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Wonderful wonderland tea at the Langham.

by Rajul on January 5, 2011

A few of the mouthwatering and original sweets and pastries we were served during our decadent afternoon tea at the Langham London

London Hotels Insight recently went to check out the award-winning afternoon tea at the Langham.

This is after all the tea voted number one in 2010 by the Tea Guild (the previous London hotel winner was Brown’s in Mayfair – possibly London’s oldest hotel).  The Langham is also a hotel with a distinguished past – a past itself closely intertwined with the history of afternoon tea.

So on a chilly winter’s afternoon, my companion and I entered the hotel’s stunning Palm Court to be serenaded by trayfuls of treats.  Though usually a green tea drinker, I was talked into trying the hotel’s signature blend “The Langham”…a strong Indian Assam brew with malty undertones, a subtle flavour and a citrus-like aftertaste.  I absolutely loved it!

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Afternoon tea starts not surprisingly with the tea - in my case the exquisite Langham house blend which was a refreshingly soothing black tea

A host of gorgeous finger sandwiches then followed including various classic combinations like egg and mustard cress, cornfed chicken with tarragon, cucumber and cream cheese and so on.

What I liked here was the emphasis on the tried and tested.  What’s the point of showing off and experimenting with your guests’ palates, when decades of experience have already revealed the best combinations?

The pastries and cakes were far more innovative though, with my favourite being the melt-in-your-mouth chocolate cake.  Other delights included lolly shortbread, a red berry and pistachio almond cake and orange carrot cake.

These were followed by some lovely warm scones served with absolutely impeccable clotted cream and strawberry jam.  Simple, traditional and perfectly executed…you couldn’t ask for anything more.

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Our sandwiches were excellent and focused on classic combinations - bringing back memories of summer picnics and garden parties

So is it really worth the steep asking price of almost £40 per head?

When you take afternoon tea in any of the top London hotels – and particularly the Langham – you are paying primarily for the atmosphere and service.  In this sense the Palm Court lounge doesn’t disappoint because it combines a certain calm serenity with a very discreet buzz.  The gentle piano music in the background only adds further to the very special vibe.

And to extract further “value for money”, you can skip lunch and dinner as my companion and I did  – actually you almost have to do this as self defence against all the lovely cakes!  Added to that, you can relax for hours without feeling rushed (as you rarely can in an expensive restaurant) which makes the whole experience utter bliss – and just about worth the money.

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The beautiful Palm Court venue adds further flavour to the afternoon tea experience

No wonder tea at Palm Court often gets fully booked weeks ahead.  Remember you also have the option to continue your evening at Artesian (one of the best London hotel bars) just across the corridor.

If you want a decent afternoon tea on a smaller budget you could also try tea at The Arch which was recently reviewed on this blog.  Tea aficionados might also be keen to learn how to taste tea from a Fortnum’s tea buyer.

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Photo credits: Langham Hotel.

Note: the reviewer paid for his own afternoon tea.

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