A Marylebone Afternoon Tea in the Winter Garden, The Landmark London:
There are a few things in life which just make me happy. A good afternoon tea is one, sunset cocktails on the beach, a real log fire at home after a long walk, evensong at Kings Cambridge and a big hug from someone special. Oh and chocolate of course in any form.
As such it’s quite remarkable that I picked the classic afternoon tea over the chocolate option when I went to The Landmark London, a five star hotel near Marylebone station to try their afternoon tea in the stunning Winter Garden. Thankfully, I got a chance to see both as my companion for the event was easily convinced into picking the chocolate option, despite the fact that meant missing out on the rhubarb and lemon meringue tartlet that she had her eye on.
The Winter Garden in The Landmark London is an amazing space in a glass-roofed atrium right in the heart of this Victorian classic. The hotel was originally a Victorian railway hotel, the Hotel Great Central, which was part of a grand plan by Sir Edward Watkins to build a channel tunnel with Marylebone station as the hub of an international network. Back in the 1890s that must have been quite a proposition.
But after running out of funds the site was sold to Sir John Maple of the furniture company Maples. While Marylebone station is one of the smallest central London termini, it’s hotel was one of the grandest, built around the large central courtyard. It does still have a feeling of Victorian grandeur, whether you are in the Winter Garden or just walking around the hotel. Apparently, the original roof covered only the ground floor. The roof was then changed to a higher floor to make the inside courtyard a grand ‘winter garden’, hence the name that has continued to remain. Then, in the fifties, the roof was removed completely and it was only in 1991 that it was put back, as it is today.
For afternoon tea, there’s a harpist adding to the atmosphere.
After a welcome glass of Champagne de Castelnau Brut Reserve, we picked teas to enjoy with the food. There was a small but nicely formed selection of classic teas and a few special blends. Pretty, silver teapots and tea served through a strainer are both good indicators of quality. My Earl Grey was consistently rather strong but my companion loved her flavoured black tea – Smooth Caramel, which is a blend of black teas with pieces of caramel and a hint of vanilla. And it sounded like a great accompaniment to the chocolate afternoon tea she’d picked.
The sandwiches for both teas are the same – a classic selection which worked very well for each of us. I have a personal resolution not to indulge in extra sandwiches but in this case, both of us failed on that score. I particularly like the Lapsang Souchong smoked Scottish salmon, though I enjoyed the rest of the selection too (organic egg mayonnaise with mustard cress, coronation chicken on walnut bread and classic cucumber). My companion was passionate about the cucumber. And, both of us had extras!
Scones for me were a combination of plain and fruit, while my companion had plain and chocolate scones. We picked two jams from a good range – apricot was my choice, gooseberry and elderflower my companion’s. And there was plenty of clotted cream.
Of course, the sandwiches and scones in any afternoon tea are just good housekeeping when you are waiting for the pastries. By ordering both the chocolate and the classic afternoon tea we ended up with eight perfect little pastries.
For me, a simnel cake with dried fruits spices and marzipan, a rhubarb and lemon meringue tartlet, a delicious dark and white chocolate sphere and a salted caramel macaroon. All delicious, my personal favourite was the dark and white chocolate sphere. The salted caramel macaroon was lovely but a little chewier in texture than I’d have expected and both the simnel cake and meringue tartlet were perfectly executed classics.
Meanwhile, my companion enjoyed coconut and chocolate macaroon, banana, pecan nut and milk chocolate cake, blood orange and white chocolate mousse (her favourite) and a milk chocolate dacquoise sponge with hazelnut Chantilly cream. Pretty as a picture, I suspect I might have found it a little too sweet for my own taste. But, that’s an entirely personal preference.
The Landmark London is a new place for me to try afternoon tea – I’ve tried most of the Park Lane hotels and a good smattering of the other five star London offerings, along with some of the options offered by London restaurants. I’m impressed and I’d be happy to come back or to recommend this one to friends and family. It’s priced at £48 for the basic tea, with a glass of champagne as an option starting at £11. A stone’s throw from Marylebone Station, it’s a great location for anyone travelling to London from the west. And, you get to sit in the wonderful Winter Garden and enjoy the grand surroundings with the harpist adding to the atmosphere.
For more about the tea and to book check out The Landmark London website