It's the treat we all deserve as the ramifications of the pandemic amble on
The constant date shift of Freedom Day is somewhat exasperating. At first, everything was set to reopen on June 21. Then, it moved to July 5. Now, it’s July 19 – apparently. Experts also warn that the concept of Freedom Day in general is misleading. The impact coronavirus has had on our lives cannot be undone by a marked calendar, after all. So, we’re focussing on the fun that can be had now instead. Although clubbing isn’t currently on the menu, you can go to bottomless brunch, which let’s face it, often proves more raucous. If you’re after something more civilised however, may we suggest afternoon tea?
1. GREAT SCOTLAND YARD
The thought of having afternoon tea at the former Metropolitan Police headquarters seems odd until you realise that Great Scotland Yard is not in fact a disused building but a luxury hotel just off Whitehall. While various elements of the hotel do indeed honour this history, afternoon tea at Great Scotland Yard is not a collaboration with Line of Duty but Floris. Inspired by Bouquet de La Reine (a fruity and floral fragrance from the brand), expect violet leaf madeleines and little lobster rolls with lime mayonnaise.
ADDRESS: 3-5, Great Scotland Yard, SW1A 2HN
Honestly, who needs the hassle of going to Paris in a pandemic when we have lovely Ladurée in London? Best known for its kaleidoscope of macarons, it also offers afternoon tea at both its Burlington Arcade and Covent Garden stores. While the menu is pleasingly traditional (think cucumber sandwiches and scones), the spectacle of having afternoon tea at Ladurée comes from its decor. The Burlington Arcade branch, for example, is a collaboration with the Milanese homeware brand LaDoubleJ. And you’re coddled by so many fake and, most importantly, photogenic flowers on the Covent Garden balcony that your tea may well go cold before you have a chance to drink it.
1 THE MARKET, WC2E 8RA
71-72 BURLINGTON ARCADE, W1J 0QX
Attending afternoon tea at Claridge’s is a privilege. Well, even standing in the foyer of Claridge’s feels like a privilege, but at least the former involves food. Food that makes ‘traditional sandwiches’ seem anything but conventional. Here, ham and mustard sandwiches are Dorrington ham with nasturtium, crisp shallot, mustard and celeriac remoulade on onion bread sandwiches. Over on the sweet plate, the pastries and scones are made daily by a dedicated team of pastry chefs. And we adore the mint and white striped crockery.
ADDRESS: CLARIDGE’S, BROOK STREET, W1K 4HR
4. THE RITZ
As legendary as Claridges in the London afternoon tea stakes, is The Ritz. Impressively, it’s the only hotel in the UK to have a certified tea sommelier, which fits nicely with the fact that it’s home to an exclusive tea: the Ritz Royal Blend. If you’re averse to afternoons, the hotel offers sittings well into the evening, which, in case you were wondering, is a perfect time to eat Scottish smoked salmon on sourdough bread with a silken lemon butter.
ADDRESS: 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR
5. THE MILESTONE
Although The Milestone is a hotel (and a luxury hotel at that), being there feels more akin to being in someone’s – admittedly magnificent – home. This cosiness is probably part of the reason that afternoon tea at The Milestone is such a pleasant experience. But that’s not to say it doesn’t come with some slightly unconventional touches. The signature sandwich for example, is chicken mayonnaise with almonds. And the cake is a tiramisu cake. Leaving is always hard.
ADDRESS: 1-3 KENSINGTON COURT, W8 5DL