The Lanesborough

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea”: Henry James

The cake stand in all it’s glory
With copious amounts of pomp and ceremony, afternoon tea at The Lanesborough is an event to be savoured. While Henry James’ suggests one hour is sufficient, yesterday I managed a leisurely two hour afternoon tea session with Mathilde’s Cuisine, Greedy Diva and Food for Think. We nibbled and nattered to our hearts content at The Lanesborough, one of those swanky Knightsbridge hotels that no-one you know could ever afford to stay at. What you can do though, is soak up a bit of the ritzy atmosphere by indulging in afternoon tea. The afternoon tea is held in the main dining room which looks a little like I imagine Buckingham palace does. The room is an opulent large atrium filled with white linen clad tables and plush sofas while in the background a pianist tinkles away.
Goats cheese and red onion quiches
Afternoon tea at The Lanesborough costs £35 and includes a two hour session of basically as much as you can eat and as much tea as you can drink. In the interests of being able to sample the whole afternoon tea menu (and let’s face it, get our moneys worth) we had all skipped lunch and so were absolutely starving by the time we arrived at the hotel. Luckily we were presented immediately with a fabulous pre-afternoon tea amuse bouche of a shot glass containing a creamy cheese cake topped with berries.

The sandwich tier
The Lanesborough takes the tea part of afternoon tea seriously. It has it’s own tea sommelier, Karl Kessab, and was awarded the UK Tea Council’s ‘Award of Excellence’ last year and ‘London’s best afternoon tea’ the year before. I couldn’t spot the sommelier on our visit but our waiter was very knowledgeable about the tea menu and I ended up choosing the silver tip tea which is a white tea made from the first spring buds. It had a really light and refreshing taste and I could have sat and drank it all day. The service generally was both cosseting and indulgent. As you would expect from a five star hotel the tea was served in gleaming sterling silver tea pots and there were no less than three choices of sugar to add to the tea. That’s the kind of place The Lanesborough is.
Scone filled with jam and cream
Aside from the tea, the main event was of course the heavily laden cake stand arriving. Firstly, goats cheese and red onion quiches which were superb little mouthfuls. Then the sandwich tier which included the obligatory cucumber sandwiches, sandwiches filled with chicken and sun dried tomato paste and egg filled brioche rolls. While the sandwich fillings were varied and satisfying some of the bread on the sandwiches could have been fresher. However, I had no such complaints about the scones which were fluffy and fresh and served with some of the best strawberry jam I have ever tasted (along with clotted cream and lemon curd). Best of all the scones just kept on coming and we managed to demolish almost two servings. The next tier was filled with friands: a death by chocolate style chocolate friand, a dense carrot cake and nut friand and a friand with a tart lemon flavour. Finally, at the top of the stand teetered delicate confectionery creations including a truly exquisite meringue and gingernut confection and a slice made with a cream cheese filling and fruity topping.

The friand tier
Two hours and several tiers of cake and scones later we had enjoyed a truly decadent afternoon. Just around the corner from Buckingham palace, the Lanesborough is a great place to savour a quintessentially British experience. We left the hotel feeling like we were pampered princesses. In any event, we were princesses who would not need to eat anything for dinner.
The sweet tier

Essentials
Details: Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge SW1X 7TA (Ph 020 7259 5599) Tube: Hyde Park Corner. Afternoon tea is served daily at 4, 4.30 and 5 – plump for the 4pm sitting so that you can linger longer.
Damage: Budget breaking
8/10
Links
If you are looking for afternoon tea in London, Sketch also does a great afternoon tea in surroundings that are more quirky than ritzy, for a cheaper option try Betty Blythe in Brooks Green.

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Posted by: on March 29th, 2010     18 Comments »

Category: Blogsherpa, England, London tips, Restaurants - Tea House, SW1
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18 Comments on “The Lanesborough”

  1. Graphic Foodie said at 8:30 am on March 29th, 2010:

    Yay! booked this for my birthday treat and can’t wait! Glad you ladies had a good time.

