Okay, so you’ve spent the day sight-seeing or shopping and are looking for somewhere to refresh yourself with a cooling drink and something light and delectible to eat. Or maybe it’s neither of the two, you’re simply looking for somewhere to meet up with friends and don’t fancy the pub or a restaurant. There’s no better answer than the great British tradition of taking Afternoon Tea.
Afternoon Tea can be as simple or as adventurous as you’d like and most places offer the option of adding a glass of bubbly, thus meeting everyone’s requirements. Traditional Afternoon Tea is comprised of savoury sandwiches, scones, strawberry jam and clotted cream and finally a cake or choice of cakes (depending on the where you take tea) and tea of course along with champagne if you choose. To add a final twist to Afternoon Tea is the fact that there are generally three different types – Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Tea and High Tea.
Here, in no particular order, are five of my favourite places for taking Afternoon Tea in London.
Just St James – Located just off of Piccadilly, Just St James’s is housed in an Edwardian banking hall and the first impression upon entering through the glass doors is one of space, space and more space. The setting is modern and the service is superb, not to mention the absolutely fragrant cakes and delicate sandwiches. Prices start at £23 / person.
Richoux, Piccadilly– No there isn’t a trend here about Piccadilly! Richoux is akin to an oasis in the heart of the thoroughfare that is Piccadilly and so easy to overlook as you meander along. This Piccadilly location is a cafe / restaurant where one can rest one’s weary feet and hopefully be seated in one of the enclaves off of the main dining area. The decor is dark and old fashioned which creates an ambiance that makes you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time. The scones, cakes and sandwiches are mouth watering and for those who may not be interested in afternoon tea, their desserts are equally fabulous. There are four other locations in London. Prices start at around £17 / person.
Claridge’s – Heading across to Mayfair, one must consider taking afternoon tea at Claridge’s if only as a special treat. Afterall, they do win awards for their afternoon tea. Is it really necessary to explain what it’s like to have afternoon tea at this wonderful British institution whose name immediately conjures up elegance and luxury? Jeans and a T shirt will not cut it here… Prices start at £35 / person.
The Portrait Restaurant at the National Portrait Gallery – It’s possible that one of the only reasons you might consider taking afternoon tea here is because you’ve been to the National Portrait Gallery or are in the general Trafalgar Square / Leicester Square area. However, once you’ve visited it’s possible that you may consider making a return trip. Not only is their afternoon tea delightful, their view is amazing. Located on the top floor of the Gallery the restaurant offers views across Trafalgar Square to the Houses of Parliament and Westminster, including Big Ben. Prices start at £17 / person.
The Dorchester Hotel – Located in Mayfair on Park Lane, The Dorchester is another award winning location. Hat’s off to The Dorchester for being very welcoming to families. Suffice to say that the delicacies are mouthwatering, sumptuous and “to die for.” Ensure that you are very hungry before considering going here for tea since if memory serves your plates can be replenished, therefore there’s no need to hurry. Don’t forget the dress code. This is The Dorchester and in addition to the food it’s also about the experience. Prices start at £37 / person.
If you’re thinking that Afternoon Tea is too much of a girl-thing, think again! It is an activity that both sexes can engage in and enjoy to the fullest. However, if you think that the boy may prefer something a little more substantial, I have it on good recommendation (not having been there myself) that the Mandeville Hotel, London offers a Men’s Tea. This offering includes steak sandwiches, potted shrimp and brownies. An upgrade from regular tea can be made to the ‘whiskey afternoon tea’. Prices start from £24 / person.
With The Savoy having been reopened it’s next on my agenda as is Pret-A-Porter at the Berkeley for its fashion forward Afternoon Tea where the delicacies are inspired by a catwalk design. Long may this tradition continue.
Enjoy – TG from London!