When DH and I finally had the opportunity to visit London, I knew that experiencing a proper English afternoon tea would be at the top of our to-do list. We decided on THE DORCHESTER hotel (map!), and thankfully, its offerings fulfilled all our expectations and more.
The hotel has afternoon tea seatings at 1:15pm, 2:30pm, 3:15pm, 4:45pm and 5:15pm. I made reservations prior to our trip for the 5:15pm seating so that it would serve as an early dinner. The ladies who responded to my reservation request e-mails were so polite and helpful! When we finally arrived, I knew we would be in for a special time.
The dining area is absolutely gorgeous. I believe there was a recent renovation, because all the furniture and decorations looked so crisp and new. The seats were plush and luxurious, and I loved their tableware design (yes, I considered this in making my decision on where we would have our tea).
We were treated with the best service. The small army of servers were polished, polite, and clear explaining all the food we received. First up, the tea!
We each picked a different tea. I got the 80th Anniversary Blend (from their menu: “A unique blend to commemorate the Dorchester’s 80th Anniversary this year. A mellow and smooth Ceylon Orange Pekoe from the Sri Lankan Uva district with a soft oaky flavour. Best enjoyed with milk.”) and DH got the Earl Grey Supreme (“This blend brings together Sri Lankan Ceylon, Indian Assam and Taiwanese Formosa Oolong and features natural oil of bergamot from Calabria in Italy. A light and perfumed tea with a hint of citrus. Smooth and very refreshing. Can be enjoyed with milk or a slice of lemon.)
I fell absolutely in love with my tea. With stuff this good, I can understand why the British love it so much. As I was reveling in my happy tea haze, the food started arriving. The best part? It’s unlimited, meaning you can keep requesting more of anything you want to eat, as long as your tummy can take it. This is my idea of heaven: a buffet, but they bring the food to you!
You can imagine my excitement when I first saw the delicious finger sandwiches!
From right to left: Tuna on wheat bread, egg mayonnaise with shiso cress on white bread, chicken with wholegrain mustard mayonnaise on basil bread, smoked salmon on granary bread, and cucumber with cream cheese on caraway seed bread.
The smoked salmon and egg mayo ones were just out of this world! All of the bread was very fresh, and the fillings were delicious. Of course, we got a few more helpings! (There was a lady who was vegetarian at the table next to us, so she got a special selection of veggie-only sandwiches, one of which included something with tomato, and sounded great too. If I get the chance to come back again, I’d be interested in trying it.)
Next was a little intermission:
And then it was time for scones!
It is so hard to find good clotted cream in the United States. I had been looking forward to this part for so long! Ah, better than butter by far.
At this point, having probably consumed at least 6 cups of tea each (which the server kept refreshing for us with more hot water), we decided to try a new kind, which was also included in the flat price. I opted for the The Dorchester Blend (“A truly elegant tea, perfect for anytime of the day. A blend of Sri lankan Ceylon and golden Assam teas. A bright tea with a malty character with just a slight hint of caramel notes. Best enjoyed with milk.”) and DH went for the interestingly-described Keemun Mao Feng (“Dr. Samuel Johnson reputedly drunk over 16 cups in one sitting of this world-renowned tea. A black leaf tea that produces a light somewhat mild and delicate taste with an almost toasty finish. Can be drunk with or without milk.”)
Finally, came the pastries!
My favorite was the raspberry financier. Not satisfied with just one, I asked for another. (I wish I could have eaten a dozen more!)
And it’s not just pretty on the outside:
How do they do that?? Half cake, half mousse, with a jammy interior. It’s like a miniature cake planet made by baking geniuses! Love love love.
By the time we finished, the two of us were just happy tea-soaked blobs. All the while, there was live piano music in the background, and just as we were getting ready to leave, a jazz band started playing (so lucky that we booked the last tea sitting!). We stayed for a couple of songs:
And then we were done, but the memories will last forever.
If you ever get the chance to visit London, you must make time for a good afternoon tea. It’s worth a little splurge to get dressed up and do it right in a nice location. I’m sure there are lots of other good establishments comparable to The Dorchester, but this place didn’t disappoint, and I was very happy with my selection.