by Waverly W., 8 years old, Manhattan and Mom…older than 8 🙂
The Mom here! I’ve been so busy with work, Waverly and this website that (don’t laugh) when I booked our London trip, it was weeks later that I realized we were going to be away for Easter Sunday. Oh, no, another thing to add to my to-do list. Somehow I had to find a place to go that would be just as good as home and give her a memory that would last a lifetime. Or, just fail as a mom and end up walking around London looking at all the closed stores. Not this mom.
I had to find The Perfect Place. Little did I know that when I found The Montague on the Gardens, I found a place that is as good as home … but way better.
Waverly here! I love a good egg hunt! So when my mom said we were going to go to a beautiful hotel for an egg hunt and afternoon tea on Easter, I was super excited. I was ready to add to my “London Chocolate Collection.” My mom was ready for more scones! We got there a little early and when we walked in I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. It was really fancy but right away, the people who worked there were really nice to us and showed us around all the different rooms. Hi Adele, Wayne, Georgia and Mustafa! We still had some time before The Easter Bunny got there, so we started exploring….Walking around The Montague was like a treasure hunt even before the Easter Egg hunt! There were so many different places to go and they all had different themes. Had too much afternoon tea? How about a “Coffee Experience” outside with Luke? Five different beans from around the world…
Coffee at The Montague is definitely an experience! Luke told us that the outside terrace transforms into a Beach Bar in the summer and a Ski Lodge in the winter. My mom said she wished it was in NYC. (Mom here! It would be so awesome to have a work party here. Pretty sure it’s slightly out of the way….) I told her we should just move here. 🙂
If you love leopards (and cheetahs) like I do, hang out in the Leopard Lounge (and their resident Leopard who I named Africa) with Piotr:Look how cool this room is! We walked around a little more with Luke and he told us the story of how the Red Carnation Hotels started by The Tollmans with just one hotel in South Africa. Now there are 17 hotels like this one around the world. Amazing!
Let’s get back to the Easter Bunny. Time for the egg hunt! This bunny was a girl with a British accent! We met up with her and a group of kids in the lobby and off we went together through all the different rooms and the terrace, collecting chocolate eggs and having lots of fun exploring!
I had lots of fun with Luca, Evie, Violet, Cody and Tanguy! We got about a million chocolate eggs to share, and then it was time for tea! We sat down in the Conservatory and Luke came back to give us our options…but he didn’t just show us a menu, he showed us the tea! Mom and I had lots of fun reading about all of them, seeing how different they were in the glass jars, and we even got to sniff them!Hmmm, what to pick? We kept it simple with mint and camomile but there were so many choices like Jasmine Petals and Pearls and Emerald Dragon. When Luke came back with our tea, he brought a timer with him (it had three different timers on it) and explained that each timer was for different types of tea. Ours was white so it was the shortest. Time for tea! Let me just say this: O. M. G. When we poured it into our cups, it smelled like heaven on earth! The mint was so…minty! I felt like I was in my grandma’s garden. (Mom here – these “simple” teas were anything but simple. As soon as they were poured we were both immediately struck by the pure, fresh fragrances they gave off. And the taste. Let me just say this: O. M. G. Tea will never be the same for me now….gotta figure out how to fly to London every afternoon.)
We were having a nice time relaxing and sipping our tea when the Easter Bunny and Adele came by to say hi and give us the Easter chocolate we collected on our hunt in cute little boxes. I was like, “Can this day get any better?”
And then the food came. Some days I really think I’m the luckiest girl in the world and this was one of those times. Sandwiches like Cucumber, Cream Cheese and Chive (my favorite and mom says she will make them for me at home now!), my mom’s favorite – “Egg Mayonnaise” which is what they call egg salad, and my OTHER favorite, Smoked Scottish Salmon. Then my mom entered “The Scone Zone.” Let me explain. She loaded up her scone with cream and jam and got this dreamy look in her eyes when she took a bite. “Mom. Mom. Mom? MOM. MOM!!” Finally she snapped out of it. I told her I called her like a million times and she didn’t believe me. It was true, though! She said she must have entered The Scone Zone because it was just that good. (Mom here again! Let’s just say that I had a bit of a “Religious Experience” eating that scone on Easter Sunday. That cream….it’s true, all I remember is taking a bite, being transported, and hearing Waverly laugh at me. I swear, I will dream about that cream.)Time for the sweets! I had my eye on the Giraffe Macaron with Salted Caramel and I decided I was going to start with that in case I got too full to enjoy it later. It was soooooooooooooooo good. It was kind of like how my mom felt about the scone. Then we took bites of everything – vanilla cheesecake, chocolate cupcake (with the cutest tiny little bunny on it!), meringues – let’s just say we were very happy. Everything was delicious! I thought I couldn’t eat anything else by the end of it but when we got up to leave my mom caught me taking just one last bite. I will always remember our Easter at The Montague on The Gardens and feel like even though I wasn’t with my real family, I was with my “family for a day.” I will be back to see them all again and to get some more of those yummy treats!Mom here again. The story of Bea Tollman is incredibly inspiring. What she has built along with her husband Stanley from “modest beginnings” is amazing. Not only “luxury and award winning hotels,” but a family of employees whose dedication to their guests – and each other – is truly evident from the moment you walk in. In fact, unlike most places, they all pool their tips into a common bank and every month go out to celebrate together with the money. From what I observed in the short time I spent there, everyone, no matter the job title, gets along like family (in a good way!) and I’m guessing they have a fabulous time together at those parties.
Learning about how Red Carnation hotels started from humble beginnings and has since grown into the most stunningly beautiful and hospitable places I have ever visited makes me feel like anything is possible for us, too, with hard work, determination and passion. What The Tollmans have built goes beyond buildings and they have truly inspired this single mom who hopes to use their story to show her daughter that yes, anything is possible.
The Montague on the Gardens truly made us feel like we were at home and went well beyond our expectations of hospitality and care. Whatever season you visit, for tea, coffee, a drink in the Leopard Lounge, a party in the “Ski Lodge” etc. will be treated in the exact same manner. I will never forget that experience….or that scone!
Experience it for yourself, and tell them Kids’ News NYC sent you!