“ Brook Street, Mayfair W1A 2JQ. Tel: +44 (0)20 7629 8860. Fax: +44 (0)20 7499 2210. Part of the Savoy Group of Hotels. Click on the URL below to go to the Claridge's website and further information. „
Claridge's is well known as one of the premier London hotels, offering five star accommodation, afternoon teas, bars, and the famous Gordon Ramsey restaurant. When we decided to take my mother in law for afternoon tea to mark her eightieth birthday, our love of all things art deco came to the fore and we had to choose Claridge's; Mayfair's art deco jewell.
Claridge's was founded in 1812 as Mivart's Hotel and was sold in 1854 to a Mr and Mrs Claridge who owned a smaller hotel next door. It was not until the hotel was purchased by Richard D'Oyly Carte, the theatrical impresario that the new Claridge's, built by George Trollope & Sons, opened in 1898. The final transformation into the art deco listed building that we know today was made by Basil Ionides, a pioneer of Art Deco design and a specialist in interior decoration. He transformed the restaurant and other areas, using the finest British craftsmen and turning it into a building that retains its beauty and reputation to this day.
~~Booking Afternoon Tea~~
Having checked out prices, etc on the Claridge's website, we felt that it was easiest to book online using the link provided, but it is also easy to call the reservation line, which is open Monday to Friday, 9am - 5.30pm.
Clicking onto the online reservation, we were taken to a form which had a first and second preferred date to insert, a drop down menu to indicate whether we were requesting afternoon tea or a full meal, a first and a second preferred time, and the number of guests. We then had to fill out a form with our contact details.
Almost immediately an email came through, confirming our booking. We were not asked to pay any form of deposit. There was no mention of dress code, but we knew from the website that it was elegant smart but casual. The only clothing that they do not allow are flip-flops, shorts, ripped jeans, vests, sportswear, baseball caps.
As we were late, we splashed out on a taxi to take us to Claridge's, and this was well worth the money as we drew up in style outside the ornate decorative revolving doors and two liveried doormen leapt out and opened out taxi door as we walked into the elaborate entrance lobby. This lobby used to be the turning circle for guests' horse-drawn carriages; the entrance was covered by an 18-foot-high ceiling in 1929 and transformed into one of London's finest hotel lobbies. Dominated by the grand staircase and fantastic art deco doorways leading off to all four corners of the compass, this lobby takes your breath away, with its black and white floor tiles and crackling log fires in the huge marble fireplaces. For Christmas it was decorated with a fantastic centrepiece designed by John Galliano for Dior, in his "Under the Sea" Christmas tree. Made of sparkling silver leaves, pink coral, sea horses, fish, anemones, starfish and jelly fish, lights around the creation make rippling sea-like patterns on the ancient ceiling.
As soon as we walked into the lobby we were greeting by smiling staff, who guided us to the entrance of the tea room where we were shown to our table.
Afternoon tea is served in the Foyer; yet another room which absolutely takes your breath away. An amazing light sculpture (the Dale Chihuly chandelier) hangs down from the centre of the 18 foot high ceiling and catches your attention first. Created from more than 800 glass pieces, it strongly resembles a nest of snakes and is certainly astonishing, if not traditionally beautiful.
The whole room was restored in 1996, from archive photos from the 1930s. Recessed lights in the ceiling create a very soft and mellow atmosphere, but the room is full of sparkling silver, from the intricate and flowing art deco metalwork above every arched door, to the silver columns that dominate the room, to the glittering mirrors on every wall that reflect the light. Black and white photographs of famous visitors from the past adorn the walls. The whole foyer is ornate and glittering and certainly contributes to the glamour.
The tables are small and round and are placed a very reasonable distance away from each other. Some have standard lamps or glass table lamps on them, but our table right by the centrepiece. One of the chairs was part of the leather banquette that circles the centrepiece (in this case a beautiful Christmas tree), and the other chairs were the more traditional green and white upholstered dining chairs with arms.
The toilets are found outside of the foyer and are worth a paragraph in their own right. Walking into the Ladies Cloakroom, there are a series of small tables with glass table lamps in front of old style mirrors so that the ladies can sit down and powder their noses. Further inside, the toilet cubicles are solid dark wood; an attendant springs to attention to offer you a cotton hand towel after you have washed your hands, and offer scented hand cream. The whole place feels as if you have stepped back in time to the 1930s.
As we visited during the Christmas period, the only tea available was the £50 festive tea. This included a glass of champagne, a selection of sandwiches, our choice of tea, and a selection of scones and pastries.
To start with, a very large and very chilled glass of champagne was poured for each guest. We chose the cheapest champagne, but rose and vintage champagne was also on offer. The waiter asked us if we would prefer our tea with the pastries or immediately, and we decided to wait until the pastries arrived.