  2. Kavey said at 8:45 am on March 29th, 2010:

    Am so sorry I messed up and couldn’t come! Glad it was such a lovely afternoon!

  3. Greedy Diva said at 8:46 am on March 29th, 2010:

    I loved that last cake especially! Although I’m ashamed to say, I still managed to eat a light dinner! Lovely to meet you, GC.

  4. mathildescuisine said at 9:49 am on March 29th, 2010:

    it was such a great experience, I really enjoyed it! I have even found a tea that I like. Thanks for coming, it was fab to feel like princesses for an afternoon!

  5. Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said at 10:09 am on March 29th, 2010:

    Oooh I got so excited when I saw that first picture! I do love afternoon tea and that one looks lovely with great company too! :)

  6. Kerri said at 11:35 am on March 29th, 2010:

    Wow, what a spread! It looks great. I’m yet to indulge in afternoon tea but I really hope to do so soon, this has jumped to the top of the list.

  7. skirmishofwit said at 2:17 pm on March 29th, 2010:

    What a lovely afternoon! That tea looks sublime.

  8. Sarah, Maison Cupcake said at 3:05 pm on March 29th, 2010:

    I went here a few years ago and enjoyed it very much. It was however before I was a food blogger so I have no pictures of the experience… guess I’ll have to go again!!
    I remember the piano… very civilised.

  9. Jonathan said at 8:17 am on March 30th, 2010:

    Looks wonderful. And thanks for including a quotation from Henry James. You’ve instantly transported me back to both the Lanesborough and A Level English classes.

  10. Gourmet Chick said at 8:44 am on March 30th, 2010:

    Graphic Foodie – make sure you tell them it’s your birthday so they get the whole room to sing happy birthday to you (the dishy waiters in particular were very tuneful)

    Kavey – sorry you missed out. Hope the market went well.

    Greedy Diva – I agree – I’m glad we got four of the last cake! Lovely to meet you too.

    Mathilde – Thanks for organising

    Lorraine – It is a lovely little indulgence every now and again.

    Kerri – Check out Sketch’s offering as well which is slightly cheaper although not quite as opulent.

    Skirmish of wit – It was!

    Sarah – Any excuse to go again I think

    Jonathan – Portrait of a Lady – one of my favourites.

  11. Margaret said at 9:03 am on March 30th, 2010:

    Great afternoon tea experience. Unfortunately, where I live it is very difficult to get afternoon tea. I had afternoon tea at the Wolseley as a treat and that was wonderful.

  12. Jules said at 10:26 am on March 31st, 2010:

    Stunning looking afternoon tea! Next time I’m in London I’ll certainly have to visit.

  13. Heavenly Housewife said at 12:44 pm on March 31st, 2010:

    Great post. I’m always looking for cool places to have afternoon tea :)
    *kisses* HH

  14. thepassionatecook said at 12:08 am on April 4th, 2010:

    the lanesborough was my first and continues to be m favourite haunt for anfternoon tea.. divine! i haven’t tried sketch, it’s on top of my list – so many places to go, so little time!

  15. Greedy Diva said at 3:29 pm on April 4th, 2010:

    GC – I just had to tell you, you were right – the piano playing was live! Still not sure where he was hiding! GD

  16. Greedy Diva said at 3:30 pm on April 4th, 2010:

    GC – I just had to tell you, you were right – the piano playing was live! Still not sure where he was hiding! GD

  17. Gourmet Chick said at 5:42 pm on April 7th, 2010:

    Margaret – Would love to go to the Wolseley (I hear their breakfasts are also great)

    Jules – It is a great thing for a visitor to do.

    Heavenly Housewife – I think you would like The Lanesborough

    The Passionate Cook -Well it is still holding strong

    Greedy Diva – It is a mystery we may never solve!

  18. Helen said at 1:10 pm on April 11th, 2010:

    For a moment there I thought there was bacon in that scone. Always thinking of the pig…


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