As national afternoon tea week draws to a close, I thought I would share my favourite ever afternoon tea experience.
In 2008 we were able to tick something from our bucket list and enjoy afternoon tea at the Ritz. It is such a fabulous treat that I thought I would re-visit that special day.
Afternoon tea at the Ritz is certainly not cheap. Back in 2008 I think it was £37 per person - fast forward a few years and the price is now £50+ per person. We were lucky that Steve had won an incentive at work and received a £500 voucher for lastminute.com - we used the voucher to pay for our hotel, to buy a gift voucher for afternoon tea and another few bits and bobs. I would not hesitate to pay for afternoon tea at the Ritz again though as it really is special and such a treat.
Afternoon tea is taken in the beautiful Palm Court Salon which really is the most elegant place I have ever seen. It is very grand and you feel as if you are sitting in a palace.
The scene is set with a grand piano being played just outside the dining area. There are little request cards on every table and it seems like there is nothing the pianist couldn't turn his hand to. We enjoyed listening to some fantastic music both modern and traditional and it really made the afternoon very special and added to the sense of occasion.
Most fine dining restaurants have now relaxed their style and are not as formal as you might imagine. The Ritz however has bucked the trend and is still very formal. If you wish to visit, you need to adhere to the hotel's strict formal dress code which specifically states men must wear a tie and jacket and trainers and jeans are not allowed in any part of the hotel. I know this might put some people off but we loved getting dressed up in our Sunday best.
We placed our afternoon tea reservation online. It is recommended you do this well in advance as popular days and weekends book up fast.
Now, onto the food. Unfortunately, photography is not permitted in the Palm Court. The images on this page are taken from the official Ritz Website. I have been lucky enough to dine in some very special places including Claridges, Nobu, Blenheim Palace and Gidleigh Park. I have to say that nowhere comes close to the service we received at the Ritz. We were asked to choose a tea or coffee from a huge selection and throughout the afternoon these were replenished 8 times! Unbelievable! This ensured that we always had a hot, fresh drink to accompany our delicious treats.
You can view the afternoon tea menu here. A generous selection of sandwiches are brought to your table first of all. I remember the tucking into the cucumber sandwiches, listening the the grand piano being played and sipping my coffee from the most beautiful china cup and thinking it really could not get anymore English than this.
We had a short respite when we had finished our sandwiches and then awaited our scones. However, to our shock, the immaculately dressed waiters started bringing out silver platters full of more sandwiches! It would be rude to refuse (and we wanted our money's worth) so we chose another three sandwiches each. Then again, we were asked if we would like even more! We politely declined though as wanted to leave enough room for the delights to come.
I managed to sneak this photo of our tea stand.
A special note about the waiting staff - they are ever so attentive and polite, as you would expect in the Ritz and they are all dressed in smart tailcoats. It is lovely being addressed as Sir or Madam throughout the afternoon.
We moved onto our scone course and they were served warm with traditional jam and cream. Probably the best scones I will ever taste.
Then finally, we were brought a selection of teeny tiny cakes and pastries that were so delicate and perfect it was almost a crime to eat them. I don't know how we managed to squeeze them in but we did.
The amount of food we were served during afternoon tea was staggering. We dined at 1pm and did not eat for the rest of the day.
All of the food was absolutely stunning at the Ritz, the service was the best we have ever received, the ambience was so special and we were both made to feel like VIP's. We were not rushed at all and I think the whole experience lasted about 2 1/2 hours.
If you are looking for a special treat to mark a special occasion I think it would be very hard to top afternoon tea at the Ritz. We have already decided we would like to take Heidi for her 16th/18th birthday (well - any excuse to go again!).