Wow, this was really something special.
Afternoon tea = awesome.
Champagne = the one.
Christmas = best thing ever.
Snazzy Mayfair hotel = the dream.
Combine them all together and what do you get? A giant bow-wrapped Christmas present of ultimate joy, that’s what.
Lanes of London is the restaurant of the five-star London Marriot Park Lane Hotel. They must’ve known that their new festive afternoon tea was my idea of heaven as they oh-so-kindly invited me over to be one of the first to try it out. My excitement levels, unsurprisingly, went through the roof.
It also gave me the perfect excuse to spend a day in London and catch up with my darling friend, Ellie, who’s now a very important young London professional.
Lanes of London do Champagne afternoon tea all year round, but for November and December this year, they’ve given the British traditional tea a fully festive makeover. You’ll see how this manifested itself in due course, dear readers.
Just metres from Marble Arch tube station on the très swanky Park Lane (you know – dark blue on Monopoly, people!), Lanes of London is in an awesome location. And the inside of the hotel is seriously snazzy and luxurious too. I’m talking valets in top hats and proper hand towels in the loos, my friends. #livingthedream
Lanes of London as a restaurant itself didn’t have quite the vibe I was expecting – it seemed more like a bar than a traditional afternoon tea setting. The lighting was quite dim, but then again it did get dark outside shortly after we’d arrived (hence my camera’s inability to focus and the less-than-clear nature of my photos.)
One of the many charming members of waiting staff showed us to our table, brought us the menu and settled us in nicely.
Naturally, tea is a very important part of any afternoon tea (duhh), and at Lanes they offer a range of speciality loose leaf teas. Being the classic girl that I am, I went for the Assam, whereas my more adventurous companion chose Jasmine Pearl (which I tried and I have to say it was divine. Next time…)
We also had lovely BIG tea cups, which I loved. Tiny cups are all well and cute, but I prefer ones that contain more than one gulp of tea. As one would expect, they were in sets with pretty saucers too, which always feels nice.
The tea pots themselves were clear which was a new experience for me. I like them though. Rather stylish and kinda cool to be able to see the tea leaves. The most wonderful thing, however, was that the staff refilled our tea pots over and over again during the course of our afternoon tea, without us even having to ask. I was very impressed by that.
As soon as we'd sat down we were also brought tap water, which earned another thumbs up from moi. I did, however, have to ask a few times to have my glass refilled before anything happened though.
More excitingly beverage-wise, was the scrumptious Moet and Chandon Brut Champagne we enjoyed over the afternoon. It was certainly flowing - Ellie and I may have had three glasses each. Just maybe. But aren't they served in pretty glasses too!?
We felt très sophistiquées.
We sipped our Champagne and commenced a loooong afternoon of catching up.
Before our main stand of treats arrived, we were served eggnog with spiced mince pie foam. Neither of us really knew what to expect here, but BY JOVE, it was delicious!
Frightfully festive tasting too.
And then it was time for the main affair. It's always so special to be served a full afternoon tea on a three-tiered stand, don't you think? One of my favourite British traditions.
I mean, WOW!
That is a lot of food. Like, a LOT. Luckily we had an equally large amount of time (and quantities of Champagne/tea to wash it all down!).
Naturally, we started off at the bottom and worked our way up. They were very good finger sandwiches - I love the traditional style - and it was extra exciting (yes, exciting) to have a different bread for each type.
We had: free range egg mayonnaise & cress, cucumber & mint, honey glazed ham & mustard, and smoked salmon & cream cheese. My fave was the ham, Ellie's was the salmon. I know it's a classic but does anyone actually like egg mayo? No-one I know, anyway.
One of the things I love about proper afternoon teas is that you really take your time over everything, enjoying each mouthful, and pausing lots in between. Well, Ellie and I had a lot to talk about!
Next up: scone time!
Golly, I really love scones. It was pleasing that they'd been wrapped in a napkin to help retain some of their warmth, and I thought extremely generous that there were two rather sizeable scones each.
As one would expect, the scones were served with clotted cream and gorgeous strawberry jam - it had lovely chunky strawberry pieces which I adored. If you're going to be reeeeaaaally picky you might lament the fact that there was only one flavour, but not this gal. I'm a strawberry jam fan and was thus as happy as a clam.
Needless to say we were both starting to feel a little full by this point. Obviously, we powered on though. I'm just really selflessly committed to my job as a reviewer, you see. It's a hard life, I know.
The final tier - the cake tier - was where the Christmas theme came into its own. And it was mightily marvelous.
Doesn't that all just look fabulous? Super cute, too.
We had: Christmas pudding spiced macaron, chocolate & orange opera cake (hidden in the above picture), a gingerbread house, and a coffee & mascarpone yule log. It was beautifully presented which I do think is really important.
Our first stop was the super cute gingerbread house. It was very nice, but I'll be honest, not the best gingerbread I've had in my life. Very crunchy, whereas I prefer mine a little softer. But, um, reindeer for courses, right? (Please tell me you got that that was an awful attempt to Christmassify the expression "horses for courses"?)
The chocolate orange opera cake, however, was really wonderfully scrummy. It wasn't too stodgy either - thank goodness, considering how much we'd already eaten. Light sponge and mousse layers, all with the lovely Christmassy flavour of chocolate orange.
Then we moved on to the macaron. Oh, this macaron. I'm still dreaming about it.
For starters, it was huge. And pleasingly so, considering how much we loved it. Chewy, creamy, lightly-spiced and finished with a white chocolate snowflake... It was pretty dreamy. Both texture and taste were mind-blowingly good. Seriously.
And last but not least, the yule log. I'm not a coffee girl so didn't have high hopes for this pretty little log, but I was glad to discover the coffee flavour wasn't too strong. It was light and creamy, but even I couldn't manage the very last mouthful.
The combination of Christmassy cheer, Champagne, sweet treats and good friends had left Ellie and I giddy with joy by the end of our afternoon tea. It really had been a true delight though.
We left Lanes of London and turned on to Oxford Street, where, conveniently, the Christmas lights had just been turned on for this year.
It. Was. Magical.
I mean, there's just so much SPARKLE!
There was even fake snow being poofed out from the rooftops. I was loving it.
But alas, Ells and I had to say goodbye and head our separate ways. Megabus was calling, and I couldn't help but laugh at the ridiculousness of my situation: going from Champagne afternoon tea in a five star Mayfair hotel... To Megabus.
Still, I most certainly can't complain (as much as I didn't want to go home and face my uni work.)
I absolutely loved my festive afternoon tea and can't recommend it enough. Sure, at £29 per head (or £23 sans Champagne), it's not going to be an everyday occurrence for most of us. But as a one-off, special, Christmastime treat, I think it's perfect.
Can I go again?! It was perhaps my ideal afternoon.
Thanks to Lanes of London for inviting me to enjoy their festive afternoon tea, but as always, this review is my honest opinion.