Formal or Casual, the Choice is Yours
Part of the whole experience of visiting London is having afternoon tea. Many American’s refer to this as high tea but that is incorrect. High Tea is not the same thing as afternoon tea. A high tea is a full meal and what most people want in the afternoon is a light meal. So this is about where to have afternoon tea in London. If you want to dress up and have a formal tea, there are plenty of places where you can do just that.
Putting on the Ritz
Located on Piccadilly, the Ritz Hotel is known for its afternoon tea. You can feel quite comfortable dressing to the nines if you want to for tea. I have to admit, I have never had tea here, it is just too formal for us but just walking by the lovely Ritz makes you realize that it is one swanky place.
Tea Dance at the Waldorf
Having said the Ritz is too formal for me, I have to admit that we did attend the afternoon tea dance at the Waldorf and it was amazing. It isn’t just about the wonderful tea, sandwiches, pastries and scones, though they are all delicious, it is about watching women in flowing dresses and men in dress suits twirling around the dance floor while you sip your cuppa. We were on the balcony level looking down on the dance floor. You can of course join them and we did for one dance but frankly we were a bit outclassed. It was however an amazing experience. It was like seeing the England that you thought existed but know really doesn’t.
Tea at Harrods Georgian Restaurant
I have to admit, this is one of my favorites. There is a piano player, the sandwiches are lovely and the pastries are to die for. They are miniatures of the ones they sell in the food court and they are generous with them. Mind you, the price you pay for tea at Harrods is a bit over the top but you really should do it at least once.
Saint Martin in the Field Café in the Crypt
Having afternoon tea at St. Martin is a very informal affair. It won’t be served on a tiered tray, you will pick up the pieces of your tea in the cafeteria line and carry them to your table. In spite of that, it is wonderful because this has to be one of the most atmospheric places in the world to enjoy a sweet and a cup of tea. I try to never miss the opportunity to stop here when I am in the area.
Richoux is another of our favorite places to stop of afternoon tea. There are several very convenient location around London of this great little restaurant and there will surely be one close by wherever you may be at tea time. It is a simple sort of restaurant with a nice selection of options at very reasonable prices. You can choose a traditional tea or a cream tea depending on how hungry you are.
Orangery at Kensington Palace
This is my new favorite place for tea. It is a lovely location on the grounds of Kensington Palace right at the edge of Kensington Gardens. It is beautiful with great views, lots of light and most importantly spectacular pastries. We have an amazing afternoon tea here and I will surely return again when I am next in London.
If you happen to be at just about any museum in London during tea time, stop by their restaurant. We have had a very nice afternoon tea at many of them including the British Museum and the Museum of London.
You may not want to have tea every afternoon while you are in London but if you do there are plenty of choices. I am still looking forward to trying afternoon tea at Harvey Nichols and at Fortnum and Masons.