What do you get for afternoon tea at Claridge's in London?
Cakes and sandwiches
What do you get for tea at Claridge's?
For most people, afternoon tea at Claridge's is a big deal. It's booked for a really special occasion, like a big birthday, pre-wedding treat, anniversary gift or very heartfelt thank you. You have to make a reservation a few months in advance as it's really popular, and you get a generous two-hour slot at one of the elegant tables in the palatial, high-ceilinged dining room.
As it is so special, and it is quite expensive, it is nice to know what you get. I feel it's all about the service at Claridge's. It's the most attentive I've every witnessed, quite formal but not too stuffy, and very discreet. Everyone is really nice, very helpful and, as you'd expect, extremely polite.
When you arrive, you are shown to your table and immediately your waiter comes over to settle you in and explain what high tea is all about here. There is a long menu of different teas, and an explanation of what they all are is written alongside each one. It's an education in itself. You can choose which ever one you want, and the waiter walks you through how they make the perfect cup of tea, fresh every single time, at your table. Every diner in your party can choose a different one, so everyone gets exactly what they want.
Champagne can be chosen as an aperitif, too, and again there is a choice. Price is roughly £25 per glass and upwards, there is only the finest on offer, as you would expect in a 5 Star establishment, but nothing as ugly as the price is discussed!
You are asked when you would like your sandwiches brought to the table, you are not rushed to have them immediately. When they come they are very neatly presented with the crusts removed and the filling perfectly equal in each and every one. Our platter came with ham, egg and cress, salmon and cucumber and chicken - all traditional English flavours. You can ask for another platter once they are all gone, if you want more. They are really tasty, but there is more food to come so don't eat too much! More tea is brought whenever you ask for it, at no extra cost.
Next up is a beautiful selection of freshly-baked scones with cream and jam followed by cakes and pastries. They are petite in size but huge in taste, and are really artistic little delicacies, beautifully made. For a moment, you don't want to start eating because the plate is as pretty as a picture. There were too many for our party to get through, we simply couldn't eat them all, and the waiter discreetly placed them in a must-have Claridge's gift bag that also contained a small packet of traditional lemon sweets.
At no time did we feel rushed at all, and the people watching was fascinating. We sat at our table for almost the whole two hours chatting and enjoying the relaxing atmosphere.
They sell gift certificates which can be ordered online. This is a great way to buy an afternoon tea as a gift for someone. You can purchase the whole price of a tea, or just something towards the cost of one.
It cost £75 per person for the afternoon tea we had, and an extra £50 each for two glasses of house rosé Champagne. So it wasn't cheap, but it was an afternoon I'll remember forever.
What a splendid afternoon tea
Claridge's hotel - a little bit of history
The hotel started life in 1812 as a small hotel in one house. Little by little it was extended into the neighbouring houses, and in 1856 Claridge's Hotel was opened as it is now known. It soon become popular and was visited by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in the 1860s.
After the First World War, in the 1920s, it became the place for the flappers to be seen and to party, and the Art Deco design has been retained to this day. Even the fine china you have your afternoon tea on has a Deco feel to it.
Winston Churchill declared suite 212 part of Yugoslavia in 1945, just so that Crown Prince Alexander could be born on Yugoslavian soil when his parents remained there throughout World War 2. And Churchill himself stayed there when he lost the election.
Hollywood stars, royal dignitaries, models and top designers have stayed here over the years. They continue to use this as a quiet place to stay in the best part of London as they know they will stay in luxurious surroundings amongst discreet and loyal staff.
Designer Christmas trees
Each year, the Christmas tree here is decorated by a well-known designer and is eagerly awaited. For 2013 it was the turn of Dolce and Gabbana who created a colourful tree with small doll-like warriors at the bottom, all fashionably dressed, of course. In previous years Lanvin and McQueen have contributed.