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Revealed: The London Hotel We Chose For Afternoon Tea

Where: Hyde Park Corner, London, United Kingdom
January 20, 2010 at 9:15 AM | by | Comment (1)

Recently we put a very important question to you all: Where in London should we go for a proper afternoon tea? You all sent so many excellent recommendations that we ended up doing nighttime reconaissance work around our top choices, until finally we settled upon one in Mayfair...The Lanesborough.

At 35 GBP per person for the classic Lanesborough tea service (which means no champagne), it was a bit above our budget, but the fact that we couldn't find much cheaper helped us to go whole hog. Plus, one of our (this writer's) first HotelChatter stories was an interview with The Lanesborough's certified Tea Sommelier, and we've been salivating for the hotel's award-winning scones and service from the UK Tea Council. And thus we bit the bullet.

After the jump, all the nitty gritty and the shiny silver

Of course the whole experience was excellent, but we have to say something: tea at The Lanesborough is not for the teatime amateur; etiquette is somewhat enforced, and diners should be ready for white glove service and all the personal attention that comes with it, including escorted trips to the restroom.

Of the whole crystal palace-like Apsley's restaurant where tea is served, only four tables were filled...perhaps because we chose to go to tea on a Monday, whereas Sunday is typically busiest. The waiters placed our napkins on our laps, and the experience began. (Disclosure: The waiters did not know we were with HotelChatter.)

First to hit out table was an amuse-bouche, palate cleanser of mandarin sorbet with a white chocolate leaf. Following this the heavy silver arrived: the creamer, a trio of sugars (love brown sugar), and our teas. We went with a teapot of the signature afternoon blend of Darjeeling, China Keemum and rose buds and a teapot of the Pu-erh aged tea , which were first poured and then always refreshed by the Apsley's wait staff; we never even touched the teapot. They even poured the creamer in for us; at least we got to eat the sandwiches ourselves.

Ah yes, the sandwiches. Two of each of the following were served: curry chicken salad, tuna, salmon, cucumber, beef and Quiche Lorraine. The curry chicken was especially tasty, and we were even offered a refill of the sandwiches (but we declined, with so much else left to conquer on the tray). Working up to the teacakes, we split amongst ourselves the 3 choices: mango, lemon and carrot cake. These weren't anything to write home about, and thank god because they were easily forgotten by what followed: the scones.

Is there anything as awesome as freshly baked scones? Yes. What beats them are freshly baked scones with your choice of lemon curd, clotted cream or fresh strawberry preserves. Plus, there was like a fruit bread with cinnamon butter included, and here our tummies began to fill. But we couldn't stop...especially since we wanted our money's worth.

Dessert was still there on the top tier, taunting us, all the while we had drunk so many cups of tea ever refilled by the doting waiters that we made a restroom run. And then finally, dessert. The three little treats were so freaking perfect that sadly we don't even remember what they were. We did however notice a flake of edible gold on top of one, which we would have gladly traded for another round of the three.

We didn't toast with Fergie (Duchess of York, not the Black Eyed Pea) nor did we hit The Ritz, but we did break the bank for these two hours. What was the total in British pounds? Well it was 35 for each person, and two of us means 70 right there. The bill held a 2 GBP supplement for our friend's rare Pu-erh tea choice, the blasted VAT tax at 17.5% added 10.73 and the service fee was 9.00. Grand total for tea for two at The Lanesborough London? 81 GBP ($132.58). For that, we should get stock in the British East India Company or something.

Considering how rooms at The Lanesborough usually go for quadruple that and more for one night, perhaps we got a cheap deal on spending our evening there? Thanks for all of your recommendations! Now anyone got any hints for Edinburgh? It's our next stop!

[Photos: HotelChatter]

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Tea Time in London

You made a very nice choice for tea time.  Yummy!  I'd like one of each to enjoy too.

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