I love afternoon tea… and I have been lucky enough to experience quite a few. However, afternoon tea at The Ritz is unlike any other… it’s exquisite, it’s elegant….and gloriously stunning…
The Ritz in itself needs no introduction and taking ‘tea at The Ritz’ could not be more quintessentially British. It’s an institution. It takes place in The Palm Court – ‘an elegant salon originally designed as a destination for glamorous guests from high society to ‘see and be seen’. (I don’t think anybody saw me.. nor Gem, whom I was with. Gem gets just as excited about cake as I do. Possibly more so.)
The Palm Court is a beautiful and very dramatic room, flanked by high walls of gleaming mirrors, with an intricate ceiling, birdcage chandeliers, a striking stone fountain and vibrant floral displays… and with the immaculately presented waiters flitting like silent birds amongst the pretty chinaware and gleaming silverware topped tables, you couldn’t possibly turn up in jeans – you’d feel like a plonker. You couldn’t anyway, as the formal dress code clearly states jackets and ties for the chaps… or else you get arrested. (You don’t.)
We had donned our Ritziest dresses and felt quite the part. We were also ravenous as we’d hardly eaten anything all day… (afternoon tea prep.)
We perused the extensive selection of loose leaf teas and were advised by the unbelievably knowledgable assistant manager, as to what teas we should select. His knowledge about where each tea was from and what they were infused with was extremely impressive. It turns out that he was studying a TEA MASTERS. He is going to be a MASTER OF TEA. *Rethinks career…*
We selected a pot Lady Grey and a pot of jasmine.
There was a very large selection of crusts-off cut finger sandwiches – dreamily soft with The Ritz’s own take on some traditional fillings… you’re going to think I’m just waxing lyrical if I go on and on about the sandwiches… but they were some of the best sandwiches I have ever had. Gem will vouch for this. Ask her if you see her.
Just as we were polishing off our savouries, the most wonderful thing occurred… a waiter with a tray FULL OF SANDWICHES came around the tables asking us if we would like to replenish our plates.
Um… YES WE WOULD. (We didn’t shout. We shouted inside our heads.)
And then the most heavenly scones arrived…
I don’t know if you have heard about the magical scones at The Ritz… but everything you have heard is true. They ARE made in a magical land and they ARE made by fairies. That is why they taste the way they do and why you want to stuff 20 in your handbag to take home to eat in bed while watching Downton Abbey. (I did not.)
After the champagne, tea, sandwiches, cakes and scones, we were full to the brim… so we got the surprise of our lives when one of the waiters arrived with a TROLLEY full of new scrumptious cakes – lemon drizzle to die for and a gorgeous Bakewell tart.
We couldn’t say no – it was a call to duty. We both had both (be impressed) and then sat back in our comfy little sofa to gaze at the scene… it was as if we were in a scene straight out of My Fair Lady…
The Ritz has enjoyed a wonderfully rich history, since its opening in 1904, what with Pavlova, the Russian Prima Ballerina, dancing at there, the Aga Khan and Paul Getty having their own suites and Churchill, de Gaulle and Eisenhower meeting for summit meetings in the Marie Antoinette Suite during the Second World War… it certainly has some stories to tell.
The hotel also became the favourite of Nöel Coward, who wrote songs at The Ritz and Tallulah Bankhead, who sipped Champagne from her slipper during a press conference in the 1950s.
Charlie Chaplin required 40 policemen to escort him through his fans into the hotel in 1921 and then proceeded to throw carnations down to the adoring throng from his first floor window…
A few days later he received a letter (one of thousands, many of them begging), “My boy,” it read, “tried to get one of your carnations and his hat was smashed. I enclose you a bill of 7s. 6d. for a new one.”
Gem and I had an absolutely wonderful time and floated out of The Ritz on a blissful cakey cloud.
S’wish I could do it all over again.
The Ritz London
Prices for afternoon tea at The Ritz start at £50 per person.
Gemma and I were guests at The Ritz