London – A time tunnel from the modern Shawarma and Pho chomping cultural bustle in Borough Market to the vintage prim fashioned gatherings in Piccadilly over tea and scones. The traditional clasp of the Afternoon Tea ritual has been steady on London through the ebb and flow of generations and cultures. Nothing has deterred Londoners to cherish an afternoon in summer over a fancy cup of tea with the besties. With the rise of social media and video channels Afternoon Tea has only been a benefactor of the social norm since tea houses are under tremendous pressure of being the prettiest setting to experience the tradition. As with every mid- August from 14 – 20, August 2018 the entire country of United Kingdom celebrates Afternoon Tea Week and I have curated a list of a variety of tea experiences the capital has to offer.
Venerable & Vintage
Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason
To commemorate the diamond jubilee year of HMQ Elizabeth II ‘s reign as the monarch of United Kingdom, the venerable Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly (who also happen to be the Queen’s choice for tea establishment) opened a tea salon in their store. The whimsical ambience and dainty tea service is the epitome of Fortnum’s hedonism. The Afternoon Tea menu is served in the exquisite pieces of Fortnum’s signature St James plates on 3 tier stand and St James tea set. Holding the iconic cyan blue china sipping the award winning tea surrounded by a murmur of conviviality is an experience that’s feels like it’s crafted. From the finger sandwiches of cucumber with mint and lemon butter to coronation chicken, the famous scones accompanied with clotted cream and Fortnum’s choicest preserves like raspberry there is hardly anything stone unturned to shower the patron with pure joy. The best part of the tea experience are the cakes and best left to be relished towards the end of the tea. For reservations please visit Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum and Mason.
The Ritz London
They say the only place to enjoy and luxuriate over Afternoon Tea in London is at The Ritz. Iconic, legendary and venerable are but just words to describe the giant in the Afternoon Tea business.Traditional tea experience is what The Palm Court at The Ritz has been serving for decades. As glamorous and glitzy as it gets The Ritz is also very serious in its tea practices and is the only hotel with a certified Tea Sommelier in the UK. It’s The Ritz and yes there is dress code but then as a reader of luxury blogs that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Step in with your best heels or Oxfords and enter a world of ornate design drenched in magnificence and what could be a defining moment in a hotel lover’s life. The Palm Court’s glass ceiling and grandeur added by mirrors and chandeliers is only warming you up for the actual flourish of Afternoon Tea. Apart from 18 varieties of tea the usual suspects of carefully cut finger sandwiches, assortment of the richest pastries, scones with the finest preserves and clotted cream are served on tiered stands and refined china. You are always welcome to add an extra sparkle to your tea time with a glass of champagne. For reservations please visit The Ritz London.
The Kensington Palace Pavilion
You’d think being in a palace should mean gold and glitter splattered every arch and gable, however Kensington Palace to me personally felt more like a large home than palace. Of course public visitors only view what is intended for them to see and everything is carefully positioned. Having said that the vibe of the surroundings and the building was always simply positive, simplistic and present. Maybe Diana did have her touch during her stay. After visiting the palace and strolling through the beautifully designed formal gardens on the grounds, the best respite would be at the Kensington Palace Pavillion which now welcomes visitors for an Afternoon Tea ever since The Orangery underwent conservation efforts. There is certainly a sense of relaxed calm about the restaurant and overall the palace grounds. The Kensington Palace Pavilion overlooks the Sunken Garden, planted in 1908 and terraced with paving and ornamental flower beds. The ritual was of course begun by the English Duchess of Bedford and after the approval of then Queen Victoria it grew into a national pastime. The royal beginnings of the ritual befits the venue at Kensington Palace where Queen Victoria was born. Taking afternoon tea like a royal couldn’t be in a better location second only to the residence of the monarch. The ivory and green china and three tiered stand bearing the delicacies on the menu with a dramatic floral backdrop of the gardens and flooding natural light adds to the quintessential charm of the English summer. You can chose to ass a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut NV or Merlot Rose Spumante to celebrate the Afternoon Week or even the newly weds at the palace. For reservation please visit Kensington Palace Pavilion.
High Holborn has an address for over five years now and it is a statement in the world of architecture, design and signature of luxury – Rosewood London. I happened to visit the hotel sometime ago and what I remember from my visit is the glamor of the Mirror Room. The contemporary afternoon tea menu is called Art Afternoon Tea for a reason. It has been voted as the Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea in the UK for the second year running. Inspired by the artistic style and trend called Cubism and Pop Art in the art world, the Mirror Room has some of the most creative pieces in the form of pastries. Wish to eat a pastry that looks like Picasso’s work well your destination is Rosewood London. Mirror Room is an urbane setting with black and mirror work glittering the ambiance. If you are a lover of glamor and art this is where you should enjoy an afternoon over some tea. For reservations please visit Mirror Room Rosewood London.
The Orangery at Number Sixteen
Mythical creatures, splash of color, neutral notes and quirky designs spread across all aspects of the Afternoon tea experience? You are surely at one of Kit Kemp’s boutique hotels in London. I had an invite for an afternoon tea at The Orangery at Number Sixteen Hotel in South Kensington and the delight is evident in my review post of taking Afternoon Tea at Number Sixteen hotel. Afternoon tea is served at the Orangery which opens into a private outdoor garden. The tea set is custom designed for all Firmdale Hotels with a mythical creature theme. Gilded on the rim each piece of the set has a blend of tradition and modernity to its design. A pink three-tier stand with the afternoon menu arrived and added a contrasting neon accent to the entire tea experience. The menu had the very traditional finger sandwiches egg watercress, cucumber and cream cheese and then some contemporary twists in the tale like mushroom arancini, mini cheese burgers, salmon and dill sandwich among savouries. Read the review by clicking the link to my post and for reservation visit Orangery at Number Sixteen.