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      14.12.2009 20:52
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      A lovely afternoon out

      For my 21st birthday my parents treated me and my boyfriend to Champagne Tea at the Ritz. My birthday was in May but as it has been such a busy year we didn't get chance to go until this weekend. Booking was very simple via The Ritz website, they take card details in case of cancellations but payment is made on the day either by the same card or a different one or by cash. The Champagne Tea cost £48 per person (due to increase to £49 in January) The cost of the Traditional Afternoon Tea without Champagne is £37 per person. They also offer a Chocolate Afternoon Tea and a Celebration Tea (with birthday cake). The website states that you must book 12 weeks in advance or maybe longer for weekends. The time slots available are 11:30am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm, 5:30pm or 7:30pm. We decided that 1:30pm or 3:30 would be the best time slot for us. Our visit was planned very last minute and when I checked the website 3 days earlier I didn't expect there to be any time available. However we were in luck! The only slot left available for the entire month was at 1:30pm that Saturday, the perfect time for us. It must have been meant to be! * * * *The Hotel/ Atmosphere * * * * The hotel is located on Piccadilly next to Green Park tube station. Our booking was made for 1:30pm and we were advised to arrive about 10 minutes earlier. Upon arrival at the hotel we made out way through the (very grand!) Entrance Hall to the enquiries desk. The man behind the desk was very polite, not at all pretentious, he directed us down the Long Gallery to the Palm Court were the tea was to be served. After leaving our coats in the cloakroom we gave our name to a waiter and were quickly shown to our seats. The room itself was not as large as I had imagined but was very spectacular (think lots of gold, pillars, ornate chandeliers and cherub statues.) The Palm Court was decorated for Christmas with a large Christmas tree occupying the centre of the room. The tables were mostly small circular tables with a few bigger tables for larger parties. The room was about ¾ full with people coming and going. There was no queue to be seated or huge influx of people as I had imagined with their being a fixed starting time, this time appeared to be relatively flexible. * * * *Food/ Tea* * * * On the table their was a menu detailing many different tea options, I went for the Passion Fruit and Orange whilst my boyfriend chose Darjeeling First Flush. The tead arrived quickly in large ornate silver pots. Mine was lovely, very light and refreshing. I could taste apple and orange in the tea as well as the Passion Fruit. My boyfriend absolutely loved his Darjeeling (he was at Fortnum and Mason the next day buying some!) The waiter brought over a three tiered cake stand. The bottom tier was full of sandwiches and the top was full of tiny cakes. He explained that he would bring over the scones for the second tier shortly. The sandwiches were not quite as fancy as I had imagined but I found that with all the rich food I actually much preferred them plain and simple. The selection included smoked salmon, ham, chicken, cucumber and mature cheddar. All were served on white bread with the crusts cut off except for the cheddar which was on a tomatoey herb flavoured bread. There was also an egg mayonnaise bridge roll which was sprinkled with cress, the bread that this came on was very sweet and complimented the egg very well, this was my favourite closely followed by the chicken. The waiters were constantly re filling the sandwiches. The waiter soon brought over the scones which were lovely and fresh and some fruitcake. The scones were raisin and apple and we were provided with large pots of Devonshire Clotted Cream and Strawberry Preserve. We had two small scones each. I piled mine high with Clotted Cream, something which I began to regret as I started feeling very full. And with all of those lovely cakes in front of me! I only had half of a slice of fruitcake as I am not really a huge fan and it was very rich. The waiter refilled the pots of tea part way through. As we reached the top tier of our mountain of goodies we were both starting to feel very full. The cakes included a White Chocolate and Raspberry Cake, Chocolate Cake, Cream cake, Coconut Macaroons and a small fruit selection. I am ashamed to say that we could not manage the Macaroons and the Cream Cake. In hindsight I would have less sandwiches and save myself for the cakes. The food was delicious and there was plenty of it, we didn't eat anything else all day! We also got a glass of Champagne with our Afternoon Tea, this was lovely and made it a little bit more special. However, we stuck the one glass we were given as extra glasses were £18 each. * * * *Overall Experience* * * * I had a really nice afternoon. The entire experience lasted about two hours and it was a really special treat. It was nice to go at Christmas time when the decorations were up. The atmosphere was really good. There was a piano being played throughout the time we were there wish gave a very jolly and bright atmosphere. The staff were very attentive and not at all stuck up or pretentious. We were made to feel very comfortable. Men must wear a jacket and tie for Afternoon Tea and everybody seemed to have stuck to the dress code and got dressed up a little bit which was nice. There is also a no jeans or trainers rule. Before we left I took a visit to the 'powder room' which was very nice and clean. I must admit to stealing a few Ritz tissues whilst I was there as a souvenir. All in all although expensive this was a lovely treat and something a bit different.

