Ah, Claridge’s in London for afternoon tea – this is the epitome of “old school” British elegance, sophistication and style. Claridge’s has been in operation at this location since 1812, and I don’t think that I’d be going out on a limb in saying that afternoon tea at Claridge’s is an institution in and of itself.
The main entrance to the hotel is on Brook Street, in London’s Mayfair district …
As you enter the hotel, you come upon this spectacular lobby.
And just beyond the lobby is the Foyer, designed by Thierry Despont in a 1930’s art deco style. This is a bright and airy space themed with Roman stone and jazz moderne mirrored walls. Claridge’s serves afternoon tea here in the Foyer and in the adjacent Reading Room as well.
Clardige’s uses a distinctive pale green, striped china pattern made by Bernardaud, France. For my afternoon tea, I chose a full leaf, medium-bodied black tea – grown locally in the Tregothnan area of Cornwall / Southwest England.
Another unique feature of Claridge’s afternoon tea is that the classic three-tier cake stand rests on the floor, not on your table, so you don’t have to play peek-a-boo with your guests.
The first “course” in Claridge’s afternoon tea is the finger sandwiches. You’ll be presented with all of the classic and traditional choices for afternoon tea sandwiches – starting from the left (below) are smoked salmon, egg & cress, chicken, cucumber and ham. What can I say, except that these are exceptionally delicious sandwiches made with only the freshest and often organic ingredients, and it shows.
Claridge’s is among the rare few that hold back the scones until you have had an opportunity to sample the tea sandwiches, so they can serve them as warm as possible. That’s a raisin scone on the left (below) and an apple scone on the right. You can’t really see it very well in the picture, but the condiment on the left is Marco Polo jam, a unique tea jelly from Claridge’s that is sourced from Mariage Freres, a French gourmet tea company. At this point, I switched my tea selection to a Ceylon Orange Pekoe for the scones and pastries.
The floor standing, three-tier cake stand is helpful in keeping your table uncluttered and, for example, can keep the teapot and hot water close, but not too close.
Finally, and last but not least, are the sweets and pastries. These can of course change, but here is an example of the sweets presentation on the day I visited Claridge’s. They include a Dundee Cake, a chocolate-hazelnut brownie and a vanilla Mille-feuille.
Finally, I would like to draw your attention to the Dale Chihuly, Gilded Dawn glass chandelier, magnificently presiding 18 feet over the Foyer at Claridge’s.