Sing for your supper: a five-star festive afternoon tea at The Lanesborough, complete with live carol singers
When our car pulls up outside The Lanesborough, it couldn’t be a more magical winter’s day. The snow is – unexpectedly – falling, which is quite a rare sight in London. The doormen are ready with their umbrellas to shade us from the flakes that could dampen mine and my mother’s newly-coiffed hair. The winter wonderland theme doesn’t end here. Inside, there’s a huge statement tree in the lobby that has been expertly decorated in red and gold hues and makes quite a backdrop for any photograph (we got quite a few). There are also many festive features that have been dotted throughout: think snowy scenes, gingerbread houses and gold trees that are draped in pearls and crystals.
Afternoon tea is served in the Céleste restaurant (admittedly, it is one of my – if not, my, favourite restaurants in London and it’s as though it’s made for this type of event: the ornate room has a magical ambiance, the huge chandeliers that drop from the ceiling are twinkling and the singers are ready to perform. It certainly captures the gracious style of an early 19th-century residence.
We’re served a glass of Laurent Perrier rosé on arrival. The hotel’s tea sommelier then advises us on all of the different types of tea they serve, but we opt for the classic English breakfast and Earl Grey. The singers then begin and we listen intently as we’re brought, and then enjoy, a selection of sandwiches that include smoked salmon, caviar and cream cheese, roast beef, rocket and horseradish, turkey with cranberry sauce and cucumber and mint.
Next up are the scones and pastries and head pastry chef Gabriel Le Quang outdoes himself with a milk chocolate Christmas tree, chestnut Mont Blanc dessert, homemade gingerbread, exotic Christmas chocolate bubble and tea-infused caramel shortbread star which we devour as we listen to traditional carols such as Silent Night and We Wish You a Merry Christmas. As it comes to an end, we have to pinch ourselves at what a magical afternoon we have had.