A silver four foot cake stand was placed on the floor next to our table so that everything was within easy reach, and we each had a plate containing a selection of sandwiches, with the crusts cut off, naturally! As non-meat eaters, our sandwiches included mixed peppers, smoked salmon, blue cheese with walnuts and chutney, egg and cress, and many more. My mother in law also got a selection of meat sandwiches. As we were hungry we rather rashly said yes to a second plate each, before moving on to the pastries.
As this point the tea arrived - using the same beautiful Bernardaud, green and white striped porcelain that the food had been served on. We had chosen from a vast menu of 30 teas from around the world, which included Jasmine, Assam, Earl Grey and many more. I chose the Claridge's Royal Assam tea, which was lovely. We each had a pot of tea with a label around the lid handle to remind us which was which. We each had our own tea strainer and the waiter was careful to keep our cups topped up.
We firstly tucked into the very fresh scones. We had both fruit and apple scones and both were slightly warm and really fresh. To go with them, we had fruit jam and Marco Polo jelly, and lots of clotted cream. These were really delicious. A selection of pastries was put on the cake stand next to our table. Although I saw a huge variety on the tables around us, our table was offered a glass of panacotta, a small chocolate gateau, a fruit sponge, and a beautifully created round of blancmange with a cherry filling. Once we had finished this, the waiter came to offer us another plate, but by this time we were full to bursting and so reluctantly had to turn it down.
In total, we had spent two and a half hours over our tea, so we felt that it was time to leave - even though nobody had made us feel at all uncomfortable or rushed.
From beginning to end, the service was impeccable. All of the waiting staff were incredibly polite and smiling, and were attentive to our every need. They were all wearing smart matching uniforms and served the tea very formally with one hand behind their backs.
We also enjoyed hearing the four musicians who played whilst we were eating. The first duo consisted of a pianist with a violinist and the second a pianist with a double-bass player. This really added to the special atmosphere; they played a medley of traditional jazz beautifully, to the delight of my mother in law who is a big Stan Getz fan.
At the end of the tea, the maitre d' came to check that we had enjoyed our food and that we were happy. We were also presented with a small tin of speciality tea each to take home.
The normal price for afternoon tea is £35 per person, with a champagne afternoon tea offered at £45 per person. At Christmas, the only tea on offer is the Seasonal Afternoon teas for £50 per person:
A charge of 12.5% is added to every bill for service, which was a bit of a surprise for us, but the menu did point out that this was discretionary and we could remove it if we wanted to.
Last week was my first wedding anniversary and my lovely husband surprised me with a romantic dinner at Claridges!
Claridges is the famous five star hotel in London. It is situated on the corner of Brook Street and Davies Street just behind Bond Street and Oxford Street so it is in a very central location and easy to get to. There has been a hotel on that site since the early 1800's when a gentleman called James Mivart opened an establishment there for guests who wished to stay in London for long stays.
Just down the street another hotel was owned by William and Marianne Claridge (hence where the name came from) and when James Mivart retired they bought his location and then owned the whole row of houses on Brook Street.
There are a number of different restaurants and bars in the hotel but I am going to concentrate this review on Claridges Bar and the Gordon Ramsay restaurant as these were the two that we visited when we went there.
Upon entering the hotel I was actually in awe of just how beautiful it is. It has a very elegant, sumptuous look to it with very clean lines and grand features. The Claridges Bar is situated in the Foyer Area. The style of the bar is a modern Art Deco look, think very lounge bar, dimly lit etc. There are quite a few tables to sit at with big comfy leather chairs and then there is also a round leather bar with mirror behind it which you can sit at on bar stools. There is a huge chandelier in the centre of the bar which is truly exquisite! We sat at the bar and immediately there was something offering to take our coats and to serve us a drink.
The thing that most impressed me about Claridges was the level of service that we received. It was fantastic, I'll tell you more later but the attention to detail and pleasant manner of all the wait staff was unbelievable and very nice.
The bar had a very extensive cocktail menu as well as wines, champagne etc. We went for the pink champagne which was lovely but yes, quite expensive. I actually managed to knock over my half full glass and spill it on the waiter behind the bar but he very graciously refilled it again which I thought was a lovely touch.
When our reservation time arrived we paid our bill (the bar I separate to the restaurant so we could not carry a tab over) and were shown to our seats in Gordon Ramsay's. The restaurant itself was again in the Art Deco style but was quite classic looking. All of the tables were round and had white linen table clothes on them. The ceilings were very high giving the restaurant a rather large but intimate feeling at the same time. We were some of the first people in that evening and it was quite quiet to begin with but once it filled up it was louder. What's nice is that they require smart dress and for gentleman to wear a jacket. I like this because it keeps the old tradition up of dressing for dinner and makes the atmosphere very posh and exciting.
We had the choice of two menus. A three course menu for £70 each where you choose what you eat or a six course taster menu at £80 each where the courses were chosen for you and you could pick between 2 main courses. We both love food so of course we went for the six course menu!
