The Lanesborough Hotel serves one of the best afternoon teas in London, with a strong emphasis on tea and pastries.
Traditional Afternoon Tea
The Lanesborough Hotel, London
Overall Mark: ★★★★★ (03/2018 update)
Afternoon Tea price: £39/person;
Champagne Afternoon Tea price: £49-64/person
Food refills: Yes; Tea Refills: Yes (3 choices per person)
1:00 to 5:30 pm in The Withdrawing Rooms
3:00 to 5:30 pm in The Celeste Restaurant
The Lanesborough Hotel Setting ★★★★★
The Lanesborough is located in Knightsbridge, just a few steps away from Hyde Park. The hotel stands in an 1828 country house and is one of London’s finest establishments. It is an Oetker collection hotel, the very same hotel group that owns the Bristol Hotel Paris (which serves the best food I have ever had at tea time).
The Lanesborough afternoon tea is served in two venues, which are available for booking according to how early you wish to book the sitting:
- The Withdrawing room, from 1 to 5 pm
- The Celeste restaurant, from 3 to 5 pm
Both venues are gorgeous but I strongly recommend the Celeste restaurant, provided that you can wait until 3 pm. It is cosy, bathed in light and features live piano music.
The Tea & Beverage Selection ★★★★☆
The Lanesborough prides itself in its tea selection, which is among London’s most comprehensive with more than 40 choices of tea: black, green, white, yellow (a rarity!), oolong, pu’erh and aromatic blends. The beverage menu is especially detailed, with a short description of each tea.
If you do mind the extra charge (£5-10), I especially recommend the connoisseur tea Formosa Oolong tea and the China Kekecha yellow tea as it would be a pity to skip on such a rarity. Conversely, the chocolate tea is a bit disappointing despite its tempting name so I’d recommend skipping it.
The Lanesborough’s tea selection is so good that it is almost on par with the one at the Ritz Paris, which is a reference in the industry when it comes to expert brewing.
12/2017 Update: The rare teas have disappeared from the menu and so have quite a few classic teas. I’m removing a star.
The Savouries ★★★☆☆
The savouries are the weakest part of this afternoon tea. They are tasty but they’re five rather ordinary sandwiches: “Egg & truffle”, “Scottish salmon and caviar”, “Homemade salt beef, horseradish”, “Cucumber and mint” and “Coronation chicken”.
I especially enjoyed the pulled pork and egg truffle sandwiches, while the curry flavoured coronation chicken was the most disappointing.
The Scones ★★★★☆
The freshly baked Scones are brought on a separate plate upon request, so they can be eaten warm. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: every hotel should serve the scones this way as they taste so much better when warm.
The toppings are also very generous, with strawberry jam, lemon curd and clotted cream. These may very well be the best scones I have ever had: they’re just perfect!
12/2017 Update: While the scones were as tasty as ever, there are no longer served with Lemon curd. I’m removing a star.
The Cakes & Pastries ★★★★☆
The scones are great but it gets even better with the sweets, which is where the Lanesborough afternoon tea truly shines:
- The top plate features four Cakes: Pecan cookie, Orange steamed pudding, Chocolate cupcake and Pear caramel sable.
- The middle plate features five Pastries: Passion-mango dome, Coffee finger, Chocolate Rocher, Apple tart, Cashew nut brownie.
This Vogue article states that the best pastry chef is at the Lanesborough and they are probably right. Nicolas Rouzaud and his team have masterfully created a selection of cakes and pastries that are easily the best I have ever had since I started going to afternoon teas. The Pecan Cookie and the Passion Mango Dome have my preference, as they are both scrummy and original.
Not a single disappointing sweet, which is unusual for a tough customer such as myself. Bonus point for the banana bread, it’s a brilliant way to end the afternoon tea on a light note.
12/2017 Update: The Lanesborough is currently switching pastry chefs: Nicolas Rouzaud went to work for the Connaught. The quality dropped and so did the quantity, I’m removing one star.
The Service ★★★★★
The hotel staff is polite, friendly and efficient. Special thanks to Paul and Frederico, whose stellar service made our afternoon tea even better.
Conclusion & Overall Mark ★★★★★ (03/2018 update)
The Lanesborough hotel serves the best pastries I have ever had in London and is now among my favourite afternoon tea venues in the city, despite the slightly disappointing savouries.
Whether you have a sweet tooth or you are a tea connoisseur, it is a must-try which is well worth its premium price. It comes second to the Mandarin Oriental London in the luxury segment.
03/2018 Update: The Lanesborough’s afternoon tea has gone downhill but it’s now quite cheap on the five-star hotel scale, at £39 per person. I’m reinstating the full mark, which is always determined by the overall price/performance ratio.
+: Gorgeous hotel, brilliant location
+: The Celeste restaurant
+: The tea selection
+: Delicious Scones & pastries
+: The service
-: Ordinary Savouries
-: Nowhere as good as before (12/2017 update) but cheaper (03/2018)
Phone number: +44 (0)20 7259 5599
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