Study Reveals Five Best-Value London Hotel Afternoon Teas

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An in-depth study by LondonHotelsInsight.com based on price research and UK Tea Guild official inspections attempts to identify the London hotel afternoon teas that offer the best value for money.

Claridges Hotel London afternoon tea

Claridge's deservedly won the UK Tea Guild's "Top London Afternoon Tea" award in 2011

Value seems to be an almost alien concept when it comes to London afternoon teas

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There is a lot of debate currently about whether London hotel afternoon teas offer value for money. What is beyond question is that they are certainly a cash cow for the best London hotels, with several arranging multiple sittings every day.

The problem for consumers is that it’s hard to make sense of which afternoon teas really offer most bang for their buck, particularly since most reviews and publicity appear to focus only on the most expensive options. “Value” seems to be an almost alien concept when it comes to London afternoon teas.

Also, the pricing of afternoon teas is not always transparent with some hotels bamboozling consumers with opaque offerings without always breaking them down into their constituent parts. The reviews found in newspapers may also occasionally be sponsored or subsidised by hotels and can be biased.

To address this situation, the London Hotels Insight blog has just published a set of two articles which attempt to provide clearer guidance for consumers while rectifying the bias towards high-priced teas:

1. Is afternoon tea a passing fad or a timeless delight?

http://londonhotelsinsight.com/2011/05/13/afternoon-tea-timeless-delight-or-expensive-fad/

2. Which London hotels offer the best-value afternoon teas?

http://londonhotelsinsight.com/2011/05/17/top-5-best-value-london-hotel-afternoon-teas/

To make the analysis as objective as possible, London Hotels Insight’s researchers used a combination of pricing data (painstakingly compiled through the hotels’ own websites and via telephone research) and anonymous inspections carried out recently by the UK Tea Guild.

Indeed, the latter organisation is the UK’s ultimate authority on afternoon tea and not long ago published a shortlist of 17 London hotels which were given “Awards of Excellence” based on a painstaking set of assessment criteria (Claridge’s walked away with the top award in 2011).

Interestingly, one hotel group (Red Carnation Hotel Collection) did particularly well and had three hotels listed in the Tea Guild’s top 17 London hotel afternoon teas. The analysis published on LondonHotelsInsight.com shows comprehensive data on the price ranges for the afternoon teas offered at all 17 London hotels (though it should be noted that prices were checked on 2nd May and can fluctuate).

The 17 London hotels identified by the Tea Guild as offering the best London afternoon teas are listed as follows:

Claridge’s (Top London Afternoon Tea Award winner for 2011)
Brown’s Hotel
Grosvenor House Park Room & Library
Sofitel London St James
The Athenaeum
The Chesterfield Mayfair
The Connaught
The Dorchester
The Goring
The Lanesborough
The Langham
The Milestone
The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill
The Montague on the Gardens
The Park Lane Hotel
The Savoy
The Ritz

In the opinion of London Hotels Insight researchers, the five following hotels from the above shortlist scored particularly well on a combination of the “price” and “quality” criteria. Indeed, the range of pricing for the “standard” afternoon tea investigated at all the above London hotels (as listed in the original blog post on LondonHotelsInsight.com) was in itself quite striking. This suggests that those who are looking for a value-for-money afternoon tea should not be afraid to shop around.

The following is a brief summary of London Hotels Insight’s selection of the top 5 value-for-money afternoon teas and the reasoning behind each choice:

1.    Montague on the Gardens Hotel – a luxury boutique hotel near the British Museum. This hotel’s champagne tea costs less than the amount most other London hotels charge for their standard tea. And there seems no obvious reason why it should cost less, given the hotel’s impeccable service, great choice of teas and peaceful, secluded surroundings. Montague on the Gardens Hotel also gained top marks from London Hotels Insight for offering a good-value afternoon tea option for kids – who are so often ignored by more snooty London hotels. It’s worth discovering this gem before the tourist hordes find it.

2.    Claridge’s Hotel – the deserving winner of the UK Tea Guild’s ultimate accolade for “best afternoon tea” in 2011, as much for its stunning Art Deco surroundings as for the standard of its tea service, which has remained consistent over several years and offers an impressively broad range of sweet delights. The freshly baked raisin and apple scones with tea-infused jam are a particular favourite. Afternoon tea here feels a bit like spending the afternoon witnessing a theatrical performance. It’s expensive but most definitely worth it.

3.    The Athenaeum Hotel – this is another example of why afternoon tea is about the surroundings as much as the tea itself, since there is a spectacular natural “living wall” for guests to gaze at with 260 different types of plant. There is also quite a bit of menu innovation on offer at this particular hotel – including a special “Regent’s Park Honey Afternoon Tea” (with honey made by bees in London’s Royal Parks). The quality of ingredients is a common factor which helps to differentiate all the leading London hotel afternoon teas from the chasing pack.

4.    The Langham London Hotel - offers a classic tea in the elegant surroundings of the Palm Court lounge. The cakes are to die-for and the choice of teas is also incredibly refined, including China’s very rare Pre Rain Jun Shuan Silver Needle Yellow Tea. A real “special occasion” place full of old-world glamour with atmospheric live piano music playing in the background. The Langham claims that it has one of the oldest afternoon tea traditions with its Palm Court serving afternoon tea since 1865. It does however get booked out weeks in advance.

5.    The Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel - a gorgeous conservatory lounge at this luxury Mayfair hotel offers the backdrop for another of the best “unsung” afternoon teas in London. It offers excellent value for money with even the champagne version (featuring Taittinger Champagne) coming in for less than many “standard” teas at other hotels. The Chesterfield also has the ideal afternoon tea for chocoholics with its decadent Chocolate Lovers’ Tea.

London Hotels Insight blog owner Rajul Chande commented:

“Afternoon tea at London hotels is a treat that many London visitors look forward to and save up for. It’s important that London hotels provide an amazing experience while at the same time ensuring that the prices charged do not get out of hand. I hope that the healthy competition in the market and anonymous inspections carried out by respected organisations like the UK Tea Guild will help keep pricing in check.”

An alternative perspective on the best London afternoon teas can be explored here:
http://www.londontown.com/London/Top_Afternoon_Tea_in_London/

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