The Peninsula Beverly Hills offers precisely what I was looking for recently. The luxurious boutique hotel serves a traditional afternoon tea in The Living Room, aptly named for its residential feel. The light and airy room, elegant but unstuffy, is a delightful setting for afternoon tea accompanied by a harpist. The gracious Peninsula staff (our server was a charming young man named Edgar) is always there to see to your needs without ever hovering.
The Imperial Tea started with a glass of sparkling wine and freshly sliced strawberries with whipped cream, followed by a generous portion of caviar over creme fraiche on pumpernickel. Then the three-tiered stand was brought out: scones, sandwiches and pastries. I don't eat smoked salmon, so I can't tell you about that sandwich. The chicken salad, charred vegetable, and egg salad were excellent. The assortment of pastries was delectable, and we were sent home with the signature Peninsula Page Boy-Inspired "Cap Cake."