A full British experience absolutely must include a fancy afternoon tea. And simply sipping by the window of your room something you have made yourself at the hotel will not cut it. Especially not if you happen to be in London. There are so many elegant tea rooms that you might need to double your holiday just to make it to some of the most popular ones for tea time. Need a couple of pointers on where to start? Here are seven of the most elegant venues.
7 of the most elegant tea rooms in London
1. Fortnum and Mason
The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum and Mason is probably the most sophisticated tea salon in the world. It was opened by HM The Queen on occasion of her Diamond Jubilee. Everything is impeccable, from the crisp white linen to the duck egg blue chinaware.
Tea has been served here since 1707 and today guests can try up to 82 different teas on the menu. There is even a tasting service set in place, where staff members guide visitors through the remarkable selection of fine blends.
The accompanying finger sandwiches, scones and pastries are not to be overlooked either as the dessert trolley is almost a masterpiece.
2. Brown’s Hotel
The Brown Hotel was the inspiration for the Bertram Hotel in Agatha Christie’s “At the Bertram” novel. And if you visit it, you will quickly understand why the writer chose it as the setting for one of her famous crime story. Queen Victoria herself used to dine here.
The tea room is a cozy place where refills are complementary and where the staff is trained to encourage patrons to enjoy the experience, take their time, savor their desserts and sip their teas in peace. It is a place that separates you from the fast forward pace of the outside world.
However, it is very much in tune with modern dietary needs. There are healthy fruit and low fat substitutes, there are low-carb, low-fat options for many treats and yet neither of these things makes the offer restrictive in any way.
Just because you are having an English afternoon tea, it does not mean that you have to do it in a cold and grey setting like in one of Dickens’ books. On the contrary, how about the choice of drinking your tea and having some fluffy scones in a pink velvet room? And it is all possible at the Sketch restaurant.
The interior was designed by David Shrigley and it is something you need to see for yourself. And when you are done admiring the place, the youthful staff is at your disposal, ready with refills of fantastic finger sandwiches, meringue, scones and puff pastry.
If you are looking for a very elegant place to have an elegant afternoon tea, you have found it. Claridge is an Art Deco inspired tea room with a waiting list to match your excitement about the place. But once you get inside you can listen to the soothing piano or cello music as well as a warm indistinct chatter that simply reminds you that you are in a popular venue and not in an overcrowded place.
And once the introductions are made, you can feast on the delicious sandwiches, pastries with walnuts and pears, and mouth watering cakes.
5. The Ritz
Although some tea rooms in London are much older than the one at Ritz, it is tradition that keeps people flowing in since they first started serving tea here in 1906. The spread is just as you might expect from an establishment such as the Ritz. There are finger sandwiches with smoked salmon, tiered cake stands with more temptation than you would care to submit yourself to. There is a dress code and if people come here expecting typical British pomp, they are going to find it.
6. The Promenade at the Dorchester
What can you find at the Dorchester? A fine selection of Dalreoch teas, perfectly cooked salmon in exquisite finger sandwiches and intimate seating areas that allow visitors to sip their tea in peace and quiet. There are Marble columns that line the room, a general scent of seasonal flowers and a soothing light coming from the huge lamps hanging from the ceiling. This is The Promenade at the Dorchester, one of the most elegant tea rooms in London.
7. Hotel Café Royal
The Café Royal Hotel Tea room used to be frequented by Oscar Wilde. This piece of information alone will give you a sense of occasion when visiting the place for an afternoon tea. But do not fear. The master of ceremonies often entertains the room with quotes and information on the life of the famous writer. Otherwise, the tea menu is extensive and you also have a choice of savory or sweet treats to accompany the feast.
If you are not in it for the tea or if you do not have a sweet tooth to enjoy the scones, although we cannot understand who could not yield to the deliciousness of the puffy desserts usually accompanying the hot beverages in any tea room, then you must be into it for the ceremony. It is not like a Japanese tea ceremony, but the chinaware, the expertly laid down trays of colourful desserts, the stylish interiors and the calm of it all will make you happy you did not skip out on this treat.