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        20.10.2009 20:47
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        A fantastic way to spend an indulgent afternoon

        My bridesmaid arranged for us to have 'afternoon tea' at the Athenaeum Hotel, Mayfair this summer as part of my London hen weekend. I thought that this was a really nice special, girly and indulgent way to spend on an afternoon without the hustle and bustle of crowds. The Atheneum is a short walk from Green Park tube station. On arriving we were escorted to a lower floor room and shown to our seats. The room was pleasantly classically decorated, and we were placed in the garden room rather than the restaurant (which they use for afternoon tea when too many people have booked.) this meant that we got to have a good view of the Athenaeum's famous vertical garden. On being seated you can choose which afternoon tea option that you want. The price of a regular (read non-alcoholic) is £26.50, the same but with Kir Royale is £34.00 and one with a glass of Lautree Rose Champagne is £42.00. Being a special occasions, we opted for the champagne variety! We were then presented with a wooden book which listed all of the teas which they had available with a brief description of their flavour and samples of the tea leaves behind some casing. They varied from the traditional aromatics such as Earl Grey and Lapsang Souchong to green and white teas some of which are heavily flavoured with fruit. Shortly afterwards, the tea and champagne arrived, the tea infusing in a pot and the champagne with a flower. (A lot of the items available during the course of the meal contain flowers - in tribute to their special garden, and also I imagine to make their particular afternoon tea menu stand out from the crowd. The first course of sandwiches came around, they were all presented to us on a plate and we were told what each of them were made of and what bread was used. Once we had selected them they were placed on our plate for us. They were all finely cut and crustless, wonderfully flavoured, delicious and moreish. After another round of sandwiches came the scones. One each of regular and orange blossom, warmed and wrapped in a heated cloth with lemon curd, clotted cream and the most sublime strawberry jam that I have ever tasted. Then came the piece de resistance the cake trolley. It was brought to us and we were descriptions of each of the many items - a veritable feast of regular cake, loaf cake, cupcakes, chocolates, meringues, pastries and champagne jellies. There is literally too much to choose from but somehow we managed (!). All of the items that we individually tried were delicious and often delicately flavoured with floral elements - eg rosewater meringues, lemon drizzle cake with lavender topping. It was also at about this time that we were offered another pot of tea. Following this mammoth session we were then given the option of having teacakes or crumpets. We opted for the crumpets and they came with lavender infused butter. We truly had a wonderful afternoon. The food and presentation was immaculate as was the service. The staff really could not do enough for you. It felt special which, I feel, is exactly what you want from something like this. I lost track of time but feel that we must have been there around 3 hours. We left thoroughly filled up - due to the way that the meal was spread out and due to the fact that we found it hard to resist the temptation to try everything. I think that given that this was a 5 star hotel in Mayfair and the sheer quality and quantity of food and excellent service that it was extremely good value for money and certainly no more expensive than going out for a good regular meal and a few drinks, and half the price of The Ritz! It truly was a lovely, fun, indulgent experience that we thoroughly enjoyed and that I would recommend to anybody who wants to do something special as a treat and I would certainly do it again. If you want more information on the current menu, take a look at the Athenaeum website as all of the details are on there.

