I love afternoon tea. Thereâ€™s something uber luxurious and indulgent about sitting in a comfy armchair and spending a few hours tucking into cake and sandwiches, usually with my Mother in tow whoâ€™s famed for her penchant for scones. Itâ€™s easy to get it wrong (Iâ€™m thinking The Dorchester there) but when itâ€™s right, thereâ€™s nothing quite like it. And there really isnâ€™t anywhere quite like Claridgeâ€™s.
It takes place in their flower-clad foyer with aÂ cellist andÂ pianist playing in the background; itâ€™s as every bit as elegant as youâ€™d hope. And the people watching, my God the people watching. Two who look like theyâ€™re from My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, a group of Arab women, wealthy men in business suits, Steven Van Zandt (Silv from the Sopranos) – it was the most eclectic and interesting room Iâ€™ve ever seen.
Sandwiches were varied in flavour ranging from the solid usuals; Clarence Court duck egg mayonnaise and cucumber with cream cheese to the more special; poached Var salmon with garden herb mayo and Dorrington ham with a smoked tomato chutney and watercress.
Raisin and plain scones came warm with a glorious crust and light fluffy centre. A Marco Polo gelÃ©e made for a really intriguing and wholly enjoyable change to the usual jam. The gelÃ©e being a sweet and sticky substance infused with vanilla and bergamot.
I usually panic when presented with a large menu of teas (thereâ€™s 24 here) so as predicted I went for the Claridgeâ€™s blend – as good a tea as you could possibly need.
And then thereâ€™s the sweet treats; a lemon meringue Ã©clair, a dark chocolate macaroon, a strawberry cheesecake and an apricot crumble. All so good that we gladly took them up on their offer of doggy bagging them up (they offered I swear!)
Service was some of the finest Iâ€™ve encountered in all the land; so attentive and charming with immaculately dressed gents gliding about the place ensuring we had plenty of everything yet not interrupting every five seconds. Itâ€™s not the cheapest of experiences, with the standard costing Â£58 or Â£68 with a glass of champers, but you really do get what you pay for.