international - london

High Tea at the Orangery in Kensington Gardens

Something I’ve never done in London, but always wanted to do, was go to a High Tea. In researching all of the high tea places in town, the Orangery was the obvious choice! It was beautiful, affordable, and located in Kensington Palace Gardens – making it the only royal place to have tea in the city 🙂 The Orangery itself was built in 1704 and has a really interesting history!

^^some of our tasty treats!

The high tea was so fun. We were served a tower of delicious finger sandwiches and freshly baked cakes alongside our pot of tea. The scones were my personal favorite. They offered vegetarian and gluten free options as well, which I thought was pretty great! The price wasn’t bad £26 per person (the prices in New York at the Plaza were over $70 per person – NO THANK YOU), especially since we were very full when we left. Not to mention it was such a beautiful environment. You can upgrade your experience with a little booze, but we kept it PG 😉

I didn’t know this until we were drinking our tea, but the history of High Tea itself is so fascinating. In England during the 1700’s, people ate two large meals – breakfast and dinner. It was fashionable to eat your dinner very late in the upper classes, but this didn’t work well for everyone, especially Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Stanhope (1783-1857).

The Duchess, one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting, suffered from ‘a sinking feeling’ at about four o’clock in the afternoon. At first, the Duchess had her servants sneak her a pot of tea and a few bread stuffs, but then began inviting friends to join her at five o’clock in her rooms at Belvoir Castle.

The menu centred around small cakes, bread and butter sandwiches, assorted sweets and, of course, tea. The summer practice proved so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London and high tea was quickly picked up by other social hostesses.

Enter – the tradition of High Tea! Isn’t that fun?

We sat inside because we arrived towards the end of the day, but there was a gorgeous patio with view of the gardens. They take reservations, and while they aren’t necessary (we walked in), they aren’t a bad idea if you want to guarantee a time slot or request a spot outside. We didn’t have to wait, but I know they do have waits during busier times. I would also suggest going during the week if you’re able, as they are quite busy on the weekends.

Have you ever been to High Tea before? Have you been to the Orangery? I would love to go again someday!

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