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          01.07.2009 13:45
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          Go to Claridges instead - you will love it!

          Well I have to say that I am not at all impressed with afternoon tea at the Ritz. Reading other reviews one feels some similarities are clearly evident. Upon arrival we were greeted by a very pleasant dining area manager. However, after that it was downhill all the way to the exit. Firstly, when one goes to the Ritz you expect the waiters to be attentive. Yes, they were attentive - they did not leave you alone and were constantly hovering checking the tea pots and leaning across you when seated. The sandwiches had very little filling and the smoked salmon was somewhat tough and definitely not of a good standard. Never mind there was the cakes to look forward to.... Upon arrival the cakes looked very nice but upon eating them they were stone cold and clearly refrigerated to a very low temperature indeed - so much so it put one of my guests teeth on edge. Another member of my party was gluten free - clearly the Ritz does not feel that Coeliacs should be given the opportunity to eat comparable food to their gluten eating dining companions. No scones if you are gluten free and one piece of carrot cake that was frozen in the middle! No other cake was offered - a very small plate of fruit was sent in place of cakes I guess - strange as I thought a cake was something that was made and baked? The surroudings are nice enough but one could not help feeling that the Ritz staff feel pretty special about themselves. The music aspect of things was also disappointing as there was no music for the first 30 minutes and this only lasted for 1hr - no piano music just a harpist trying to be heard over the noise that was being created. One final thing that astounded me was that as other diners left the tables the afternoon tea area turned into a what can only be called a canteen area with table cloths being whipped off and shaked, cups and saucers being clattered. Waiters chatting very noisily - clearly this was our cue to leave and we did amongst the dirty table cloths being shook ready for the next diners. The best bit of advice I can give you is to go to Claridges, we have been there and never been disappointed - the staff are lovely, attentive and down to earth. Gluten free is no problem whatsoever, with a full range of pastries being offered (including scones). I am sad that I cannot write a positive review but feel that I must express my disappointment at what should have been a superb afternoon.

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          09.03.2009 20:04

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          Not up to its world class reputation.

          It was with eager anticipation that my wife and I travelled by train from our home in Teignmouth Devon to the Ritz to celebrate her 60th birthday in its renowned tea room. Both of us would like to firstly say that we were appreciative of the warm welcome we received by the Tea Room manager and his staff, along with the acknowledgement that it was my wife's birthday. The ambiance, decor and service, was up to the standard we expected and therefore as a consequence waited with great anticipation to begin our afternoon tea. HOWEVER SANDWICHES. When entering the Catering profession many years ago, one of the first lessons I was taught was how to produce the finest quality sandwich. To this end, we had to ensure that the filling was greater in volume than the sum of the two slices, to achieve this we had to learn how to cut the bread into very thin slices, spread them with the finest quality butter and finally add the appropriate filling. To present the sandwiches, the temptation was to cut them into equal and regimented pieces, but we were encouraged not to do that but to mix the cuts in order to create a much more attractive visual appearance. None of the above can be attributed to the sandwiches presented in its tea room. Even M & S sandwiches have more filling than bread! FANCY CAKES. The first cake we tried was one which has a reputation as being one of the most mouth watering and light pastry fancies known to man, the Mille Feuille. Although the taste was acceptable it was limp and damp, unlike the light wispy and flaky puff pastry one was anticipating. A big disappointment. TARTLETS With a big intake of breath and a subsequent sigh, we tried the boat shaped tartlet with blueberries. Whilst picking it up from the cake stand, it drooped, it soon became clear that it was so damp and wet there was no chance this once crumbly and delicious pasty could hold its content. It tasted like it had been made the day before and kept refrigerated. SCONES By this time, we glanced at each other with a frown of great disappointment as we looked longingly at the delicious looking scones. The scone is of course one of those British institutions that seem to be void of any real definitive explanation as to its rightful recipe, but as Devonians, and used to enjoying the most scrumptious light crumbly scones and genuine clotted cream imaginable, we were foolishly hoping that at the Ritz we were going to get a lesson from the masters in what a scone should be like. WRONG The consistency of the scone was the opposite of crumbly, it was smooth and almost 'kingsmill' and 'bread like' not at all what we expected. Thank goodness we still have our own small unpretentious tea rooms in Devon, quietly and unassumingly creating scones to die for. Finally, how one is supposed to be able to keep hot water hot, when it arrives at your table without a lid on is beyond me! We have written to the Ritz and await a reply,. I am sure their response will be that thousands enjoy the Tea at the Ritz and one loan voice cannot possibly be right and the rest wrong. So, we paid our bill willingly, and enjoyed the experience of just being there however, we will not do it again and if anyone was to ask us if it was worth the money and the journey to London our answer sadly would have to be no. Ray & Sylvia

