Detailed review by bobarella
london, United Kingdom
Before I begin I'd just like to point out that this review is strictly on the afternoon teas at Claridges and not on any other aspect of the hotel.
'Im getting married in the morning, ding dong the bells are goanna chime' ok Im not actually getting married tomorrow but on the 16th of September this year I will be a Mrs.
Why is that relevant to Claridges I hear you ask? Well it's not strictly but the reason I ended up there last Friday for afternoon tea with my best friend was all wedding related.
Just to give you a brief why, where etc, I have four bridesmaids, 2 of them are my sisters and 2 of them are my best friend and her little sis, who is also my youngest sister's best friend. We aren't very adventurous in my family :)
My head bridesmaid (best friend of 25 years) has done such a lot for me since I started the whole wedding planning thing, she is an events manager herself so has had loads of really relevant useful information and experience to bring to the party. Anyway one of her tasks as head hen has been to arrange my hen do, and for that she deserves a medal. The other reason for spoiling her is that she is 5 months pregnant at the moment and still putting so much effort into making my day special, I keep trying to get her to slow down but she says sleeping is for wimps!
So L this review is dedicated to you! Thanks again so, so much from your really grateful best friend. XX
Back to the main event, the reviewing.
The meet up
We met up at 3pm at Bond Street tube station. L had been informed dress code was posh frock, but no other details were imparted. I do like a good surprise
We walked the 10 minutes to Claridges hotel and once in sight the penny dropped I think!
The entrance of Claridges is like most of the other top London hotels, glossy looking with door men suited and booted standing around either opening the door or directing guests to taxis.
The doors open into a small lobby to begin with; this is where the first hint of art deco is noticeable. On either side of the door is a silhouette of a jumping antelope. Walking through this area you move into a wider hall which has stairs off to the left and the bathrooms just down the hall. More on them later.
In this section were some sofas with people sitting around drinking and chatting.
We walked through into the main dining hall and were greeted by a member of staff. I gave her my name and the time I'd booked for and she informed me that we were a little early (it was just coming up to 3) and we'd be taken to our table anyway and then the serving would begin at 3pm.
The Reading Room
We walked in to the 'reading room' which was a large circular room in the main with separate areas leading off on either side. The first thing that I really noticed was apart from the huge art deco theme going on in the room there was a massive centre piece in the ceiling above. It looked like all manner of swirling snakes all entwined together, all in white marble type material.
Also really noticeable was this enormous flower display directly under the ceiling piece.
The room was laid out with lots of little tables for twos, fours etc. All the chairs were curved backed with distinctive green and black zigzags, it really reminded me of the sort of furniture that Hercle Poriot has in his apartment in the Agatha Christie adaptations.
We were seated in the left side of the room at a little round table for two. Already at the table was a large silver stand which I presumed would be used during the tea service.
After a few moments of being seated a female musician began playing classical music on a violin, accompanied by someone on the piano. It was so lovely sitting in that beautiful high ceilinged room listening to that sort of music; it really set the tone for the occasion.
When we had arrived there were only a very few others all in the reading room, but within about 10 minutes the place filled right up. There was a real mixture of people and I would have to say some had made more of an effort on the dressing up front than others. Personally for me I feel that if Im going to go somewhere special for a treat I'd like to look the part. I did see other women in there with denim skirts and such like on, sort of spoils the effect of sitting there taking tea!
A very smartly dressed waiter appeared within 5 minutes of our being seated and asked if we were ready to begin our tea. We said we were. After another few moments passed a large beautiful tea set was brought to the table, the cups laid in front of us, the tea pot stood on the lower section of the silver stand I mentioned next to the table. The waiter used a tea strainer to lay across our cups and poured us our first cup of tea each. As we sat back enjoying ourselves the first plate of sandwiches arrived which all looked delicious. They came out on a long slim platter and I think there were 6 rounds of sandwiches cut into squares on it. The flavours were really good too, there was one that was thick cut ham, one that was lemon chicken, an egg mayonnaise, a cream cheese and cucumber, a smoked salmon and cucumber (of course) and one other sadly I cant recall.
We sat and nibbled away and they were all lovely sandwiches I have to say. We really took our time over them. Then when we'd finished those the waiter came back and asked if we'd like some more, so we said yes of course! More of the same were subsequently brought out.
