To sit down for a proper Afternoon Tea elevated even further with Champagne in a beautiful setting and with phenomenal service is a luxurious experience indeed, and one every Anglophile should, dare I say, partake in at least once to savor all that it entails.
It happened last April (’22) on the Sunday that Easter fell in that particular year that my mother and I had reservations for Easter Champagne Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s, and what a most memorable experience we had.
Walking through the entrance of the five-star hotel on Brook Street in London, doors opened wide by the doormen, we looked into the light-filled Foyer that was straight ahead as we crossed the threshold into Claridge’s where one half of the Afternoon Tea occurs each day. Hanging from the ceiling is a custom Chiluly sculpture that we learned from the waitstaff is meticulously (and carefully) cleaned each week. We were also told that Chihuly’s wife visits Claridge’s often, and while enjoying a meal or an afternoon tea, is also said to be checking on the art. 😉
Seated in the Reading Room that is situated and adjoins the Foyer, a room with a bit more of a low-lit ambiance, much like an English library, photographs of the many famous faces that have visited Claridge’s – Katherine Hepburn, Princess Diana, and of course, Queen Elizabeth II – are displayed on the walls, and as our chairs were pulled out for us, had we been seated in a two-top, a small table would have been brought to place our handbags, so as not to place them on the ground or take up unnecessary space, but we were seated at a four-top and had empty seats to our side for this purpose (I love this detail that is seen often in fine dining restaurants across Europe due to lack of space, but respect for the handbag (bien sur!).
What I appreciate about most of the well-known destinations that serve Afternoon Tea in London is that you make your reservations ahead of time and at that time, pay in full as well. Tip was also included in the bill, and so we were able to simply relax and not really worry about the cost of the tea as we had already paid for it, already tipped and could just savor each course that was served, of which there were many. Here is a look at the entire Champagne Afternoon Tea menu.
While we were enjoying our time, I gazed around the two rooms – both in our room, the Reading Room and the Foyer into which we could easily see, and each of the guests were wonderfully dressed. And while it was Easter, I wonder if this is also de rigeur on any day throughout the year, as it is, after all, a special place to enjoy Afternoon Tea.
Some TSLL readers may remember the ‘situation’ that occurred on our way to Claridge’s with the soot from the Tube station falling onto my ivory silk blazer that I had chosen to wear (it was game day – football/soccer – and many fans from a particular team were on their way to the stadium; well, they were a bit raucous and the noise of their cheers shook loose the soot in the station’s ceiling where we were waiting for our train, and before we knew it, our faces and shoulders were dappled with the dust that is not that easy to remove from clothing – thankfully it is from faces ☺️). All of this is to say, I want to share with you how accommodating and helpful the staff at Claridge’s was. Assured by me that this was not a design element of my blazer – they were very courteous as they wanted to make sure I knew about the soot, and then once they learned of how it happened, they offered to take my blazer and have it cleaned while I dined. Since I only had a silk chemise underneath, I kindly declined, but part of me wanted them to take it. (It did eventually get it cleaned by the staff at The Savoy where we were staying – and it was not easy for them to remove, but they did it! And I had it back within 12 hours before we caught our flight back home for fewer than £30).
But back to the Champagne Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s! Oh my goodness so special, delicious and exceeded any expectations I might have had. And as it was Easter, at the end of our service, after all of the courses, sandwiches, scones, hot crossed buns, desserts, multiple tea services, they brought out the large white chocolate egg with a gold-leaf detail carefully garnishing the top of the egg which then was placed on top of a special edible biscuit which the hollow egg enclosed another sweet treat. Oh wow, we felt royally spoiled.
Have a look at some of the photos I captured, and while far from enough to capture the entire experience, a few that will hopefully whet your appetite and ensure you consider, when you next go to London, making reservations at Claridge’s for Afternoon Tea (and don’t forget the Champagne!).
And I cannot forget to talk about the powder room for the women guests. Exquisite décor, service inside to give you a towel and a separate room with vanity tables to freshen up. Take a look inside. You may stay longer than you anticipate if you are anything like me. ☺️
I will always remember fondly this occasion that we had the opportunity to enjoy tea on my mother’s favorite holiday during her first visit to London, and as such, if you look closely at the new illustration Sarah Lœcker created last year for TSLL’s British Week, you will notice that the Claridge green striped tea cup appears in the watercolor as well as one of the patisseries (the ‘Grand Cru’ chocolate tart).
View more detailed posts from my trip to England last year
~Explore all British Weeks’ posts here.