May 29, 2014

My Bucket List: Tea at the Ritz

It's Thursday, and I'm starting a new series of weekly posts about the items from my bucket list that I've been able to experience so far. Sampling the culinary traditions of the countries I visit is one of my favourite travel pastimes and what could be more British than afternoon tea? The experience was a natural addition to my bucket list so when I visited London a few years ago, we did tea in grand style at the luxurious Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly.

The Ritz London

The Ritz London opened in 1906 and has welcomed aristocrats, royalty, and celebrities like Charlie Chaplin and Tallulah Bankhead. And some of the scenes from the 1999 film Notting Hill (starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant) were filmed at The Ritz.

Celebrities aside, afternoon tea is still served today in the hotel's elegant Palm Court. The bright, airy salon with its birdcage chandeliers, gilded statues, mirrors and, of course, potted palm trees was a welcome break from the cool, rainy weather the day of our visit. 

The Palm Court at the Ritz

We made reservations for the Champagne Afternoon Tea (£59) which includes assorted finger sandwiches (with such traditional fillings as cucumber, smoked salmon and cheddar cheese); a variety of tea pastries and cakes; and freshly baked scones with Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry preserves. The table was set with fine china and a substantial silver tea service. Guests can choose from 16 different loose leaf teas (I had Jasmine Tea with Flowers) and we also enjoyed a flute of champagne. The friendly waiters were never far away and a pianist provided relaxing background music on a grand piano. I think it was the attentive service that made our visit so memorable.

Champagne Afternoon Tea at the Ritz

If you go:
Prices for Afternoon Tea at The Ritz London range from £47 for the Traditional Afternoon Tea to £69 for the Celebration Champagne Afternoon Tea (includes a glass of champagne and a cake). Tea is served daily at 11:30, 13:30, 15:30, 17:30 & 19:30. The dress code in the Palm Court requires jacket and tie for men and no jeans. Trainers and sportswear are not permitted in any public areas of the hotel. Reservations can be made online at www.theritzlondon.comI recommend booking your Tea at the Ritz as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

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