by: alpsboy, 01/08/2007
Every visiting friend or relation from out of town is an excuse to enjoy an afternoon of Earl Grey, delicate finger sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, cakes and maybe even the odd crumpet.
As a relaxing way to spend a few hours it's quintessentially English and London's classic hotels offer the best afternoon tea in the world. Here's my list of the best places to enjoy afternoon tea in London:
- Brown's Hotel. A world-class hotel in the heart of Mayfair which was refurbished a few years ago. Brown's has a long tradition of serving afternoon tea in The English Tea Room, which is as beautiful and tasteful as the rest of the hotel.
- Claridge's. The foyer at Claridge's is a stunning room and afternoon tea gives you plenty of time to admire it. There's a string quartet, superb pastries and flawless service to boot, all within walking distance of Bond Street and Oxford Street.
- The Dorchester. Almost as famous as The Ritz for its afternoon tea, and justifiably so. Tea is served in the Promenade, where a pianist entertains the guests and you can choose from a tea menu longer than most wine lists.
- Laduree at Harrods. This Parisian tea room in London offers a French take on afternoon tea (understandably). For me, it can't compete with the traditional English approach, but the macaroons are delicious.
- The Lanesborough. Elegant room with a glass ceiling and palm trees. The service is top notch and after tea, the shops of Knightsbridge, or a stroll in Hyde Park are both in easy reach. Better still, the hotel's Library Bar is even nearer and has an amazing selection of vintage cognacs.
- The National Dining Rooms. The cafe in the National Gallery allows you to combine a love of fine art with a love of fine cakes. The restaurant menu is good too but only open for lunch.
- The Ritz. Hard to fault, as you'd expect from somewhere synonymous with afternoon tea. It's very formal (men should wear a jacket and strictly no trainers) but the Palm Court, where tea is served, is magnificent and definitely worth a visit.
- The Wolseley. Although not as formal as it's neighbour The Ritz, The Wolseley doesn't have month long waiting lists and the interior is almost as impressive in its own way.
- Yauatcha. A michelin-starred Chinese restaurant which serves tea with exquisite and unusual cakes on the ground floor. Nothing like traditional afternoon tea but its name - (Alan) "Yau at cha" - shows how important tea is to the concept.