The Rubens at The Palace


Royal-fever has well and truly descended on London as the capital prepares to celebrate the coronation of His Majesty King Charles III, and you won’t find anywhere better placed to immerse yourself in the atmosphere than the five-star Red Carnation Hotel Collection family-run property, The Rubens at the Palace. The site on which the hotel stands even belonged to the grounds of Buckingham Palace during the 18th century so you’re almost a royal guest. The warm staff will certainly make you feel like one.

If you’re intending on spending most of your time out and about, the small but perfectly formed and dog-friendly Royal Themed King Rooms are a good call as they offer a bolthole no less memorable for being on the snug size; 16 square metres versus the 55 square metre Master Suite. Our red and white individually designed ‘Royal Box’ featured a striking Murano crystal chandelier, king-size bed (naturally), a shower room stocked with royal warrant Floris amenities (The King’s a loyal customer and a fan of their Rose Geranium Bath Oil apparently) while a portrait of a beaming Princess Margaret draped in diamond jewellery is the undisputed focal-point of the room. I’d been excited to find out which member of the ‘family’ we were going to get as I hear His Majesty is much in demand at present!

Overlooking the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace, the entrance used by members of the Royal Family, The Rubens celebrates its historic past and South African ownership with a good dose of theatricality, not least when their own Scottish Piper makes impromptu appearances at The Leopard or New York Bar. The hotel also boasts two destination restaurants, The Curry Room, serving Indian and African fine-dining and the plush, Murano chandelier-adorned English Grill under Executive Chef Ben Kelliher, offering the ultimate British cuisine while offering diners the chance to enjoy all the action from the kitchen with its charcoal-fired Josper grill thanks to a feature glass wall overlooking the pass. The menu, featuring signature dishes by Red Carnation founder Beatrice Tollman is a who’s who of luxury ingredients and suppliers to the Royal Household including H. Forman and Son whose ‘London Cure’ smoked salmon is sliced at the table by one of the skilled waiting team.

My glazed lobster omelette starter with thermidor sauce (seasonal black truffle can be added) followed by a majestic whole Dover sole filleted table side were indeed dishes fit for royalty, so too Mrs Tollman’s famous cheesecake. And dining at The Rubens over the King’s Coronation weekend promises to be even more extravagant with a Coronation Indian Feast at The Curry Room on 4th May commencing with live music in the opulent New York Bar, while the seven-course Coronation Lanson Dinner at The English Grill on 5th May will feature live music and Lanson Champagne and canapés on arrival, before an exclusive menu pairing the finest British produce with Lanson.

Residents of The Rubens have just as much choice when it comes to deciding how to spend their day following an indulgent breakfast in The English Grill. A Full English with Olde English sausage, Eggs Royale, Tattie Scone Stack or Welsh Rarebit with a Virgin/Bloody Mary or glass of Lanson are the order of the day before you toddle down The Mall to admire the daily pageantry of the Changing of the King’s Guard outside Buckingham Palace, marking the moment when the soldiers on duty, the Old Guard, exchange places with the New Guard. Other notable landmarks within easy reach of the hotel include Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Royal Albert Hall, plus Kensington’s world-famous museums such as the V&A and Natural History Museum.

After an industrious morning, head to St James’s Park with a Royal Hamper for two prepared by the hotel, or while away the afternoon with The Ruben’s new Coronation Afternoon Tea served in the suitably regal Palace Lounge with its red and gold décor, grand piano and outward facing sofa seats with a panoramic view of Royal Mews. A great spot for people-watching, the parched and hungry-looking tourists passing by (not least those top deck passengers of the hop-on/hop-off sightseeing buses) certainly seemed fascinated on seeing us enjoy this most elegant British pastime and I wondered if I ought to practice my royal wave. The newly-launched Coronation Afternoon Tea has been especially created by The Rubens’ Head Pastry Chef, Sarah Houghting, as a tribute to this historic occasion with nods to the Commonwealth and the King’s well known love of sustainability and environment.

Highlights are the Welsh lamb sausage roll and Coronation Chicken brioche roll topped with toasted almonds and coriander, while three scone varieties follow: plain, fruit and cheese served with clotted cream, homemade jam and lemon curd. The ‘crowning glory’ is the handcrafted patisserie with a life-like ‘Orchard Fruit’ plum, a novel disguise for a fruit confit, vanilla mousse and cinnamon biscuit, a tribute to the King’s favourite fruit and Royal Orchard, while the delicate white chocolate and gold leaf-topped ‘Crown’ with cherry chocolate brownie was inspired by the iconic diamond encrusted centrepiece that the eyes of the world will gaze upon during next month’s state occasion.

Afternoon tea guests are encouraged to sample King Charles III’s favourite tea, Darjeeling, while other premium blends ethically sourced by PMD Speciality Teas include unusual and award-winning varieties such as ‘Silver Tips’, ‘Planters’ Mistress’ and the refined Flowering Tea. Glamorous and specially designed cocktails provide further refreshment and fanfare, while I was thrilled to find So Jennie Paris as an alcohol free alternative to the house champagne, Lanson.

The Palace Lounge and English Grill will be serving a six-course Coronation Afternoon Tea menu on 6th May with live music and intoxicating additions to the menu including a lobster and caviar brioche roll, Pink Green Tea, Darjeeling-soaked fruit cake and ‘Highgrove Whisky Sour Martini Ice’. The grand finale of the hotel’s traditionally British celebrations is the family-friendly King’s Coronation Street Party Afternoon Tea on 7th May hosted in The English Grill with the Rubens Live Trio offering a relaxed ambiance as guests indulge in British party food classics such as sausage roll, quiche and scotch egg. With its full programme of royal-themed experiences, ostentatious food and surroundings and utterly adorable staff, the incomparable Rubens promises a royal knees-up to remember.

Rubens at the Palace. King’s Coronation Afternoon Tea is priced from £70pp and served until 1st August. Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Vegan, Halal and Little Prince and Princess afternoon tea menus are available alongside the Traditional with advance notice. For more information, including Coronation dining and accommodation reservations please visit the website.