The Orangery at Kensington Palace is the place to go for a traditional afternoon tea. At this location, travelers can both dine in a palace and wear sneakers at the same time. Known as one of the best locations for afternoon tea in London, the pros for this establishment are lengthy. From the beautiful location to the wide variety of teas and coffees, travelers will find that Kensington Palace has pleasant service, prompt seating, and a casual atmosphere full of everyone's favorite treat: cake. While the luxury of this dining spot may be considered a bit overpriced, it is well worth the price.
The Orangery is located within Kensington Palace grounds, at the far west end of Hyde Park. Travelers should visit the website for details like hours and telephone number, however, afternoon tea is typically served between 3-5pm daily. Reservations are not accepted, but travelers have generally been seated right away. The dress code is "Come as you are" so travelers will notice that some guests are dressed up while others are in jeans.
A Glimpse at the Menu, From the Food to the Coffee
There are several options on the menu for afternoon tea. Travelers can go with the traditional Orangery Tea, which consists of a choice of tea or coffee, cucumber sandwiches, a fruit scone with clotted cream and jam, and a slice of the signature Orangery cake. Each food option is brought out separately, which works out nicely since each individual's pot of tea contains enough for three cups. There is a wide variety of teas to choose from, so there's something for everyone, even if travelers don't consider themselves much of a tea drinker.
The cucumber sandwiches are served with a mild cream cheese and might be a bit bland, but the real joy comes with the pastries. The fruit scones, which is code for raisins, are served warm and aren't the traditional dry and crumbly scone travelers might be expecting. They're surprisingly moist and delicious with the strawberry jam that accompanies them. The Orangery cake is a basic yellow cake with a thick, sugary frosting that has just a hint of an orange flavor. It's the perfect sweet ending to the afternoon tea, but travelers should be warned that it may put them into a temporary sugar coma once finished.
The menu also offers a variety of other cakes and biscuits, and while they all look delicious, the Orangery Tea will be far too filling to even entertain the idea of sampling more.
The Royal Location
Travelers won't be able to imagine a nicer location for a relaxing afternoon. The Orangery is located on the far west end of Hyde Park (near the Round Pond), so travelers should be sure to take a walk through the park on their way there. Situated just a few yards away from the entrance to Kensington Palace, the Orangery was built in the early 1700s for Queen Anne as a sort of greenhouse for her gardening. However, it evolved into a dining house that was used for various parties and entertaining.
The path leading up to the Orangery is surrounded by a lush green lawn and elegantly pruned trees, and travelers will truly feel like royalty as they approach it. The inside is just as impressive, with its intricate carved detailing and arched doorways. The casual and friendly atmosphere prevents anyone from feeling out of place or underdressed.
The Kind Service
The service at the Orangery is very friendly and knowledgeable. The waiters will answer any questions travelers have about the teas or the food, and will even take a photo at the table when requested. Each course of the tea will be brought out once travelers have finished the preceding one, and travelers will never feel rushed to leave the table.
An afternoon spent at the Orangery is the perfect way to cap off a week's vacation in London. The tea options may seem a bit pricey, but travelers must keep in mind that they are paying for the ambiance, as well. After all, it isn't every day that travelers can say that they have dined in a palace.