If you’re an afternoon tea lover, then afternoon tea at The Ritz London Hotel is one of the most iconic experiences in the world. Since the hotel’s opening in 1906, “Tea at the Ritz” has been elegantly served in the hotel’s Palm Court.
I’ve had the great pleasure to enjoy afternoon tea at The Ritz London on several occasions. To me, it’s one of the finest venues in the world for afternoon tea, and one that far too few of us will ever have an opportunity to experience.
So with this in mind, let’s pretend “you were there” by following along with this visual or pictorial tour of the Ritz’s afternoon tea experience, served in the beautiful Palm Court.
The first thing that should be said about Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester Hotel in London is that the room where it is served, the marble and gilt “Promenade,” is a drop dead gorgeous-stunning space that was somehow made even more beautiful by the Holiday decorations on this mid-December day in London. Pictures do not do this room justice – it is a first class, take your breath away kind of venue.
As I was entering the Dorchester, my thoughts were that since this is a Monday afternoon, perhaps it will not be as full as it otherwise might be on say, a Saturday or a Sunday. I was wrong. The Promenade was absolutely bristling with activity, every table within sight – filled. Guests were milling about the lobby dressed in their holiday finest, gesturing in a spirited fashion, and I wondered if maybe I had missed the memo that the entire city of London was meeting here today. Continue reading →
I called for afternoon tea reservations at The Merrion Hotel in Dublin and was told that they were booked for the entire month of December. Fortunately after we arrived at the hotel, the staff was able to get us a seating (most likely because were guests of the hotel). As luck would have it, we were given a table directly in front of the fireplace and facing the harpist who was just beginning to play for the guests taking afternoon tea.
The Merrion Hotel is located in the center of Georgian Dublin and is just a short walk from Dublin’s “golden mile” – an area of pubs, shops and restaurants near St. Stephen’s Green. The main house of the hotel was created from four townhouses originally built in the 1760’s and now painstakingly restored. Continue reading →
A beautiful mid-December day in Dublin, Ireland – sunny and about 42F or 6C – found me approaching the front entrance of the Shelbourne Hotel for “Festive Afternoon Tea.” We had reservations at this, one of Dublin’s most historic hotels, built in 1828 and the location where the Constitution of the Irish Free State was drafted by Michael Collins and associates in Room 112. The hotel has views overlooking St. Stephen’s Green, the largest garden square in Europe.
“Tea time in the Lord Mayor’s Lounge is muted and airbrushed by Nostalgia, the clink of tea cups, and the cadness of Marie Whelan’s Piano are punctuated by the rhythmic sound of hoof beats as horse-drawn carriages bowl past the windows onto sightseeing promenades” – from The Shelbourne and its People by Michael O’Sullivan and Bernadine O’Neill. Continue reading →
When I arrived at Fortnum and Mason, it was after sundown and the right time for High Tea. High Tea is served later in the day and is a more substantial meal than the lighter fare that is commonly associated with afternoon tea. After entering through F&M’s oak doors on Piccadilly, I took the lift up to the 4th Floor St. James’s, a full service restaurant that serves meals and teas of all kinds. The restaurant is light, airy, has a quiet ambiance, tables set a good distance apart, live piano music, and for a lucky few, tables next to the windows overlooking Piccadilly below. Even though I requested one, they were all reserved for a function later that evening.
After opening on this spot in 1707 as a small grocery shop, Fortnum and Mason have been doing business at 181 Piccadilly for over 300 years. They have a long history of dealing in exotic imported foods and other fine goods, including full leaf teas of all kinds, and have earned numerous Royal Warrants. From the beginning, Fortnum and Mason have sold tea to anyone who asked, a novel idea in the 1700’s when tea drinking was limited mostly to the aristocracy. Continue reading →
Although it was dark and overcast on this late November day in London, the air was unusually warm at 57F / 14C. Walking up Albemarle Street in the heart of Mayfair, I came to the unmistakable entrance to Brown’s Hotel. Built in 1837 by James Brown and his wife, Sarah, who were formerly butler and maid to Lord and Lady Byron, it was the first hotel in London that catered to “genteel” folk.
As of 2003, Brown’s is owned by The Rocco Forte Collection which invested 24 million GBP in refurbishments after acquiring this luxury hotel.
On a historical note, Alexander Graham Bell stayed here in 1876 to demonstrate his new invention, the telephone. The English Tea Room is where Rudyard Kipling wrote much of his famous novel, The Jungle Book. It is also believed that Agatha Christie wrote her novel (At Bertram’s Hotel) while at Brown’s Hotel and modeled the story after the hotel. United States Presidents Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt both selected Brown’s Hotel for their honeymoons. Continue reading →
Palm Court Afternoon Tea (image courtesy of The Ritz London)
My daughter and I had just landed at Heathrow Airport after an overnight flight from the United States. We were in London to do a little sightseeing, take in a play in the West End, perhaps some shopping in Knightsbridge, and finally take afternoon tea at The Ritz London.
Since it can be difficult getting a reservation for afternoon tea at The Ritz, I reserved a few months in advance. There are many wonderful things to do in London, but there is only one Ritz and taking afternoon tea here is “the” quintessential British experience.
We did quite a bit of walking on this trip, and even though I pointed out many of the major London landmarks, my daughter wanted to take pictures of the flower boxes hanging from the windows of buildings we passed. After a busy couple of days, the time for our “tea party” at The Ritz had arrived. Continue reading →
Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough (image courtesy of The Lanesborough Hotel)
After flying all night on a transatlantic flight, my daughter and I arrived in Britain early one Saturday morning. Before landing, the captain announced that the local London weather was sunny, calm and 60F/16C, just about as good as it gets on an early fall day in England. Later that day, we had a reservation for afternoon tea at one of the grandest hotels in London – The Lanesborough. After catching a few quick hours of sleep, we made our way over to Hyde Park Corner where we walked under the Wellington Arch on our way to the hotel. Approaching the front entrance, I couldn’t help but notice the number of Rolls Royce’s parked nearby – some bearing license plates from foreign countries. Now that’s the way to travel- have your automobile shipped with you. Continue reading →