The menu is modern European cuisine and boy, has Gordon taught his chefs well, the food was absolutely fabulous. We first started with soup, a sweet corn, mushroom and duck soup. The bowl was small but just enough to give you a good taste. Then we had foie gras, controversial I know but Gordon does still serve this at this restaurants. I know quite a few top London restaurants no longer serve this. Next came a seafood ravioli. Main course was either pan fried Halibut or Pork Belly. Before dessert we had a raspberry coulis with cream and then for dessert a to die for Chocolate fondant with lovely gooey warm chocolate in the middle. In between courses a waiter would come and fill up our drink glasses, we were not allowed to pour anything ourselves. They have special waiters to just pour the wines, different waiters to pour the sauce on your main course, it was really well done.
Each dinner sitting lasts for 2 hours. At no time did I feel rushed but they do bring the courses fairly promptly.
After dinner, and I thought this was quite a clever way of getting us up from the table, one of the hosts offered to show us around the kitchen. We got to go and meet the chefs and see how things were prepared etc. We also saw the chef's table which you can reserve for dinner. It seats 6-8 people and is £850 for dinner, drinks not included. You sit in front of the ovens and get to see how things are prepared and be a part of the goings on. It looks excellent fun and I would love to go back and do that.
After the tour we were shown to a table where we could have tea and coffee at our leisure which was nice. We actually sat there for a few hours and listened to the piano music, soaked up the atmosphere etc. We first had a couple of cocktails and then coffee.
Everything was extremely clean and tidy. The toilets were lovely as well. They were very ornately decorated and had a lady in there the whole night passing your towel to you etc. You know it's a nice bathroom when the hand towels are actually towels and not paper towels!
This was an expensive night out, a very expensive night out but in my opinion well worth it. There was no sign of the credit crunch affecting diners here as the restaurant was full all night and upon speaking to the maitre de, found out that it was like that most nights. My husband had to book the table about four months ago, that is how popular it is. A beautiful setting, some of the best food in the world and well worth a visit once you have saved up the pennies!
What can I say - it's wonderful! my husband took me to Claridges a couple of years ago when we had just started seeing each other, for my birthday. Arriving in a cab, we were met by an impeccably turned out doorman and our cases were whisked away out of sight (they later turned up in our room) The reception staff were courteous, efficient and friendly, and we were soon in the lift (with a sofa in, no less!) to our room. It was very Pretty Woman!! As a special surprise, hubby had booked a suite, so we had 2 rooms, a bedroom and a sitting room, as well as a huge bathroom. To save time, here's a brief run down of what we found: Sitting room: antique furniture, exquisite decor, widescren tv, choice of magazines, fax, phone, laptop plug-in point, huge fridge / mini bar stocked with everything from biscuits to choccies and champagne. Bedroom: bed the size of texas, enormous wardrobes, dressing gowns and slippers laid out for us, another tv bathroom: shower head about a foot in diameter, huge sunken bath, 2 basins, loo, cabinets, dressing tables etc, etc All rooms had little control points which, although high-tech, are built into the classic decor. Therefore by pressing buttons you can send messages such as do not disturb, please make up room, etc. We also had a valet and maid who came into the suite to sort things out for us. Now, as I said, the service was fabulous, and although we couldn't afford to eat in the main restaurant, the art-deco bar was fine, and the barman a complete star. One evening there were no tables since the bar is open to non-residents, but within 10 seconds of me asking for a table, he had removed some non-residents to make room for us! The location is also great - it's just round the corner from South Molton Street and Bond Street, so of course there were some fab shopping opportunities. Within the hotel there is also a hairdresser, gym, and a h ealth suite. All the usual 5 st
ar stuff. In general, it was a weekend where we didn't have to think. The staff think for you! Drinks are topped up, lifts called etc without you having to worry. Even the ashtrays are permanently clean since as soon as any ash is dropped, a staff member is there to replace it. The moment you step outside, you are asked if you need a cab, and you are generally treated like royalty. If you go to the loos in the lobby you are haded a warm towel to dry your hands, which is then thrown in the laundry as soon as you have used it. Breakfast is huge, includes almost anything you want, and you can easily eat enough to last until the evening! Most of the staff come from generations of Claridges staff, so it's very much a family culture with no inverse snobbery or resentment as you get in some other establishments. 2 minor niggles: 1. The bar serves only VERY light snacks at extortionate prices (£17 for a mini-burger and chips, anyone?) 2. We wanted to do afternoon tea on the Sunday, but were told we should have booked as there were no tables. Since we were residents we were surprised, and slightly annoyed at this. It would have been nice to have been warned! Would I go again? Oh yes, in an instant - just waiting for that lottery win!! Price quoted is approximate cost for 2 night stay in the suite, including breakfast, excluding other meals and drinks