Since it opened in 1906, the five-star Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly has been synonymous with prestige, luxury, elegance and style. And, famously, its afternoon tea!
When the heroine of my book Song of the Nile moves to London in the 1930s, tea at the Ritz is a lovely treat for her. Then, the fabulous union of tea and nibbles was open only to high society. These days, however, anyone is welcome to enjoy this Great British tradition, so long as they abide by the dress code: jacket and tie, no jeans or sportswear. Personally, I like dressing up; it makes more of an occasion of it.
Tea is served in the Palm Court, the height of splendour with its Louis XVI style, all creams and golds, and chandeliers and mirrors, with ambient music provided by a pianist and harpist. Here, you sit where so many have sat before, including King Edward VII, Sir Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother.
The 18 teas on offer are sourced by the hotel’s ‘Tea Sommelier’, who selects the best teas from around the world from plantations. (The Moroccan Mint is particularly refreshing.) If you prefer something a little fizzier, a range of champagnes is also available.
But what of the food? Of course, the selection is mouth-watering. Delicate sandwiches with smoked salmon or cheddar cheese; expertly crafted pastries; delicious scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam.
The current price for afternoon tea is £55 for adults and £35 for children. Certainly more expensive than a café around the corner in Mayfair, but I assure you it is well worth the price for the wonderful experience. The ambiance, the décor, the service and the food – you feel like royalty!
If tea at the Ritz isn’t an option for you, perhaps because you live too far away, why not recreate it at home? I have this book on my shelf and I very much enjoy the recipes:
From the author:
Tea at the Ritz is the last delicious morsel of Edwardian London. The light is kind, the cakes are frivolous and the tempo is calm, confident and leisurely.
Photo credits: 1) Willy Barton/Shutterstock.com; 2) Herry Lawford/Wikipedia.