I would be the first to admit, Lancaster Gate is one of those very central areas in London we have all heard of, but have never visited. Standing tall above the tube station is the 4 star Lancaster Gate hotel. The decor is very much old school traditional upmarket designs: there are floral rugs, marble pillars and gilt framed pictures. Although they do have plans to gradually modernise the look of the hotel.
Their catering options are somewhat surprisingly modern and slick. We went to check out their ARTea afternoon tea offering and in particular to preview their Halloween special. What you might be shocked by is the amount of minute detail they go into in delivering the perfect afternoon tea experience for you. For the Halloween afternoon tea, they prepared black table cloths, bloody-looking skulls and other ghoulish delights to welcome their diners. They are planning suitably chilling background music along with the staff serving the food in bloody-looking aprons.
Tea is an essential part of this afternoon ritual and they have a fine selection of carefully picked teas. We tried the very rare Pai Mu Tan, which is a mellow tasting Chinese tea, which is full of antioxidants and polyphenols. The other tea we picked is one of their most popular offerings, the Egyptian mint, which is refreshingly fragrant, caffeine-free and dates back to the time of the pharaohs. They even provide timers to ensure the tea leaves are brewed for the right amount of time.
The food is served in a painter’s box and contains a smorgasbord of sweet and savoury delights. Most restaurants focus heavily on the sweet options, but here the savoury items are carefully though out and delivered. Devilled chorizo tartlet have the distinct salty flavours from classic Spanish sausage, whilst the fried until dead veggie Scotch eggs are irresistibly crunchy and has a shocking purple colour, no doubt with the help of beetroot to add a more frightful look to the presentation. A simple bite into their moist sandwiches would give you a pretty decent idea that food items are made to order here and cooked fresh only when guests arrive unlike most other hotels which offer premade selections.
The sweet desserts are finely chosen and designed for food lovers enjoyment rather than torment when you might have realised you have overeaten. They do very kindly offer refills here. The delightful bloodied finger éclair has fresh choux dough and cream with a picture-perfect mould of a finger on top. The chocolate graveyard comes with a biscuity tombstone, whilst the dreamy mini-cupcakes comes with ‘shattered glass’. Their scones are perfectly sized and for Halloween, they’ve created pumpkin scones with cremated blood orange marmalade. The jam and clotted cream are served in clever looking 30ml paint tubes.
This was possibly more fun than spending a day walking around the National Gallery and also more nourishing. I can’t wait to visit again to see what other innovative delights they dream up to celebrate various other special occasions.