Traveling to London, there is so much to see and do. The cosmopolitan city steeped in history and tradition is filled with iconic landmarks that can’t be missed – (look kids) Big Ben, Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus … the list goes on and on.
One tradition to certainly indulge in when visiting London is afternoon tea. It’s said that afternoon tea came into fashion in the 1660s by Catherine of Braganza, “… a Portuguese princess, and a tea addict.” It is estimated that 120 million cups of tea are enjoyed every day in the UK, and there are plenty of places to find the perfect “cuppa” throughout London.
These five tea rooms do it right – make reservations and sip tea as the royals did hundreds of years ago.
Claridge’s The Foyer: Surround yourself in opulent luxury at The Foyer – no need to rush. Choose from among 30 tea varieties, nibble on an assortment of delectable finger sandwiches and sweets, and enjoy yourself – you may even opt for a glass of champagne to mark the occasion! Just last month, Claridge’s The Foyer was named London’s Top Afternoon Tea Place for 2011 by the UK Tea Council; the award is considered the “Oscar” of the tea world!
The Athenaeum: Standing unassumingly across from splendid Green Park, open the doors to The Athenaeum and step into elegance. The Garden Room transforms into an elegant tea room, posh women chatting over fine leaf teas and delicate goodies on fine china. The tea room is a recipient of a 2011 Award of Excellence from the UK Tea Council.
Harrods: Not just a shopping Mecca, Harrods is indeed a destination for afternoon tea. After browsing the finest goods throughout four and a half acres over seven floors, your bank account may need a break! Make reservations at Ladurée, a Parisian-style tea room established in 1862, nosh on their famous macaroons and chat about all the baubles on your wish list.
The Orangery at Kensington Palace: Sip tea like the royals at The Orangery, built in the early 1700s for Queen Anne. The bright and airy building overlooking the gardens is the perfect place to sit back, relax and reflect upon all you’ve seen and done.
Thames Foyer at The Savoy: Piano music wafts through the Thames Foyer while the fortunate sip on a variety of teas and nibble on sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and other mouthwatering sweets. The Thames Foyer was also a recipient of a 2011 Award of Excellence from the UK Tea Council.
When it’s time to jet back to the States, pop into Twinings Tea, established in 1706, and pick your favorite flavor to take some with you to recreate the afternoon tea experience when you return home.
Susan B. Barnes is a travel writer and photographer. A proud Army brat, she was born on a military base in Belgium and has been on the go ever since. While Susan has traveled across the United States and into Canada, she has also managed to visit such European cultural hot spots as Paris, London, Ireland, Athens and Rome, and has even explored the second largest reef in the world off the coast of Belize and the cloud forest of Venezuela, among many other exotic locales. Having learned to rock climb in Yosemite National Park, surf in La Jolla and swim with whale sharks in Mexico, she’s always looking forward to her next adventure.