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My afternoon tea extravaganza at Four Seasons Park Lane.

by Saloni on May 30, 2013

four seasons

Recently we were invited to try afternoon tea at Four Seasons Park Lane and it turned out to be an unforgettable experience as you’ll discover below.  Named in our top ten best-value luxury afternoon teas in London hotels, I was already excited when I arrived.  And with it being Four Seasons, my expectations of the service were as high as for the tea itself.

Four Seasons afternoon tea

The Four Seasons Park Lane is full of little artefacts almost like a mini Natural History Museum.  For instance, in the Amaranto Lounge where afternoon tea is served, there is a whale rib and a huge chunk of quartz (see picture below).  It gives the hotel an interesting theme of sophistication and culture, whilst making you feel utterly at ease.  There is usually a pianist in the Amaranto Lounge except on Mondays (which is when we were there) so unfortunately we missed this aspect.

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amaranto lounge

We sat down at a beautifully laid-out table and were immediately greeted by a cart full of sparkling glasses and two bottles of champagne submerged in ice.  My guest and I both went for a glass of Bollinger Rose Champagne and got down to deciding which of the four afternoon teas we were going to go for.  We had the choice of: traditional English afternoon tea, vegetarian afternoon tea, gluten-free afternoon tea and the intriguing Italian twist on afternoon tea that Four Seasons call “La Dolce Vita”.

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four seasons afternoon tea

Being a vegetarian, I was absolutely delighted that there was a proper veggie option for afternoon tea and I wouldn’t have to make do with the usual egg & cress or cucumber & cream cheese which does get a bit boring. People seem to endlessly forget about us veggies!  So I went for a vegetarian afternoon tea whilst my guest went for the traditional English.

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four seasons place setting

The next decision of course, was to decide on our choice of teas!

Four Seasons Park Lane offer no less than 17 blends, of which four are bespoke blends mixed with Amaranth – the flower after which the Amaranto Lounge is named.  This section of the afternoon was so interesting and we were introduced to two boxes full of vials of tea leaves, in which you could smell the leaves before you decided which tea to go for.

Tea geeks may wish to read the recent blog about my in-depth total tea immersion on the same visit which I’ve therefore skipped over here.

FS tea

My guest went for green tea with jasmine whilst I decided to try one of the unique house blends: 22ct Gold Tchaba Rose, which was a white tea infused with 22 carat gold leaves and rose petals.  Linda, our host, described the tea as being sparkly in the tea cup and it certainly was.  It sounds odd to describe a tea as ‘pretty’ but it was.

Four Seasons Park Lane are so serious about their tea, they even have little tea timers on their tables to let you know how long to stew your teabag for, depending on your preferred strength.

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FS tea (2)

We opted to have champagne with our afternoon tea and save tea for towards the end as we got to the dessert section.  We then saw the afternoon tea being brought in front of us: served on pretty floral china stacked full with warm scones, sandwiches and cakes.

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four seasons afternoon tea stand

For the veggie afternoon tea, I had the traditional choice of sandwiches such as cucumber with truffle cream cheese on cranberry bread, as well as more exciting options such as grilled vegetables with pesto in tiny baps. Whilst the traditional afternoon tea had its own innovative extras such as salted beef, pickle and English mustard mayonnaise.

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veggie afternoon tea four seasons

The scones were served warm with a selection of fresh clotted cream, strawberry jam and orange marmalade and we had a combination of wholemeal and plain scones.  These came with a selection of other desserts, such as layered carrot and orange cake and chocolate and almond brownies.  The range on offer was stunning.

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four seasons afternoon tea desserts

Halfway through our afternoon teas, we met Executive Chef Antonio who brought us the gluten-free afternoon tea to try!  At this point we soldiered on happily, beginning to feel very full on sandwiches and scones.

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four seasons gluten free

The gluten-free menu had a similar range of sandwiches to the traditional tea, with salmon & cucumber with truffle cream cheese.  However, I preferred the desserts on the gluten free tea as I’m more a fruity person than a cake addict.  This was actually the first time I had tried dragon-fruit which was quite different to what I’d expected.  The scones were also mixed with berries and were my personal favourite.  Gluten-free at Four Seasons clearly doesn’t entail any compromise on either taste or quality.

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four seasons scones

After tackling three afternoon teas (!) – I really have never been more full in my life – we were taken on a tour of the hotel including the luxury spa on the 10th floor of the hotel which has outstanding views across London.

The hotel had a big revamp in 2008, reopening in 2011 with a brand new 10th floor spa, which we’ve rated one of the best luxury London hotel spas.

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four seasons london

My whole experience at Four Seasons Park Lane was one of luxury, service and sophistication.

Service was attentive without being over the top, with thoughtful touches like the gluten-free and vegetarian afternoon tea menus greatly appreciated by us and I’m sure by others.  It’s so refreshing to see a 5 star hotel actually push the envelope with their dietary options and innovate.

Four Seasons Park Lane Guest Room

As Linda explained, not everybody who chooses the gluten-free afternoon tea is necessarily gluten intolerant, but may just be looking for a lighter option.  Which I’m sure in some cases applies to the vegetarian option too. This is incredibly thoughtful and it would be fantastic if more hotels followed suit instead of just going blindly for the “pure indulgence” market.

Our host Linda was so friendly and personable.  She made sure not only that we were comfortable with our menus and choice  of tea, but also explained the philosophy behind the various menus as well as the little twists like the amaranth flower and other aspects.  All in all a fun and satisfying luxury afternoon tea experience.  Highly recommended!

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Photo credits: LHI blogger Saloni, Four Seasons Park Lane.

Disclosure: we were guests of Four Seasons Park Lane.

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