Greetings, friends! Returning guest poster Vanessa Jubis recently got back from an amazing trip to London and Paris with her mom. I had no idea afternoon tea had so many moving parts, thanks for the information!
Afternoon Tea in London
When my mom and I were planning our trip to Paris, we decided to take a mini break from Paris and take the Eurostar over to London for a night. We arrived at 10:00 am on the first day and left at 8:00 pm the next – making for about 36 hours in London. While we were planning it was my mom’s birthday and I had no idea what to get her so I decided to treat her to Afternoon Tea while we were in London.
On her birthday I fashioned a gift certificate and tucked it into a tin of tea. [Ed: Way to raise the bar for the rest of us!]
Before booking, I did some research on which hotel to have the tea. My first thought was to have tea in famous The Palm Court at The Ritz London. I made a reservation and even though I booked for a Thursday at the beginning of October, in June!! The only time slot they had remaining was 11:30. This posed two problems: One– the inn where we were staying was well known for its classic English breakfast that was included with the room. I didn’t want to miss the breakfast, but I also didn’t want to be full arriving for tea. Two – because the price of an afternoon tea is on the expensive side, I was planning on it being our main meal of the day. If we ate at 11:30 we would certainly be hungry again before we arrived back in Paris at 11:00 pm. After doing more research and realizing that they turned over 400 seating of tea a day, I was a little worried that was a bit too much of a mass production tea so I canceled the reservation and started researching other options.
My first alternative was to have it at Claridge’s but we had already decided to make a reservation for dinner the night before my planned tea at Gordon Ramsey’s restaurant in the hotel, and I wanted to experience a second hotel, you know, in case one day I could afford to actually sleep in such a hotel, I would have formed some opinions about which one to choose.
High tea at The Savoy
I then moved on to check out The Savoy’s afternoon tea in the Thames Foyer, and after checking out photos, the menu and lots of reviews, I booked a 2:30 reservation. The Savoy is notable luxury hotel; it was opened in the late 1800’s and was the first hotel to have electricity. The Savoy was closed from late 2007 to late 2010 for renovations that ended up costing two hundred and twenty million pounds, making the hotel feel historical yet modern.
When the day of our tea finally arrived, my mom and I got dressed up and arrived at the hotel. We were invited over to an area just at the end of the lobby, where we checked in for our reservation, if you have a few moments before your table is ready, there are some seating areas and a tea and pastry shop, where you can watch a pastry chef at work. They invite you to check your outerwear, and if you would like, freshen up in the stunning bathroom.
Tea is served in the Thames Foyer, a beautiful foyer and the focus of the room is a winter garden themed gazebo that houses the pianist, who plays throughout the afternoon. There are tables all around the room of different sizes and heights. The room was full but it didn’t feel crowded. The attendees seemed to be mostly British and many seemed to be celebrating a special occasion, as we saw many cake plates go by with a candle on them.
After we were seated, our server, a charming Canadian named Megan, presented us with two options for tea: the traditional afternoon tea, which is slightly sweeter, or a high tea, which is on the savory side. Mom and I enjoy our sweets so we went with afternoon tea. We were also given a large tea lists that has dozens of varieties and styles of tea. We decided to start with the Savoy Afternoon Blend, one of the hotel’s signature teas.
The pot of tea arrived at the same time as the tiered tray of goodies. My mom and I were not sure if the tea or milk and cream went first, but Megan started off by pouring the tea into our cup which answered the question for us. The tea was a mild, black tea, perfect for our afternoon. There are three tiers on the tray. The top tier contains warm scones – both plain and raisin. The second tier contains an assortment of finger sandwiches, crustless of course. The third layer has pots of raspberry preserve, lemon curd and clotted cream.
In all honesty, while the sandwiches were fresh and tasted good, they were not all that exciting, so when we were finished eating them and Megan asked if we wanted some more, we passed. Why fill up on sandwiches when you can have warm scones? The scones were delicious, especially with my favorite topping combination – a thick layer of the decadent clotted cream with a touch of tangy lemon curd. When Megan asked if we wanted more scones, even though we knew there was more food to come we couldn’t say no.
When we had our fill of sandwiches and scones, the tray was whisked away. At this point we decided to switch up our tea and try the Vanilla Black Tea, which smelled amazing. For the first part of dessert, a tray of French style pastries was brought out and we were invited to select as many different types as we wanted. I chose a lavender éclair, an opera cake and a royal chocolate biscuit cake – one of Prince William’s favorite desserts. All desserts were delicious, but I think my favorite was the biscuit cake.
For the final course, Megan rolled over a dessert cart, with three cakes on it – a traditional fruitcake, a Victoria sponge and a chocolate fudge cake. Since my mom and I were feeling full we opted for the lightest option – the Victoria sponge. While it was denser than I thought, it was still delicious.
After finishing up with the cake, and having one last cup of tea, we decided we could not eat or drink any more and our afternoon tea came to an end. [Ed: You two are very cute, fancy ladies!]
All in all, we had an awesome time at The Savoy. The service from beginning to end was fantastic and it was a great way to relax and take a break from a busy week of sightseeing. I would highly recommend anyone looking for an afternoon tea experience in London to check out The Savoy.
Afternoon tea at The Savoy costs £40 per person.