Wednesday, September 28, 2011

An Amoozing Afternoon Tea at Claridges (London)

Champagne and finger sandwiches
Apologies, but this post is severely overdue. We were in London in the fall of 2010 and feeling nostalgic, we thought we would post this review now.

When one thinks of afternoon tea, it conjures up an image of older, blue haired women, dressed in finery and large hats, sipping tea from bone china cups, with their pinkies pointed up. As well, there is the thought of the obligatory, dainty, crustless cucumber sandwiches. A practice developed by the British Empire as a light snack taken mid afternoon, it's progressed from being a daily tradition in all households to an occasional treat offered in some hotels, cafes and tea shops.

For those who have experienced afternoon tea in Canada or the United States, incorrectly referred to as high tea, which in the UK would consist of more substantial food such as meat and eggs in addition to sandwiches and cakes, it is a dainty expensive affair. The most famously offered afternoon tea in Canada can be found at the Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC. At $58 per person, it is a very posh, white glove experience. Although you leave with some goodies such as a tin of tea and cookies, it will leave you seeking further sustenance. The afternoon tea at Claridges is a far cry from this and will leave you full and craving more of their deliciously addictive scones, clotted cream and Marco Polo jam. At 38 British Pounds (approximately $60 Canadian at the time of this post), it is worth every pence!

Delicious scones, clotted cream, Marco Polo Jam and desserts
If you decide to go, particularly on a weekend, reservations must be made far far in advance. We lucked out, having a flexible schedule, we were able to secure a spot for a mere 2 days later. Despite thinking it might be a stuffy experience, the staff were extremely warm, friendly, and attentive. Service was always fast, but we were never rushed.

Scone slathered in clotted cream
I opted for the afternoon tea with Champagne (for 49 British pounds or $78 Canadian Dollars), with over 30 teas to choose from, it took quite a while to settle on the tea to try. Each person is given their own tea pot, and you can change teas at anytime you would like in order to experience more than one tea. We began with an assortment of traditional finger sandwiches, egg, cucumber, and smoked salmon, and were pleasantly surprised when we were offered more once they were devoured. We declined in favor of moving onto the main attraction, the scones.

Once you've tasted a proper English scone, you can never go back. They were toothsome creations, warm and light. The clotted cream was rich, creamy and airy, and the house made tea infused jam (referred to as Marco Polo jam, as it is infused with their Marco Polo tea) was unique and astoundingly good. The jam added a nice sweetness to the clotted cream, yearning to eat more the staff did not hesitate to get us a second and third helping. We finished with desserts that although small in size, were decadently filling.

An enthusiastic two hooves up experience! If you are going to London, or live there, definitely a nice way to celebrate a special occasion. We WILL be returning on our next visit to London.

  • Book weeks in advance, particularly if you are looking to visit on a Saturday or with a larger group. However, if you have a flexible itinerary, you can call and get in during a weekday that week like we did.
  • Try to dress nice, Claridges is one of the most expensive 5 star hotels in London. 
  • Bring some change to tip the washroom attendants.
  • Go when you're not in a rush, this is not a dine and dash type of experience.
  • Each person at the table can choose to have a different type of tea experience (regular, champagne, or rose champagne). 
  • You can try more than one type of tea, you don't have to keep drinking the same tea all afternoon if you don't want to.
  • Don't eat lunch prior to going, and have a light breakfast. Afternoon tea can be a meal in itself. 
  • Don't hesitate to ask for seconds, thirds, etc. You don't get charged extra and they happily offer you as many of any items you would like.
  • They DO sell the Marco Polo jam so you purchase some to take it home.
  • Each person receives a tin of tea to take home as a souvenir with them.
More photos at Photobucket.
    Afternoon Tea at Claridges
    49 Brook Street, Mayfair
    London, United Kingdom  W1K4H4

    +44 (0)20 7107 8872

    Afternoon Tea at Claridge's Hotel on Urbanspoon

    1 comment:

    1. I really find the cute plush animal wildly amusing! What an entertaining blog. This reminded me of experiencing high tea in one of the cheap central London hotels. It wasn't high at all. Nevertheless, the pastries were lovely.


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