A Look Back on My Recent English Tea Room Experiences
My recent trip to England, where I attended Royal Ascot for the first time, continues to pay me personal dividends in the form of wonderful memories.
There were so many beautiful things to see and experience there, but some of my favorites to look back on are the many tea rooms that my travel companion, Melissa, and I got to visit.
It gives me great joy to remember these places and I am hoping that you will enjoy a look inside as well!
For our first experience, we enjoyed afternoon tea at The Drawing Room, in The Brown Hotel and it did not disappoint, in fact, this visit set an exceptionally high bar.
The atmosphere is warm and cozy with ultra-attentive service from the staff. The tea was excellent, and the food was delicious, with the tea sandwiches being the standout for me!
They notably serve Highgrove honey, special because it is produced from pollen collected by the royal bees at Highgrove.
The Brown also stands out in my mind because as we finished the courses, they offered to bring us more of anything we desired!
The Brown Hotel is a place steeped in history and lore, adding to the intrigue and overall experience.
It is believed that Agatha Christie’s novel, “At Bertram’s Hotel,” was inspired by her regular stays at The Brown Hotel.
Furthermore, The Brown is the very location from where Alexander Graham Bell famously made his first telephone call from England.
And perhaps the historical cherry on all of this is the widely held belief that Queen Victoria indulged in afternoon tea in the elegant Drawing Room of the Brown Hotel.
On a few of our stops, we opted for something less formal and one of these visits included Huffkins Tea Room, at Stow-on-the-Wold
Huffkins is a chain of ten bakeries across Cotswold and they offer what might be considered more of an everyday tea experience.
I had a savory cheese scone with butter and a spicy tomato, caramelized onion chutney.
This was my first time having chutney on a scone and it was divine. I enjoyed this savory treat with a classic English, Earl Grey tea. Amazing!
On June 23rd with visited The Pavilion at Kensington Palace.
This is the only place in London where you can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea on the grounds of a royal palace.
The tea was very good with such attention to detail on each of the courses, and I took special notice of the scones which were light and sweet!
But the real gem of this experience was the view from our table!
The Pavilion overlooks the sunken garden at Kensington, and it is simply amazing.
A classic English garden featuring a statue of Princess Diana, surrounded by three children.
The statue is meant to symbolize Diana’s charitable legacy and the humanitarian work that she did during her life.
While at Kensington, Melissa and I also went through the Crown to Couture exhibit about which the Evening Standard says, “Surely the starriest fashion exhibition London has ever seen.”
This fantastic exhibition showcases over 200 items, spanning from modern celebrity designs like Beyoncé’s 2017 Grammy Awards look, to an Edith Head designed ivory lace dress worn by Audrey Hepburn, to historical royal pieces like the 360-year-old silver tissue dress worn by Lady Theophila Harris.
She would have worn this dress on formal occasions or when in the company of King Charles II.
The Harrods Tea Room was another iconic piece of London and a must-experience for us!
At Harrods we enjoyed a simple Cream Tea, as opposed to a full Afternoon Tea.
Typically, a Cream Tea (also known as Devon cream tea, Devonshire tea, or Cornish cream tea), will include tea, scones, clotted cream, and jam.
Cream Teas are a wonderful British tradition, and the highlight is generally known to be the Clotted Cream.
If you want to do it right- that clotted cream should be liberally applied to one’s scone, hence the name, Cream Tea!
At our Harrod’s Cream Tea, the scones were very good- I paired mine with the Rose Tea, which had roses in it and was very light.
For our actual trip to Royal Ascot, Melissa and I got tickets for the Windsor Enclosure where we were able to have another very nice tea.
It was a lovely experience to enjoy tea among all the beautifully dressed ladies and gentlemen and everyone in such a festive mood!
The tea served here was from the legendary British company, Fortnum and Mason.
A little history about them… in 1902, King Edward VII put forth a challenge to the people to “Bring me the finest tea in all of the land!”
In an effort to win the challenge, the company of Fortnum and Mason went all over the globe searching for the finest teas.
They brought Assam tea from India and a Flowery Pekoe from Sri Lanka and created a blend of the two teas that is still considered the benchmark for tea today!
At our Windsor Village tea, complementing the wonderful tea from Fortnum Mason, we had sweets, tea sandwiches and scones that were all quite tasty.
In particular, I thought the clotted cream was very nice.
Café Rouge would mark our final tea experience of the trip.
This is another restaurant with multiple locations and a fun fact- Rouge was the favorite hangout for Bridget and friends in ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary,’ the novel that helped make this place a household name!
Being a French restaurant, Café Rouge offered a bit of a culinary change of pace for us…The sandwiches were grilled, with melted cheese and the scones were less dense- more like muffins- and it was all good.
We also had a view of St. Paul’s Cathedral, which was just a few steps away from the café.
Another element that made this final tea so special was that my friend, Nicolina Werther, joined us!
Some of you may remember that I was a guest on an episode of her podcast, Building for Bliss, last year.
It was really good to see Nicolina in person!
What is nice about being on a trip where food and walking play a combined role is that I was constantly burning off the calories from all the extra treats, so everything really evened itself out in the end.
While we were able to visit all these wonderful places on our trip, there were many we missed, an example is Fortum and Mason, mentioned earlier.
They have retail store locations as well as restaurants in London. We were able to stop in one day, but were short on time and could not sit for tea that day- but next time!
I have every intention to get back to England sooner than later and continue my tour of tea rooms.
I would love to hear about the tea rooms you have visited…
Please leave your recommendations in the comments here or feel free to email me at Polly@hatsandveils.net