So when my dear mother announced she was coming to visit me in London one fine Saturday, we decided an elegant afternoon tea would provide the perfect setting for a mother-daughter catch-up, and I decided to take her to the Conrad LSJ (let's be real, that name is too long to type out every time.)
We met up in the lobby of the hotel and were shown to a pretty table for two in the elegant Emmeline's Lounge - the stylish décor and harpist playing make for the perfect afternoon tea setting and ambiance in my opinion. However, if you can, I'd ask for a table at the lighter end of the room under the huge skylight, as it's pretty dark at the other end.
And we'd barely sat down before our flutes were fizzing with the finest champagne.
The English Garden theme manifested itself in clever twists on traditional classics. Have a look...
We had chicken and basil tart (in the style of a flower box), pea panna cotta with whipped feta and mint and pea shoots, and smoked salmon open sandwiches...
...as well as egg and chive rolls and a selection of finger sandwiches: roast beef and English mustard, cucumber and cream cheese, and chicken and avocado.
I loved the pea panna cotta as it was so different, and the chicken tart too. I'm also a big fan of chicken and avocado so that was a lovely not-so-traditional addition to the finger sandwich line-up. The breads were all different, which I liked, although the end ones were a smidgen dry.
And as we nibbled, our champagne flutes were never more than half full before they were topped up again. And that's something I could get used to.
On to the scones!
And again, these weren't your standard ones.
Two scones were lemon thyme and the other two were candied black olive. Intriguing, right!? I wasn't sure what to expect. I mean, olive!? Would they be savoury?
They were delicious.
Neither of the scones was super strongly-flavoured, but their twists made them just that little bit more interesting than usual. I find often with themed afternoon teas, the theme doesn't quite get to the scones. Not here, mes amis.
To be fair the reason I didn't think the scones were super-flavoursome could have been because I smothered them in all this goodness:
Oh, I do love a scone.
But I also love a cake. (Have I ever mentioned that?)
You're looking at apple and elderflower rose tarts (so pretty!), chocolate window boxes with edible flowers and the teensiest macarons ever, bourbon butterfly biscuits with pistachio fillings (the butterflies were white chocolate mmmm), and olive oil cakes with bay leaf creme and blood orange.
AND, even the "soil" coming out of the little plant pot on the side was edible chocolatey stuff.
It all looked incredible and tasted fab. I liked that it was really varied too. The olive oil cakes, for example, weren't that sweet, whereas the chocolate window boxes were v rich. The apple tarts were nice, light and fruity, and the chocolate-pistachio bourbons were an exciting twist on a classic.
Anyone can make a cake or a tart. But not everyone can make cakes or tarts that look like that.
We were so full but Mum was absolutely sold on the afternoon tea at Conrad LSJ - she's already hoping to go back! The hotel may not have the reputation of the likes of Claridges and the Ritz, but I think it's absolutely on that level.
The staff and service were faultless and it had been a glorious, delicious and wonderful few hours that I felt privileged to be able to enjoy with my Mama.
We walked off our feast with a spot of shopping round Sloane Square - naturally, we made a beeline (appropriate choice of language given their latest collection) for Kate Spade where we were immediately offered glasses of prosecco. And who can say no to free prosecco!?
I tell you what though, tipsy shopping is a bit dangerous. And fun. DO IT!* What a great day.
Mum and I were guests at the Conrad London St James but I wouldn't have written about it if I didn't totally love it.
What do you most like the look of?
*Please drink responsibly. Like I always do. Ahem.