My London Afternoon Tea Experiences in 2021

Sunday, 20 February 2022

By now, those who consistently and patiently follow my blog know that I love Afternoon Tea. Trust me when I say that I actually spend more on Afternoon Tea these days than on shoes, clothes or bags. And if you were to make me choose between shopping and Afternoon Tea, I would choose the latter without any doubt. There is something about having an Afternoon Tea that really makes me happy. First of all, it's the company. I don't go to an Afternoon Tea with just anyone. I make sure that when I go to an Afternoon Tea, it is with people who can inspire me and motivate me to become a better person. It must be with people who genuinely make me happy. An Afternoon Tea experience is such special that I only want to share it with people who are equally special to me. Life is too short to be spending one of the best experiences you can ever have with people who can not positively influence your life. Charaught. 😀

Secondly, it's the food. I am not a sandwich fan, but when I go to an Afternoon Tea, I often ask for a second serving on sandwiches. That's how good sandwiches are in an Afternoon Tea, and most often than not, you get the same sandwich spread anywhere you go. Of course, the quality will always be different. My favourites are the egg, smoked salmon and coronation chicken.

Apart from the sandwiches, I am not very much into savouries nor sweets. Unless I am very hungry, I often leave a few sweets. Or sometimes for the sake of completing the whole Afternoon Tea experience, I take a small bite of each of the sweets. Otherwise, we take them home. Yes, you are allowed to do this, so don't be embarrassed to ask if you can take your leftovers home.

In 2021, I was very lucky to have experienced Afternoon Tea in some of the best places in London amidst pandemic, with some of the most special people in my life.  

1. The Dorchester - 53 Park Lane
- If I were to rate my Afternoon Tea experiences, The Dorchester comes second to The Ritz. Served at The Promenade of The Dorchester Hotel, this experience is definitely one for the books. I came here to celebrate my birthday with my dear friend Pearl as part of our yearly tradition. The Promenade oozed with luxury and elegance, I felt really special just being there. A lady from the reception ushered us to our table as soon as we arrived, and it didn't take long until a rather exuberant staff greeted us with a big smile. His attention to detail was admirable. He recognised our language and instantly spoke to us in Filipino. No, he wasn't from our country but he has met a lot of Filipinos who taught him a few words, he said. His service all throughout was flawless. The food as you would expect was exemplary. The selection of teas varied from traditional to specialities to rare and limited. A must try is their Dalreoch Tea which earned top honours in the Salon de Thé awards in Paris. Current Afternoon Tea price is from £60pp. Dress code is smart casual.

2.  Aqua Shard- 31 St Thomas Street
- Another Afternoon Tea where my companions mattered the most. It was my post birthday celebration with my Ate Elvie and Ethan. As Ethan was coming with us, we chose the Peter Pan themed Afternoon Tea in Aqua Shard. I wasn't impressed with the ambience nor the service. It was quite loud and very busy, not ideal if you are looking for a peaceful Afternoon Tea time with your companions. The service was quick, but haphazard. The food was just okay, but it was quite unique. The food was served in a small ship that resembled that of Captain Hook's ship. The scones were served in a wooden treasure chest. Then there were Hook's Perish Cake (a Victoria sponge), Tick-tock the crocodile (a gummy) and Tinker Bell (pastry biscuit with icing). For £68pp (with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne), I guess it's worth it for the panoramic view of London. Dress code according to their website is smart casual.

3. The Berkeley - Wilton Pl
- Sometimes the universe brings you the right person to be with at the right time in the right place. I have been planning to visit The Berkley and experience their Prêt-à-Portea Afternoon Tea for a long time, however I didn't seem to get round to it. But when my good friend Arcel visited from Dublin, I managed to book a table for two in a very short notice. Perhaps, I was meant to share this experience with Arcel and nobody else. We sure did have a wonderful time catching up on each other's lives since we last saw each other in Dublin over 3 years ago. The Afternoon Tea theme at The Berkeley is Fashion, therefore we ate a collection of cakes and other sweets inspired by the 2021 Spring- Summer collection. Their menu changes every six months to reflect the current fashion season. So, if you love fashion, The Berkeley Afternoon Tea is perfect for you. Current price for their seasonal Prê-à-Portea is £79pp. Dress code is smart causal.

