Happy Tea Tuesday!
151 years ago, on 10 June 1865, the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) opened the Langham Hotel, the largest and most modern hotel at the time. (Modern meaning a hotel complete with water closets, bathrooms, and hydraulic lifts.) The Langham has been mentioned in Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Homes: A Scandal in Bohemia and The Sign of Four. Some of the hotel’s VIP guests have included Louis Napoleon III of France, Diana, Princess of Wales, Winston Churchill, Charles de Gaulle, Wallis Simpson, and Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia.
A fellow temp had recommended this hotel and its Wedgwood Afternoon Tea in the Palm Court to me as a good place to take tea with one’s mother. After seeing photos of the Wedgwood-themed pastries tray, I knew I had to suggest it to my Mum. The cost for afternoon tea is on the pricier side at £49 per person (plus bubbles is £59+), plus 12.5% service charge.
Although I had seen photos of the Palm Court, it still came as a bit of a surprise to find something more ‘modern’ than the exterior of the hotel. At the very least, it felt like being inside a glamorous 1950’s room (probably not the inspiration but that’s the first thing I thought of). As soon as we were taken to our table, we noticed that everyone was engaged in conversation with each other – as they should – rather than focusing on their phones. Although this is not uncommon in other venues in London, I felt there was more pressure not to use one’s phone, even for taking photos. However, as a blogger, I decided it would be better to be humiliated than to blog without photos!
Afternoon tea is served in Wedgwood chinaware and is served in five parts:
- Tea is served first. I chose English Rose, a light floral tea that can be drunk with or without sugar.
- A lemon custard pudding in a ‘shot glass’
- Five kinds of sandwiches are served on our individual plates. Once finished, the server will ask the diners if he/she wishes to have seconds, even thirds. I highly recommend the prawn on soft bread. The one I did not enjoy as much was the one with brown bread but I think it’s because I’m not used to the flavour.
- Finally, a two-tiered tray is brought and placed on a stand next to the table. The bottom tray has clotted cream and strawberry jam only, while the top tray is pastries.
- Fresh warm scones (two plain, two with dried fruit) on a separate plate are then brought to the table.
Once again, by the time we had finished the scones, we found we had no room for dessert. Nevertheless, we did our best to eat everything. I knew I wanted to have the the Wedgwood cameo, which is made of sugar paste, although it was definitely too pretty to eat. My favourite, however, was the rose-printed ‘log’ because it tasted like roses and was the easiest to eat on a full stomach.
As expected of a luxury hotel, the service is excellent. For the price, however, I find it rather steep. Although £49 is standard for luxury hotels (£59 for the most luxurious hotels), there are two reasons my experience made the price worth every pence:
- Having a pianist play until 18:30 whilst we enjoyed scrumptious food and good company.
- The beautiful Wedgwood-themed afternoon tea served on Wedgwood chinaware.
And finally…. the Ladies Room:
Going downstairs to the lavatories was the most confusing of all. This is probably why there’s a small sign that indicates which door is for going in and which door is for going out. On the other hand, the two main positive things I can point out is that the hotel provides hand towels (rather than paper towels) and Penhaligon’s Quercus hand soap and hand lotion.
Address: The Palm Court – Langham Hotel, 1C Portland Place, London (near Oxford Circus Stn)