The 30 best places for Afternoon Tea- chosen by The Telegraph Experts
By Christine Ratsey
This time last year I was celebrating my 70th birthday. And one of the things I was most looking forward to was a Champagne Afternoon Tea at The Royal with my daughter, her young children, and my two oldest school-friends. Like the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who first introduced the idea of a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, afternoon tea has long been my favourite meal of the day. A platter of freshly-made finger sandwiches, some delicate pastries and a pot of proper tea is an unbeatable combination - but it’s surprising how few places really get it right.
Our Champagne Tea at The Royal was pure perfection. From the delightful table in their sun-dappled conservatory to the wonderfully polite staff, who were never more than a glance away from topping up our teapots (each filled with one’s own chosen brew), the whole experience was even better than I could have imagined. The food, of course, was exemplary - warm, buttery scones wrapped in heavy damask linen and accompanied by homemade strawberry jam and generous bowls of clotted cream, exquisite little pastries that were as heavenly to taste as they were to look at, and the requisite finger sandwiches - all arranged on elegant tiered stands along the length of the table. The champagne was ‘the icing on the cake’ of an already splendid spread.
Knowing how much I love afternoon tea, several of my friends treated me to teas at different establishments across the country over the following months - but none came close to The Royal standard! I had high hopes for The English Tea Room at Brown’s Hotel, but the service was decidedly second rate and we had to beg for more cream to accompany our scones as the original offering was so meagre. The much hyped Wallace Restaurant in central London also promised to be memorable, but turned out to be unforgettable for only the worst reasons.
Our Champagne Tea at The Royal was pure perfection.
After my year of sampling the country’s finest scones, sandwiches and service, I now know there’s only one place to go for this afternoon tea aficionado, and I can’t wait to return to The Royal for an encore of last year’s feast. Luckily, I have a birthday coming up…