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Afternoon Tea in Style
Member Name: jammaker49
Date: 30/07/02, updated on 16/10/02 (22201 review reads)
Advantages: Top class service, Pleasant surroundings., Good food
Disadvantages: Maybe a tad expensive
a) because it is close to the underground, so we can quickly get to Earl's Court for Neil Diamond!
b) I think she fancied the strawberries and champagne upgrade!
WHERE DID TAKING AFTERNOON TEA ORIGINATE?
Afternoon Tea is recognised around the world as being something traditionally British.
No-one is certain of the exact origins of the Afternoon Tea, but one lady features in many of the theories - Anna, Seventh Duchess of Bedford (1783-1857), lady-in-waiting to her majesty, Queen Victoria.
Traditionally, dinner was not served until 8:30 or 9:00 in the evening, and the Duchess often became hungry, especially in the summer when dinner was served even later. Every afternoon, she experienced a "sinking feeling" so one day she instructed her servants to serve her with a pot of tea and some light snacks in her room. These refreshments satisfied her hunger so well that she ordered them again the next day, and every afternoon from then on.
Soon others followed the Duchess' lead. In 1842, a well-known actress named Fanny Kemble first heard of Afternoon Tea, and did not believe the custom had been practised prior to that date. She began inviting guests to join her and soon all of fashionable London was sipping tea and eating sandwiches and cakes between 3pm and 4pm in the afternoon. In just a few decades, around the middle of the nineteenth century, the custom of "taking tea" in the afternoon had become well established, along with a complex set of rules and etiquette.
At first, the practice was limited to the upper classes and it is pro
bably from this time that the notion of tea and aristocracy became so identified with each other. From that time on, no well brought up, educated young English woman could consider herself socially acceptable unless she knew how to make and present Afternoon Tea.
As with any fashion, the Hostess of the day did her best to outdo the others. Sandwiches soon replaced bread and butter, with exotic fillings such as lobster, smoked salmon and roast beef, plus scones, crumpets and cakes
During the Victorian period "taking tea" became so popular, that teashops began to emerge in London for the enjoyment of the general public. In the late 1880's hotels began to offer a tea service in tea courts, and the Afternoon Tea became the hallmark of the elegance of the grand hotels. It was socially unacceptable for unmarried men and woman to be with each other alone, so the hotels and tearooms became places where they could meet for tea and conversation, although the women were often chaperoned by another lady.
By 1910 hotels began to host Afternoon Tea dances as the popularity of dancing increased, although a form of tea dance had been around since 1819 and may well have been the precursor to the tradition of Afternoon Tea, rather than the Duchess of Bedford's afternoon snacks.
Today the tradition of enjoying a full Afternoon Tea, with sandwiches, cakes and scones, lives on in the elegant surroundings of many luxury hotels. Many still keep up the traditions of a Tea Dance to accompany the tea, or some sort of traditional musical interlude.
HOTELS IN LONDON OFFERING AFTERNOON TEA
For the most traditional English afternoon tea, there is Brown's Hotel in Albemarle Street, just off Piccadilly. It is London's oldest hotel, established in 1837 by Mr & Mrs Brown who were servants to the late Lord Byron. At Brown's you can sink into the deep armchairs of the Drawing Room while waiters fetch sandwic
hes and cakes on Victorian silver tea stands. Brown's have their own afternoon tea blend. The 'Brown's Afternoon Tea' costs £23.
Across Piccadilly on the South side is The Ritz Hotel, where afternoon tea has become rather an institution. It is so popular that there are three sittings. It comes in a bone china service by Royal Worcester and is served at little tables in the opulence of the Palm Court with its Louis XV chandeliers, curlicues and cabriolet legs. To avoid disappointment, you really must reserve a table at the Ritz, especially at the weekend. The Ritz offers 3 sittings at 1.30pm, 3.30pm and 5.30pm at a cost of £27 per person. The price includes a selection of sandwiches, scones, pastries and a choice of teas or coffees.
