London's world-famous department store, Harrods has been a city fixture since it opened in 1849. Impeccable service and a wonderful, diverse selection have earned the store a place in the hearts of Londoners. Although prices are somewhat steep, they're attached to quality merchandise, including apparel, toys, home furnishings and groceries. Plus, twice-yearly sales make things more accessible to budget-minded shoppers. Cultivating a bit of spectacle in Harrods are the Egyptian Room and a memorial to Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed, owner Mohammed's son. It gets busy at Christmas but is definitely worth a visit if you happen to be in London at that time of year, as it's Christmas tree and window displays are a delight. TUBE: Knightsbridge
Favored especially by fashion-conscious folks, this well-regarded department store is known for its propensity towards designer labels. Begun in 1813, the enterprise offers a wealth of men's and women's apparel, not to mention a strong home furnishings section and fantastic beauty department. Personal shopping services and a salon allow customers to be pampered even further, and a restaurant, cafe and bar on the top floor provide welcome respite in the midst of busy shopping sprees. The restaurant serves amazing food now, as it has all been recently revamped, and just outside is a food hall where you can pick up not only luxury food, but lovely kitchen ware to try and recreate the feel of the place at home too. TUBE: Knightsbridge
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester has come highly recommended. The book "Foodie Top 100 Restaurants: Worldwide" sings the restaurant's praises very highly saying that the chef 's roast chicken has an "almost frothy texture" and a "fragant" truffle sauce. That, is what the book says elevates simple comfort food to "luxurious heights". The surroundings too are simply stunning, with a huge sparkling centrepiece which comes in the form of the "Table Lumiere" "a six person table shrouded by a ceiling-to-floor veil of 4500 shimmer fiber optics". But of course, it's not just about the stunning lights, cameras and action. Ducasse says he is all about the products, and without great ingredients, he writes, the chef would be nothing. With his international team to look after you, then you shouldn't be disappointed.
Afternoon tea at the Berkeley is served in the Caramel Room in the hotel. This is all low lighting, caramel walls and faux croc chocolate coloured stools. The Berkeley, in keeping with its designer neighbourhood offers "Pret a Portea" a fashionista designer tea complete with fashion themed iced biscuits. The range changes constantly with the seasons and the fashions, so Diane Furstenburg and Emanuel Ungaro provide inspiration for the iced confections and the chocolate eclairs. You can add on the end of your tea a sparkly glass of champagne in a crystal glass, and you never know, you might even find a Dolce and Gabbana gold leaf covered eclair, or a Christmas spiced Miu Miu biscuit. Meringues, polka dots, and light melting cremes all feature and are laced throughout the delicious tiny bites which appear.
The Victoria and Albert museum is a world famous art and design museum. They have exhibitions of film costumes, Princess Diana's dresses, David Bowie, Vivienne Westwood and now Pearls. You can easily spend all day in the museum even just looking at the permanent collections, let alone in the shop which sells great coffee and a beautifully presented afternoon tea too. All year around you can dine in the V and A Cafe, and in the summer months, or in clement weather, you can take tea outside in the beautifully manicured gardens. The museum also offers packed lunches if you don't have time to stop, but want to have a little snack as you wander around the museum or gardens. There are hot and cold drinks, and lots of freshly prepared cakes, and savoury snacks.
Afternoon tea has been served at the Cadogan in London since 1887. As they themselves say on their website, attributed to Henry James, "there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea". And life couldn't get much better than spending a few hours at the Cadogan. The atmosphere here is tweedy arm chairs, oak panelling stained glass windows and original artworks. The main event is the selection of Patridges Teas, tea suppliers to the British Crown. There is a Chelsea bun, some fresh baked scones, cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam. Fresh baked pastries and tea sandwiches, which consist of tiny oblongs of delicious soft bread filled with creamy delicate fillings. You can even add a glass of champagne to the whole caboodle if that's what you feel like.
Afternoon Tea is taken in The Chinoiserie at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower luxury five star hotel in London. This is a place they use for breakfast, afternoon teas, light lunches and drinks in the evening, but the room really comes into its own for Afternoon tea. Think a huge table laden with tiny morsels of deliciousness under large and small glass domes which are akin to a kind of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory feeling which makes one feel like a tiny child in a huge delightful wonderland of cake. There are also glass jars of hundreds of thousands, marsh mellows and chocolate covered nuts. The afternoon tea is created by a master patissier who also worked on Channel Four's series, Mad about Baking, and involves the British summer flavours of lavender and strawberry whipped up in to light and delightful confections.
The Bulgari hotel is another place that has been fairly recently revamped in London and kitted out in beautifully contemporary and elegant black and white marble, as perhaps befits an Italian hotel. Their extensive tea collection is both British and pays homage to the history of Bulgari, the jewellers, giving a kind of idea of the bespoke nature of the brand. There are rare blends, green teas and oolongs. There is a chicken and rocket "italian delicacy" as savoury food, as well as finger sandwiches of cucumber and egg mayonaise and smoked salmon. The pastries also echo the Italian heritage with vanilla and chestnut creams and pistachio and fresh fruit tartlets. There are also Amalfi lemon tartlets, giandiuotto and chocolate ganaches on a tasting menu which in fact, you can eat at any time of day.
Afternoon tea at Grosvenor House is a wonderful place to escape the hustle and bustle of Knightsbridge, Mayfair and Park Lane. The hotel and tearooms are housed in delightful Edwardian town houses. This is another place frequented by Royalty and which won a tea guild award in 2013. Tea is served in the Library and the Park Room. Beautifully covered sofas provide ample room for you to sit back, relax and enjoy the wonderful parade of confections which arrive on pretty tiered cake stands. Live piano accompanies the tinkling of glasses and the chinking of cutlery. A glass of champagne finishes off the tea nicely and for children a glass of elderflower cordial with bubbles makes them feel that extra bit special, and they even get to take home a little Grover teddy too.
The Tangerine Cafe bar at the Milennium hotel is a great place for an afternoon tea in Knightsbridge. This is all glitzy black marble floors gleaming under the lights and swish leather stalls. There is nothing ye olde Englishe here, but nevertheless, they offer the British staple of afternoon tea for those who still want to be surrounded by the accouterments of a jetset lifestyle.The hotel itself is situated on Sloane St and boasts 222 rooms. In keeping with the surroundings, this afternoon tea doesn't come chintzy. Plain white tiered cake plates bring home baked goodies, small scones, little sugared pastries and sour dough sandwiches with smoked salmon and chives and cream cheese. Lots of clotted cream goes with this delicious confection and has been well reviewed by bloggers and visitors alike.