Checklist for Afternoon Tea:
1. Clotted Cream with scones
2. Continuous tea and milk, extra points for array of teas
3. Fresh sandwiches
4. Interesting sweets
5. Relaxed and beautiful surroundings
6. Good company
Four and a half years ago I never knew what clotted cream was (FYI Afternoon Tea scones should ALWAYS be served with clotted cream) or how incredibly tasty a proper Afternoon Tea could be. It used to be that I’d attend Afternoon Teas if someone was visiting London or it was a special occasion, now I go to a quarterly ‘Bloggers Afternoon Tea’ and have started to sample some outside of London. If it wasn’t for my intensive travel budgeting I’d been fully addicted to the delights of Afternoon Teas (if I’m not already).
To avoid this blog post getting too long and making you too hungry, I’ll stick to the London Afternoon Teas I’ve been to.
Claridges Hotel afternoon tea sweets back in 2010
This was my first Afternoon Tea ever and as usual first experiences stand out as some of the best for me. Partly because I knew no better and partly because it’s just so new and exciting. My sister and her husband were briefly in London so this was a bit of a family affair.
The decorations around the room, from the floor, chandeliers to comfy chairs were all incredible. The array of food was delightful and the tea selection also incredible. The green and white striped theme made it all feel cohesive.
I hope Claridges is just as incredible today as it was in 2010 (looking at their 2014 menu makes me want to return); it was a fantastic spot for my first experience of Afternoon Tea.
The Langham Hotel, 2011
Table set for afternoon tea at the Langham
This time to celebrate my birthday with my flatmates and lovely friends we ventured to the Langham that had been highly recommended. Unfortunately it didn’t start off well. Half of us were stuck in the underground tube and delayed for over 30 minutes and were rushed throughout the Afternoon Tea and were not able to comfortably finish. I wish we had more time and could have enjoyed it more.
It was a bit of a different afternoon tea with couches and a lower height table. It made it feel more casual than posh, but did make it easier to reach the different types of food. The entrance and hallways were highly decorated and it was a nice environment.
The sweets were some of the best I think I’ve tried – very unique and colourful.
This experience taught me to leave plenty of time for transport dramas when you have a strict 2-hour seating period for an Afternoon Tea. Otherwise you’ll end up missing out on tasting all the incredible items in the Afternoon Tea!
Sweets at the Langham hotel
The Ritz, 2013
Christmas Eve in London with my Aunt visiting from New Zealand gave me an excellent reason to try one of ‘the’ top spots for Afternoon Tea. We decided to opt for the last sitting so we wouldn’t be rushed and spend a bit more for a special Christmas-themed Afternoon Tea.
The Ritz Christmas 2013
The decorations for Christmas in the Ritz are second to none. Absolutely beautiful. The Christmas Tea came with a glass of champagne and the food was good. Beyond that I’d have to say is wasn’t any more special than the other teas I’ve been to. The tables were quite small and if you changed teas – say from a fruit tea to a black tea, you didn’t get a new cup or strainer, so the black tea was strained through a fruit blend in the strainer.
Christmas-wise, there were mince pies and Christmas cake, but as usual I made myself overfull and couldn’t bring myself to taste the Christmassy extras.
The Ritz at Christmas was a good £20 more than usual champagne Afternoon Teas, but it did include music and just being there made you feel like you were special at Christmas. I wish I was one of the kids that received a Ritz Christmas teddy bear, unfortunately I guess I look too old these days…
Intercontinental Afternoon tea
This time it was a Kiwi friends leaving Afternoon Tea treat. Again under recommendation I booked a group of four to their Afternoon Tea. They did well to accommodate one of the guests who didn’t eat certain things, but otherwise the service was disappointing. We waited and waited for tea, food and service in general.
They offer a few different types of Afternoon Teas so it was nice to be able to choose a menu you liked. However, for me I liked bits of different menus so maybe giving me the choice wasn’t a good idea in this case.
Unfortunately I was quite disappointed, the sandwiches felt a bit stale and unlike other Afternoon Teas I’d been to you weren’t given any extra sandwiches if you wanted them or scones etc.
After complaining about the service they did apologise and explain that they were overbooked and gave us all a glass of champagne to make up for it, which was a nice touch.
The Royal Horseguards Hotel, Feb 2014
Bring on the Bloggers Afternoon Teas! Organised by the lovely Selena (Oh, the places we will go!) , the Royal Horseguards Hotel put on an incredible menu designed just for us with excellent service (never without tea) in a spacious private room. Each place had a scroll of the menu and part the way through the incredible twitter’ing Chef Ben came to tell us all about the Afternoon Tea. I thought that was a really nice touch. And the chef’s have still kept in touch on twitter leading up to our next Afternoon Tea.
Bloggers Afternoon Tea at the Royal Horseguards Hotel
My only slight disappointment was that we weren’t told we could ask for different types of tea, so I stuck to the traditional tea, when usually given the option I like to try a few different types. However, that was a very minor detail and given that they had a room full of bloggers to keep happy I can completely understand them offering the standard tea to everyone in the first instance (I think some bloggers may have wrangled a different tea at some point).
The food was lovely and it was great to be able to take home leftovers. Most of all it was fantastic to meet so many incredible bloggers that blog about all different types of things, from lifestyle, interior design, to living in London, being and expat, travel and more.
The room that we were in was lovely and opened out onto a patio with excellent views of the London Eye and Big Ben. It was a really lovely afternoon out.
The Milestone Hotel, May 2014
Afternoon Tea at the Milestone Hotel
Roll on the next Bloggers Afternoon Tea, again organised by Selena. It was going to be tough to beat the service and food that we had experienced at the Royal Horseguards Hotel, but the Milestone Hotel gave it a good go.
The decorations and room we were in was lovely and later wandering through the rest of the restaurant and bar I noticed every room has a different theme, which was pretty neat.
Back to the Afternoon Tea though, it was a bit less frightening second time around as I knew many of the bloggers there, but purposely sat at a table with many different people to get to know new bloggers a bit more.
The food was again great. Although I wish there had been more of the scrummy round chicken sandwiches rolled in almonds around the edges, those were tasty and fancy. The scones were less dainty but came with clotted cream so that kept me happy.
Tea-wise, again it was a choice between English breakfast and Earl Grey, nothing special that was a pity. The sweets were a wide array to choose from, but unfortunately our table only had one or two of some items, so it would have been nice if there had been more for people to try.
Still, it was a lovely afternoon out with a lovely bunch of people. It’s always fantastic conversations and I can’t wait to see what the next one is like!