only £10.

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And now it’s time to discuss what may be one of the most photographed public restrooms of all time because honestly, they’re just so random and zany. You’re greeted by a semi-spiraled staircase and more pink lighting against a bunch of white walls and pods. Then you see colorful arrangement of tiled lights before finally laying eyes on the pods. The pods are basically cooler – albeit strange – porta pottys. They’re super pink on the inside and just have the door, a toilet and the area for the roll. It feels a bit strange being inside them because there’s just so much pink and little of anything else. The sinks are outside and really aren’t anything fancy. The mirrors have a slight fun house effect where they distort your reflection a bit, if only in a super flattering-for-bathroom-selfies kind of way.

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I spent like 15 minutes taking pics in the bathroom and freaking out because everything was probably a little too cool for me, but I definitely wasn’t the only one.

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My thoughts on Sketch as far as food goes are that there are definitley better, more tasty options out there for the same price. I’ve even had better for 1/5 the price, but I will say the tea was worth like, £20, especially because I had about six cups. With Sketch, I feel like you’re paying for the ambiance and the cool factor. Also, my Instagrams and Snapchats of Sketch were v popular amongst my followers and randoms who found me through the tags, so they’re definitely a social media booster. If you have the cash to spare or want to do something fun, cute and different with your friends, I highly recommend Sketch.\

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