Afternoon Tea is a must for me on any London visit. It doesn’t matter if it is a cliché, it is popular for good reason. I am always on the lookout for someplace new to try. The Lancaster London provided me with that opportunity on my London visit in May.
The Setting – Lancaster London
Proud of its eco-friendly reputation the Lancaster London took things to the next level when they installed beehives on the hotel roof in 2009. The Lancaster was the first central London hotel to install beehives.
Many in the U.K. have been doing their part to halt, or even reverse, the sharp decline in honey bees. Some rural communities have replaced much of the grass in their public parks with bee attracting flower beds. In addition, there is a targeted effort to attract young people as commercial beekeepers.
However, the Lancaster was the first to invite half a million honey bees to cohabitate with them in central London. The Lancaster also hosts the London Honey Show which began in 2011 and is now an annual event taking place every October. Ten bee hives are located on the Lancaster London second floor roof. The hotel collects over 40kg of honey annually. The honey is used for dishes in Island Grill, the Lounge Bar, and Banqueting events. Which brings me to my afternoon tea.
The Event – Afternoon Tea
In 2015 the Lancaster London incorporated honey from their hives into the menu of their Afternoon Tea served in their first floor Lounge Bar every afternoon from 2pm until 5:30pm. You can enjoy the luscious golden honey in your tea. It can also be found in some of the sweet treats such as pear and honey cupcakes and dark chocolate and honey lollipops.
The Lancaster hosted me, and my UK friend Judy, to their afternoon tea on a May afternoon. With upholstered chairs and love seats the traditional London theme is set. The art featuring Irish artists is curated by the Barbara Stanley Gallery located across from the hotel.
Afternoon tea was everything I look forward to when I have the rare treat of a London afternoon spent visiting with friends, eating savory and sweet delicacies and sipping tea. On this day we even indulged in a pre-tea glass of champagne.
I counted fourteen tea choices on the menu, everything from English Breakfast to Citrus Chamomile. There were plenty of choices for those who need to avoid caffeine in the afternoons.
The chef changes the menu seasonally to take advantage of the freshest products. The savory selections on this day included home smoked salmon on granary bread and free range Barradale farm egg and wild cress on carrot bread. The warm tartlet with fresh asparagus and tarragon was delicate and rich at the same time.
The service was attentive as you would expect at afternoon tea. Our waiter made certain that our tea pots were full and checked in with us periodically to see if we needed our plates refilled. The amount of food served is such that I find it hard to imagine that some people ask for more!
Only when you say you are ready do they bake your scones, not reheat them, but bake them fresh for you. They were warm and crumbly and they melted in my mouth. Of course, not until after I had spread them with home-made strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream.
Next came our tray of sweet bites. There were the chocolate and honey lollipops, panna cotta and lemon tart. Last, but not least, were homemade macaroons, one vanilla and one hazelnut.
I have to confess that I could not eat a single sweet from that final tray because I was much too full after tea sandwiches, warm savories and two scones with clotted cream and jam.
My treats were boxed up for me to enjoy in my room at The Arch London later that evening with tea brewed in my room after enjoying a stroll through Hyde Park. I departed the Lancaster London feeling content and pampered, just how you should feel following afternoon tea in London.