It’s no surprise that we love a good afternoon tea around here.
As you may recall from our previous post on the history of your favourite cakes and desserts, this tradition has a long and interesting history, involving a peckish Duchess who resented waiting until the typical 8:00 PM high tea before she could eat.
It’s a charming reminder that, in spite of titles or how far back in history they lived, people today can still find common ground with historical figures. After all, who wouldn’t resent being made to wait all day before they could eat?
But what about afternoon tea at some of the most prestigious places in London and Yorkshire?
How much will afternoon tea set you back at places like the Ritz, Savoy or Fortnum and Mason?
This week, we’re looking at some of the most high end places that serve afternoon tea, what makes them special and, most importantly, how much their afternoon teas cost.
There is no doubt that the Ritz London puts on a rather splendid spread, including an exclusive Ritz tea blend that you can only get there. Also included is musical accompaniment by their resident pianist and harpist to add to the ambience.
They serve their traditional afternoon tea daily at 11:30am, 1:30pm, 3:30pm, 5:30pm and 7:30pm.
For adults, this will set you back £55 each - though it should be noted that this price will increase to £60 from October 1st, 2021. For children, the cost is £35 per child.
Their Christmas afternoon tea includes a glass of champagne for adults of a Ritz teddy for children, as well musical accompaniment by the Ritz Choir.
As you might expect, this raises the price tag a little bit as well. For a Ritz Christmas afternoon tea, it will cost you £75 per adult and £ 49 per child.
The Ritz is possibly the most famous location on this list.
There would be no judgement from us if the very mention of the name is enough to make you start humming Puttin’ On The Ritz. Honestly, we have the same reaction.
And yes, it was inspired by the Ritz London!
The afternoon tea experience alone has some special and unique features, including being the only hotel in the country to have a certified tea sommelier.
The extravagantly elegant Piccadilly Palace hotel was the brain-child of legendary Swiss hotelier Césare Ritz. Widely credited with creating the modern luxury hotel, the Ritz London first opened its doors in 1906.
Césare Ritz apparently hated large hotel lobbies. He instead demanded that the Ritz London feature an ornate arched gallery that ran the length of the building to create a promenade for people to see and be seen in.
Sadly, he suffered several breakdowns in 1907 and spent the rest of his days in a Swiss sanitorium so never got to see his creation in its full glory.
However, the hotel has been true to his vision and kept the opulent extravagance he demanded alive to this day.
Since the Ritz London first opened its doors, it has played host to some pretty famous names throughout its history. Including the Queen dancing the congo through the hotel on VE day with her sister, Princess Margaret, after slipping incognito into the celebrating crowds of people in Central London.
Rather fittingly with its reputation and commitment to elegance, the Ritz also has a dress code for guests, especially in the Palm Court where afternoon tea is served. Trainers, shorts and sportswear are prohibited for both men and women, and men are expected to wear a shirt and tie in the Palm Court. For everywhere else, smart casual attire is required.
The Savoy hotel has been serving their world-famous afternoon tea since 1889. Served in the Thames Foyer at the heart of the Savoy, under its breathtaking glass dome, it’s hardly surprising that this experience comes with a hefty price tag.
The cost of a Savoy afternoon tea starts at £65 per person. Surprisingly, there doesn’t appear to be a price difference for children on their website, which might indicate that they don’t offer concessions for children.
Founded by former theatre impresario Richard O’Doyle Carte, the Savoy hotel first opened its doors in 1889.
The Savoy was the first purpose-built deluxe hotel in London and remains the only luxury hotel on the Thames in the heart of London. It was also the first public building in Britain to be completely lit by electric lights (albeit steam-powered bulbs).
Interestingly, the founder of the Ritz London, Césare Ritz was the Savoy’s general manager from 1890 to 1897. Even more surprisingly, he left under rather scandalous circumstances, having been fired over his possible involvement in over £3,900 (the equivalent today of £390,000) worth of wine and spirits going missing.
Richard O’Doyle Carte really wanted to bring his sense of cutting edge innovation and showmanship to the Savoy hotel, which really shows in the truly theatrical decor throughout the building.
He also wanted the Savoy to be the place where the great and glittering came to stay and mingle. And he certainly got his wish!
