Located just a short walk from Hyde Park, the Lanesborough Hotel is one of the most luxurious places to have afternoon tea in London. This high end hotel in Knightsbridge is part of the German owned Oetker Collection, one of the best luxury hotel chains in the world. The hotel was once St. Georges Hospital, built in the palatial style during the 1820’s. The giant Greek columns that flank the entrance of the hotel reflect its Neoclassical features.
Afternoon tea is served in the Withdrawing Room, the hotel’s cozy lounge, as well as Céleste, the hotel’s magnificent Michelin starred restaurant which underwent a multi-million dollar re-brand in 2015.
When I went for tea it was a warm and sunny day in May and the entire room was bathed in sunlight filtering down through the large Venetian style glass dome ceiling. Adding to the room’s grandeur were three large crystal chandeliers that hung down from the ceiling, sending reflections of light all through out the room. It was breathtakingly beautiful, like I was about to have tea inside one of the chandeliers itself.
The room’s Georgian-style decor also added to its charm, with walls decorated in shades of blue and ivory and accents made from real gold leaf. Adorning the walls were elaborate re-creations of Greek statues and friezes which depicted scenes from Ancient Greece. The tables were immaculately set with fine bone china and white linen tablecloths, and the plush chairs and booths upholstered in shades of blue and gold. Even the Georgian-era inspired carpeting was enchanting, also in shades of blue, gold and ivory.
I was seated at my table by Halina, the tearoom’s friendly hostess. Noticing my camera Halina informed me that she was an aspiring photographer herself and offered to take a photo of me in the lobby amongst the beautiful flowers. It was very thoughtful of her to make sure that I had some memorable photos to take home with me of my afternoon tea experience at the Lanesborough.
My server was a kind gentleman originally from Italy. I really enjoyed talking with him about his hometown in Italy and what it was like to live in London. For my tea selection he recommended a darjeeling tea that he described as the “champagne of teas,” a favorite of Prince Charles when frequenting the Lanesborough for afternoon tea.
I ordered the Lanesborough’s special Chelsea Flower Show Afternoon Tea, featuring edible flowers in all three of its courses in celebration of the annual floral event.
The first course were the tea sandwiches, which included cucumber with mint; turkey with watercress; smoked salmon; egg salad with watercress and English cheddar served with a sweet and savory onion jam. They were all impeccably prepared, with substantial amount of fillings, decorated with beautiful edible flowers, adding a nice touch of color. They were a lovely way of celebrating the Chelsea Flower Show.
The next two courses came out on a silver plated tiered tray containing the desserts and scones. The scones were freshly baked right out of the oven, wrapped in a cloth napkin to keep warm. They were delicious, served with clotted cream and jam, with a light, fluffy and buttery texture.
On the top tier was a Viennese-style puff pastry dessert shaped like a flower, filled with raspberry gelée. It was incredibly flaky and not too sweet.
On the middle tray were a collection of desserts that looked like an elaborate floral display. They included a small almond cake with pink buttercream flowers piped on top; a pink glazed shortbread cookie with white fondant flowers; a dark chocolate cake made to look like a tiny potted plant complete with cookie crumb “dirt” and my favorite, a strawberry cake filled with a delectable strawberry mousse, coated in a ruby red mirror glaze, which looked and tasted like an actual strawberry.
There were so many memorable moments during this afternoon tea. In terms of beauty, the decor of the tearoom was unbeatable. The Celeste is truly a tearoom fit for a queen. Whether you’re the queen or not, the staff at the Lanesborough really go out of their way to make you feel like royalty, with warm and professional service from start to finish.
As I sat underneath the atrium ceiling, sipping the last of the tea from my cup, I had this undeniable sense of joy that I was having the quintessentially British experience I had hoped to have while in London.
The Lanesborough’s beautiful Chelsea Flower Show Afternoon Tea was truly a celebration of flowers. The creativity of the tea made me want to come back to try all of the themed afternoon teas the hotel has to offer throughout the year.
No matter the time of year, afternoon tea at the Lanesborough is a very memorable and special experience, one that I hope you’ll be able to have on your next trip to London as well.
Find out more about the Lanesborough here.
Check out my UK travel guides here:
Guide to Afternoon Tea in London
The Perfect Itinerary for an 11 Day Tearoom Tour of the UK