We are clad in our finest. She is flounced and ruffled, I am clip clopping in florals, he is suited and brogued. The lyrics of The Nationals ‘Showered and blue Blazered” ricochet around my mind. It is a shimmering summer day and the pavements of Piccadilly are teeming with sweaty tourists in shorts. It is sweet relief to enter through heavy doors in a whoosh of cool air and step into the opulent confines of The Ritz for HighTea. We are meeting my jet-lagged and rather eccentric great aunt and uncle, who are waiting for us with bags of presents for Frankie-Rose in the Long Hall. It is marvelously pompous. Springy floral carpet propels us forward, colossal bouquets of peonies stand sentinel along the hall, stiff embossed linen cover the tables, waitors in tails bustle about genially. There are boat shoes. Ladies in two-piece pastel suits. I spot more than a few pairs of mustard slacks and I am in a sea of blazers. There is a piano and a harp. Tall marble columns and feathery palms enclose our table and a vaulted golden ceiling is above.
I mourned my lack of camera frequently!
We begin, as all things should, with Champagne. The three tiered cake stands are brought over shortly afterward, which parade tiny, perfectly fresh sandwiches, with only classic fillings, re-filled as we desire. We eat the fluffiest scones I've ever tasted, crispy vanilla slices, macaroons, raspberry tartlets, mini mille feuille, lemon drizzle, chocolate gateaux. At some point we are given a strawberry trifle and then I lose track, loosen my belt and slip into a sort of cake coma.
It's dusk by the time we leave and we take a turn around Hyde Park to aid our ailing digestive systems. I visualise my stomach waving a little white flag. Afternoon Tea at The Ritz is one of ‘Those Things’, isn't it? Like kissing on the Eiffel Tower, or rowing in Central Park. I consider myself somewhat of an expert on afternoon tea in London but I feel as though I have just met the matriarch of all High Tea, and her standards were very high.
We had the Celebration champagne tea which cost £67 per person (a treat from my aunt and uncle!) The standard tea costs £45. It was a glorious experience with delicious food in one of the worlds most famous hotels. But honestly, in hindsight, (lowers voice to a whisper) I’ve been for equally delicious afternoon tea at other places at half the price. But I am now able to proudly strike through ‘Take Tea at The Ritz’ from my London bucket list.
Some other details; I was slightly annoyed that they wouldn’t allow us to take the food we couldn’t mnage home with us. Most places are happy to send you home with a little box of left overs (and I’m talking whole, untouched mini cakes that will otherwise go in the bin). I snuck the scones into my rucksack (yep- rucksack. A nice addition to my clutch bag, I thought) as I can’t stand the thought of that waste. Update- best suggestion ever from Lisa-Marie below, if you go, bring a tupperware!
Despite my aunt booking 5 months in advance, we couldn’t get a sitting until 5.30 pm, so if you want to go, prepare to book waaay in advance. 5.30 is not the best time for Frankie-Rose but she was amazingly well behaved; charming the pianist, waiters and fellow diners. In fact, she was walking around like she owned the place. Not many people can say they had tea at the Ritz at 1 years old. Start as you mean to go on Frankie, eh?! She was the only child there but the staff made us feel welcome and a high chair was waiting for us. I chickened out of breastfeeding in the restaurant but if you’re going to breastfeed in a toilet, opting for one at the Ritz, complete with fresh flowers and a plush chair, is probably not the worst option.
Mine. All mine!
With her new dolly- from my aunt. She doesnt look too impressed here but she LOVES it. Its actually quite a nice one and I always wanted my kids- boy or girl- to have one.
Zonked in the sling afterwards!
With her Dadu and Uncle
Do you have a bucket list that includes anything in London? Anything you’ve always wanted to do? I’m lucky enough to have ticked off quite a few items of my list, including many (most?) of London’s museums, galleries and roof gardens, climbing to the top of Big Ben, watching an open air opera in Trafalgar square, taking a boat down the river and riding the London Eye (touristy but surprisingly fun). But I still want to stay in a nice hotel for New Years Eve and watch the fireworks from a balcony. A cocktail at The Shard would be pretty nice. I’m yet to taste the knicker bocker glory at Fortnum and Mason. And, I don’t care how tacky it looks, I’m dying to do a Duck Tour! I’d love to know your London wish list.