Add children to the mix and sipping tea while listening to live piano isn't quite so appetising – short of two hours on the iPad, how are you going to entertain them and ensure they behave through multiple tea courses?
The Langham's got the formula figured out: ply keen readers with cool books (courtesy of a collaboration with Daunt Books), and it turns out that even six-year-olds can behave beautifully through an afternoon tea (post-full day of school, we should add). Live piano music, dramatic floral displays that are a delight to eyes and nose and a gorgeous selection of sandwiches, tea and cakes make it perfectly appealing to adults, too.
When it comes to ambiance, The Langham delivers in spades: our six-year-old tea tester kept repeating that the hotel was 'like a palace.' A palace with a great kid-friendly selection of books, from board books for babies to classics like Judith Kerr's The Tiger Who Came to Tea, David McKee's Elmer and Michael Bond's Paddington at the Zoo, as well as personal favourites of ours (see Anna Kemp and Sara Ogilvie's Dogs Don't Do Ballet).
For older kids, there was a Claude chapter book by Alex T. Smith, Captain Pug by Laura James and Madame Pamplemousse by Rupert Kingfisher. Let's put it this way: the two kids who came for tea were deeply engrossed in their chapter books (and the 8-year-old – a voracious reader – was kindly allowed to swap and look at another book once the first one had been completed mid-tea).
While they read, we reminsced about Titanic and Leo DiCaprio – My Heart Will Go On was one of the melodies the Palm Court pianist regaled guests with – and noticed another nearby table with three boys, all sitting beautifully with their books.
Besides reading, there was feasting: jigsaw puzzle shaped sandwiches to start (with juice, strawberry and kiwi tea or hot chocolate for the kiddos), followed by scones with clotted cream and two hotel-made jams, strawberry and a divine rhubarb.
The final dessert course involved the kids donning chef's hats and arranging their pastries into the shape of a dog's face, complete with a squirty tube of caramel sauce.
One of the kids we brought was dairy-intolerant – no problem. Delicious lemon curd replaced the cream and caramel, and butter-free sandwiches, scones and pastries, looking, and tasting, just as appetising as the dairy versions, worked a treat.
Did we mention you get to take your book of choice home? As well as plenty of pastries. So the reading – and tasting – enjoyment continues long beyond the tea itself. This is a great idea for a family-friendly Mother's Day visit, birthday treat or afternoon with the grandparents, and well-suited to kids aged 4-9. And their parents, of course.
|What||Children's afternoon tea with Daunt Books, The Langham|
|Where||The Langham, Regent Street, , London, W1B 1JA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Oxford Circus (underground)|
|Price||£29.50 per child|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|