Afternoon tea is a foodie genre that’s been around for hundreds of years, but one that’s currently undergoing something of a renaissance in London.
Every one of the capital’s hotels worth its salt offers the teatime treat, with many starting earlier and finishing later than the traditional 2pm-5pm.
They say it’s so as not to disappoint – or is it to maximise revenue? I know what I think, but it’s for you to decide. I find the idea of tea at noon or 6pm a little ridiculous, but it’s now commonplace.
I’m a fan of the great dame London hotels, full of history, splendour, unashamedly grand, and always situated in fabulous locations that lead us all to the realisation that only a lottery win would allow us to be regular visitors.
However, for a special occasion, nothing beats it.
The downside to such hotels is that they’re really for adults, not for little people. I decided to take my delightful niece, 10-year old Lauren, for afternoon tea a short time ago and, looking for a fun, less stuffy option than the hotels offer, stumbled upon B Bakery Bus Tour.
Afternoon tea aboard a moving Routemaster bus – two of my favourite things combined. I’m not sure who was more excited, me or Lauren.
Actually, I do, it was me. Booked on the 3.30pm bus one Saturday, we met up at Victoria coach station and joined a group all with their own reason for taking the tour, birthdays, anniversaries but most of us, just because we fancied it.
We left Victoria and headed towards Hyde Park, with our host acting as tour guide, filling us in on interesting facts about the area, with the odd snippet of gossip thrown in, no doubt to hold our interest.
It was about now that the hot drinks were served, in cups to take home, and we were reminded to remain seated to ensure a safe journey.
Usually, when taking afternoon tea, I find myself looking towards waiters carrying tiered cake stands and salivating. I look on longingly in the vain hope that they’re final destination is my table, but this experience was totally different.
With so much going on and the sights and sounds of this great city all there to take in, I forgot about the food. As we snaked through to Marble Arch, tea was served and way exceeded expectation but thinking about it, no surprise, given that’s everything was baked and made in-house at Brigit’s Bakery in Covent Garden.
The food was plentiful and we were encouraged to take home the items we hadn’t managed to eat. The menu no doubt changes from time to time but we were treated to finger sandwiches delicately filled with smoked salmon, bridge rolls with ham and rocket, chocolate muffins, lemon meringue pies and raspberry pastries, to name but a few.
This is the stuff of patisserie dreams. We nibbled our way to Buckingham Palace, on to Trafalgar Square, past Big Ben, through to Knightsbridge, and Kensington, passing the Royal Albert Hall, before heading back to Victoria, where the bus crew happily waited patiently, while the passengers disembarked and clicked away, taking pictures of the candyfloss pink vehicle that had been home for nearly two hours.
A jolly good time had by all and some wonderful memories created, we bid a cheery goodbye. The tour costs £45 for adults, if booked directly via B Bakery Bus Tour.
However, I booked via www.buyagift.co.uk simply because they help you find the best afternoon for you and your party and it saves trawling the internet.