Tea at The Ritz London
The visit my partner and I had planned was to go the the Theatre, do a little bit of shopping – Harrods of course darling, ‘little’ being the operative word – and take the open top bus tour. However following the natural window shopping tour of Bond Street, we happened to come across, yes you’ve guessed it, the one and only “ The Ritz”.
Just the splendour of the iconic building is a feast for the eyes. The doormen dressed in formal hats and tailcoats give a good idea of what to expect from this very English institution, all very able to deal with all manner of the general public that may cross their threshold each and every day. There are always tourists milling about taking photographs of the lovely building and its gilded lanterns hanging uniformly down the full length of the arched walkway.
My partner and I decided that afternoon tea was the order of the day and decided that if we didn’t ask the question we would not find out. He guided me expertly through the would be David Baileys to the main entrance where we were met by a very pleasant, polite lady. My heart was racing, wow, wait until I tell the girls, my very own Mr Big, my hero of the hour took full control and asked if there was a table available. Ms Ritz checked the bookings. Hurrah, what a surprise – there was a table available and although it was reserved later we still had plenty of time to enjoy ourselves and savour our time there.
The first thing to notice is the formality of the beautiful hall, almost like entering a stately home, of course it almost is, the luxuriant drapes, the chandeliers – oh the chandeliers, magnificient. Beautiful parlour palm plants lending elegance to the richness of the room. We were shown the way to our table up a couple of steps by a formally dressed waiter wearing tuxedo tails. This was the Palm Court, our table had maximum people watching potential and me and my Mr Big were in one of the most splendid rooms we are ever likely to have tea in ever again! Forget the walk-in wardrobe girls. It was like being in a gorgeous dolls house palace, white cloths and silver tableware, china tea service unique to The Ritz, complementing the room and beautiful mirrors everywhere. The icing on the cake (if you will excuse the pun), was the actress I spotted enjoying her afternoon tea. Star spotting too, sheer delight.
The staff are welcoming, gracious, unpretentious and not at all intimidating. Certainly the nearest butler experience we are ever likely to have. Afternoon Tea is like a ritual – a very English one at that and in my experience The Ritz deserves a place at the top of this particularly special list. There are several menus to choose from inclusive of the Champagne Afternoon Tea – our choice. The menu of teas alone could be daunting but the waiter took time to explain and describe the differences of each one. There are several different choices of breads, sandwiches, rolls and fillings, vegetarian options included I was pleased to learn. The mouth watering delights are all displayed on a three tier cake stand brought to the table and described by the waiter. Warm scones cream and jam brought separately. Oh joy of joy, Mr Big, (he was not on his own actually) was delighted to be informed that if we required more of anything we just had to ask! Finger sandwiches are fine but not very filling after all the sightseeing, so this was met with great delight. The Ritz has been awarded the Tea Council’s prestigious award and is now part of the Tea Guild. Tea was refreshed without hesitation and when Mr Big chose coffee (cos he was after all the hero of the hour and can do whatever he likes) that was no problem either in this great tea drinking establishment. Everything was fresh and presented with great care. Until oh no, the embarrassment, in my giddy heights and my people watching mode I became extradordinarily clumsy, not myself at all, and knocked over a teacup full of tea. I am blushing as I write, not more than at the time though, the clatter as it span around the saucer and worse spilt all over the freshly starched cloth. The tables were turned. Horror of horrors. The people I had been people watching were now watching me as for a second I had unwittingly interfered in their own once in a lifetime experience. The waiter was not perturbed one little bit and quickly and efficiently attended to the debacle. Mr Big just shrugged his rather magnificient shoulders and ordered more champagne. He is so special sometimes.
As mentioned previously there are several menus starting from £39.oo per person, celebration cakes can be ordered and birthdays are applauded by the staff and guests, making for a memorable day in beautiful gracious surroundings. Our visit was well worth waiting for and one I hope to repeat.
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