For Art Deco in all its original glory, head to Claridge’s where the interiors will whet your appetite for the tantalising tea served each day between 3pm and 5.30pm. For £25 per person you will be offered a selection of teas and coffees, sandwiches, tea cakes and scones. Or you may prefer to upgrade to a £35 sitting and sip champagne in the 1920s surroundings. Tea is served in the Foyer and the Reading Room from 2.30-5.30pm. Bookings are preferred and gentlemen are requested to wear a jacket and tie at all times. Tea is served on Limoges porcelain with Robbe and Berking silver (founded 1874) and the silver cake stands are so tall that they can be placed on the floor next to the table. Claridge's offers 14 different blends of tea. A pianist and a violinist provide entertainment.
At the Dorchester Hotel on Park Lane there is a bewildering choice of over thirty different varieties of tea to choose from, but the most popular is the Dorchester's own brand. All their blends can be purchased, wrapped in the Dorchester's distinctive livery. . Between 3pm and 6pm afternoon tea is served amidst the atmospheric music. For £23.50 per person you can enjoy finger sandwiches, scones, French
pastries and a choice of tea or coffee. Add a glass of champagne to this for £29.50. Or you may prefer to take ‘high tea’ where, for £32, you will be served champagne and sandwiches, with a choice of main course until 8pm. Reservations are advised.
Mimicking the style of the ostentatious Brighton Pavilion, The Conservatory Restaurant at The Lanesborough Hotel features ornate Chinese décor, interspersed with stately statues. During the week, tea is served between 3.30pm and 6pm and slightly later on Sundays 4-6pm. For £24.50 per person you can expect finger sandwiches, scones, French pastries and tea or coffee. You can upgrade to £29.50, which will gain you strawberries and cream plus a glass of champagne.
Tea at The Savoy is taken in the magnificent Thames Foyer, with its hand carved French porcelain roses and original art deco mirrors. Nowadays a pianist accompanies an orchestra of tinkling teaspoons, but in the roaring twenties Victor Sylvester and the Savoy Orpheans used to play for the Thés dansants (Tea Dancers). In the nineteen thirties there was many a storm in a teacup at the famous Savoy "Tango Teas". Cost is£23 per person Mon-Fri (3-5pm), £26 Sat and £23 Sun. On Sunday you get the added bonus of a tea dance whereas piano music fills the air for the rest of the week. Tea includes scones, 7 or 8 pastries per platter, 5 different types of sandwich and a choice of teas or coffees.
At the Connaught, doormen in top hats and white gloves welcome Guests. The entrance hall has a magnificent mosaic floor and a grand wooden staircase. Tea is served in the Red Room (trolley service) and the Drawing Room (cake stands) from 3.30 to 5.30pm every day. The tea costs £25 and is served on blue patterned Limoges porcelain. There is also a special Connaught blend of Indian tea on offer.
The Park Lane Hotel is a grand hotel with a unique Art Deco Ballroom - it is a glittering 1920s jewel reset for the 21st century. P
alm Court is where afternoon tea is served, accompanied by live music. The Palm Court, with its domed yellow-and-white glass ceiling has a glamorous 1920s atmosphere. Afternoon tea is served from 3.00-6.00pm. The 'Park Lane Afternoon Tea' for £18 includes finger sandwiches, a choice between scones or toasted English muffins or crumpets and followed by French pastries or traditional Dundee Fruit Cake. A variation of this is the 'Champagne Afternoon Tea' for £23 and the 'Devonshire Cream Tea' for £10.50 with scones.
In the Waldorf, an historic Edwardian grand hotel, tea is served Monday to Friday from 3.00-5.00 pm to the sound of a harp. On Saturdays (2.00-5.00 pm) and Sundays (4.00-6.30 pm) the Waldorf revives a decadent age with its weekend tea dances. Greg Davis and the Waldorfians 5 piece band entertain guests who dance on a huge marble dance floor. Tea is served on the balconies surrounding the dance floor, which is in the centre. Booking is essential for the 'Traditional Tea' £18 or the 'Afternoon Tea Dance' £25
Situated on Sloane Street, The Cadogan Hotel an ideal and discreet place to stop for tea after a busy afternoon of shopping at Harrods or Harvey Nichols. The Cadogan Hotel is very traditionally English and has the feeling of a private town house. Afternoon tea is served from 3.00-6.00 pm in the Edwardian Drawing Room. Sink into the deep comfortable sofas and armchairs and enjoy the peace. Bookings are advisable and dress is smart casual. 'Afternoon Tea' costs £12.50, is served with Sheffield silver and consists of assorted tea sandwiches, home baked scones, rich fruitcake and pastry.
