I've written before about the grotesque levels of breakfast I've been *forced* to eat during my time working in PR, but perhaps I should also have mentioned the frightening number of swish afternoon teas I've managed to imbibe during this time also. I've 'afternoon tea-d' at The Ritz (super touristy but nice and you can make piano requests ), The Savoy (nice), Sketch (meh but the new David Shrigley room and revamped tea is amazing) and many many more, but in the nine months I've been on maternity leave there has been nada. Not a single mini scone has crossed my lips (apart from a hugely unfortunate incident at The Grand in Bristol for my friend's hen do where we were presented with distinctly whiffy clotted cream which the chef tried to tell us was intentional), so when I was invited to try the jazzy new afternoon tea at Lancaster London you can guess the response**.
I'd never actually heard of Lancaster London before, but I don't get over to W2 very much so you can just about excuse the fact I'd manage to let this honking great hotel pass me by completely. It is really huge, but once you've been whisked up to the cosy Lounge Bar where the afternoon tea is held, you can just sit back and relax and perhaps try and catch a glimpse of Hyde Park from above. If you opt for the £40 celebration tea - and why wouldn't you? - you'll be brought a glass of Laurent Perrier to enjoy whilst selecting your tea.
We went for the Sapphire Earl Grey, which came out with a mini sandtimer to make sure the loose leaf tea was brewed to perfection before pouring.
Action shot of tea being poured. Lovely Wedgwood china by the way.
Finger sandwiches of egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon and cream cheese and the obligatory cucumber (best) arrive and are endlessly replenishable. I suggest you opt out of the free refills as there are many many sweet treats to eat and in the words of everbody's mum, you don't want to spoil your appetite.
The two little pastry affairs are almost worth spoiling for though; there's a chicken and tarragon tartlet on the left (divine, calorific) and a roast beef horseradish choux bun (with local flowers, natch).
Next it's time for the scones. Mmmm. Perfectly tiny little mounds straight from the oven and ready to ladle with clotted cream and handmade strawberry jam. The jam was very very good indeed and still retained a robust summery strawberry flavour rather than beig overwhelmed by pectin jelly.
Finally, the pièce de résistance: the pastry chef showing off. Mini pistachio macarons, apple and honey cupcakes made with honey from their very own rooftop (London born and bred chef Ben Purton is very keen on using local ingredients), fruit tarts and a showstopping white chocolate truffle and raspberry lollipop impregnated with popping candy. Quite the mini dessert trolley.
And to top it all off, there's a big tick for being baby friendly. Leo was cooed over left, right and centre and enjoyed a few nibbles of cucumber sandwich to boot.
Lancaster London isn't far from Marble Arch and Harrods etc from the other direction, so if you're after a smal diversion from Christmas shopping then this is probably it.
** I enjoyed this afternoon tea with the compliments of Lancaster London, thank you very much.
All pics aside from the header courtesy of Alexandra Haddow. Header courtesy of Lancaster London.