I was invited along to Royal Hotel Southend to sample two afternoon tea and cocktails, including a quirky little pork and apple martini…
I used to visit Southend a lot as a child. Peter Pan’s Playground (now Adventure Island) was a favourite of mine, and I especially loved the crazy golf course on the site.
The pier is refreshing and calming to walk along too with an ice cream in hand in the Summer time!
The Royal Hotel, a listed building built in 1791, was the first building on the high street in the first phase of creating the new town. The terrace was named ‘royal’ following visits by Princess Caroline, wife of the Prince Regent, in 1803 and for a short time attracted high class people. The hotel at this time was full of secrets – most famously for it being the hotel of choice for Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton to carry out a year long affair!
The Royal Terrace is now the only surviving Georgian terrace in Southend – and isn’t it beautiful?
The building now serves as a restaurant and bar, open every day and serving international dishes using fresh, local produce and ingredients, from lunch through to dinner.
We were invited along to enjoy delicious afternoon tea and incredible cocktails, so we kicked off the day with some alcohol-free prosecco called Bee’s Knees. Created by Royal Southend, it’s a deliciously sweet alcohol-free prosecco with a lovely sweet, crisp after taste. It’s a popular drink for baby showers and for those who don’t drink, and I would happily have a glass of this again!
We were taken up some beautiful winding stairs and taken into the Ballroom for afternoon tea and prosecco. The room was absolutely incredible, with grand high ceilings, glittering chandeliers and beautiful golden high ornate coving.
We settled down to a beautifully decorated white table with flowing prosecco chilling on the ice!
We were treated to the Afternoon Tea and the Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea, both of which were incredible, and equally delicious! A gentlemen’s afternoon tea was made at Royal Hotel as staff noticed that men were asking for more sandwiches and more food when they had the normal afternoon tea – hence the creation of the Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea!
Afternoon Tea Royal Hotel Southend
For starters, we were treated to wild boar and apple sausage roll, breaded prawns and crispy breaded brie. The sausage rolls were my favourite of the starter; they were deliciously rich and the puff pastry was flaky and crunchy, perfectly done. The breaded brie was crunchy on the outside and deliciously gooey inside, the perfect winter warming treat!
The selection was excellent on the traditional Afternoon Tea stand. We were treated to finger sandwiches, fruit scones with clotted cream and Tiptree jam, and a selection of delicious sweet treats.
I’m not really a sandwich kinda’ person so I skipped straight to the sweet treats on this stand – no regrets over here! The fruit scones were soft and fluffy inside, the cream rich and the Tiptree jam sweet and tangy. The sweet treats were a massive hit with me on this stand – we were treated to chocolate cake, carrot cake, lemon drizzle cake, macarons, truffles and chocolate cherry cups!
The cake was fresh and bouncy, the chocolate cake with chocolate ganache was my favourite.
Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea Royal Hotel Southend
For starters, we were treated to humous, pitta bread, olives and onion bhajis. The humous was delicious, very garlicky with a lovely lemony kick. The bhaji was hot and crispy, with a delicious stodgy filling inside.
The Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea selection is impressive – the savoury treats certainly caught my eye on this stand!
We were treated to ham hock and Welsh rarebit Croque Monsieur, mini sausage with mash and and mustard, and mini beef burgers. The sandwiches were much chunkier, with roast beef horseradish and mature cheese and pickle, and the sweet treats included a miniature cider jelly shot and a white chocolate Millionaire’s shortbread.
The miniature burger sliders were super tasty with a lovely sweet toasted brioche bun. The Croque Monsieur tasted incredible on freshly baked rosemary bread, and the inside-out hotdogs were super cute, too!
I made just about enough room to try the white Millionaire’s shortbread and omg – HANDS DOWN the BEST short bread I have had in a long, long time! Thick white chocolate, sweet caramel and crunchy shortbread – just amazing!
After an incredible afternoon tea experience, we headed down to the cocktail bar in the basement to enjoy classic cocktails with a unique twist.
Cocktail bar Royal Hotel Southend
The bar decor is quirky, fun and unique.
The bar and shelves are carved from a fallen tree, covered with a glittery varnish to protect the natural wood. There a comfy mini sofas and stools to sit and drink on, and various spots to stand, chat and drink. Copper pipes were cut up and constructed into a bar, and the front of the bar is decorated with 2ps and varnish – so a very resourceful little cocktail bar!
We were treated to a selection of incredible concocted cocktails, many traditional cocktails that I’m sure we have all tried, but given a real unique twist. The cocktail menu changes on a weekly basis to keep the menu fresh and seasonal, but you can request whatever drink you fancy – they have a back catalogue of recipes to choose from!
First of all, we were treated to a delicious absinthe based cocktail with a sweet pineapple ring and caramelised brown sugar. It was deliciously sweet and the caramelised pineapple was a delight to eat afterwards!
We perused the menu and decided to try Basil Tower, a basil, Hayman’s Gin, pear vodka and elderflower cocktail, topped with prosecco and juniper berries. It was a super earthy flavoured cocktail, so not my usual go-to cocktail, but it was super fresh and delicious!
Next up, we tried the Another Bloody Cosmo – a twist on the classic Cosmo cocktail! Citrus vodka, fresh lime, cranberry juice and blood orange cointreau made up this beautiful fruity cocktail – and it was definitely one of my favourites! It was sweet, fruity and super easy to drink!
A drink I totally wish I tried now – but chickened out at at the time – is the Pork and apple martini. The unusual cocktail was made from vanilla vodka, green apple teichenne, pressed apple juice and a flaming piece of bacon. I really wish I had tried this unusual concoction, but all the girls said how delicious it was and how well the bacon worked with it!
I’ve never tried an Espresso Martini before but I am totally converted to it now! Royal Hotel Southend put their twist on it, and made the martini with Absolut vanilla, Kahlua (coffee and rum based liqueur), freshly-made espresso and sugar, topped with three coffee beans. This sweet vanillary goodness will now be my go-to after dinner cocktail – I was in heaven drinking this!
And last but not least, we tried Royal Hotel’s jazzed up version of a Bailey’s – with a generous amount of salted caramel syrup and liqueur. This sweet, creamy drink was life, and I can’t wait to try it again!
I had a wonderful afternoon at Royal Hotel Southend, and can’t thank them enough for their generosity and hospitality! If you’re ever in Southend, I would 100% recommend a visit to enjoy the delicious food and incredible cocktails.
I can’t wait to visit again!