Tea at the Berkeley is an ideal option after a strenuous shopping spree in Knightsbridge. Afternoon tea is served in the intimate Lounge/Foyer Bar every day from 3.00-6.00 pm. Booking is advisable as the window tables are in high demand - especially on the weekends. 'Afternoon Tea', which i
ncludes traditional afternoon tea sandwiches, homemade pastries, and warm scones with Devonshire clotted clotted cream costs £21. Then, there is 'The Berkeley Champagne Afternoon Tea' for £30, which is served with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin Brut. The Berkeley imports its own tea and blends it on the premises. The Berkeley's 'Afternoon Tea Blend' is called 'Dimbula', which is produced at one of Ceylon's oldest tea plantations. Upon request guests can also purchase this tea
The above information was taken from http://www.elegant-lifestyle.de/afternoon-teas.htm
There are obviously many other hotels offering Afternoon Tea, in its traditional sense, but these are the best-known names.
ABOUT THE LANESBOROUGH HOTEL
The Hotel can be found at 1 Lanesborough Place
Hyde Park Corner SW1X 7TA
Accreditations: AA 5 Stars | AA 3 Rosettes
Single Bed Guide 245.00
Double Bed Guide 325.00
Number of bedrooms 95
Telephone: 20-7259 5599
Fax: 20-7259 5606
In Rooms: Cable TV. Mini Bar. Hair Dryer.
Other Info: Restaurant on Site.
24-Hour Room Service.
Bar/Lounge on Site.
Non-Smoking Rooms Available.
Smoking Rooms Available.
The Lanesborough stands on Knightsbridge facing Hyde Park, and captures the gracious style and warm hospitality of an early 19th century residence. This landmark building of 1828 has been meticulously restored to its original grandeur and represents a revival of traditional hospitality. 24-hour butler service, 24-hour internet/email access, extensive film/music libraries, complimentary fruit bowls (replaced daily), and much more. It has some beautifully appointed Suites, Conservatory Restaurant
, Library Bar and The Withdrawing Room. The Lanesborough belongs to the St Regis group of luxury hotels
AFTERNOON TEA AT THE LANESBOROUGH HOTEL
Thankfully we were not booking to stay the night, just to take Afternoon Tea! Our table was booked for 4.00pm, for seven people. My daughter booked over a month in advance, and the hotel recommends that you make your reservation at least 2 weeks before the date you wish to take tea.
This very grand hotel is a sumptuous temple of luxury. Prior to being converted into one of London's grandest hotels, this landmark building of 1828 was the St. George's hospital that made the nurse Florence Nightingale famous. Everything undulates with richness: there are magnificent antiques and oil paintings.
Tea is served anywhere guests wish to take it, although the most favoured place to have tea is in the 'Conservatory', which is a small model of the Brighton Pavilion and is inspired by an oriental Chinoiserie theme. Prominent guests like to withdraw to the balconies in the 'Conservatory', where they are more private. Tea can also be served in the most stylish 'Withdrawing Room' or even the 'Library'.
The choice is between 'The Lanesborough Tea' for £24.50, 'The Belgravia Tea' for £29.50 (add strawberries & cream and champagne) and even an 'Asian Afternoon Tea' (sates & sushi). All is served on Royal Worcester with silver.
SO HOW DID THE JAMMAKER FAMILY ENJOY THEIR AFTERNOON?
Well to begin with, we all dressed up in our posh frocks and suits! One can hardly expect to take afternoon tea at such an up-market hotel in jeans and casual clothes, can one? Balancing the posh frock with suitable comfort for going on to the concert wasn’t easy! In the event, we waited until the morning, to see how the weather was behaving before making a final decision. It was very hot, so light, cotton dresses were the order o
f the day! For the men, it was slightly easier: smart trousers, with shirt and tie, was all they needed.
