Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Hotel is revered throughout many of the world’s deluxe hotels and it’s something they surely must all look up to because Tea at the Ritz is an institution. In my opinion, everyone should experience Tea at the Ritz several times in their life time and every visitor to London must have it high on their list of things to do but I am a bit biased because I absolutely love this legend of a hotel. Afternoon Tea at the Ritz is served in the elegance of the Palm Court which epitomises the glamour of a bygone age, very regal and formal yet an oasis of serenity with the soothing melodies of live piano by the Ritz resident pianist Ian Gomes. Did you know that the Ritz serve up to 350 Afternoon Teas per day? It’s a lavish affair where men are required to dress formally in jacket/suit and tie and ladies are always dressed glamorously, this is the Ritz Hotel after all.
I was so happy to be back at the Ritz so soon after my last visit in May where my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. Ok, I wasn’t staying overnight this time, but I felt the luckiest girl in the world to be back especially as it was my birthday. I was a little bit nervous too as my mum couldn’t join me as she had injured her leg, I was on my own! I had no reason to feel anxious though, did I tell you about the Ritz Magic? Everyone is made to feel special and whether you are a Celebrity or Royalty or more importantly plain old Joe Bloggs, you are just as valued and important to the Ritz. Not long after I was seated, and the waiters worked their magic, I relaxed, and my nerves vanished, no need to have been anxious at all.
My waiter welcomed me with a glass of complimentary champagne the moment I sat down which I welcomed and soon after, I was able to take in the ambience of my opulent but graceful surroundings. Glamour is understated at the Ritz Hotel, but the event of Afternoon Tea is one of exuberance and unashamed decadence which only The Ritz Hotel can get away with. The Palm Court’s detailing is so intricate from the sparkling chandeliers, the cornices and the stunning glass roof which floods the Palm Court with natural light. As I sip my deliciously chilled champagne, Moon River in the background, it was the perfect start to my birthday Afternoon Tea at The Ritz.
Tea at The Ritz
It begins with champagne if you like and it’s something I always choose, here at the Ritz, it’s £19 for a glass of Brut or £23 for a glass of Rose. There are 18 teas to choose from, the classics such as the Ritz Royal English and Earl Grey Imperial and an array of other black teas to more unusual blends such as Russian Caravan, Oriental blends and fruit teas like Passion Fruit & Orange. Then there are three fine teas specially selected by the Ritz Tea Master, White Peony, Anji Bai Cha (Chinese green tea with apple & elderflower) and Pu-erh Wild Tree (Aged ripe raw Pu Erh from Meng mountains) all available at a £5 supplement.
I begin with the Ritz Royal English which arrives in beautiful cream and gold china. The Ritz have gone all contemporary since the last time I had Afternoon Tea here, gone is the chintz, the china is now elegant and simple but still so unmistakably “Ritzy”. The tiered Afternoon Tea stand has been replaced by something quite quirky I thought – a heavy square silver stand with little lions on each corner and two trays in the same beautiful cream edged-in-gold china plates with perfectly cut sandwiches and the top plate adorned with the prettiest of cakes. The piano was now playing my favourite, La Vie en Rose and I couldn’t help but think how lucky I was to be sitting here in this beautiful space at of one of my favourite hotels even if I was on my own.
The waiters never once let me pour my own tea, a testament to the pristine service that the Ritz pride themselves in, fresh tea was offered and replaced when the waiters deemed it suitable, I love this touch as tea can so often become over-brewed.
Ham with Grain Mustard Mayonnaise on Brioche Bread
Cheddar Cheese with Chutney on Tomato Bread
Cucumber with Cream Cheese, Dill and Chives on Granary Bread
Roast Beef with Horseradish on Malt Bread
Scottish Smoked Salmon with Lemon Butter on Sourdough Bread
Egg Mayonnaise with Chopped Shallots and Watercress on Brioche Roll
Sandwich choice at The Ritz rarely changes, they’re staunch traditionalists and guests expect nothing less including me. If you line up the sandwiches you’ll see just how perfectly cut they always are, it’s as if the Ritz use guillotines to cut them! They are without doubt divine, spongy soft using a variety of the freshest breads, they are nothing short of perfect. My favourites were the egg mayonnaise and I also really loved the cheddar cheese on tomato bread and the smoked salmon, obviously I had extra but tried to resist having too many because there were yet more treats in store.
Scones and Pastries
Freshly Baked Raisin and Plain Scones with Cornish Clotted Cream and Organic Strawberry Conserve.
An Assortment of Seasonal Afternoon Tea Pastries and Cakes
The Ritz take their time before serving scones, they’re never on the stand as they are delivered to you fresh and warm just as they should be. Like clouds, they are airy light and so soft and even though you think a plain old scone must be and easy thing to make, I know as a keen baker they’re not, The Ritz scones I find are always delicious and pillowy soft.
They’re served with organic strawberry jam made at the hotel, I resist having more than one, I always have half a plain and half a raisin scone with of course plenty of indulgent clotted cream which I always spread on first followed by the jam.
As I take in the beautiful calm ambience, I note how full the Ritz is at the first sitting which is 11:30am, this is the time I arrived. Just to let you know, there is a 15% discount applied at the 11:30am and 7:30pm Afternoon Tea sittings which is why I assume the Palm Court was so full when I arrived at 11:30am.
Pastries at The Ritz Hotel are a sumptuous affair, on the cake stand itself, there are three pretty cakes but not known to do things by half, the Ritz have an amazing sweet trolley laden with all sorts of magnificent cakes and you are able to choose another couple if you have room. From the sweet trolley, the apple tart appealed to me, layers of rich, buttery, crispy flaky pastry filled with an apple compote with a hint of cinnamon and topped with a piping of sweet light and rich Chantilly cream.
During the sweet course, I changed teas and I opted to have the Dragon Pearls – Silver Needle tea from the Fujian Province, gently rolled and scented with Jasmine flowers. This light and fragrant tea perfectly compliments the sweet course and it’s usually something I always go for or perhaps a rose scented tea. The delicate very Parisian looking patisserie on top of my cake stand consist of a sphere of apple and blueberry mousse which was sublime, a marriage-made-in-heaven that is the lemon and raspberry tart, this one topped with plump juicy raspberries and finally a vibrant orange macaron which was perfectly chewy just as it should be.
I honestly couldn’t choose a favourite as they were all not only beautiful to look at but ate just as beautifully too however, the apple compote tart from the sweet trolley was exceptional so I would probably have to say that that was my favourite sweet of all.
Tea at The Ritz is so quintessentially British, an experience everyone should enjoy and partake in and several times too, save up for it but come you must. The pianist tinkling the ivories while you are whisked away to the romance that is Afternoon Tea at the Ritz with sometimes the harp playing too just adds to the fairytale magic.
I don’t need to say yet again what I think of this magnificent hotel, The Ritz is simply the most graceful and refined hotel and it’s right up there as one of my all-time favourtie hotels in London and so is their Afternoon Tea. It kick started a day of birthday celebrations in the most perfect way and I left feeling just so very happy and grateful to be back at The Ritz, as I leave I promise myself that next birthday I must come again but this time to stay the night and enjoy their Dining & Dancing extravaganza once again as I did in May.
My champagne was complimentary but as always opinions are my own as are the photos. I was entitled to a 15% discount offered Monday to Thursday at the 11:30am and 7:30pm sitting and cost £48.45, usual price is £57, please note this will increase to £58 per person from 31st January 2018.
The Ritz Hotel
London W1J 9BR
020 7300 2345