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          22.10.2008 00:37
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          Afternoon tea anywhere, cafe, hotels or at home,

          Afternoon Tea according to Wikipedia is a light meal typically eaten between 3pm and 5pm. Afternoon tea originate here in UK and is widely practice worldwide especially in former colonial countries. Afternoon tea is practice socially mostly amongst women. It is their timeout from family to share some gossips and chat. There is a magical feeling about afternoon tea. Afternoon tea is like an special treat to relax, a permission to kick your shoes off and slump onto a big comfy sofa with a cup of hot tea, scones and cakes. I would like to share my views and experiences of Afternoon tea in UK and in a former British colony. The first time I had afternoon tea was in Singapore many years ago. It was in a quaint English cafe with Victorian fabric and furnitures. It was my first experience partaking Devonshire tea, 2 piece of scones, swirl of butter, cream and strawberry jam, a piece of walnut banana cake and a pot of tea. It was great. The hotels too follow the custom of afternoon teas usually presented in a 3 tier tray with a selection of scones, sandwiches and mini cakes with a pot of specialty tea. I have also notice the same practice in Australia. You would laugh to know that the afternoon teas in Singapore have progress to a buffet spread of local and continental cuisines. It's more like a main meal than an afternoon snack. I have continued the practice of afternoon tea (the light version) when I come to stay in UK. Whenever I am on a short break in any of English county, I would always look forward to visiting an English cafe for afternoon tea. Of all the county I have visited, I especially like scones from Norfolk and Dorset with clotted cream. Afternoon tea need not only be taken in hotels and cafe. I occasionally indulge in afternoon tea at home too. Sometimes after a trip to the shops, I would buy some scones ( I like it plain) , prepare a pot of tea and enjoy some Me time.

