Originally opened in 1874 this lavish venue has been serving afternoon tea to the cream of London society for 135 years.
For more afternoon tea reviews see:
Best Afternoon Tea in London.
Afternoon Tea Information
224 Piccadilly, London W1J 9HP
Days and Times:
Thursday to Sunday, 2-30pm-5.30pm.
Cost: From £29 per person.
Dress Code: Smart but not formal.
Reservations: 020 7930 0488 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Music: Lounge/jazz background music.
- Criterion Afternoon Tea Menu
- Selection of finger sandwiches
- Homemade Criterion scones, preserves and Ivy House clotted cream
- A selection of homemade traditional cakes, tarts, and sweets
- Served with tea
Criterion Afternoon Tea ReviewI visited on a rainy Saturday afternoon and the interior of this place is stunning. There's a real 'wow factor' as you come through the revolving doors off Piccadilly Circus and it feels like a palace ballroom with it's super-high gold-mosaic ceilings, and marble walls with enormous mirrors. I was told the sumptuous neo-Byzantine decor never fails to impress and really, it's worth visiting just to see inside. (You could stop for a quick drink at the Long Bar if you're short on time.)
The lighting was good as sometimes afternoon servings can mean dim locations but the lighting here cleverly reflects off the gold mosaics and keeps the place feeling warm while well lit.
I had a 2.30pm reservation so there were many diners still enjoying lunch and the large restaurant was able to accommodate this mixed dining.
Teas are 'Twinings of London' and there were ten options including fruit infusions. I was impressed by the way staff were able to help us make a decision by bringing a presentation box of loose teas to our table so we could see and smell them. The way the tea was served was also extremely good as the teapots allowed for the loose tea to be in an infuser which could be lowered and removed once brewed according to an egg timer left on our table. For tea connoisseurs this will be a real welcome touch as it's always disappointing to have a wonderful first cup and further cups to be stewed.
I love a three-tier cake stand; it's such a glorious site! The finger sandwiches were egg, salmon, and cream cheese and cucumber, with three per person. Two wonderfully warm scones were served with clotted cream and a choice of three preserves, including rhubarb and ginger which was divine. I wish I could have tried more of each but there were the delicious cakes to move on to which included an amuse-bouche, a slice of pecan pie, carrot cake, tiramisu, a strawberry tartlet, and a creme brulee. All were petite and delicious.
We tried to order a second pot of tea before starting the cakes and gave our order and waited. We waited and asked again. We waited and asked again. After 20+ minutes, and having asked three times, I got up and went to see if we could have our tea.
When we were leaving we saw our original serving staff and he commented that he thought we would have already left and he told us he had been busy preparing for the evening. We explained about our wait for tea and thanked him for his excellent service but suggested other staff need to learn from him.
It was a real treat to dine here as it is such a wonderful venue. It was an oasis of calm of a busy Saturday afternoon in the West End and I'd love to return again soon. I hope the staff receive more training as the senior staff, whom you can recognize by their uniforms, are doing a wonderful job.
As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary afternoon tea for the purpose of reviewing those services. While it has not influenced this review, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our Ethics Policy.