While my mum and aunt were recently visiting London from Canada and Spain, we celebrated my birthday a couple of weeks early by having afternoon tea at The Orangery at Kensington Palace.
The setting is beautiful - the bright, white and airy room has large windows, soaring ceilings, and 18th century architecture, and is surrounded by the perfectly manicured gardens (you don't need to pay for admission to the palace to get to the Orangery). It is elegant, but not pretentious, so you can feel relaxed as you enjoy a traditional afternoon tea (or breakfast or lunch from their main menu), the only royal palace in London where you can do this. Adding to the magic of this setting is the The Orangery's history, which was once the place for Queen Anne's court entertainment.
You can choose from the 'English Orangery Afternoon Tea' or the 'Royal Afternoon Tea'; the difference between the two is that the Royal tea comes with a glass of bubbles (Laurent-Perrier Brut NV or Merlot Rosé Spumante NV) or a glass of the quintessentially English drink, Pimms.
There is a nice selection of sandwiches served, which include a very tasty coronation chicken, roast ham and English mustard, cucumber and fresh mint, egg mayo and cress, and smoked salmon and cream cheese. Light and tasty, these sandwiches were a great way to start the tea. I just wish that there was the opportunity to have them refilled as you are often offered in other settings.
Next came the scones, which are orange-scented and currant, served with classic Cornish clotted cream and English strawberry jam. The scones were light and delicious, and importantly didn't fill you up too much before you got to the cakes (which often happens to me). The tea pastries and cakes were also fairly light to finish off the tea, including a tasty Victoria Sponge. Important to me was that they weren't too sickly sweet or rich to enjoy.
There is a range of loose teas, tisanes, or coffees to choose from. For teas, you can choose from a range of black or green teas, or herbal and fruit infusions.
Vegetarian options and an afternoon tea made from gluten free ingredients are available upon request. There is also a children's afternoon tea available on request for £11.50 per child.
The English Orangery Afternoon Tea is £27.50 per person. The Royal Afternoon Tea ranges from £33.50 to £37.50 depending on which drink you choose.
Afternoon tea is served between 12.00 - 18.00. I highly recommend making a booking in advance because it is often very busy, particularly on weekends. They do accept walk-ins; however, be prepared to potentially wait in a queue for quite a long time.
After leaving The Orangery, be sure to take a look at the new White Garden nearby in the historic Sunken Garden at the Palace for Spring and Summer 2017. The Garden has been created in memory of Princess Diana, inspired by her life, image and style, and complements the current exhibition, Diana: Her Fashion Story. The garden is awash with beautiful tulips, narcisii, forget-me-nots, white English roses, Cosmos daisies, Gaura, and ornamental grasses. It is absolutely beautiful so take a walk around the entire square to see all angles of this thoughtful and stunning garden.