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Afternoon Tea at the Ritz London

The Ritz London

Robin Roth

Taking tea is one of the grandest, most quintessential English occasions, and there is no finer place at which to experience this delightful tradition than at one of the finest tea rooms in the world, the Ritz London. “Tea for Two and Two for Tea” is poetically displayed here!

Entering into this magical, plush, award-winning tea room the Palm Court for afternoon tea is like going back in time where the REAL glitz, luxury, romance and glamour were truly enjoyed. This room defines the word fancy from an era long gone. You will be treated like royalty in a town where “the Royal treatment” is well understood! In the Palm Court, your cares and worries instantly vanish away into peace, relaxation, and tranquility, from the moment you observe the old world beauty surrounding you. Tea at the Ritz is the last delectable morsel of Edwardian London.

Originally known as the Winter Garden, it was designed as a dramatic stage with its imaginative use of a mirrored backdrop reflecting the impressive marble columns. Much of the appeal lies in the charming, centrally focused fountain sculpture of a reclining female figure wrought in gilded lead, as well as the wrought iron chandeliers, reminiscent of fanciful birdcages which are entwined with painted metal flowers. Breathtaking! Take tea while comfortably perched on rose-colored Louis XVI chairs at marble tables. Believe it or not, people will even appear to look more beautiful than they do in real life in the Court, as light falls mild and clear from the frosted glass ceiling and pink-capped chandeliers. Cesar Ritz tried many effects of various colored shades to find the most becoming color to ones complexion which he found to be a delicate apricot-pink. Talk about details!

Here, too, is one of the few places outside church or royal garden parties where a woman may wear a hat and feel entirely at ease. I, so, wish I had known that in advance! So ladies, this is your chance to be royal and have a tea party as you did when you were a child… hats, gloves, pearls and all! In fact, guests are requested to dress in formal attire. Men must wear jacket and tie.

The Palm Court has reached such heights of popularity that there were crowds milling around at the steps of the Palm Court; therefore it is now necessary to have a reservation to experience this once-in-a-lifetime afternoon tea opportunity.


In keeping with the beautiful surroundings, guests are exquisitely and expertly served by classy, friendly waiters on pretty chinaware, decorated in an exclusive design of gold, pale green and rose colors. Tea is served in silver teapots with silver milk jugs and tea strainers. The traditional English Tea is offered together with an extensive selection of some 17 teas. Moving along, you are served (and re-served, half a dozen times if you wish) freshly cut sandwiches with traditional fillings, each crust-less and finger-striped. Among these absolutely yummy tasting finger sandwiches are smoked salmon on brown bread, roast ham, cucumber and cream cheese and egg mayonnaise with cress on white bread. Before you can decide which one you love the most, you are greeted again with more so you won’t have to take the time to decide. Remember to come hungry! Next, you will be served the famous Ritz raisin and apple scones, plain risen little cakes to eat with authentic clotted Devonshire cream and organic strawberry preserve. These are not even baked until early afternoon on the day on which they are to be served to make sure they are as fresh as possible! Then the finale… the delectable, sinful, airy, little cakes and pastries created by Head Pastry Chef Regis Beauregard and his staff, who all create a fresh fleet of these cakes every day. I loved them all, but particularly the mixed fruit tartlet, the chocolate sponge cake, the carrot cake and the raspberry wafer. Here is where it is an absolute necessity and privilege to throw away all diets and calorie guilts!

This time old tradition of afternoon tea has unfortunately suffered through the years. With life speeding up so much, making it hard to pause at 4:00 for tea, it is no wonder how a great disservice has been done to this elegant charming ritual. However, tea has NOT lost its symbolic or emotional status in England. When anything momentous occurs, tea is served! When friends meet, tea is served!

To make sure you will enjoy this absolute brilliant tea party for yourself, the most important thing to know is that reservations are REQUIRED. Say hello to the phenomenally charming manager Michael Kotb and the stellar servers Ian and Rudy for me! Bravo to the Ritz for a taste of heaven and to Gerrie Pitt for her kindness and elegant assistance. A++ and Cheerio!

Call for reservations well in advance, + 44 (0)20 7300 2309, or visit www.theritzlondon.com/tea. For more about Tea at the Ritz, visit Amazon.com and search “The London Ritz Book of Afternoon Tea” by Helen Simpson.


1. The Ritz London
2. Afternoon tea at the Ritz

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