Claridge's is the ideal place for the symbolic English afternoon tea ritual; you will be reminded once again that there are after all things of eternal value in this world. The afternoon tea, traditionally taken at 4 pm - 5 pm was introduced in 1840 by the Duchess of Bedford. The legend has it that the real reason behind this innovation was spells of fatigue and weakness that the Duchess was forced to fight with at around 5 o'clock in the afternoon - between lunch and dinner. At first it was just a couple of biscuits and a cup of tea Her Grace used to partake in the privacy of her bedroom. Later the afternoon tea became a ritual to which she invited her friends. Eventually the tradition was adopted by the royal family, including a special dress code, still known in the fashion history as "tea gowns". Since 1995 the British tea Council awards an annual prize for the best afternoon tea spot.
Claridge's is definitely one of the places best suited for the purpose. It's a real gem of Art Deco, just a few steps from Bond Street, the paradise of luxury shopping. It's one of the oldest and most special of London hotels - the first guests spent the night on the premises as early as in 1817. The legendary Claridge's tea normally starts at 4 pm accompanied by some light piano music. Choose whatever suits your mood best - the classic Earl Grey (with sandwiches) or, say, champagne tea. Let the ritual take over: you will be offered a fresh pot of tea periodically, a serving table will be wheeled in a moment later and the waiter will explain all about the five sorts of the small sandwiches with such an air of grace you'd think he was describing his mother's jewellery box. Sandwiches will be replaced by tiny cakes. You will lose count of time listening to the soft piano in the background. Advance reservation is a must.
Mayfair, London W1
Tel. 020 7629 8860
Keywords: London, restaurant, tea ceremony, tea ritual, afternoon tea, art deco, piano, sandwich