Enjoy civilised afternoon tea in an exquisite central London location
The Landmark London doesn’t appear to be trying to differentiate its offering from what you might find on a conventional tea menu - but it doesn’t need to, because its setting is exquisite. Located close to Marylebone station and opened in 1899 as a Victorian railway hotel, it was originally named the Grand Central Hotel and is now a Grade II listed building.
The foyer is deceptively dim, the low light punctuated by a huge floral display. It makes entering the Winter Garden, large and light-flooded, all the more dramatic; your daylight-accustomed pupils dilate and then contract while your eyes widen with glee at the sight of the central table, heaving with delicious looking treats. Soaring above, the central atrium’s 8-storey high glass ceiling not only fills the area with light, but also absorbs much of the sound, so conversations at the surrounding tables are seen rather than heard.
In fact, being seen is a large part of the afternoon tea experience at The Landmark London, at least if the clientele on the day of our visit is anything to go by: the young ladies at the tables nearby are engaging in an orgy of selfie taking with an enthusiasm that I usually reserve for cake - of which, fortunately, there is plenty.
As noted above, The Landmark London isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel - nor indeed, the roulade - with their afternoon tea: the flavours are reassuringly familiar, but beautifully executed, with sandwiches of cucumber, Coronation chicken, smoked salmon and egg and cress served on wonderfully toothsome bread. If you so desire, waiters will deftly tong additional morsels on to your plate: beware not to overdo it, because the scones and cakes are worth leaving room for. A glass of pink champagne is the perfect accompaniment before moving onto tea: I chose the Landmark Blend, which melds Assam and Ceylon with a hint of vanilla, while my friend opted for a pot of Lapsang Souchong.
The menu offers a choice between a classic and a chocolate afternoon tea: for the scones, this means either raisin and apple or chocolate chip and fruit peel - both delicious. The jam menu is a quaint touch, with each table allowed a selection of two from Bergeron Apricot, Blackcurrant, Cherry, Strawberry and Gooseberry and Elderflower; the last of these had us in raptures.
It’s not just the palm trees that put one in the mind of an oasis - The Landmark London is so beautifully calm and elegant that it seems to whisk you away from the fast-paced London that lies, unbelievably, just beyond its doors, and swaddle you in an air of indulgence. The service, while possibly a little too attentive in so far as the waiters seem constantly to be apologising for interrupting us, makes up for our disjointed gossip by responding to our every whim and request smoothly and smilingly. As a special treat, an occasion, or just as an excuse to wear that new dress, The Landmark London definitely offers one of the loveliest ways to take afternoon tea in the city.
Afternoon Tea is available Monday to Friday from 3pm - 5pm and Saturday & Sunday 1:30 pm-5:30pm, priced from £52 per person with a glass of champagne.
The Landmark London
222 Marylebone Rd
*During my visit I was hosted by the lovely team at The Landmark Hotel. All opinions are my own.
Our experience overall
Food and drink: ★★★★
Staff attentiveness/friendliness: ★★★★