We met up at daughter’s place. We had already decided that it would be pointless taking the cars up to London, so 7 poshed up people headed for the bus! I jest not! Unfortunately, being a Sunday, the buses were as unreliable as ever, and we ended up getting the tube from Vauxhall and virtually running the length of Green Park to the Hotel. Seeing as it was an extremely hot day, this was not the ideal senario! But never mind, we got there.
The whole hotel exudes opulence. A top-hatted concierge opens the doors, whilst a parking attendant takes control of any vehicles that need to be parked. There are huge paintings and ornaments decorating the entrance hall, which is as huge as a ballroom in itself.
The Conservatory, where we took tea, is delightful. Light and airy, the tables are well spaced out, so you do not feel that you are interrupting or listening to another table’s conversation. Our table was situated to the side of the conservatory. It was a large, round table, which was nice, because it meant we could all sit and talk without having to shout down to the other end of the table. And, most thankfully in the circumstances, the conservatory was air conditioned! The ladies' loo, although spotless and tastefully decked out, was not! It was so hot, you made sure that you stayed in there no longer than necessary.
Our waitress was very friendly. All the staff were dressed in a turquoise coloured uniform. They must have felt pretty hot, but did not show it. We were given our menus, the various options were explained, and we were left for a few minutes to browse.
As well as the Lanesborough Tea, and the Belgravia Tea, there were also lighter options for those with smaller appetites. Buttered crumpets, scone, cream and jam, and a French pastry was around £7.50, with the cost of the liquid tea on top.
There was a minimum charge of £9.50 per person.
The list of teas available was very extensive, ranging from the Lanesborough’s own blend of breakfast tea, through Earl Grey, Orange Pekoe, Ceylonese tea, and many others.
In the end, we ordered 6 Belgravia Teas, and one Lanesborough Tea. most of us plumped for the Lanesborough blend, whilst my hubby chose the Ceylon. It was real tea too, not tea bags! My daughter’s boyfriend had the champagne and I had his strawberries!
The tea began with the strawberries and champagne. There were plenty of strawberries in each dish, and the cream was added at table for those who wanted it. As we finished this course, our tea was being poured from solid silver teapots, and served in delightful bone china crockery.
We were then presented with two stands, containing 5 different sorts of finger sandwiches (crustless of course)! There was egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon, tuna in a tomato flavoured bread, Coronation chicken, and cucumber with dill. At the top of the stands were slices of banana cake, and a sumptuous selection of French cream pastries. All that was left at the end was one slice of banana cake!
Then came toasted crumpets, which were already buttered, and warm scones. Pots of clotted cream, and two different flavoured preserves were also served with these.
Our one complaint was that we had to ask for more tea, rather than it being replenished as a matter of course. I can understand this to a certain extent, because until all the plates and stands had been removed from the table, there wouldn’t have been enough room for teapots and milk jugs, so they were on a side table. After we had asked for some more tea, the pots were left on the table for us to help ourselves.
At no time did we feel rushed. It was very leisurely, and I think everyone felt totally stuffed by the end of it! There was a pianist playing somewhere in the room, but we coul
dn't actually see him. The music was very much background music, and in no way intrusive.
I think I can safely say, a good time was had by all!
WOULD I RECOMMEND IT?
For that special occasion, then yes, I think it was the perfect place to go to. Although it was in a 5 star hotel, it was in no way stuffy. In fact, the men didn’t need to wear ties after all, just smart casual clothes.
I’m a bit fussy about food. I don’t eat certain things, and absolutely hate dressings and mayonnaise and stuff in sandwiches etc. If I were to go there again, I think I would go for the crumpets and scone option, and maybe add the strawberries and champagne to that, as I didn’t really like the sandwiches. That was not because they were horrible, it is simply my personal taste. The others found them delicious.
As it was a very hot afternoon, we also got through a few bottles of still water, as well as the champagne and tea! Our bill, for 7, was £210, which worked out at £30 each. Going for afternoon tea at one of the top hotels doesn’t come cheap! However, as a one off, for something special, in such pleasant surroundings, it wasn’t bad really. You’d quite easily pay that for a nice meal, and this is something completely different.
Oh how the other half live!
PS Neil Diamond was brilliant!
Addition. Many thanks to JohnnyPhoenix and Katie@Dooyoo for sorting out the correct category for this to go in.