An absolute must-do in London is afternoon tea and there is a plethora of options at different budgets. After a bunch of research and saving up money, we decided on Claridge’s London, a five-star hotel in Mayfair. Mayfair is an upscale area to the east of Hyde Park full of high-end restaurants, shops, and hotels. It is within walking distance of Oxford Street, a boulevard lined with high-street shops.
Claridge’s is located on Brook Street and the nearest tube station is Bond Street which hosts the Central line so it is easily accessible to anyone taking the tube. The afternoon tea is in a restaurant called The Foyer and Reading Room which is in your direct line of sight as you walk into the lobby. We booked our time three months in advance, and if you’re looking to have afternoon tea here, I recommend that you do the same. The earliest you can make a reservation is 90-days but don’t delay. Two months before our trip I was checking the reservations and they were all booked.
There is no dress code being enforced unlike other luxury afternoon teas, but smart casual is recommended and that is what everyone will be wearing.
The Foyer had a white coffered ceiling and gold mirrors that lined the walls, reflecting light everywhere. Attached to the ceiling like a chandelier is a shining glass sculpture, immediately drawing your attention. A host greeted us at the entry-way and lead us to our table. There was live pianist and violinist playing dulcet melodies and the harmonic notes just floated through the room. The servers donned with sophisticated white jackets and bow ties.
The afternoon tea menu was presented to us as a dainty little hardcover book that included not just the food and tea selection, but interesting little backstories and facts about Claridge’s and afternoon tea. The menu also had adorable professional-looking doodles of their teacups and teapots. The tea selection had a variety of teas and described the history and the notes of each specific blend.
Our server was lovely and explained all of the options for drinks (other than tea, of course). The options included are a Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée Brut, Laurent-Perrier Rosé, and for anyone who doesn’t drink alcohol but classily drinking out a wine glass, jus de raisin pétillant. I went for the champagne and my mom went for the non-alcoholic grape juice.
The first tea I chose was Claridge’s Blend as it was recommended by our server. It was like an English Breakfast but malty-er. I tend to take black teas with milk because I think it rounds out all of the flavours. Even though it was suggested that I drink it black, I enjoyed it with a splash of milk. On the table, there was a small metal box that contained sugar cubes, sweetener, and brown sugar for the teas.
The first of the courses was the sandwiches which included: smoked salmon, coronation chicken, egg mayonnaise, cucumber, ham, and the chef’s seasonal’s savoury. Anything that you particularly enjoy you can get more of free of charge. We really liked the cucumber, the seasonal savoury, egg mayonaisse, and the smoked salmon so order an extra of each sandwich. It was delicious but a huge mistake because we were too full to finish our pastries. So think twice before ordering more sandwiches or scones.
The next course was the scones and there were two flavours that were presented to us: raisin and plain. They were served with Cornish clotted cream and Marco Polo gelée. Marco Polo gelée is a jelly created by the gourmet french tea company Mariage Frères. This gelée is exquisite and unlike anything I’ve tasted. It is fruit pectin and a tea infusion sweetened with cane sugar, cooked over a bain-marie. It tastes of fragrant tea without the bitterness when paired with clotted cream, is heavenly. It is available to purchase in Selfridges London or Covent Garden OR if you are stopping in Paris, there are various stores spread across the city. You can find locations here.
Before we had our scones I decided to choose a different tea. This time I chose Rare Earl Grey. Earl grey is my favourite tea and this one had a strong bergamot flavour with a hint of citrus. I enjoyed this tea more than the Claridge’s Blend, probably because I’m biased to earl grey. The scones were served warm and were so buttery and fluffy. This was my favourite part of the afternoon tea as the scone, cream, and gelée worked together harmoniously to create bursts of rich and smooth flavour.
The last course was the most exciting one: the pastries. I’m going to be honest, I can’t remember all of the flavours but I’ll do my best to describe it. It featured four desserts: Hazelnut Paris-Brest, a chocolate-y hazelnut-y cake, a macaron (if I remember correctly, it was passion fruit), and a tartelette with meringue (I think it was of the citrus variety. The hazelnut Paris-brest stood out to me the most. The choux pastry had a lovely crunch in contrast to the creaminess of the praline. The sides were decorated with hazelnuts that added a different texture and an extra nutty flavour.
The chocolate-y cake thing was so smooth and the textures also worked really well together. However, it was a little sweet for my taste but it had an intense, chocolate flavour. It was indulgent and a good portion for something so rich.
At this point, we were way too full to finish the other two pastries so we actually got them packed to go. But the desserts themselves were also quite good. The macaron was like a classic French macaron, hard outer shell and gooey on the inside. It was as sweet as I expected it to be, much like a classic macaron. There was a tartness in the filling to offset the sweetness of the shell.
The tartelette had a crisp, thin, and buttery base with a citrus filling. It was topped with a torched meringue and a decorative piece. The colours were unified and worked well together. This was second pick for me because I have a soft spot for tartelettes and pies. The pastry base was delicious and it is something London in general does so well. The dessert was balanced, delightful, and an overall great end to the evening.
The scones were so good that we had to take some back to our flat. Our server brought us our leftover pastries and extra scones in an elegant box with a couple of chocolate mints.
This was an incredible experience that I would love to do again. The service was incredible and the food was high-quality. The atmosphere of the Foyer was grand and elegant. It made us feel like we were posh Londoners. Was it expensive? Yes. Would I do it again? Absolutely. This is my place of choice when it comes to a celebratory event or even just to spurge on something nice for yourself. This is probably the favourite thing I did in London and I hope you choose to experience it as well. I rate afternoon tea at the Foyer and Reading Room at Claridge’s London a 10/10.