Taking Tea: Celebrating English Traditions from Afternoon Tea to Royally Good Business Class Deals

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Whether you want to experience high tea in a formal setting or in a comfortable, social ambiance, our favorite high tea restaurants provide the quintessential British experience. You’ll delight in fresh pastries baked by celebrated pastry chefs, English classics like scones and clotted cream and bountiful teas.

There’s more to a decadently satisfying London holiday than booking a luxurious first class flight, staying in the high-brow Kensington neighborhood and partying in Mayfair and Soho. An English holiday simply isn’t complete until you’ve enjoyed a cuppa from one of London’s most treasured tea houses. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Known around the world for its elegant but never stuffy ambiance, Claridge’s serves a host of English favorites like scones, Cornish clotted cream, Marco Polo tea jelly and cucumber sandwiches. Of course, there are dozens of other delicacies, as well, such as chocolate pastries, creme brulee, chicken sandwiches and fruit-topped pastries. Live piano and cello music accompany diners enjoying the edible delights.

The Orangery, Kensington Gardens 
A palace atrium is the perfect setting for visitors to savor tea and champagne while gazing at Kensington Palace’s magnificent gardens. Built by Queen Anne in 1704 to protect her beloved orange trees, The Orangery now charms visitors, business professionals and high society alike with its afternoon tea menu of smoked salmon and cream cheese mini bagels, cucumber and fresh mint sandwiches, Coronation chicken wraps and delectable pastries. 

Palm Court, The Ritz London
Gilded statues, ornate decor and a spectacularly designed ceiling add a lavish touch to tea at The Ritz’ Palm Court. The Ritz is so steeped in grand architecture, in fact, that it’s worth hopping on a discounted business class flight to London just to experience the hotel’s ambiance. 

The Ritz honors its 100-year-old high tea tradition by serving handmade sandwiches with all of the traditional British fillings, fresh-baked scones, Devonshire clotted cream, a variety of pastries and 16 loose leaf teas. Service is formal and exacting, complementing the refined atmosphere created by the opulent setting and rich strains of live piano music. A dress code is strictly enforced, and reservations are highly recommended.

Thames Foyer, The Savoy
The foyer’s beautiful glass dome encases guests in natural light as they dine on The Savoy’s scrumptious menu of warm scones accompanied by jams and clotted cream, tasty finger sandwiches and seasonal pastries and cakes like the divine dark chocolate and pistachio opera cake. Live piano music fills theThames Foyer and its adjoining Winter Garden Gazebo with dulcet tones perfect for an afternoon tea.

Relishing all of London’s exquisite amusements can be pricey, especially if you plan to take high tea each day of your visit. Most of these tea services will set you back about £40 per person, and lodging, transportation and entertainment can be steeply priced. Be sure to take advantage of the abundant availability of discounted first class tickets to London so you can indulge in all of London’s delicious diversions.