Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A posh afternoon treat at The Ritz

If you are an afternoon tea lover like me, then what would be more appropriate than to experience this traditional custom in England, where it was originated.  It is even more so when it comes to The Ritz, famous for its fine afternoon tea service, popular since the hotel opened and has attracted audience from all levels including King Edward VII, Charlie Chaplin and Sir Winston Churchill.  It is legendary, they say.

The afternoon tea is served in Palm Court, a dramatic and luxurious gold and white Louis XVI style stage,  gracefully decorated with impressive marble columns, classy chandeliers, heavy curtain, mirrored backdrop and a fountain sculpture.  It is then completed with musical accompaniment by a well dressed pianist and the huge grand piano.  I have had many afternoon tea experience, but nothing even come close to this.  It is a formal affair.  Men are required to wear a jacket and tie, jeans and trainers are not permitted for all.

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We checked into our booking and were ushered by the cummerbund to our table, all setup with elegant silver tea sets and fine chinaware.  We were then spoilt for choice in 17 different types of loose leaf tea.  I settled for Silver Needle white tea.  The afternoon tea includes finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked apple and raisin scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve and delectable selection of cakes and pastries, all tastefully placed on a three tier serving stand.  And just as we finished our share of sandwiches, the cummerbund came around with a big tray of sandwiches enquiring if we would like to top up.  So it is not just the tea, but even the sandwiches are bottomless.  Eat as you wish, drink as you pleased.  As if it wasn’t enough, the cummerbund later pushed along a trolley of two big cakes to satiate your appetite.  Meticulous service!  That’s how I would put it. 

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As we were all chatting away over the delicious delicacies, the pianist suddenly did a swing from the soft classical to the tune “Happy birthday….”, a birthday cake was then pushed out towards a table and we all clapped.  That’s indeed a very happy birthday!

Our afternoon tea concluded after 1:45 mins.  We both left the hotel feeling extremely pleased and satiated.

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THIS, is the highlight for me in London.  A truly memorable experience.  And if I were to visit London again one day, I would return. 

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