I recently had an old friend from high school visiting London from the States and found the afternoon tea at the Kensington Palace Orangery to provide an ideal opportunity for a catch up with sightseeing.
Situated within the grounds of Kensington Palace which itself is set amid the parkland splendour of Kensington Gardens, Queen Anne’s 18th century Orangery is a great place for sharing that quintessentially English tradition of afternoon tea with out-of-towners in an historic London venue. It’s a smart spot to keep in mind when meeting with family and friends and a mere cuppa somewhere more pedestrian simply won’t suffice. I wish I would’ve taken my mom there last time she was in town – she would have absolutely loved it. Comfortable and elegant, my guest and I found the Orangery especially conducive to long overdue discussions about all sorts of things and for plotting out the next few days of her London itinerary.
During our visit, service was prompt and polite, the food (little crustless sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, an assortment of pastries and cakes – you know the scene) was good and plentiful, and the actual tea was lovely. I went with the newly added Eucalyptus Zest, rooibos blended with eucalyptus leaves, orange peel and orange blossoms. A nice and non-caffeinated pick-me-up, it was a refreshing drink that paired well with the Champagne I had ordered.
I thought the meal was reasonably priced as well – and a lot less expensive than other afternoon teas I’ve had over the years that were equally enjoyable. The “English Orangery Afternoon Tea” costs £22.65 per person. For special occasions, you can make it a “Royal Afternoon Tea” by adding a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut NV (£32.50), Pimm’s (£28.95) or Spumante (£28.50). Of course, an obligatory post-tea amble through the palace grounds and Kensington Gardens is free of charge.
The Kensington Palace Orangery is located within Kensington Gardens, W8 4PX. Afternoon tea is available daily from 2pm to 6pm every day until 1 November 2013. To learn more, make reservations and find out about end of year opening times, go to orangerykensingtonpalace.co.uk.