When I mentioned to my best friend that I was planning on having afternoon tea in London, she straight away suggested Claridge’s. The thing is, she hasn’t actually been to Claridge’s before, however her recommendations were based solely on the reputation of the hotel. After conducting some research of my own, I did indeed find out that Claridge’s is one of the United Kingdom’s finest afternoon tea institutions, having won so many awards for afternoon tea excellence.
I had high expectations for Claridge’s after seeing so many glowing reviews, and I found it quite difficult to make a reservation. I made my reservation about 4 weeks before I left for my holiday, therefore I recommend booking at least a month or two in advance. The only day that was available was on a Tuesday evening at 5:30pm. I wasn’t overly happy about that, because my partner finishes work at 5pm and I knew we would be cutting it fine.
Wow, what an elegant and impressive venue. I guess it is what you would expect for a hotel in upper class Mayfair. The decor is absolutely stunning, the lighting is dimmed and I felt warm and cozy. My partner actually remarked at how sophisticated he felt just being there. It really is a fancy establishment, and I recommend that you wear your best ensemble.
We were seated in the Reading room section of the Foyer. Our table was adorned with the Claridge’s signature green and white tea ware, silver cutlery and a dainty little white rose. We also had a lamp on our table which gave us just enough light to see what we were eating, and I also thought that it gave the table a romantic feel.
The service was absolutely impeccable. Totally faultless.
As soon as we arrived and were seated, we were offered champagne (Laurent-Perrier). The hostess even waited for me to take my first sip of champagne, just to ensure that I liked it. The hostess poured our tea and coffee, offered to take our coats and bags, and even came around with a second helping of sandwiches and scones. Our hostess was pleasant and accommodating, and my partner and I felt really welcome.
Firstly, I should mention that there is a huge selection of 24 teas to choose from. I ordered the signature Claridge’s blend, and my partner ordered a coffee. The Claridge’s blend is a black tea, described as “combining the power of English breakfast tea with a satisfying complexity. The flavour is rich and aromatic with a deep, malty finish.”
The sandwiches were the first to arrive and they were sensational. The bread was fresh, there were a wide range of fillings, and the servings were plentiful. The vegetarian varieties included: brown egg mayonnaise with watercress (which had a pleasant hint of garlic), mushroom, red pepper and hommus, pumpkin chutney, and cheese, salad and chutney. I also had a delicate little scone topped with beet root on the side of my sandwich plate. My partner’s sandwich varieties included: brown egg mayonnaise with watercress, smoked salmon and shrimp butter, organic chicken with lemon and tarragon, cucumber, creme fresh and rocket, and ham, tomato chutney and celeriac remoulade. He also received a petite scone topped with a slice of salmon. My partner and I weren’t overly impressed with the savoury scones, and would have preferred a tart or quiche of some variety. However, it was a unique touch that I have not seen before.
The scones were the next to arrive, and we received two of each variety- plain and raisin. They were absolutely delightful scones- warm and fluffy and melt in your mouth. Accompanying the scones, was a generous serving of Cornish clotted cream and a special Marco Polo Gelee, which was delicious. Unfortunately, I found it rather difficult to describe the flavours of the Gelee. To me, it tasted like a subtle mixture of various fruits infused with vanilla. Absolutely divine!
And last but not least out came the sweets. At this point you have probably realised that we were not given a traditional three tier afternoon tea stand. Instead, the hostess brought our food out individually, and waited for us to decide whether we were ready to proceed to the scones and sweets or whether we wanted more of the sandwiches. I though that this was a lovely way of presenting us with our food, and at no stage did we feel like we were being rushed. Our sweets plate included a chocolate and raspberry macaron, a strawberry eclair, a coconut and lime tart and a citrus sponge cake. My absolutely favourite was the citrus sponge cake. It was light and fluffy, and had a beautiful mixture of citrus flavours. However, the chocolate and raspberry macaron was equally as delightful.
The ambience is what you would expect from such a sophisticated venue such as Claridge’s. Although fully booked, it wasn’t at all noisy. You could hear other people chatting away, but the room was spacious enough to accommodate for it.
My partner and I mainly noticed the beautiful sounds coming from the string quartet as it filled the room. It was truly a royal experience.
Overall, I thought that afternoon tea at Claridge’s was a remarkably memorable experience. I also believe that it sets a certain benchmark for afternoon tea standards and my personal future expectations. To some, that may seem unfair, however once you have had the pleasure of enjoying afternoon tea at Claridge’s you will understand that it is a place that prides itself on being one of the finest establishments for afternoon tea in the United Kingdom. In my opinion, they got everything right. The venue was stunning, the service was impeccable, and the food was fresh and delicious. I doubt that you could ask for much more.
If you’re visiting London, then Claridge’s should be first on your list of afternoon tea venues to visit.
Afternoon Tea is served daily, with sittings at 3pm, 3:30pm, 5pm and 5:30pm.
£50 Traditional Afternoon Tea
£61 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier
£74 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rose
A discretionary service charge of 12.5% will a!so be added to the bill.
Bookings are Essential.
Reservations can be made via Claridge’s website: http://www.claridges.co.uk/london-mayfair-afternoon-tea/
Or by Telephone: +44 (0)20 7409 6307
Address: Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair. London W1K 4HR