Although not a really common activity in London, for many people who live in the UK, a spot of 'afternoon tea' at one of the fancier hotels in central London is a real treat. First it's probably a good idea for me to explain what it actually is, and then I'll tell you about some amazing places to enjoy it!
If you don't know this following fact, you cannot call yourself an Anglophile - English people adore tea. It's not a love affair in the same way as people in Spain enjoy a coffee, because that's universal. In the UK, tea was and still is a cultural experience. Tea has been around in the UK since the middle of the 17th Century, but afternoon tea came around a hundred years later. The Duchess of Bedford could never wait between lunch and dinner, and so created an in-between meal to keep her going. In most places, afternoon tea is sandwiches, cakes, pastries and tea, all presented in a fancy manner!
Although not one of the traditional bastions of the London hotel scene, Sketch is incredibly stylish... and PINK! The entire room is pink, and the seats are pink and the floor even has pink streaks. However this might sound, it's not garish or visually painful. The pinks are quite muted and in the end creates a very soft and enveloping atmosphere. Afternoon tea here is around €65 and includes impeccable service from pink jacketed attendants as well as quirky wall hangings and some of the prettiest and daintiest cakes I have seen in my life!
The Dorchester is in fact one of those bastions of the London hotel scene. Open since before WWII and right next to the huge open Hyde Park, The Dorchester is one of very best hotels in a city that has incredibly high quality hotels. Afternoon tea here is around €60, and is served in a much more classical scene compared to Sketch (not better or worse, just different). Smoked salmon, cucumber sandwiches and scones with the most incredible jam and cream are on the menu at the Dorchester. Richly upholstered sofa chairs encourage real relaxation, and the gentle pastel colours of The Promenade dining room combine with the relatively private sections to give an incredibly relaxing, opulent and tasty experience! This dining room is the sort of place that makes London worthwhile to live in, and with gentle piano music and the prettiest and tastiest afternoon tea in the city, it's well worth a visit.
Another mainstay of the London hotel elite, The Savoy is so embedded in the city that the taxis were designed to be able to turn around the small roundabout at the front of the hotel. Afternoon tea at the Savoy is around €70 and is the fanciest of them all! This tea is taken in a dome that is positively flooded with bright light and is an incredible place to enjoy the food. The traditional version of afternoon tea will be found here of course, with small sandwiches, the ever-present and much-loved scone and jam as well as seasonal cakes and pastries. You can also splash out a bit more and try the afternoon tea experience with some of the best champagne in the city.
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