4. Fortnum and Mason - 181 Piccadilly
- Our experience at The Diamond Jubilee Tea salon in Fortnum and Mason was unforgettable for the wrong reasons. I  regrettably booked the earliest available slot which I don't normally do. At 1130, the restaurant was still almost empty. People didn't start to arrive in a wave until about 45 minutes later. An hour into our Afternoon Tea experience, the server informed us that we only had about 30 minutes to finish our food, including a slice of cake that was about to come. I was taken aback as I have not been hurried to eat my food at an Afternoon Tea ever. My friend V and I looked at each other in dismay as we were also in the middle of a very important conversation. And when the slice of matcha cake came, we were reminded that we only had 15 minutes left. The rush was evident on the matcha cake as it was served as if it was just dumped on the plate. After one and a half hours, we left the restaurant quite disappointed with the whole experience. Let's not talk about the indigestion that I had later This doesn't mean though that I won't go back again. I am actually planning to go in the afternoon and see whether my experience would be different. Current price is £70pp. Fortnum and Mason doesn't impose on dress codes, however you would want to dress up in smart- casual when you visit.

5. Saint Aymes- 59 Connaught St, St George's Fields
- Saint Aymes in Connaught St is one of those cafes that I avoided for a long time because of its popularity amongst social media influencers, because it is the prettiest cafe in London after all. I've only been there once for a take-away coffee before our Afternoon Tea, but I could imagine how busy it can be because this cafe is every influencer's dream. The floral facade changes every season and chairs and tables are girly pink- perfect for your instagram moment. The interior walls are covered with mostly white and pink flowers- peonies being my favourite. It was my third Afternoon Tea experience with my friend V and this one was quite magical. To my surprise, we entered an empty Saint Aymes cafe one Autumn afternoon. Perhaps these times are the best times to go because it gets dark early, so maybe it's not the best time to take photos- that is if you are there for the food and not photo ops. We booked their Unicorn Afternoon Tea which was a delight. We sure enjoyed being on our own in the restaurant. The staff were attentive and friendly and they let us stay until closing. The pink and blue lattes came with cotton candy which really made me happy, because I've not had cotton candy in a very long time. The hot waffles were so delicious that I forgot all about my cholesterol level. Their scones were imperfectly baked, but it was just the way I wanted it. Their cupcakes looked too beautiful to eat and tasted equally beautiful. And for just £33 for two, it was an Afternoon Tea experience that I will never forget. Their current Unicorn Afternoon Tea price is £22.50 per person. They have no dress code as far as I am concerned, but bear in mind that you will be surrounded by all dressed up social media influencers.😉

6. Viola's Cafe- 38 Tavistock St
- When I first visited Viola's Cafe, I was alone and going through some emotional battles. Their banana bread french toast cheered me up instantly on that day, and since then I have been back to the cafe four times. I brought my friend V there last year for another Afternoon Tea before we went to watch Wicked. It was really nice to be recognised by one of the staff who served me the first time I went. Sadly, it was her last shift that day. Anyway, their afternoon tea is very savoury to say the least but everything was delicious. I was very pleased to know that my favourite Banana Bread French Toast  was included in their Afternoon Tea. Everything was presented beautifully including the yoghurt bowl on the side. What I really loved about this cafe is its laid back atmosphere. Every now and again, they a promotional price for their Afternoon Tea which is £40 for two. Otherwise normal price is £30pp. There is no dress code as far as I know.

7. The Royal Horseguards Hotel- 2 Whitehall Ct
- Afternoon Tea at this 5-star hotel near Trafalgar Square is served in The Lounge. This Afternoon Tea experience was a celebration of a new friendship with one of the kindest people I've met and worked with. Ate Nonia and I enjoyed an almost 4 hours of deep conversation and at times, non-stop laughter. We chatted and laughed over a simple but otherwise delicious food, bespoke Strawberries and Cream tea and a glass of champagne each. Not to mention that we were surrounded by fiery red, somewhat dated furniture. Service was cool and distant, but I didn't mind on this occasion because Ate and I had so much catching up to do and I really didn't want to be interrupted. Once our food was served and our photos were taken, we never saw the staff again until we asked for the bill. Sometimes, this is all you need really. For this Afternoon Tea, we only paid £59 for two because I purchased it via groupon. Otherwise, it's normally from £39pp. There is no dress code specified.

So yes, the wondrous Afternoon Tea experience will never get old for me. I enjoy writing about my experience because it allows me to reminisce the good times I spent with my friends, although not every Afternoon Tea experience is good.  However, it will always be the company and the conversations that matter. 

TIN x
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