When most people begin planning at trip to London, they start with the basics – Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, the London Eye, Hyde Park, and Trafalgar Square to name a few. At the top of my itinerary for London was Sketch, a quirky but oh so glam restaurant/art gallery in the Mayfair neighborhood of London. I have a bad habit of setting unrealistic expectations for almost everything, and I’m often disappointed that things are never as good in real life as I imagine them being. So when I find a place or an experience that not only meets, but EXCEEDS all of my wildest expectations, I just have to share with anyone that will listen! If you’re visiting or live in London and appreciate the finer things in life (hello, fellow Epicureans!), you should make dining at Sketch a priority!
Sketch is a work of art in itself and provides a truly unique dining experience. Located in an 18th century townhouse on Conduit Street, diners can choose from a variety of 5 different rooms based on the time of day and type of cuisine they’re in search of. Each separate space has its own “theme”, if you will. We were seated in the often-Instagrammed “Gallery” which boasts chevron-tiled floors, panoramic “sketches” by featured artist David Shrigley, rose-gold details, and the prettiest pink seats. According to this video, Sketch commissions a new artist to transform the Gallery, which is their main room, every two years. If I had to choose one interior that I would want to inspire the design of my own home, it would be Shrigley’s Gallery.
Sketch offers several options as far as afternoon tea goes. All are served with the same finger sandwiches, scones, cakes and desserts, but with your choice of tea, champagne, sparkling wine, or non-alcoholic cocktails. At £45 (~$60) per person (£57+ for alcoholic beverages), the basic afternoon tea is not cheap, but the experience was well worth the price tag and the restaurant is very generous with servings – order more of whatever you want and it is covered under your individual rate. Luke’s mom, Julie, and I each tried three different teas out of their selection of about 20 and we both loved every one that we tried (I’ve been craving the Jasmine Pearls green tea since we left!). When we told our waitress which tea we were partaking in, she informed us that they would be bringing all of our snacks out of the kitchen over the next two hours. We were all quite surprised, but it was really refreshing to be able to sit down and enjoy each others’ company in such a beautiful space and not be pressured to rush for the restaurant’s turnaround.
Our sandwiches and desserts arrived about half an hour after we were seated. My favorites were the coronation chicken sandwich (similar to chicken salad) and the mozzarella and pesto panini (wrapped in parchment paper and tied with a bow to keep warm). I saved the desserts for last and they were all divine, as well. I didn’t have a favorite because by the time I got around to eating them, I was so full of sweets that I just took a bite of each one so I could try everything. I used my sweet tooth on the sultana scones, served with clotted cream, fig, and strawberry jams and I was tempted to have another round since they were baked to perfection – not at all dry or crumbly.
The service at Sketch is a testament to its success. All of the staff seemed to thoroughly enjoy their jobs and their positive attitudes were something that I took notice to. Drinks were never dry, fresh plates were always offered, and multiple rounds of tea or dessert were encouraged. The restaurant seems to have a teamwork-oriented philosophy, with several different waiters and waitresses happily assisting our table whenever we were in need.
As if Sketch wasn’t already the total package, just wait until you see their bathrooms! Yep, you read that right. Sketch’s futuristic “pee pods” are a hot topic and definitely make for the most Instagram-able bathroom selfies. Seeing photos of this art installation of a loo on Instagram is actually how I found out about Sketch – great marketing tactic they’ve used here, getting everyone to talk about their toilets!
Out of all the things I had the opportunity to see and do while in London, Sketch was by far my favorite experience. One thing that I always strive for when traveling is to find off-the-wall experiences that are unique to their location. Obviously, part of being a tourist is seeing all of the famous landmarks, but more often than not, my fondest memories of my travels include one-of-a-kind experiences such as the afternoon we spent at Sketch. They’ve taken the British tradition of afternoon tea and modernized in such a posh and fresh way. It was just what our sore feet and hungry tummies needed after exploring London all morning. If you’re going to London soon, or if you live there and haven’t visited, plan a visit to dine (or drink – the Gallery is a cocktail bar in the evenings) at Sketch and don’t leave without getting a selfie in the bathroom!
“Afternoon Tea at Sketch” Photographed by Emily Davis and Luke Bowes
© Emily Davis