Throughout its history, the Savoy has played host to some of the biggest names of their day. From royalty and politicians to leading names of the stage and screen (including the likes of Marylin Monroe, Frank Sinatra and the Beatles), the Savoy is dripping with metaphorical stardust from the celebrity guests that have graced its walls throughout the years.
Surprisingly for a luxury hotel of its calibre, the Savoy’s dress code is far less strict than the Ritz London, only requiring smart casual dress from guests in the restaurants and bars.
Offering a sumptuous spread and an astonishing selection of teas served in fine bone china, it is little wonder that the price of this luxury is a little eye-watering.
To enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at Claridge's, it will cost you £61.25 per person.
If you were to upgrade this to a champagne afternoon tea, the price increases depending on the the type of champagne you choose:
For the children’s afternoon tea service, it will cost you £30.63 per child.
There will also be a 12.5% discretionary service charge added to your final bill.
Claridge's hotel actually has pretty humble beginnings. It started life in the early 1800s as a small hotel run from a single house on Brook Street by William and Marianne Claridge.
They expanded the hotel by buying 5 adjoining houses in 1854. The earliest version of the grand Claridge's hotel known today reopened later in 1856.
From then on, Claridge's swiftly became a byword for luxury hotels and became a favourite location for politicians and royals to visit and stay at when they were in London.
Claridge's was later bought by the owner of the Savoy hotel, Richard O’Doyle Carte in 1893, who closed it down for renovations, which were handled by the man behind Harrod’s design C.W Stephens.
In 1898, with a fresh new look, Claridge's hotel reopened its doors once more. It would undergo further renovations when Art Deco became the new height of art and fashion.
These days, Claridge's continues to be a landmark site for luxury and Art Deco glamour, beloved by celebrities, politicians and visiting dignitaries.
Served in the Onyx restaurant on the Shard’s 32nd floor, the menu for this afternoon tea spread features possibly some of the more elaborate creations.
For example, the sample menu includes duck egg and truffle mayonnaise sandwiches and yuzu meringue tarts.
For all this, it boasts the lowest price tag so far, with a traditional afternoon tea at the Shard, coming to £47 per person.
Of course, if you upgrade to include a glass of billecart-salmon champagne or a glass of their Bon Vivant cocktail, the cost increases to £60 per person, with additional glasses costing £13 each.
There is also a 13.5% service charge and they currently don’t offer alternative afternoon tea menus for allergies or dietary requirements.
The Shard is the newest (and tallest) building on this list. It started its life as developer and co-owner Irvine Seller’s vision of an impressive vertical city building housing retail and office spaces, hotels, restaurants and a public viewing gallery.
Sellers acquired the building in 1998 but there was a long road to completion ahead. Despite his gloriously imaginative vision and having the world-renowned, award-winning architect Renzo Piano on board, it wasn’t until 2008 when the State of Qatar signed on as a partner that the work could truly begin.
Finally, in 2012, standing at an impressive 310 meters, the Shard was officially completed and ready to open its doors.
The long wait was certainly worth it, as the Shard’s sheer size and unique architectural design has quickly made it one of the most recognisable landmarks in the world. It is also the tallest building in all of Western Europe.
The Shard has managed to stay true to Irvine Sellers’ original building, becoming a vibrant, dynamic place full of residential and office spaces, bars and restaurants and a 5-star hotel.
Moving away from London for a moment, our next location is Betty’s Tea Room in North Yorkshire.
The most affordable afternoon tea option on our list so far, Betty’s Tea Room offers a traditional afternoon tea menu, as well as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus.
Their afternoon tea comes in at £19.95. They also offer a pink champagne afternoon tea for £27.95 or a prosecco afternoon tea for £24.95.
Betty’s doesn’t have a separate designated children’s afternoon tea menu. Instead, they have a separate part of the menu (adorable called “Little Rascal Menu”) that offers a range of child-sized portions and soft drinks.
Betty’s first shop opened in the North Yorkshire town of Harrogate by Swiss baker and confectioner Fritz Bützer.
After arriving in Bradford in 1909 and spending the night in Bradford train station, Fritz eventually made his way to Harrogate, where he got a job at Bonnet and Sons, a Swiss-owned confectioner's shop.
He later changed his names to Frederick Belmont, married his landlady’s daughter and opened the first in what would become a chain of Betty’s Tea Rooms across Yorkshire.
