Afternoon tea at The Lancaster London
For Mother’s Day this year I’d hoped to be able to treat my wonderful Mum to afternoon tea, but sadly it wasn’t to be at the time. Thankfully Lancaster London, the stunning hotel overlooking Hyde Park, has just launched a new Afternoon Tea and I was delighted to be invited to try it out last weekend.
The hotel is in a fantastic location with Marble Arch and the plethora of Oxford Street shops a five-minute stroll away and with Knightsbridge and Harrods just 10 minutes by taxi. The hotel’s New Executive Chef Ben Purton has created a fun but traditional Afternoon Tea that sounded perfect as a belated Mother’s Day treat!
Mum and I set off for London from The Barn early on Saturday morning and headed straight for the National Gallery with it’s stunning domed ceiling – I hadn’t been there for years and we spent a wonderful couple of hours perusing the amazing paintings by Cezanne, Renior and the other Impressionists.
After a quick trip to the flagship of our favourite department store, John Lewis (well it would be rude not to right?) we hopped into a taxi for a walk down memory lane to our old house in a mews opposite Hyde Park. It was strange seeing how much had changed but also how much had stayed the same and it sparked off some reminiscing about my childhood days playing in the park while we ambled the short walk to the Lancaster London.
When we arrived at the hotel Macou, who I later found out was a trainee – I had NO idea because she was utterly brilliant and so professional – showed us to our lovely table with a comfy sofa and chairs. She explained that afternoon tea should be a relaxing experience, that we were to take our time and have fun. Just what we needed after a morning rushing around London!
Macou made us feel completely at ease and we sank happily into the sofa to sip on glasses of Laurent Perrier champagne, peruse the menu and make our first selection of tea from the 14 different blends on offer. Yep 14! From traditional English Breakfast to a caffeine free herbal blend called Wild Encounter, Spicy Rooibos, Early Grey and even Pai Mu Tan; China’s rarest and most famous white tea – we were spoilt for choice!
I choose Darjeeling and Mum decided on White Pear and Ginger and within minutes Macou arrived with our choices in beautiful teapots along with a mini sand-timer each to make sure our Novus Tea was brewed to perfection. A lovely touch!
And then this arrived. WOW.
While we waited for our teas to brew we sampled our first course; a selection of sandwiches including smoked salmon – the salmon is smoked on site for six hours giving it a delicate flavour which is utterly delicious – a roast beef filled Yorkshire pudding with horseradish cream, egg and wild cress and, of course, cucumber. All beautifully presented on Wedgwood China for an extra touch of finesse.
I put my gluten-free mantra to one side for the purposes of this review (I know, it’s a hard job right?) but I was pleased to learn that the Lancaster London does have gluten-free alternatives which they’ll happily prepare with 48 hours notice.
We also had a perfect little wild mushroom, chicken and tarragon tarlet to round off the savoury portion of our tea. The pastry was rich and short without being cloying – too often pastry shells can be flaky or disappear in your mouth without any sign of being there. These were delicious (although Mum did find a small piece of gristle in hers which was a shame).
We chatted about this and that, enjoying some Mother-daughter-time while we let our sandwiches settle then switched to English Breakfast tea to go with our second course of mini scones with homemade jam and clotted cream served warm straight from the oven. Heavenly!
The scones were the perfect combination of slightly crunchy on the outside and warm and fluffy on the inside and I admit I devoured both of mine in moments (Noom nearly exploded when I did my food logging!)
Maybe it was just that day, but there was a lightness in the air that was just wonderful. Women enjoying each other’s company, couples relaxing on sofas. There was more than one bachelorette party at the hotel during our visit and the sound of laughter and happiness permeated the air – what better accompaniment to afternoon tea?
Our delicious afternoon tea rounded off with a selection of sweet bites from the pastry chef. The white chocolate and pistachio lolly pops, apple and honey cupcake were SO sweet that we just couldn’t finish them. Our favourites were the chocolate and Amarena cherry tart and the passion fruit and raspberry macaroon – totally yummy.
It would have been nice to something a bit more tart or lemony to cut through the richness of the scones and give a little zing back to our indulged tastebuds – my only criticism of an otherwise faultless afternoon.
I couldn’t have wished for a better way to celebrate Mother’s Day and to thank my wonderful Mum for everything that she does for us. A word to the wise though… pace yourself! And wear elasticated trousers – this is an afternoon tea to savour with generous portions and delicious food so come prepared by not eating lunch so that you can really enjoy it all!
At the end of our lovely afternoon together my Mother told me that this was the best afternoon tea she’d had, beating The Ritz, Harrods, The Dorchester and Fortnum & Masons – praise indeed! She was most impressed with the very generous portion size of each part of the afternoon tea, the intricacy of presentation, the quality of the food and the fabulous service.
The new Lancaster London Afternoon Tea costs £30 (I consider this great value for money) and is served in the hotel’s sumptuous first floor Lounge Bar from 2pm until 5.30pm. The celebratory Laurent-Perrier Champagne Afternoon Tea priced at £40, which we had, is perfectly suited for special occasions like baby showers and birthday parties, or if, like us, you just want to treat yourself!
Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, London W2 2TY. Reservations on 020 7551 6000 or visit www.lancasterlondon.com for more details.