By Lisa Boalt Richardson
Photography Courtesy of The Lanesborough
If you’ve ever dreamed of going to London, this summer just might be the perfect time to make the trip, as this fascinating city will be hosting the Olympic Games. London is situated on the Thames River and boasts such landmarks as Buckingham Palace and the newly renovated Kensington Palace, former home of the late Princess Diana. Most Anglophiles know that no trip would be complete without experiencing afternoon tea, and one of the best places for that is The Lanesborough hotel.
Conveniently located near Olympic venues in the Knightsbridge area, The Lanesborough is also within walking distance of upscale shopping places like Harrods and Sloane Street. The beautiful 1834 Greek Regency–style building that has housed this St. Regis–Starwood hotel since 1991 served as a hospital until 1980. What was once the outpatients’ department of the hospital is now Apsleys Restaurant, where afternoon tea is served.
The restaurant’s impressive tea menu was planned by Karl Kessab, the first graduate of the United Kingdom’s prestigious 18-month tea sommelier program and London’s first tea sommelier. Karl’s roots lie in his native North Africa, where he was raised drinking copious amounts of tea. He has been at The Lanesborough for 16 years working on and developing its tea program. Karl carefully selects every tea on the menu, some specially created for the hotel, such as Lanesborough Afternoon Blend black tea and Rose of the Orient green tea.
After ordering the tea they wish to start with, guests choose between the Lanesborough and the Belgravia tea services. The former is a full afternoon-tea service featuring finger sandwiches, pastries, toasted tea cakes, and homemade scones served with homemade fruit preserves and clotted Devonshire cream. The Belgravia is the full tea service plus fresh strawberries and cream with the guest’s choice of Champagne. With 24 hours’ notice, the chef can create an entire gluten- and dairy-free afternoon tea made up of an assortment of sandwiches, tea breads, and scones. After having tea here, you’ll have no doubt why this hotel has been a winner of the prestigious United Kingdom Tea Council Award of Excellence for several years.
This summer, The Lanesborough will offer a special Olympic-themed tea. “We want our afternoon tea to be extraordinary,” says Karl, who is working with the hotel’s chef to create a gold-medal menu for these weeks when the world will be in London.
The Lanesborough serves tea daily from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m., and reservations are required. For more information, go to lanesborough.com. Phone 44-20-7333-7254 to make reservations. To get to the hotel via the public underground transit system, get off at the Hyde Park Corner station on the Piccadilly Line. The hotel is directly across the street.
A Certified Tea Specialist, Lisa Boalt Richardson is author of Tea with a Twist and The World in Your Teacup. Learn more about her at lisaknowstea.com.