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Putting on the Ritz: High tea in style at London’s finest

By Donna Richardson  |  March 24, 2021

One of the finest British traditions is to take afternoon tea and there is no finer place to indulge in this pastime than at one of the most famous hotels in the world. This is a place where high society and the great and the good rub shoulders with the refined surroundings forming the backdrop for the ultimate soiree.

Of course, there is a strict dress code for such an exclusive venue. As lovers stroll hand in hand down Piccadilly, dressed in their finest, the hotel’s name is lit up in lights. You have arrived at the fanciest address in town and anticipation hits the roof as you just know it is going to be an unforgettable experience. Afternoon and high tea with champagne at the Ritz is about as exclusive as it gets.

Putting on the Ritz in fine company

World-class luxury greets guests at The Ritz

From the moment the doors to the Ritz are opened by the smart doorman dressed in tops and tails, high-flying guests are transported to another world where class and luxury combine for a refined experience. Visitors tread the ornate red-carpet following in the footsteps of royalty, former Prime Ministers and rock stars. Everyone from the Queen to Mick Jagger has taken tea at the Ritz, so choosing this venue places one in fine company. 

Even as you enter the lobby, surrounded by marble columns, crystal chandeliers and fine furniture you feel incredibly special. Guests are led through to the Rivoli bar, past a pianist playing delicate melodies, and amongst the opulence, there is a regal air. Here, one can sip on Champagne as they wait to be called for their afternoon tea. Further down the hallway is the dining area known as Palm Court where afternoon tea is served, beyond that is the Ritz restaurant.


The Ritz is a luxury grade II listed five-star hotel in Piccadilly

The Ritz hotel was built in 1906, a grade II listed five-star hotel in Piccadilly, Mayfair, close to Buckingham Palace. With high ceilings and marble arches, the Ritz is a symbol of high society. Here, guests will find opulence in one of the most luxurious and best-known hotels in the world. Conceived by Cezar Ritz, no expense was spared on the opulent interiors and lavish furnishings. The Queen Elizabeth drawing room is a sumptuous setting for soirees, while Sir Winston Churchill, Dwight Eisenhower, and Charles de Gaulle all met in the Marie Antoinette suite to discuss operations during the Second World War. Reportedly Charlie Chaplin required 40 officers to escort him through his fans into the hotel in 1921 and Jackie Onassis, former wife of President J. F Kennedy described the Ritz as ‘like paradise’.

Enjoying the moment

The exquisite Palm Court is the ultimate luxury backdrop for afternoon tea

Indulge in a slice of one of the finest British traditions at this exclusive address in central London. One can balance exquisite finely cut sandwiches between ones fingers before spreading on the finest preserves and cream on scones and sampling delectable pastries at Palm Court. The deputy manager of Palm Court Giandomenico Scanu is also the world’s most exclusive certified tea sommelier and his staff serve over 18 different types of loose-leaf tea.

Alternatively, guests can ask for a glass of champagne to add some extra sparkle to the occasion. As lovers gaze into each others eyes, the glittering chandeliers and elegant mirrors reflect their love and shine a spotlight on such an occasion, adding light and stylish flourish to the room. Later, enjoy champagne or an extravagantly priced whiskey to savour the occasion within an elegant ambience at the Rivoli Bar. At the bottom of the stairs the resident pianist plays the most beautiful music accompanied by a harpist – the final ingredient to ensure your visit to The Ritz is, quite simply, unforgettable.

Staying at the Ritz

Rooms and suites combine stunning period architecture and antique furnishings with modern conveniences

Bedrooms and suites at The Ritz London combine stunning period architecture and antique furnishings with modern conveniences. Decorated in warm colours, they feature soaring ceilings, ornate fireplaces and chandeliers; rooms are air-conditioned and feature iPod docks and stylish bathrooms with designer toiletries. Guests can stay in a glamorous guestroom where a bottle of chilled Barons de Rothschild’s Ritz Champagne is on hand to toast the occasion.

Thereafter, it is time to ‘put on the Ritz’, dress to impress and venture to the stunning Palm Court to enjoy the legendary Afternoon Tea at The Ritz, a quintessentially British experience and an institution in itself. The following morning guests can indulge in English breakfast in the magnificent Michelin-starred Ritz Restaurant, often described as ‘the most beautiful dining room in the world’. This jaw dropping room is decorated in Italian renaissance design, with rich red walls and flourishes of gold coving. This also offers private dining options for those seeking a bit of privacy.


The William Kent Room at The Ritz

John Williams MBE conjures up majestic meals using the finest British ingredients and meals can be taken in the William Kent Room at the Ritz. Under sparkling chandeliers, marvel at the towering marble columns and gaze out of the high windows over Green Park. Epicureans are in fine company here – if its walls could speak they would regale in tales of meetings with Prime Ministers Sir Edward Heath and Harold Macmillan who regularly frequented the Ritz to discuss important matters.

The Queen Mother regularly dined at the Ritz and her favourite song to be played on the piano was A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square. And in 2002 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II hosted a party for Prince Charles’ 54th birthday in the Ritz restaurant followed by another event for her own 80th birthday in 2006.

Putting on the Ritz and following in the footsteps of the Queen and Prince Charles, prime ministers, presidents and rock royalty is a momentous occasion. Those who have been lucky to sip champagne under the chandeliers while listening to the wonderful piano music will never forget it. Sitting in the lobby of the gilded Palm Court, feeling this hotel’s aura is one of those life defining moments. With such history and prestige a visit to the Ritz really is like a symphony.


Rooms can be booked from £459 per night. Afternoon Tea is priced at £55 for adults and £35 for children.

Address: 150 Piccadilly, St James’s, London W1J 9BR
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7493 8181

Photography courtesy of The Ritz London.