I should mention at this point that the only thing I can criticise about my Claridges tea experience was that each time you got more than half way through a cuppa they came over quick smart and topped you up. I don't even know how much tea we got through that afternoon. But it was hardly something to moan about, the tea was all very nice Earl Grey and I always think real leaf tea tastes nicer even if I can never be bothered with it at home.
After we'd had enough sandwiches the waiter came back with a slim silver tray with two perfect sized apple scones and two sultana ones, a pot of clotted cream and some delicious apricot jam. He put these down on the table. At the same time he put down a tray of 4 amazing looking individual desserts. One of them was in a little shot sized glass and had layers of yellow and white cream in it, this we were told was a pineapple cream dessert. Then there was a small chocolate slice, a custard cream slice and a small strawberry tart with the top entirely covered in strawberries. Well we were delighted with all of this and set about the scones straight away. I started with sultana and it was absolutely blissful, really crumbled lightly into your mouth but was firm enough for the clotted cream and jam to be piled on without breaking. The apple scone was lovely too but I liked the sultana best.
The desserts all looked so nice, but I just about managed the chocolate slice thingy in the end.
That's one thing I'll warn you about, although you wouldn't think such dainty sandwiches, a few scones and cakes could fill you up that much we both felt absolutely stuffed. I couldn't have eaten another thing if I'd tried. Maybe that's why they give you so much tea? No Im joking of course.
We were in there from 3pm until just before 6 when we realised what the time was. We both had evening plans so had to leave for those but were shocked that the time had flown by so quickly.
One thing I'll say for Claridges, they don't hurry you or make you feel you've had your slot if you like, thinking about it I did notice that they stopped bringing tea at a certain point but I'd certainly had more than enough at that point anyway. We also ordered a large bottle of sparking water to help combat the tea!
Other things I'd like to tell you about before I go,
Well you'd expect something quite whizzy at a place like Claridges and you certainly got it. The bathroom was called The Ladies Room. You walked in and there were seats and mirrors in the first part of the room, then walked around the corner and found three toilets, all very in keeping with the overall theme of the hotel. When you came out there was a woman there waiting with a basin full of water and offering you fresh towels. I felt mean as I hadn't taken money into the bathroom and they have one of those little silver trays with a few pounds on as if to say tip me, but I did tip with the overall tea bill so I felt that made up for it.
I hate to say it too but while the water in the basin thing was lovely and made me come over all Cleopatra, its not very environmentally conscious of a big hotel like this to fill basins each time someone comes in, Im sure a quite swish of the taps that is normally used when washing your hands would have been much better really.
Smoking is allowed in the dining room
This was one of my tiny bug bears, especially since my friend was pregnant, but they allow smoking in the rooms adjacent to the reading room and I could smell people smoking a couple of times. It wasn't enough to really bother me but I think they should tell you that on their website when you book for afternoon tea.
I booked about a week in advance via their online booking form on their website
I was delighted to receive a real live persons email only a few moments after I'd sent mine telling me they could offer me a table at 3pm and could I email back to confirm I'd be coming.
I thought this was a nice touch.
From what I saw, disabled access at Claridges for afternoon tea was not an issue, the doorways were fine and the toilets on the same level too so no difficult areas to get around
Im sure you're thinking that this must have cost a bit but afternoon tea started at £30.50 a head which was the option we went for, mainly because the next option at £38.50 a head is a champagne tea and since my friend was pregnant anyway I didn't think it appropriate. For a super whizzy tea including Dom Pérignon champagne you would pay £48.50 a head.
So the total cost for both of us including the tip and sparkling water was £75 which I felt was fine given the fact it was a treat and the special occasion side of things.
Finally then I would totally recommend Claridges for afternoon tea with anyone, your mother, friend, lover whatever. It's a fab place to visit, the staff are really nice to you and its certainly got class.
Address, Phone & Travel
Telephone Number: 020 7629 8860
Nearest Tube: Bond Street
Not always great at keeping my surprises. Once decided to take the OH away to Prague for his birthday surprise. Only I got drunk while out at dinner with him, told him the surprise, and was then shocked to discover he knew all about it the next day when I sort of mentioned the surprise.DOH!