Afternoon Tea at the Langham Hotel – A Tale of Two Teas

These days when most people get that afternoon “sinking feeling” they often do a “Betty White” and turn to a Snickers candy bar to satisfy their hunger.  However, back in 1865,  when the Duchess of Bedford experienced the afternoon munchies she had her footman deliver all of her tea making equipment and some bread and butter to her private room in London’s Langham Hotel.  And Voila! The Afternoon Tea is born!


A few years ago, my Partner F and I on one of our London trips made a pilgrimage to the Langham Hotel to enjoy Afternoon Tea at the place where the tradition had its beginning.

The hotel is stately and traditional and served as the perfect quintessentially, British backdrop for our afternoon break.


Afternoon Tea takes places in the hotel’s Palm Court which has a glamorous Art Deco feel that is accented by modern touches.

Palm Court Langham Hotel London

Photo Source: Langham Hotel London

Service at the hotel was formal, yet gracious.  We were able to choose tea from an extensive menu and enjoyed a selection of traditional finger sandwiches and sweets.


The Langham Hotel London offers a tea service that does justice to its standing as the birthplace of the Afternoon Tea.

I was therefore excited when Langham opened its newest outpost in my hometown of Chicago which features its own modern interpretation of the Afternoon Tea.

The Langham Chicago occupies the first 13 floors of the iconic IBM Building which was designed by the celebrated architect Mies van der Rohe. The hotel has a very luxurious Mid-Century Modern feel.  Afternoon Tea takes place in the hotel’s Pavilion lobby restaurant.

Pavilion at the Langham Hotel Chicago

The tea service began with an amuse-bouche of Passion Fruit Pearls in the house’s Palm Court blend.  This was a wonderfully elegant take on the concept of a bubble tea!

Afternoon Tea Amuse Bouche Langham Hotel Chicago

Savory finger sandwiches were served. The selection included:

Coronation Chicken Salad, Marcona Almonds, Black Figs
English Cucumber, Red Pepper Butter, Watermelon Radish
Maine Lobster, Green Goddess Aioli, Celery Hearts
Roasted Beef Tenderloin, Truffle Remoulade

Afternoon Tea Sandwiches Langham Hotel Chicago

The sweet selections were served on a beautiful tiered silver tray …

Afternoon Tea  Presentation Langham Hotel Chicago

… and were delicious as well as colorful!

Afternoon Tea Desserts Langham Hotel Chicago

Of course, Afternoon Tea wouldn’t be complete without scones, clotted cream and jam on the menu.

Afternoon Tea Scones Langham Hotel Chicago

… and since we were celebrating my Sister’s birthday, a special treat was prepared for her.

Afternoon Tea Birthday Treat Langham Hotel Chicago

All of the “classic” Afternoon Tea items were served.  However, the Langham Chicago puts a definitely more modern spin to its version of this institution.

However, what really defined our experience was the flawless service by the Langham Chicago’s staff.  The team was attentive, crisp and professional. Every person we encountered made an effort to make us feel welcome and special.

In addition, although the hotel has been getting quite a few favorable reviews, it doesn’t seem like a regular stop on the “tourist trail.” The clientele consisted of a nice mix of upscale international travelers combined with “in the know” Chicagoans.  The resulting effect is an atmosphere that’s quiet and fashionably elegant.

We enjoyed being able to compare and contrast two different interpretations of the institution of Afternoon Tea. However, one element that remained constant was the excellent service provided by the Langham.  Oh yes, that and the delicious tea and scones!

Have you ever had Afternoon Tea?  What was your experience?


Online Shopping Portals – Last Minute Solutions for the Black Friday / Cyber Monday Slacker

My name is Point A and I’m a serious Holiday Shopping Procrastinator.  Once again, I slept through Black Friday and managed to let Cyber Monday slip away.  As a result, I’m now scrambling to get all of my gift buying done. It’s at times like these I turn to the Online Shopping Portal for my salvation. Of course, as I happily mouse click away, I’ll also be engaged in some serious Pointing

Walnut Room Chicago Christmas 2013

Photo: Walnut Room at Macy’s Chicago (though it will ALWAYS be Marshall Field’s to me!)

Many of the major airlines and hotel chains maintain sites that enable the shopper to earn points by patronizing a variety of online retailers. In order to use a shopping portal, you simply log in with your frequent flyer number, identify an online retailer that’s of interest to you and “click through” to the retailer’s regular website where you complete the transaction as you normally would. The portal notes the transaction and awards you bonus points for the purchase.  Although you can use any credit card to make your purchase, you can maximize your Pointing by paying with your favorite awards earning credit card.  In other words, you would earn points from shopping through the portal AND points associated with the card that you’re using.

Some of the major Online Shopping Portals include the following:

Air Canada
American Airlines
British Airways
Chase Ultimate Rewards
Hawaiian Airlines
US Airways

Several of the airlines are also offering bonus points for channeling your Holiday purchases through their shopping portals:

American: Earn up to 3000 bonus miles by spending $250 through December 22.

AAdvantage Shopping 2013 Holiday Bonus

Aadvantage Shopping 2013 Bonus T&C

United: Earn 500 bonus miles (up to a maximum of 2500 bonus miles) for every $250 spent through December 31.

MileagePlus Shopping 2013 Holiday Bonus

MileagePlus Shopping 2013 Holiday Bonus T&C

However, given the various options for shopping sites, how do you make a decision on which portal to use? For situations such as these, I find to be a very helpful resource. The site is a directory of online shopping sites that allows you to make side-by-side comparisons of your various rewards options.  For example, a search of the options for The North Face reveals the following Pointing opportunities:

The North Face EVreward OptionsNevertheless, I realize that by shopping at home I’m missing out on the camaraderie that arises when you cram large numbers of bargain hungry consumers into a confined space. Therefore, in order to simulate the Black Friday experience I got up well before dawn to write this post. Also, to experience the festive crush of humanity I missed earlier, I’ve taken to jumping into revolving doors with complete strangers.

Of course, I don’t want my Partner F to miss out on all of the fun. So, as a special treat I’ve set his alarm set for 3:00 am tomorrow morning.  Shhh …. Don’t tell anyone. It’s meant to be a surprise.  Happy (Online) Holiday Shopping everyone!

How about you?  Have you ever made a purchase through a points earning online shopping portal? What has been your experience?