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            31.03.2003 05:32
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            I have just returned from a very civilised afternoon at the Athenaeum Hotel, in Piccadilly, London. Some of you may have read my previous ops on Afternoon tea in general in London, and on Afternoon Tea at the Lanesborough Hotel at Hyde Park, and will already know that I have had great trouble in finding many venues where one can take tea in a civilised manner, as in days of yore. This one is a gem in a city where it is becoming almost impossible to find a traditional teashop.(see my op on "The Disappearing Teashop") ABOUT THE ATHENAEUM The Athenaeum can be found in Piccadilly, right opposite Green Park, and within a short distance of Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park. The nearest tube station is Green Park, and many buses run past the Hotel. Originally built in 1925 as a luxury apartment building and run on the lines of a private club called the Athenaeum Court, the building became a hostel for air crews on leave during the war. In 1971, it was bought by Rank Hotels and underwent a two year refurbishment before re-opening as the Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments in 1973 The property was purchased from Rank Hotels by Ralph Trustees Ltd, in September 1992 and underwent a £10 million refurbishment programme, completed in September 1994. The Athenaeum Hotel and Apartments is owned by Ralph Trustees Ltd, a private company controlled by two brothers. The Hotel boasts guest rooms, guest suites, and has a Presidential Guest suite which is on the 10th floor, and has stunning panoramic views over Green Park. All rooms and suites have the following facilities:- TV, CD and video with a wide choice of music and films from the complimentary library Two-line telephone Voice mail Fax and modem link facilities USA voltage sockets Power showers Personal room safe 24hr room service Complimentary tea and coffee-making facilities Minibar Free direct access to telephone charge card operators - AT&T, MCI, Sprint Iron and ironing board The Hotel also offers a pick up service from both Gatwick and Heathrow Airports at a charge of up to £70. Located in a row of Edwardian townhouses immediately adjacent to the Hotel, the Athenaeum Apartments combine the very best of staying in a luxury hotel with the added benefit of your own apartment. These one and two bedroom, fully serviced apartments are ideal for long stay guests, for families, and for business travellers requiring suite-style accommodation. The Apartments have their own separate and private street entrances with video entry phone system. They boast large spacious sitting rooms with fully equipped kitchens. To help, a grocery shopping service is provided. The Executive Apartments also have a clothes washer/dryer and a sofa bed for visitors. The adjoining deluxe bedrooms with king size beds have large closet space, trouser press, iron/ironing board and a personal safe. The marble bathrooms have power showers and luxury bathrobes, and the apartments are fully air-conditioned. The Apartments also benefit from all the services and facilities of the hotel. Staying at the Athenaeum does not come cheap, but then, it is a 5 star hotel in the centre of London! Standard Room £265.00 £285.00 Executive Room £295.00 £315.00 Park View Room £315.00 £340.00 Studio Suite £415.00 £415.00 Park View Suite £445.00 £445.00 Deluxe Town House Suite £445.00 £445.00 Penthouse Suite £750.00 £750.00 Executive One Bedroom Apartment £415.00 £415.00 Standard Two Bedroom Apartment £520.00 £520.00 Executive Two Bedroom Apartment £600.00 £600.00 There are some special offers available, which can be checked out online. These include a special spring offer of £135 per night in an executive double room, or a suite at £199 per night. The Athenaeum has a variety of venues for both dining and drinking, and offers a pre-theatre 2 or 3 course meal for £16 or £21 respectively. DINING OPTIONS 1) Bullochs at 116 The Restaurant's light, magnificent design, featuring a conservatory roof and a Jerusalem stone floor bordered in antique mosaics, helps create a wonderful atmosphere. Award winning chef, David Marshall has created an imaginative and innovative menu with a Mediterranean feel. The restaurant has already won critical acclaim both for its cuisine and decor, and has become a favourite haunt for celebrities whose names adorn the backs of the dining chairs. The menus change regularly, and below you will find just a sample of what is on offer. All starters cost £8.45, and all main courses cost £19.45. Side dishes are £3.50, and deserts are £7.45. Starters Roasted Tiger Prawns, Malay Spices, Light Curried Sauce Fresh Crab Salad, Assorted Leaves, Olive Dressing Wild Mushrooms, Melted Brie with Pine Nuts on Toasted Ciabatta with Truffle Oil Smoked Scottish Salmon, Lemon, Onions and Capers Caesar Salad served Plain, with Anchovies or Corn-Fed Chicken Plum Tomato, Buffalo Mozzarella and Avocado Salad with Fresh Basil and Olive Dressing Spicy Beef Salad with Spicy Chinese Vegetables served with Soya Dressing Main Courses Seared Medallions of Monkfish with a Warm Gaspacho Sauce, Truffle oil and Parmesan Shavings Tom Yam Ta Lay (Salmon, Tiger Prawns, Monkfish and Lobster Chilli Sauce) Char-Grilled Mediterranean Vegetables, Herbes De Provence with Pesto and Balsamic Dressing Whole Grilled Dover Sole with Béarnaise Sauce and French Beans (Supplement £8.00) Grilled Rack of Lamb marinated with Mint, Soya Sauce and Madagascan Green Peppercorns, served with Soya-Wilted Spinach, Spring Onions and Mushrooms Char-Grilled Ri b Eye Stea k with Cor n, French Fries