On our leisurely stroll over from Marble Arch we discussed how, despite a luxurious interior, many of our favourite hotels have a rather shabby, uninteresting interior. I believe a lot of it is of a period style, but frankly, I just don’t like it.
What a pleasant surprise when we turned the corner to see the magnificent exterior of The Landmark Hotel, all archways and red brick. I confess our Teasearch had mainly consisted of admiring the beautiful glass-roofed Winter Garden and planning which blend of tea we would have, so discovering this rather attractive structure was a delight.
Once inside the marble lobby the consierge arranged for our special tour of the hotel, taking in the glorious stained- glass windows marked ‘Leeds’, ‘Sheffield’ and (inexplicably) ‘Barnsley’. We strolled around the great function rooms with their wooden panelling and numerous chandeliers and carved fireplaces.
Our tour guide gave us a brief history of the hotel, informing us of its grand beginnings as the Great Central Hotel, a Victorian-era railway hotel intended to serve Marylebone station.
Sadly, as with many of the railway hotels, the advent of the motorcar brought it into decline and it wasn’t until the 1980s and 1990s, when the demand for luxury hotels grew, that the site was redeveloped and became The Landmark.
Once seated in the Winter Garden the afternoon tea itself was wonderful- we both opted for the chocolate afternoon tea by way of celebrating the fact that lent has passed and all things cocoa are now back in my diet.
Disappointingly, the traditional finger sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries were not served on the tiered stand, but individual plates. However this was my only minor criticism and this was made up for by the beautiful free-standing teapot towers.
I keep meaning to make a list of what (in my opinion) makes the perfect afternoon tea, and the Landmark has certainly caused me to come to some conclusion on this.
For me, the detail which marks a hotel above all others is my belief that one should not have to pour one’s own tea. It is not often that one is treated to this level of service, the only other example of this I have experienced was at the Savoy Hotel.
Secondly I believe that if one is paying in the region of £40 for afternoon tea (“£50 for a sandwich”, as Farv often exclaims) that one should leave suitably full-up, having endulged in as much as they feel able to. I can comfortably eat eight finger sandwiches, so presenting me with only four is rather tight-fisted. Thankfully, our server was more than happy to replenish, even allowing us to sample the rather lovely vegetarian fillings.
Thirdly, one should be able to change their variety of tea. Often a server will lead one to believe that one may change blends midway thought, but never gives one the opportunity to. My companion mentioned that the Berkely are very forthcoming with offering a new pot- I’m yet to have the pleasure. Again, we were fortunate that we were encouraged to try a few different blends; our teapot stand was laden with at least 6 pots. I started with the Winter Garden blend, followed by a caramel black tea and finishing on a white peony.
The chocolate element of the chocolate afternoon tea included chocolate chip scones and various chocolate cakes and pastries. Being super critical we thought that it would have been possible to incorporate it into the bread maybe, and we also thought it would have been a more defined use of dark, milk and whites chocolates. My favourite was the chocolate and coconut macaroon.
All in all, it’s was a great experience. It may not be a name you have ever heard of, but for me this makes it an even greater find (and no ridiculous waiting list!) I would highly recommend it.