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Afternoon Tea is one of England’s most popular social activities and has been so for nearly 150 years. Enjoyed by young and old alike, it is relaxing way to have a snack in the middle of the afternoon. Small, delicate portions accompanied by a refreshing cup of tea, it makes a perfect time for conversation and relaxation.
So what is afternoon tea? An array of delicate finger sandwiches offering the opportunity to try a selection of fillings, together with a selection of little cakes all beautifully presented. Scones with cream and jam are often included. Choose your tea carefully, as there is always a wide choice of varieties including the classic Earl Grey or Lady Grey.
Choosing your venue in London requires careful thought. Perhaps you prefer to opt for tradition and heritage? Then head for the Langham Hotel near Oxford Circus as this is where the ritual of Afternoon Tea began back in 1850. The leather armchairs and low tables continue to evoke that sense of tradition, as does the menu with Victoria sponge and classic sandwiches albeit given a contemporary twist to match modern tastes.
If you’re staying in any of the hotels in Central London, can we recommend a Tea at The Ritz, another long-established location, often portrayed in films and in books. The lush ferns and amazing glazed skylight above tables covered in gleaming white tablecloths make this a memorable location. However, a word of warning – you do need to dress formally to enjoy tea at the Ritz. No trainers, no sportswear, no jeans are allowed, and men must wear jackets and ties.
If you’re staying in a hotel South Kensington and want to experience a real Victorian teatime atmosphere then Mr Fogg’s Residence is worth a visit. At weekends a special tea is served in period surroundings by staff wearing Victorian costumes. This is definitely a quirky afternoon tea as the little sandwiches and cakes are accompanied by champagne or gin based tea such as Tea Leaf You Wanting More or Ladies That Lapsang. It is imaginative and different!
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Alternatively, book a table at the Shangri-La Restaurant on the 35th floor of The Shard. You do need a head for heights, as you will be drinking your tea and enjoying cake and sandwiches while looking out through floor to ceiling windows across the skyline of London. Every table in the restaurant enjoys superb views, and it is without doubt, one of the most memorable experiences you can have in London.