One thing synonymous with High Tea is the world famous Ritz Hotel in London. As a young girl of 14, I remember visiting London with my grandmother, absolutely entranced by the city with its electric vibe, grand old buildings, cool restaurants, royal history and amazing past. She had promised to take me for Afternoon Tea as a special treat at the Ritz London Hotel, however what she had failed to do was make a reservation in advance. Needless to say, we did not make it, and it has been on my bucket list ever since.
The Ritz sits in the heart of one of London’s most glorious areas, located between the Rolls Royce lined streets of Mayfair, close to the ever busy Piccadilly Circus, adjacent to the scenic Green Park and a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, it occupies a prime location on London’s map.Walking into the hotel, the impeccably dressed doormen open the door for you with beaming friendly smiles. Immediately upon arriving I feel as though I am transported to a picture perfect fairy tale book, where everything is flawless and beautiful. The lobby is circular, not so popular in hotels today, acting to create a welcoming sense of inclusiveness and safety.
The light pink pastels throughout the décor are complemented by the soft lighting, miniature lamp chandeliers and gorgeous floral centrepiece. An incredible staircase opposite the reception desk lined with red carpeting and an inspiring floor to ceiling watercolour painting transports you a million miles away to an oasis from your dreams. Meanwhile an incredible circular skylight gives way welcoming natural light from above surrounded by levels of balconies looking down.
Walking down the corridor towards Palm Court, the restaurant where the daily High Tea is served, one is mesmerised by the 21ct gold trim that outlines the ornamentation adorning the walls. Plush upholstered seats are planted on either side of the hallway, acting as the perfect place to perch and engage in intimate conversation.
On the right hand side is one of the hotel’s private rooms the Marie Antoinette Suite, which has temporarily been transformed into their bar. This absolutely gorgeous space with striking glowing pink uplights illuminating the top of the ceiling, creates a subtle cool contemporary vibe alongside the traditional interior. Gigantic windows embrace natural light from the street outside framed by layers of draped curtains with a stunning crystal chandelier hanging in the middle of the room. Above the bar sits a painting of the French icon herself, gazing over whatever mischief you might get up under her watch!
On our private tour of the hotel, we were lucky enough to take a glimpse at some of the hotel’s private function rooms. The hotel includes two buildings, one of which was the original Downing Street Residence of the British Prime Minister. Today, the two are seamlessly joined together creating an abundance of grandeur in one location.
The Music Room embodies a light pink pastel theme, with a huge long table set in preparation for an upcoming dinner. It was breathtaking, making me inspired to hold a dinner party myself and create a dreamy place setting themed in such a pretty pink colour scheme. However, the guests would be safer in the hands of the Ritz’s executive chef as opposed to the possibility of food poisoning with my lack of culinary skills. The ceiling is slightly arched to accentuate sound, having been designed as a performance room for the prime minister to enjoy choral entertainment in his house. It is carved with delicate patterns and the centre piece is the sparkling chandelier hanging down.
We moved onto a vibrant Italian Renaissance styled William Kent Room, with rich red walls, deep burgundy dining chairs and a Persian carpet beneath. The light shone through with the afternoon sun over Green Park, flooding the room in a magical way. The ceiling was a masterpiece, hand painted with gold outlining and classical figures, it was absolutely breathtaking to look up and observe. The art throughout the hotel is a showcase in itself, with The Ritz London home to one of the largest private art collections in Britain. Amazing pieces by celebrated painters grace the walls of private dining rooms, public areas, corridors and even bathrooms! It was great to admire the original pieces, particularly for someone such as myself who majored in Art History.
Our visit allowed us to observe two of The Ritz London’s signature suites. The first was the Green Park suite, which boasted splendid views out over the tree tops of the luscious green lawns. The walls were bright white, which helped to contrast the traditional furnishings and trimmings from dominating the interiors. It’s how I imagined the Queen’s bedroom might be with an antique dressing table to perch at to beautify one’s face. Meanwhile the jaw-dropping bathrooms were white and pink Carrera marble, gleaming with shiny walls, heated floors and decked out with luxurious Asprey of London amenities.The open plan sitting room was homely and inviting, with comfy pale rose sofas and baby blue accents, complemented by a bunch of vivid pink roses and white orchids dotting the room. The apartment has a well-equipped kitchen, and features another bedroom and bathroom, making it the perfect home away from home for long stay guests or those who may want to feel as though they are living in their very own dwellings and not necessarily a hotel. The perks of the suite include a personal butler at your beckon and call. This fine fellow will find out your preferences ahead of arrival and ensure you are in the utmost comfort from the moment you step foot into this sanctuary. He will visit the flower markets, sourcing your preferred type of bloom to adorn the suite, find out your favourite foods and take care of whatever you need. Now that is service!
