We have several blogs in the works on London planning that include a discussion about sites and transportation. But a vacation is not purely tourist sites. We definitely want to make sure that we experience some of the culture in London as well.
We tend not to be crazy foodies…mostly because my girls are such picky eaters. We will clearly miss out on the amazing Indian food that London has to offer. I can live with that. But, I am adamant that we go to tea! I have done a ridiculous amount of tea research. I am very intrigued by several that I have found. There are Alice in Wonderland and Jungle Book themes, there are “man” teas that include scotch, picnic teas, chocolate teas and many more. I have narrowed ours down to the following choices: The Orangery at Kensington Palace, The Podium, The Wolseley and Claridges
The appeal of the Orangery is that it is adjacent to the Kensington Palace. Visiting for tea can work in nicely with a visit to the palace or even just a visit to the grounds and Hyde Park. The restaurant allows casual dress, so it can be a nice afternoon snack stop as opposed to a complete destination. I know that my girls won’t eat 100% of the items at the tea, but I think that the girls will find enough to sample and enjoy. The Orangery gets good reviews, but not necessarily on their food; their atmosphere is lovely (such a British thing to say) and a huge draw. If we don’t go there for tea, we may just go for breakfast or lunch! The price for tea is about £27.50 per person which is low to mid range, especially considering the location.
The Podium is a more recent find. It is actually a restaurant at the London Hilton at Park Lane which is incredibly close to our hotel. The intriguing part of this tea is the theme…Confessions of a Chocoholic. I think this is a tea that my husband might actually get excited about. They also seem to offer a wide range of dietary options. The savory options don’t look as appealing (for my kids) as some of the others and the reviews say that their savory items aren’t that interesting, but I’m thinking that I would eat everyone’s savories and drink champagne…they could eat the chocolates. They also allow doggie bags! My youngest has already voted for this one. The price is a little higher at £36 per person.
The Wolseley seems like a great option because it’s a bit more casual. It’s a restaurant and shop also incredibly close to our hotel near Piccadilly. They allow parties to order the tea OR off the Bistro Menu (served all afternoon). This might be a better option for all of us because my husband won’t have to eat little sandwiches and pretend to like tea. Also, they have a modified “Cream Tea” that allows you to order tea and scones only for £11.50 per person (with the full tea experience being £27.50 per person). The reviews say that this is a good place for kids and teens because they let them choose their sandwiches/savories. That would be ideal for my pickies!
Finally, the granddaddy of them all, Claridges, has amazing reviews. Trip Advisor has this ranked #2 of Coffee and Tea Houses in London (with #1 being a coffee house). The featured photo for the blog post was taken by my dear friend there in 2015. She raved about her experience: the food was delicious, but she was even more impressed by the service and attention to detail. Her son has food allergies, and they completely accommodated his needs (she arranged the special menu in advance). I am in London for five days, and with five weeks notice, I got the very last possible reservation during my stay. So, if you want to go, I suggest you book well in advance through their website (which is essentially Open Table). The environment is much more formal than I think my family is interested in, but it is truly the epitome of English tea experiences. At £58 per person, it is on the higher end price-wise. They do have a Children’s Tea that they offer for seating in Claridges Foyer only (sounds like it might be an adjacent room). That is for kids up to 10 years old and is £28 per child.
We will report back on our tea time experiences. I’m sure you’re dying to know what we choose! Pinkies up!