What could be more quintessentially British than sipping an afternoon tea ?!
You might be surprised but I don’t drink coffee so tea is my beverage of choice. Of course when I was a child I drank tea only when I was sick and it was usually herbal tea. I first had proper tea during my stay in England. Although I don’t really drink it with milk (sorry, but the milk just makes all tea taste the same to me) I love my English Tea. When my best friend M. asked me to arrange an afternoon tea for our upcoming London trip I jumped at the chance and spent hours on the net perusing all possible venues for our Afternoon Tea experience. There are so many options in London suiting different budgets. The most famous afternoon tea venues are the Ritz, Claridge’s, the Savoy’s, the Dorchester, the Lanesborough and such but they are quite expensive. So we needed to find something slightly decadent in a beautiful venue but within our reasonable budget.
I have to admit that I’ve actually had a proper afternoon tea experience but it wasn’t in London and it wasn’t so luxurious. So, I’ve found this site http://www.afternoontea.co.uk/ and showed a couple of options to my best friend and we picked together the Afternoon Tea with a French Touch at the Rose Lounge at Sofitel St James hotel in the heart of London.
Before our afternoon tea appointment we visited Canary Wharf, crossed the Thames in a cable car (the Emirates Air line) and then went on a boat ride ( Thames Clippers) back to the Big Ben. We still had a bit of time for a quick stroll around Soho before our afternoon tea experience booked at the lunch time.
Upon entering the grand hotel’s foyer we looked around and took in the beautiful setting. We approached the reception and explained the reason of our visit and were soon greeted by our waiter for the day who escorted us into the Rose Lounge where our afternoon tea was to be held. The Rose Lounge resembles a cosy yet elegant living room in a lord’s home. Since we were the only ones there we had this entire luxurious space to ourselves. Of course this didn’t last long, other people came soon. We were given our menus and chose our tea first. I had the classical English Breakfast Tea (not the afternoon one 😉 ) and my best friend opted for the rose tea. We were also given a jug of flavoured water. Soon our waiter who actually spoke English with a very distinct French accent brought us our afternoon tea goodies. We had four different kinds of finger sandwiches. I’m afraid I can’t remember what they were made of exactly but they were really delicious. There were also three kinds of yummy scones served with Devonshire clotted cream and I believe strawberry jam and lemon curd.
While we were eating our sandwiches and scones a lady harp player came and started playing some lovely music. We could have opted for a champagne afternoon tea which would have set us back another 6 or 8 pounds but we didn’t feel the need for a champagne. So, where are the cakes, you ask? You have to get up and choose your 2 cakes from a selection of French pastries in a glass display in the room. They were divine. We spent almost an hour and a half sipping our tea and eating sandwiches and scones and cakes. It was a really enjoyable experience. To burn off some of the calories we went for a walk in Primrose Hill park after our tea.
DATE: Aug 2013
VENUE: Sofitel St. James London
PRICE: 32 £ per person (it’s 30 £ today as it seems)
Would I have another afternoon tea experience in London? Probably yes. What about you?