We also took a glimpse at the Trafalgar Suite which is home to the Notting Hill scene, where Julia Roberts’ character famously looks out the window whilst Hugh Grant stands behind her. One of the most remarkable features of The Ritz London is its soundproof walls. The rooms and hotel are insulated to be absent of the noise from one of the city’s busiest streets. Once inside the hotel, it felt as though were a million miles away and transported into a magical royal kingdom that only dreams can envision.Now onto the most important part, The Ritz Afternoon Tea. High Tea is traditionally a girls outing used to indulge in sweets, champagne and tea over bonding sessions celebrating engagements, birthdays, mother’s day or simply just to pamper! However, one noticeable thing was the amount of men in the room, also relishing the experience (so don’t be afraid to drag your boyfriend, partner or husband along!)
At The Ritz, if there’s one thing they do right, its definitely their afternoon tea, paying huge attention to detail and service across all components of the experience! As we sat down, we were greeted with a glass of Reserve Ritz Rosé champagne poured fresh at the table before our eyes.We relished sipping on the refreshing bubbles, admiring the table decked out in pretty floral china teacups, matching plates and polished cutlery. Our silver stand landed at the table filled with sweets on the top, a generous plate of finger sandwiches whilst the bottom was reserved for the finalé of warm scones.
The sandwiches came in six flavours and were generously replenished as we needed, definitely a nice complement to the experience. The ham with grain mustard mayonnaise on brioche bread was scrumptious with a slight sweetness in the mustard mayo proving finger licking. The Scottish smoked salmon with lemon butter on sourdough bread, was a simple classic but also a favourite. The egg mayonnaise with chopped shallots and watercress on white bread, was wonderfully creamy, as was the chicken breast with parsley cream on malt bread. Of course it wouldn’t be English Afternoon Tea without the country’s famous cucumber with cream cheese, dill and chives on granary bread, which went down a treat.The sweets that day included a choux pastry, a rich caramel tartlet with a thick buttery cream on top, two lemon macarons, and a gorgeously opulent chocolate mousse cake filled with a sweet cherry puree.
The fun didn’t stop there, as we spotted a man wheeling a tray of cakes through the room! Table by table, he approached us with two delectable looking desserts sitting on his cart. One was a chocolate and orange cake, the other a pear and caramel tart. We couldn’t resist and decided to spoil ourselves with both! The cake was simple, with a nice thick chocolate buttercream crowning the top. Meanwhile the tart was sweet and sticky, scrumptiously good!
For our teas, we opted for The Ritz Chai containing a ‘unique blend of Assam and Chai spices that has been crafted in home by their Master of Tea’. It was an impeccably balanced tea and different from the traditional English breakfast one often selects. Other choices included Moroccan Mint, Passionfruit and Orange, Camomile Flowers, Chocolate Mint Rooibos, Oolong Formosa, the Ritz Royal English and many more!
Last but not least, our scones arrived with two flavours of raisin and plain. These were served with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve. The scones had a pleasant texture, not too light and not too dense, however my only criticism is that they were room temperature. I love my scones, like how I like my bread and my boys – searing hot with steam billowing, or at least a little more than luke warm. By this stage I was pretty full anyway of sweets, Champagne and tea!
Finishing up our tea and catching up on old times, we eventually made our way towards the coat check anticipating the chilly winter coldness of London in January. A fine chap sat at the piano ready to play the next serenade as we waltzed out (strawberry) jam-packed with delicious food in our bellies.For those after a once-in-a-lifetime Afternoon Tea experience, with impeccable service and traditional trimmings, this is for you! Nothing beats the opportunity to visit the Ritz London and immerse yourself in a regal world of splendid style and majestic atmosphere, which has been able to transcend time to remain utterly unique and extraordinary.
Daily Afternoon Tea sittings 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm, 5.30pm, and 7.30pm
Traditional Afternoon Tea £54pp (AU$86)
Champagne Afternoon Tea with Reserve Ritz Champagne £68pp (AU$113)
Champagne Afternoon Tea with Reserve Ritz Rosé Champagne £71pp (AU$118)
Additional Reserve Ritz Champagne Brut £16 or Rosé £19 per glass (AU$26 or AU$31)
The Ritz London
150 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London, UK
Phone: +44 20 7493 8181
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of The Ritz London and Leading Hotels of the World