Betty’s quickly gained a reputation for its excellent quality and service, as well as its elegant surroundings. It proved popular with a wide range of distinguished customers and was known for its lavish and elaborate window displays, live music and chic function rooms.
By the early 1900’s, York had become the confectionary capital of Britain. This was down to the city being home to famous brands such as Rowntrees, Terry’s and Craven’s. Fritz cannily positioned Betty’s to become another jewel in that crown by opening a new Betty’s Tea Room directly opposite the already established Terry’s Cafe.
This is perhaps one of the things that makes Betty’s Tea Room so special.
Apart from their continuing reputation for quality, the history of Betty’s Tea Room is a bit of a rags to riches story that proves the benefits of hard work and perseverance.
Returning to London, our next stop for afternoon tea is the well-established and world-famous Fortnum and Mason.
Served either in their Diamond Jubilee tea salon between 11:30am and 7:00pm Monday to Saturday (11:00am to 7:00pm on Sundays), 11:30am to 8:00pm in their St Pancras restaurant or between 3:00pm and 4:30pm in their Royal Exchange restaurant, Fortnum and Mason’s afternoon tea menu is luxurious indeed!
Offering dishes such as devilled eggs with caviar in their savoury afternoon tea, the consumer is left in little doubt of the high class quality of this experience.
Of course, high class quality comes with an equally impressive price tag.
To enjoy a Fortnum and Mason afternoon tea, you will be paying £60 per person. For any extras, you will add the following amounts:
For Fortnum and Mason’s children’s afternoon tea menu, it costs £30 per child.
There is also a 12.5% service charge.
By far the oldest place on this list, Fortnum and Mason goes all the way back to 1707.
It actually began as a bit of a side hustle for a royal footman named William Fortnam when he started selling on spare palace wax (made available due to Queen Anne’s insistence on fresh candles every night).
Eventually, he had made enough from these secondhand candles to quit his job as a royal footman and enter into business with his landlord Hugh Mason to open the first Fortnum and Mason grocery shop in Piccadilly, London.
Today, they are known as “the queen’s grocer” and are well known for their reputation for their supply of luxury and quality food.
Fortnum and Mason can also be credited with inventing the scotch egg - a food item beloved or loathed depending on who you ask. Their very first flagship store is still open to this day and their hampers have long been instantly recognisable and beloved by a range of distinguished people throughout history, including classic author Charles Dickens.
As well as their long history of sending supplies to the front lines, providing expedition supplies for expeditions to places like Everest and sending hampers to Suffragettes, Fortnum and Mason also acted as a post office from 1794 right up until 1839 when the General Post Office was formed.
In many ways, quite apart from their, admittedly, excellent luxurious hampers, it is Fortnum and Mason’s incredibly long and interesting history that really sets it apart and makes it special.
While we don’t have locations where you can visit us for afternoon tea, we can do one better and deliver our afternoon tea package of high quality goods right to your door where you can either enjoy it in your own home or take it to a spot of your choosing.
With the warmer months coming in, this is the perfect option to take on a romantic picnic or to take with you on a trip to any of Northumberland’s beauty spots such as Bamborough Castle or Holy Island.
You can also enjoy it while chilling in famous parks and landmarks such as St James’ Park, Kensington Gardens, Princess Street Garden in Edinburgh or Knaresborough Castle in North Yorkshire.
The best part of all? Our afternoon tea won’t break the bank for you to enjoy!
Our afternoon tea package for one is £20, for two people it is £35 and £60 for four people.
We also offer a standard version of our afternoon tea or a vegetarian option.
So there you have it. The cost of luxury high end afternoon teas.
While all of the places on this list are indeed special and the height of elegance and luxury, they are also somewhat out of the comfortable price range of most people.
We believe that traditions like afternoon tea should be affordable to everyone. We’d like to think that our afternoon tea packages allow most people who are on a stricter budget the option to enjoy a little bit of tradition and luxury at a more comfortable price.
As well as our afternoon tea package, we also offer a wide range of baked goods which we can also deliver to your door. Check out our products page to see if there’s anything that catches your fancy.
Ah, the great British tradition of afternoon tea! So popular, it even took off up here, in the generally regarded "salt of the Earth" North East.