Afternoon Tea at Palm Court – The Langham Hotel – London
When visitors come to London one of the many things they look forward to doing is experiencing a quintessentially English afternoon tea. There are many places on offer but one of the best that I can recommend so far is that at the famed birthplace of the afternoon tea tradition – The Langham Hotel or more specifically the Palm Court dining room. The hotel is located at the top of Regent Street away from the shopping hustle and bustle. A decadent and dazzling room, Palm Court started serving high-teas more than 140 years ago. The attention to detail and high standards enjoyed by the cream of society back in those days is still prevalent today and can be enjoyed by all those who step over the threshold.
There are a variety of afternoon tea packages to choose from all served on fabulous Wedgewood china. For our visit we started with a glass of champagne, Laurent-Perrier Brut. This was poured at the table for us from a magnum by our lovely server who incidentally made us feel very comfortable and relaxed in our surroundings. An amuse bouche soon followed, lemon posset, which in my opinion is a great way to cleanse the palate. It was sweet, tart and had enough lemon to satisfy my love for all things lemony.
There are many different types of tea to choose from classics to green to infusions and more. Whilst I am more of a traditionalist (selecting the English Breakfast) my guest chose a more interesting tea from the Infusions range – Orange Blossom. If we had have been even more adventurous we might have gone for Master Xu’s Da Hong Pao, a complex dark roasted speciality tea that sounded divine, maybe next time. When our tea was brought we each had our own rather substantial pot which in between being poured or topped up was kept on a silver stand beside our table. Our server made sure our teacups were never empty, discreetly refilling whilst we carried on catching up on the latest gossip.
After our palate cleanser we moved on to the finger sandwiches – my favourite part of any high tea. Not only was there are good selection to choose from but each was on a different type of bread. From rye to white to herb to tiny rolls there is something here for everyone. The selection includes smoked salmon & wasabi éclair, peppered beef pastrami & red Leicester slaw, cucumber, cream cheese & chives, marinated artichokes & Burford brown egg and lightly curried prawn, tomato & watercress. These were presented and served silver service as befits a true afternoon tea experience.
Cherish Finden has been the Executive Pastry Chef at The Langham since 2009. Originally from Singapore, Cherish has won many awards with her unique and irresistible creations for both celebrities and the world’s leading hotels including having spent 3 years at Raffles. Her pedigree speaks for itself. Our first sampling of her wares came wrapped in a napkin, warm scones straight from the oven. Buttery, light and oh so good, I declared them the best scones I had ever had, truth.
The final part of the tea were the pastries. Inspired by the Wedgwood collections they were a veritable feast for the eyes. So pretty and delicate they looked almost too good to eat. Flavours included white chocolate mousse with tropical jelly & dark chocolate, strawberry & white balsamic Victoria sponge, English rose & lychee log and my favourite, Kouglof – 64% chocolate, raspberry & roasted pistachio financier. Topped off with a white on blue edible cameo it is clear to see why Cherish has such a following.
Afternoon tea has become a favourite way for me to pass a few luxurious hours. When you are in beautiful surroundings like Palm Court, with a pianist tinkling the ivories in the background and a glass of bubbles in your hand, it is easy to see why. The staff are extremely attentive yet discreet, the afternoon tea is outstanding and the atmosphere is as one would expect in a world-class hotel – sophisticated, elegant yet convivial to all who come through the doors. Sittings start at 12 with the final sitting at 5.30 and if you think it’s just one for the ladies you would be wrong. Doing a head count we found that nearly half of the guests were men. Whether it be a celebration, business meeting or a treat with friends I think you would be hard pushed to find anywhere better that Palm Court for an luxurious afternoon tea experience. A step back to a bygone era in the heart of a thoroughly modern city.
Next up I want to check out Roux at the Landau!