English people genuinely love tea. Like really love tea. In kind of a “you have to see it to believe it” sort of way. I am often exploring the north and south of the county (outside of the London bubble) and believe me, English people love tea. I get offered tea multiple times per day and see teacups and tea trays and tea towels all over the place. It’s like the American coffee addiction on steroids that are made of politeness. So, it comes as no surprise that afternoon and cream teas are offered absolutely everywhere. Experiencing one is almost a Rite of Passage. I have, and many, and unfortunately put the tea at The Ritz towards the bottom of my list.
The afternoon tea at The Ritz is held in their Palm Court. Now I’ve been to many a Ritz and many a Palm Court, so I can honestly say, this one is nothing special. Sure, it has a posh location, is set by the park, and was featured in the movie, Notting Hill, but following a recent visit to the Palm Court at The Plaza in Manhattan, this one just fell flat.
The Ritz’s Palm Court is sort of awkward. It is extremely bright, and not in a sunny screened-in porch sort of way, but more like a really uncomfortable office. The tea itself comes at the hefty price of £66 per person. This includes a glass of champagne, the usual assortment of cakes, scones, and tea sandwiches, and of course tea. The beverages were fine, but the edibles were almost inedible. I took nibbles of each so each one got a fair shot, but that was that. At the end of the meal, the servers come around with a beautiful “Celebration Cake” and offer slices along with an additional charge of £11. I thought the whole idea of the “Celebration Cake” was a little tacky and decided to quit while I was ahead–or at least before I got too far behind.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a lovely hotel with a charming staff, but London just has too many amazing afternoon teas out there to be able to place this one on a must-do list. Stay tuned to find out which ones actually make the cut, and don’t fall for The Ritz simply because, well, it’s The Ritz.
The Ritz London
London W1J 9BR