Shall I have afternoon tea or pay the mortgage?

Tea at Palm Court at The Ritz, London
Heading to London on the heels of the Olympics? Planning for a real London teatime experience? (Why else would you go?) Well, get ready for a bit of sticker shock. 
Tea for two might set you back about $140!
I’m always fielding questions from American travelers heading off to London. They want to know where to have tea. After  thinking “why don’t you just buy my books?” I usually find out where they are staying and nudge them in the right direction. 
There are the classic spots like The Dorchester, Browns, the Savoy. Then there are the boutique experiences like The Berkeley, a favorite of Barbra Streisand, or The Goring, pre-wedding home to Kate Middleton’s family. 
For a casual teatime, head over to The Orangerie at Kensington Palace or the venerable Maids Of Honour outside Kew Gardens.
Afternoon tea at The Orangerie, Kensington Palace, London
There’s always tea at The Ritz. Bring a jacket and tie or you’ll be given suitable attire by the host before entering the Palm Court (aka tea heaven).  The food and service is always spot on here. Afternoon tea, often served from 11am to 6pm, is so popular that 350 tea guests per day is considered less than full. Price? $140 for two – before champagne.
The Langham’s Palm Court won the 2010 Best Tea Place Award from the UK Tea Councils Guild of Tea Shops.  The luxury hotel chain is so proud of this fact that they are re-creating their London tea experience in their newly-renovated Boston edition.
Tourist traffic in Central London suffered a bit during the Olympics because visitors were cautious about crowds that never materialized. September and October are great months to visit while the city is still buzzing from leftover Olympic energy, the streets are clean, and the weather is temperate.  
Just budget ahead for that special tea experience you’ve been dreaming of. And remember to pay the mortgage before boarding your flight to London!
Tea Maestro Bruce Richardson is the author of The Great Tea Rooms of Britain. Save $5 when you order an autographed copy online.

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