“I love my job and to help make everybody’s dreams come true,” says Lulu Gwynne founder and owner of Betty Blythe Vintage Tea Room in leafy West London.
“We’ve been providing tea parties for 10 years and have just celebrated our 10th anniversary,” Lulu says proudly. “We provide a quintessentially British afternoon experience with a hint of Hollywood glamour in the most beautiful corner shop in the UK. I think we are one of the original places in London serving Afternoon Tea that is not a hotel.”
So who is Betty Blythe?
“Blythe comes from the name of the road where the tea shop sits,” explains Lulu. “I wanted to find something that would go so I did a word play on Google and the first name that came up was Betty. I wanted to create a character that people could wonder about and make up stories, little did I know when I decided to name the shop Betty Blythe and go for a logo that looks like a signature would I discover on immediate research of this fabulous name I conjured up, that the beauty really existed. It transpired Betty Blythe was a real person, a wonderful woman” says Lulu. “Ironically she was a silent movie star in the roaring twenties which fit perfectly with the ‘vintage’ theme of the tea room. I couldn’t believe my luck!”
From Baby Showers and Children’s Birthday Parties including Sweet 16’s to elegant Hen parties, girly get-togethers, Weddings and Christenings and not forgetting ever popular seasonal delights such as Halloween, Easter and Christmas, Betty Blythe organises bespoke parties combined with an Afternoon tea theme served by the Starlets (perfectly attired staff wearing vintage black and white uniforms) on pretty vintage china in a charming 1920s style. There’s a dressing up box of vintage accessories too – pearls, gloves and fascinators – so you can unleash your inner movie star and take a trip back to that iconic era. As well as dressing up fun, the children’s tea parties also include etiquette lessons on table manners.
Vintage 1920s may be Betty Blythe’s signature style but creatively their themed offerings are open ended.
“We are known for our themed approach and have perfected many including Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Alice in Wonderland and Charlie and the chocolate factory which really stretches the imagination with lickable wallpaper and chocolate fountains, and chocolate bars with golden tickets and in keeping with the princess theme Beauty and the Beast – many come with fabulous sweet buffets – but whatever your wish it will be granted and when it comes to accessories, if I haven’t got it, I’ll find it,” promises Lulu.
Parties are also not just confined to the small but elegant Brook Green shop which caters for a maximum of 16 adults in the Chandelier lit Imperial room and 10 adults in Betty’s eclectic Boudoir. Betty Blythe also offers a complete party planning service bringing the unique ambience of the shop and a much desired originality to all manner of private events.
“We have served picnics on double Decker buses with champagne (whilst it was driving around) served delightful food on an island in the middle of the River Thames.
“We tend to use off-the-cuff venues such as private venues or art galleries, especially for weddings. The problem is many do their own catering so everything is already taken care of but if you can get a venue that doesn’t have too many rules we can make it all so special.
“We work with any budget as what is expensive to you may not be to another person. It is a fabulous way to get some enjoyment and if you want to be lavish be lavish. We take a bespoke approach to every party and get really creative from the invites down to the party bags building up a special relationship with the client to ensure their special day is an exquisite experience that is both memorable and wonderful.”
Thinking of planning the perfect tea party, Lulu Gwynne’s book ‘Style Me Vintage Tea Parties’ has recipes and instructions on how to pull off the perfect event. Available from Amazon.
Interview by Charlotte Civil