A few weeks ago, I made a fairly impromptu trip to see my sister in London. Our motto is usually “shop until you drop” but this time we thought we’d have a sit, avoid the crowds and partake in the very English tradition of tea and cake. And not just a slab of Victoria sponge and a builder’s tea – I mean afternoon tea, with bougie little bite-size patisserie that are almost too pretty to eat and good ol’ scones piled high with clotted cream and jam. (Let’s face it, no-one goes to afternoon tea for the finger sandwiches, do they?!)
Now you are spoilt for choice when it comes to afternoon tea in the big smoke. Traditional, modern, themed – you name it, there really is an afternoon tea out there for everyone. (Keep reading to the end for a couple of other contemporary suggestions!).
We settled on The Lanesborough, just off Hyde Park Corner. The hotel is super easy to get to on the Tube and in a beautiful building.
I had a lovely impression walking in as the Christmas decorations were up outside and in the lobby, but it’s the tea room that is really something. It has a high vaulted glass ceiling that gives the room a beautiful brightness, even on a grey November day, and the decor is a calming duck egg blue and cream. And look at the chandeliers!
The staff were friendly and attentive, and made helpful recommendations when we weren’t sure which tea to pick. I went for the Lanesborough Afternoon Tea, a black tea blend with fruity and rose notes, which was lovely.
The savoury part of the afternoon tea is perfect for us non-fans of the finger sandwich, because it was a selection of different hors d’oeveres.
We were a week too early for the Festive menu, so our Autumn menu featured a mushroom tartlet, an olive brioche muffin, a smoked salmon bun, a bon bon and a cream cheese roll. All were really tasty – the highlight was the bon bon which had a lovely crisp crumb on the outside and lovely and meaty inside.
The sweets were brought out a traditional 3 tiered cake stand with two types of scones (plain and raisin) on the bottom tier.
The sweets continue the Autumn theme, so whilst not the most colourful, they still looked very moreish and inviting.
The top tier featured a Mont Blanc, which is chestnut cream. I was a bit unsure about the chestnut part but it was very subtle so I did enjoy it. The chocolate one was Black Forest which is my absolute favourite, so I saved that one for last 🙂 Both cakes had a beautiful shiny glaze.
The second tier featured a coconut lamington (which was tad too sweet for me), a treacle tart and a pumpkin cookie.
And of course, the scones on the bottom tier which I forgot to photograph because I was just being greedy at that point!
We had a small issue with one of the scones which we mentioned to the staff and the scones were promptly replaced. We were also offered a glass of complimentary champagne which was absolutely lovely – so smooth and easy to drink compared to prosecco!
All in all, I would definitely recommend the Lanesborough for afternoon tea. The tea room is beautiful and had a nice ambience even when it got busy in the late afternoon. We had a very enjoyable time and didn’t feel rushed at all. The service was also impeccable. Both the savoury and sweets were delightful, and although they do not look particularly large, they were filling. We even had to take the pumpkin cookies and a scone away with us!
The Lanesborough has a more traditional tea room feel but if you are looking for a more modern take on afternoon tea, we did look at these ones too!
- The Art afternoon tea at the Rosewood Hotel, Mayfair – a contemporary afternoon tea inspired by the life and work of the internationally acclaimed sculptor, Antony Gormley. This sounds fabulous and I would have loved to try it but it was fully booked – definitely next on my list!
- Afternoon tea at the Gallery at sketch, London sounds a bit quirky and fun – another one on my list!
Have you ever been for an afternoon tea? Let me know in the comments what your favourite cake is!
Online: The Lanesborough