Char-Grilled Corn-Fed Chicken with Balsamic Jus Side dishes Potatoes: -Sautéed, French Fries, Crushed New Potatoes with Olive Oil and Rock Salt Vegetables: - Leaf Spinach, French Beans, Mixed Seasonal Vegetables, Stir Fried Vegetables Salads: - Tomato and Basil, Mixed, Chicory, Plain Caesar Cheese and Desserts A Selection of International Cheeses with Walnut and Raisin Bread with Celery and Grapes Chocolate Pecan Brownie with Vanilla Ice Cream and Chocolate Sauce Trio of Melon, Plum and Orange Sauce with a Vanilla Parfait Banana and Almond Parfait with a Spiced Passion Fruit Sauce Flan de Pina Y Lima (Pineapple Juice, Dark Rum and Lime) served with Crème Fraiche and Pineapple-Lime Compote 2) The Windsor Lodge. This is the perfect place to relax with afternoon tea in blissful seclusion, or conduct an informal meeting. It consists of several groups of settees and armchairs positioned around low tables, or, if you prefer, there are also a number of tables and chairs around which you can sit up to 6 people for afternoon tea. 3)The Malt Whisky Bar The Malt Whisky Bar at the Athenaeum has long been a favourite meeting place for guests and Mayfair residents. Well known amongst malt whisky aficionados, the bar offers a unique selection of 157 malt whiskies. TAKING AFTERNOON TEA AT THE ATHENAEUM The tradition of taking afternoon tea continues in most of the big London Hotels, although it seems to have almost died out at other venues, to be replaced by coffee shop chains, and other fast food outlets. Having experienced "taking tea" in a couple of the other up-market hotels (with the prices to match!) I was pleasantly surprised when my 2 children booked us in for afternoon tea at the Athenaeum as a Mother's Day treat. The day began with us taking the trai n up to London (it isn't worth taking the car, even on a Sunday, as there is precious little parking space to be found.) We arrived about an hour early, so went and sat in Green Park on a beautifully warm spring day. At just before 3.pm we crossed Piccadilly, and a top-hatted concierge opened the door of the Athenaeum, and in we went. We were given a full choice of seating arrangements, ranging from window seats, to alcoves, tables and chairs or settees and comfort! After a little discussion we chose a group of 2 settees and an armchair, with a low table in front, already set with crockery and cutlery, and menus. There were a number of alternative afternoon teas to choose from. These ranged from a simple pastry or patisserie selection (£3.95) right up to the full works of finger sandwiches (smoked salmon, egg mayonnaise, ham, and cucumber), 2 scones, cream and choice of jams, a selection from the pastry trolley, choice of tea, and a glass of Champagne (£19.50). There was a bell on each table with which to summon the waitress when you were ready to order. In the event, we ordered 2 Athenaeum teas (the full works) and 2 Windsor teas (scones and tea), with our choices of tea being 2 Breakfast teas, a Darjeeling and an Earl Grey. We were also given the option of having our Champagne first or last. We chose to have it at the end. The tea arrived first, with each order being in a separate pot, with a further pot of hot water for topping up, and 2 large jugs of milk. It was made with proper loose leafed tea, and silver tea strainers, and we were told if we wanted any more, we could just ring the bell and ask. We did! The food arrived on a tall stand, with the sandwiches at the bottom, 8 warm scones on the next level, and a humungous pot of clotted cream at the top! There were individual jars of jam already on the table. I didn't have any sandwiches, but I have to say they looked d elicious, and I was assured by daughter and hubby that they were as delicious as they looked. I began on the scones. They were light, well browned on top and full of fruit. We had mainly raspberry jam on our table, so we rang the bell and asked for strawberry, which was quickly brought to our table with a minimum of fuss. There was also butter if you didn't want the cream, but that remained unused! The chocolate cake I chose was rich and light, and hubby's chocolate raspberry cake was out of this world. It really was the bee's knees, and we all sampled a forkful! Our tea was replenished as requested, and we must have each had at least 4 cups. The glass of Champagne was chilled nicely, and rounded the meal off perfectly. Altogether, we took nearly 3 hours, just sitting chatting, eating and drinking, and had a thoroughly pleasant and civilised afternoon. At no time were we rushed, or felt that we needed to hurry up. It was comfortable and a good afternoon was had by all. The bill for the 4 of us came to exactly £60, or £15 each, which is half what we paid at the Lanesborough, for a very similar tea last year. CONCLUSION I would thoroughly recommend the Athenaeum for afternoon tea in comfortable, informal surroundings. The Hotel may be 5 stars, but the ambiance was not stuffy or overpowering. Although smart dress is obviously the order of the day , there was no stipulation that ties had to be worn by the men. You could easily pay much more than £15 for a meal out, and taking afternoon tea is a different and enjoyable way of celebrating. Tea at the Athenaeum is affordable, and, unlike the Savoy or Dorchester, you don't necessarily have to book in advance. Indeed, even though it was Mother's Day, the room was not packed, and at no time did we feel we had to vacate to let another party in. I would certainly go back for afternoon tea there, either for a speci al occasion, or even for a non-special occasion! Thanks Amanda and Ian for my Mother’s Day treat. Details of hotel taken from http://www.athenaeumhotel.com

