The Lanesborough is a special place for me: it’s where I had my first “premium” afternoon tea in London and it also happens to be the sister hotel of the Bristol Paris, which is an all-time favourite. Both hotels had left me with such a good impression so I was over the moon when AfternoonTeaOnline.co.uk gave me an excuse to go and write about one of London’s finest afternoon teas.
The building sits in the former St George’s hospital and proudly overlooks Hyde Park Corner. It is a symbol of luxury and is said to be the most expensive hotel in the city. Have no fear though: the afternoon tea is surprisingly affordable for such an upscale hotel.
Guests may enjoy their afternoon tea in two venues:
The Céleste restaurant (Mon-Fri 2.30pm to 4.30pm and Sat-Sun 3.00pm to 4.30pm) occupies a large ballroom with stunning chandeliers, oval-shaped mirrors and plenty of natural light. The restaurant feels like the epitome of luxury and yet the predominantly light blue makes it feel very welcoming to anyone, although the adorable staff may also help with that feeling.
The Withdrawing Room (service from 1 to 5 pm) is your typical British reading room: a bit formal appearance but as cosy and relaxing as it gets. The cold days are upon us and this is my idea of heaven: a good sofa by the chimney, a pot of loose-leaf tea and lots of delicious food.
Can’t decide between venues? You may have an even harder time with the tea menu… Guests may choose from a selection of 31 teas and infusions from Camellia's Tea house. I never manage to make up my mind so I asked Illaria (the adorable waitress in charge of the Withdrawing Room on that day) to choose for me. She brought me one of the Lanesborough’s exclusive afternoon blend, which is a delicious combination of several black teas mixed with rose petals. The bitterness of black tea and the sweetness of the rose petals are a brilliant combination.
If it tickles your fancy, you may even order a cocktail or two! The Lanesborough’s resident barman is a cocktail genius and he is as friendly as his colleagues from the restaurant team.
The afternoon tea starts with 5 traditional sandwiches (salmon, egg, cucumber…). They are all freshly made and varied but the Ham & Cheese with walnut bread and honey-mustard dressing is really the tastiest of all.
The scones (plain and raisin) are served warm and carefully wrapped in a blanket to retain the heat (a distinctive sign of excellence) but the star of the show if the homemade strawberry jam, made from fresh whole strawberries. I strongly encourage you to order an extra plate of scones, as they are the best part of the Lanesborough afternoon tea. The staff kindly offers food refills, an offer not many can refuse…
Last but not least, the cakes and sweets: Chocolate & blackberry tart, Raspberry & pistachio sable, Paris-Brest choux, Coffee & hazelnut Financier and Matcha mousse filled with tahini cream.
You can tell that a great deal of thought has been put in each cake: the Lanesborough pastry chef is obviously a perfectionist which you’ll sure be able to tell when eating these extraordinary cakes. Being a Frenchman, I’m very demanding when it comes to a Paris-Brest so do trust me when I tell you that it’s the best cake that this afternoon tea has to offer.
Some may say that the Lanesborough afternoon tea is overly blessed: a brilliant venue, some delicious food, a comprehensive tea and beverage selection and a highly professional service team. If you want to treat yourself to one of London’s best luxury afternoon teas, look no further!