Wednesday 11 September 2013

Charlotte in the City: The Ritz, London

Often cited as one of London's top afternoon tea destinations, the Ritz's reputation for excellence is second to none. Read on to find out what our City girl, Charlotte Vowden, thought when she visited last month! 

Welcome to the Ritz

Afternoon tea at The Ritz is a grand affair where traditional formalities create an atmosphere of occasion and glamour. Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket with a tie and women attend in their finest frocks. Absolutely no denim is allowed. 

The hotel’s Palm Court is where the magic happens, and it is here that my love affair with the quintessential ceremony began almost ten years ago. I returned this summer with my grandfather, accompanied by the same anticipation and awe that my first visit mustered.

Cake Collection

Little has changed since then; the service is still precise, the opportunity to have your sandwich and scone plates refilled remains and the clotted cream is just as thick as it used to be. However, there is one noticeable addition - a pudding trolley. 

Oh yes, much to our delight a four-wheeled dessert mobile now circulates The Palm Court. It’s purpose is to tempt you with even more elaborate creations and despite having a tea stand filled with tiny sugary show stoppers we kept a close eye to make sure the trolley made a stop at our table-side.

Our taste buds were tickled by slices of pistachio and cherry cake topped with vanilla cream and a miniature trifle with perfectly proportioned layers - not too much custard and a good few spoons worth of jelly. The tea stand delectables featured a salted caramel macaroon with a perfect crunch and the famous four-layered chocolate cake had a glaze so faultless you could see your reflection.


When it comes to the evaluation of the finger sandwiches I quote my grandfather; ‘They are so very nice, you must have another before I eat them all up.’ The mix included ham, grain mustard mayonnaise on White Bread and my favourite, Scottish Smoked Salmon, Lemon Butter on Rye Bread. The scones were served warm so the cornish clotted cream began to melt as soon as the dollop hit the dough. Finished with a spoon of strawberry preserve they were suitably gluttonous.

Catering for plenty of tastes the tea menu has familiars such as Earl Grey, and more fruity blends such as Passion Fruit and Orange, which makes a winning cup. The Ritz Royal English, a light blend of Assam and Ceylon, is a soothing accompaniment. Just remember to sip politely. 


Over 400 teas are served in The Palm Court every day so sittings are limited to 95 minutes and my only criticism is that we would have loved more time to savour the experience. Instead, we retired to the Ritz’s Rivoli bar for a cocktail. Such a tough life. 

Traditional Afternoon Tea at the Ritz is £45 per person, booking is required:

Charlotte Vowden is a travel & lifestyle journalist who is as happy in the mountains as she is sipping champagne and indulging on cake. Writing for The Sunday Times and other national publications keeps her busy but she’s always looking for her next adventure or afternoon tea destination.

Twitter: @charlottevowden

DISCLAIMER: As is common in the catering and leisure industry, we were provided with complimentary services for review purposes. Whilst this has not influenced our review, we believe in the full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. 

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