Whenever tourists think of where to go for afternoon tea in London, they think of The Ritz. And it’s not surprising. Although I’ve never been, it certainly looks glamorous. But I’m more of a regular for afternoon tea at The Portrait Gallery.
Well aside from it being a fraction of the price, The Portrait Gallery restaurant has one of the most spectacular views over London. I think it’s a bit of a hidden gem. Not many tourists seem to know about it and many Londoners go there after a lazy Sunday afternoon strolling through The Portrait Gallery.
I often take any friends who are visiting London there. We recently took my mum and she loved it. It’s quite laid back and the large windows allow you to sit down and admire the view, no matter where you’re seated.
A champagne tea at The Ritz costs £57 per person, whereas for afternoon tea at The Portrait Gallery it’s only $29.95, so you can see the appeal.
You get a good-sized portion of cakes and sandwiches for afternoon tea at the Portrait Gallery too. One cake stand can be easily shared between two. It comes with two sandwiches, scones, carrot cake, raspberry pavlova, millionaire`s shortbread, coffee éclair and a chocolate brownie. In fact I’ve never managed to finish off one serving on my own.
Plus, there’s a large selection of teas to choose from, so if you fancy something different they’ll most likely have it.
The cakes and scones tasted very fresh when we visited and the bread making up the sandwiches was soft without being soggy.
Unfortunately, the service wasn’t like it once was. When we entered, there were a number of empty seats next to the windows, yet we were seated at the back, besides booking weeks in advance. When we asked to be moved, it took them 10 minutes to shift us, before placing us in a window seat adjacent to where the chef was eating his lunch… whilst taking up a window seat.
Then it took them about 15 minutes to take our order, and the waitress even took another table’s order, that’d arrived later than us, before she took down ours. It was only when I whispered to my friends that the service wasn’t like it was previously that the chef went over to the waitress and told her to take our order.
So the afternoon tea at The Portrait Gallery is delicious and the view is certainly worth the price tag. But the service unfortunately is not what you’d get at The Ritz. I guess you get what you pay for.
What you need to know:
Cost: We paid about £40 between three. We got the afternoon tea without the champagne, which cost £19.95, plus two plates of extra sandwiches and a couple of coffees and a tea. The afternoon tea was just one stand and included one tea, but we found we could share it easily between three with the extra sandwiches.
When to go: It’s best to go when the sun is shining, to make the most of the view. However, I’d advise you book ahead because it gets busy, especially on the weekends.
How to get there: The Portrait Gallery is a short work from Charing Cross Underground station. Many buses service the area. The restaurant itself is on the top floor of the gallery.