“ 2 Kingly Court,London, W1. Tel: 020 7734 9939 „
Update 27th October 2011. I recently returned to Camellia's where I found that their afternoon tea has shrunk in size to three small fingers of sandwiches, two scones, tea and a slice of cake. When I wrote to the establishment regarding this they insisted that their afternoon tea has always been the same and the portion sizes have not changed. They did offer me a free afternoon tea. So thumbs up for customer service but unfortunately most of this review is incorrect. The portion sizes that were once comparitively generous are now the smallest portions of any of the afternoon tea places that I have tried. I guess I was lucky on the days that we visited, they must have had extra sandwiches. And apologies to all of the people that have read this review for the false information. All I can say is that on the times that I visited the portion sizes were as described below and that it was not my intention to mislead people.
A friend and I have made it our mission to find an excellent, reasonably priced afternoon tea in London and with less than a month until I move away time is running out. Fortunately I think we have possibly found a winner. Camellia's World Teas is located in Kingly Court, close to Oxford Street in the west of London. This is an area that I generally try to avoid at the weekend but I would happily brave the crowds on Oxford Street to get to this place any day of the week (even Saturday afternoons).
As I have said Kingly Court is close to Oxford Street and it is easy enough to get to from Oxford Circus tube station as long as you know where you're going. If I had to get myself there I would end up hopelessly lost so I recommend getting a map if you don't the area very well.
-The Tea Shop-
The minute I walked into Camellia's I loved it! The combination of shop and cafe reminded me of some of the places that we used to visit in Ireland when I was a child and also a little bit of shops in Diagon Alley. I guess it was the old fashioned, quaint feel of the place that reminded me of Harry Potter, or possibly spending too much time talking about the latest film has left me with a one track mind.
There are only three tables inside, and a few more outside. The rest of the space is filled with all kinds of teas from around the world (hence the name of the shop) and various tea related things (like tea pots and those things that you use to squeeze out tea bags). We didn't buy anything and I didn't look at the prices but all of the tea pots that were on display looked great.
I only have one complaint about the shop and that is that the chairs are very uncomfortable and the table wobbled (does that count as two complaints?) We were in the tea shop for close to two hours and that was really too long to be sitting on such an uncomfortable chair. The table didn't bother me so much but did make it awkward when we were passing around the tea pot.
Afternoon tea at Camellia's costs £14.50 which is more expensive than Browns, the place where we have been going for tea up until now but far cheaper than the Ritz or any other big hotels that serve afternoon tea. I believe that this price is perfect because with Camellia's afternoon tea you get far more food than you do at Browns and it's not that much more expensive.
When we ordered our afternoon teas at the counter there was only one other person in front of us, which was great because the table space is very limited and we were all very hungry and wanted our food as soon as possible. The staff were very polite and helpful and ordering could not have been easier (even though we were awkward and wanted to pay some on card and some with cash).
Our tea was served after five or ten minutes and I did think that this was quite a long time considering that there was only one other person in front of us. We were able to choose our tea from the entire range that they had but we were boring and just had the English Breakfast tea. Although I have obviously had this tea many times before this was by far the best tea I have ever tasted. I can't put my finger on what exactly was different about it but it was certainly of a higher quality than the tea I am usually served.
While enjoying our tea we watched as other people (including a table that arrived after us) were served their food. After twenty minutes (that's twenty minutes after being served our tea) we began to wonder if our food would be with us soon. After half an hour we were almost out of tea (and what was left was getting cold) and we had to order another pot. At first I asked if we could just have more water in the pot we already had but she didn't seem to understand what I was asking. We then asked for another pot of tea for three and the woman seemed reluctant to give it to us because there was still enough for one more cup in the tea pot. Well, there were three of us and we wanted tea to actually go with our food so we insisted on having another pot. Finally she brought us a pot of tea for two.
Forty minutes after our first pot of tea was served our food finally arrived. By this point one of my friends was feeling sick with hunger, I had a headache setting in and we were halfway through the second pot of tea. All complaints were put aside when the waitress put a big cake stand full of food on our table. At this point I was impressed with the size of the afternoon tea. Then she put another cake stand with the same number of sandwiches, more scones and cake on the table and I began to wonder how we would get through it all!
On each cake stand there were twelve triangles of cakes and three scones. We also had a piece of cake each and were given a choice about what cake to have. The sandwiches were really nice and the variety of fillings was good. You could choose between ham, chicken, tuna, egg and cheese. There were two scones for each person, one plain and one fruit. They were warm but not crumbly which I thought was good (I hate when you try to put the cream on the scone and it crumbles). Both the fruit and plane scone were very sweet tasting. I did think they could have been more generous with the cream and jam. There wasn't enough jam and cream for all six scones but fortunately one of my friends only ate one scone so this wasn't a problem and I assume that we could have asked for more if we needed to.
Finally we ate the cake...or most of the cake at least. After eating so many sandwiches and two scones I really struggled to eat my slice of cake. I ate about half of it because it was a really big portion. What I did eat was very tasty. I had the carrot cake and would highly recommend it!
When we were ready to leave the waitress did try to charge us for the extra pot of tea. I was shocked. We had waited for 45 minutes for our food, watched people who had entered the shop after us have their food served (admittedly their orders were smaller than ours) and then she expected us to pay for the extra pot of tea that we had been forced to order because the service had been so slow. However, we pointed out that we had had to wait a long time and she reluctantly let us off.
Although the service was very slow in Camellia's (and no one apologised for keeping us waiting for so long) the food was worth waiting for. Camellia's serve a really big afternoon tea with the best tea that I have ever tasted. It's certainly worth the wait (and worth sitting on uncomfortable chairs) for such a great afternoon tea. If the service and comfort was improved then this would be a five star place, but unfortunately I can only give it four stars.
After another wonderful trip for afternoon tea at Camellia's I really think I should update this review. Once again the afternoon tea was wonderful but this time it was accompanied by quick and very friendly service.