Image courtesy of The Langham London
Perhaps it's only fitting that the place to first commercially offer afternoon tea in London should now be recognized as having the best in town. Serving London socialites and fancy pants hotel guests since 1865 (when this newly found tradition of mid afternoon social snacking cost a mere 7p), the Palm Court at The Langham has been awarded the Tea Guild's Top London Afternoon Tea award for 2010 and thus joins the swank ranks of 25 years of previous winners which include Brown's Hotel, The Lanesborough, Claridges, The Ritz and The Dorchester.
With its newly refurbed art deco opulence combining casual comfort with elegance on a truly grand scale (and seeming a world away from the nearby buzz of Oxford Circus), Palm Court is certainly a fine spot to sip tea and nibble crustless finger sandwiches, scones and dainty sweets. Throw in expertly chosen teas by a dedicated tea sommelier along with some very tasty and prettily presented titbits (and maybe some quality shampers) and you've got the stuff of a deliciously chatty afternoon. Londonist was more than pleased with our visit hosted by The Langham this week.
We sampled two of the Palm Court's range of afternoon tea menus, the classic Wonderland Afternoon Tea and the particularly glitzy Bijoux Tea, and loved them both. At £33, the Wonderland does guests right with an assortment of delicate sandwiches (we liked the organic smoked Scottish salmon with horseradish and watercress), mini pastries and scones with Devonshire clotted cream and preserves. And at £40, the Bijoux steps things up with “luxurious, irresistible and indulgent” items inspired by the collections of top jewellery designers near the hotel. With “Baccarat” crystal drops, “Cartier” Love Collection cookies and “Asprey” Black & White Battenberg cake, you can have your jewels and eat them too.
Service during our meal was flawless. The pianist (3pm-9pm daily and with a jazz band on the weekends) soothed with a playlist spanning the court's 145 years history. As for the actual liquid tea we quaffed, we thoroughly enjoyed a potful of jasmine silver needle with rosebuds. Exquisite!
For our more budget-conscious readers, we wish we could suggest simply popping in for a cuppa to soak up the fab atmo here. Unfortunately, the Palm Court's imposed a 25 quid minimum spend. But we can't say we blame 'em. Apparently, savvy spendthrifts in the area have been hunkering down here since the court reopened last spring, often leaving afternoon tea aficionados out in the cold. However, those looking for a more affordable sneak peek at The Langham would do well to consider having drinks at the hotel's chic Artesian Bar.