Afternoon Tea at The Ritz is known worldwide and is something everyone should try at least once in a lifetime. Tea at The Ritz is an institution in itself and is served in the spectacular Palm Court. With 17 teas to choose from, afternoon tea at The Ritz truly does offer something for everyone.
For more afternoon tea reviews see: Best Afternoon Tea in London.
Tea Guild Awards
- Award of Excellence 2009, 2008, 2007
- Top London Afternoon Tea 2005
- Top London Afternoon Tea 2004
Afternoon Tea Information
Palm Court, The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR.
The Palm Court epitomizes the elegantly frivolous comfort of Edwardian high life.
Days and Times: Daily, five sittings:
11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm, 5.30pm, 7.30pm.
Cost: From £37 per person.
Dress Code: Formal. Jeans and sportswear are not permitted and gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie.
Reservations: Reservations are always required. It is advisable to book up to 12 weeks in advance. Call 020 7300 2309 or visit online www.theritzlondon.com/tea.
Photography: Photography and filming are not permitted in The Palm Court.
Music: Resident pianist, Ian Gomes, performs his own renditions of classical favorites. He was resident pianist at The Savoy before joining The Ritz in 1995. He is noted for his popular renditions of 'Puttin' on The Ritz' and 'A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square' which have become traditional favorites.
Celebration Afternoon Teas
The Ritz has a selection of celebration options which can include Champagne and a birthday cake (note, the standard is chocolate but contact the hotel for more choices).
The resident pianist plays 'Happy Birthday' when a cake is brought out and the staff encourage all to clap. I found this did not feel out of place to have a 'group moment' but it was over swiftly and everyone got back to the important business of eating cakes.
From the hotel lobby, the doors are opened for you to enter The Long Gallery which runs the length of the building. And wow, it hits you just how grand and luxurious this place really is.
The Palm Court is on your left, in front of the old Piccadilly entrance. There is a mirrored backdrop and marble columns at the entrance to the room. The glazed roof floods the room with light and the wrought iron chandeliers are more like works of art with their painted metal flowers.
You are walked to your reserved table by a waiter wearing tuxedo tails. Even tables for two are large enough so the cake stand does not block out your dining companion and there is a helpful handbag shelf under each table. Our waiter joked that we wouldn't want to see the staff tripping over our bags but it is a nice touch for maintaining the formality of the occasion.
When I visited I noticed the majority of the guests were more mature but that may be because I was there on a weekday. I feel the event would appeal to all age groups.
The chinaware is exclusive to the Palm Court in a design of gold with pale green and rose which complements the room.
Where To Start
The Ritz offer a choice of 17 types of loose leaf tea, including a Ritz Royal English tea. This blend goes well with the first course, the finger cut sandwiches. The sandwiches have classic fillings such as smoked salmon, roast ham, and cucumber, and most are on brown or white bread. The exceptions were the mini egg mayonnaise roll and the Cheddar cheese sandwich made with sun-dried tomato bread. Now, that's a superb combination!
If You're Not Sure, Ask
The staff are exceptionally well-trained and can give advice on choosing a tea or special dietary requirements, or even explain about English etiquette.
The scones do not arrive with your cake stand as they are brought to the table still warm. There are raisin scones and apple scones, both served with strawberry preserve and clotted Devonshire cream.
Teas We Tried
I enjoyed the Ritz Royal English with my sandwiches and scones but was keen to try another tea. We asked about L'Opera and our jolly waiter made us laugh by telling us it reminded him of the aroma of bubblegum from the 1970s. This tea was a wonderful accompaniment to the cakes and pastries as it was light, fruit and surprisingly sweet. It did get a bit strong by the end as we were talking a lot so took some time to get through the cakes!
We also ordered Darjeeling First Flush which has more green leaves and therefore, unfortunately, got too bitter to drink as we wanted to finish every last drop of L'Opera before!
My problem is I always drink so much tea! I tried three different types and must have got through at least 10 cups, but, heh, I am English and am therefore supposed to drink lots of tea!
I was concerned that the timing, with another sitting due two hours later, may feel rushed but there was more than enough time. This is obviously down to the service running so smoothly. I was incredibly impressed with the way the staff were completely aware of the stage every table was at, without ever feeling as if we were being overlooked.
Tables are prepared for the next sitting while you are there but it is skillfully done with hardly a sound. It was certainly not intrusive.
- Exquisite service: The waiting staff wear tuxedo tails and treat you like royalty. We didn't feel intimidated as the genuine, warm smile that greeted us put us at ease for our time there and we both felt very relaxed, which seems a strange thing to say about such an unusual situation to be in. I certainly don't dine at The Ritz every day but I felt that I was welcome and respected however often I visited. I forgot where I was and just enjoyed good quality tea, cakes and company, as I felt so comfortable.
- Stunning cake stand: The traditional three-tiered cake stand looks stunning and you can have more of everything.
- Again, the service: The staff are very aware of the stage each table is at without it ever feeling as if you are being overlooked. Guests cannot be left waiting, as the next sitting is only two hours later, but you never feel rushed. You just feel well looked after.
- Try lots of different teas: You can try as many teas as you like, as we were positively encouraged to try more than one. It can be like choosing the best wine for each course of your meal.
- Tea experts: The staff are all capable of describing the teas and our waiter found some fun comparisons to help us choose something new.
- London's first organic hotel: In 2002, The Ritz was licensed by the Soil Association, the UK's largest organic certification body.
- Narrow staircase to the 'Powder Room' - only wide enough for one, so no passing on the stairs.
- The tea menu with descriptions was not available when I visited but I had read it earlier online. (They were printing new menus that day.)