The glossy Cavendish hotel wears its history lightly. Across almost two centuries, it has done duty as a wartime ‘social first-aid centre’, been damaged in the Blitz and has seen its legendary Edwardian proprietress Rosa Lewis inspire a 1970s BBC series (The Duchess of Duke Street). These days, it’s a sleek, somewhat corporate address with a reputation for seamless service, while the Lobby Lounge – all dark wood and swirly fabrics – is grand without being forbidding, contemporary without being minimalist. At £18 for tea (£25.50 with a glass of Lanson Champagne), the offer is fairly mainstream (salmon and cucumber sandwiches, scones and jam etc) but there are some nice details: teas are Fairtrade and loose leaf; the preserves are organic, and chocolate truffles are served afterwards. All in all, a smart shout for a surprisingly affordable teatime treat in elegant St James’s.
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