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              03.02.2003 03:10
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              Afternoon tea at The Ritz is a British institution and long may it stay that way! I was fortunate enough to enjoy tea at this beautiful hotel yesterday and my only regret now is that I wish I'd discovered it earlier. At £29 a head it may seem a bit of an extravagance, but it turned out to be the best value for money I've ever seen in this country and I'm now planning to repeat the experience at least every couple of months. So to start here's some basic info.. The Ritz Hotel is on Piccadilly in London and the nearest tube station is Green Park. (which is literally a one minute walk away). Afternoon tea can easily be booked on their website www.theritzlondon.com where you can also check availability first and view the menu. Tip: for weekends you will need to book a couple of months ahead, but midweek doesn't seem to be a problem. I expect it gets even busier once the tourist season is underway. For your £29 you get unlimited tea, coffee or herbal tea from a huge range - you name it, they serve it! Then to eat you get those gorgeous three tier cake stands crammed with all kinds of goodies, namely beautiful sandwiches (with the crusts cut off naturally) with fillings such as poached salmon and watercress, cream cheese and chives, roast beef and horseradish and of course the obligatory cucumber! Tip: if any of your party are vegetarian mention this when you order as we did and got more interesting sandwiches such as avocado and tomato. The next tier is choc-a-bloc with fruit scones (served with clotted cream and strawberry jam) and fruit cake, and the top (and best) tier is piled high with the most delicious cream cakes you could imagine. Each one was different and decorated with a tiny chocolate plaque that said, what else, but "The Ritz, London". While we were ploughing through the banquet we were constantly offered more of each tier by the attentive waiters. We accepted more sandwiches but had to dec line the rest! And just when we thought we'd had out fill they brought us all a little crème brulee. Now I don't know about you, but I think that's extremely good value for money. We sat down at 3.30pm and didn't leave until 6.00pm and definitely didn't need to eat again that day! Looking back I seem to have focussed just on the food (you can tell I was bowled away!) but being one of the top hotels in the world, I fell The Ritz itself deserves a mention. We went on a Saturday and it was extremely busy, to the point where there were queues in the ladies toilets - sorry "Powder Room"! There was nothing wrong with this per se, but it does kind of remind you that you're visiting a tourist attraction and perhaps wouldn't usually "belong" in such surroundings. It may be better to visit mid-week. I'll let you know after my visit on my birthday in March! The Ritz itself is mind blowing. The decor and attention to detail is just what you would expect from a hotel in that league, but at the same time it was very welcoming and unpretentious. I could quite easily feel at home there which you can't say of all top class hotels. They do have a dress code which is jacket and tie for the men. I've heard that if men arrive without the required apparel they are swiftly given suitable garments in their size! I can't add any more to this op - I think you now just need to experience it yourselves! Enjoy!

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