Afternoon tea is a daily event that’s on the to-do lists of many London tourists. From Claridge’s Hotel to the Ritz Carlton, London is stocked with fabulous places to enjoy the finest teas and pastries. But none of these places offer you the chance to dine on royal grounds. Only Kensington Palace does that. As the only palace in London that offers a dining experience, Kensington delivers with The Orangery.
Built in 1704, this Hawksmoor-designed greenhouse was originally made for Queen Anne as a place where she could protect her citrus trees from the winter frost, and as an entertainment venue away from the chaos of Whitehall Palace. Today, The Orangery is a restaurant that gives its visitors a top-notch dining experience surrounded by Corinthian columns, floral arrangements of roses and lilies, and of course, the beautiful palace grounds.
The path to The Orangery is just as fantastic as the restaurant itself. Rows of large, conical hedges line your way with two lush green lawns on either side. Its Georgian architecture emulates the style of the rest of the palace, and its bright orange brick exterior makes the building stand out against the greenery. During busy days, you can see visitors relaxing amidst the hedges on wooden benches and dining outdoors underneath triangular tents.
Buzzfeed labeled The Orangery as one of the “15 Places for Afternoon Tea You Must Visit Before You Die,” and they were right. Not only do you have a list of black teas, green teas and herbal infusions to choose from, but you also have two tea packages at your disposal. For £27.50 per person, you can have the English Orangery Afternoon Tea, the restaurant’s not-so-standard original. This tea comes with your choice of loose teas, tisanes or coffee, and an assortment of finger-foods ranging from roast ham and English mustard sandwiches to orange-scented and currant scones – this option is best for people who want a classic afternoon tea experience. But for those who want something a bit more luxuriant, the Royal Afternoon Tea is recommended.
Not only does the Royal Afternoon Tea come with all of the delicious pastries and teas offered with the English Orangery Afternoon Tea, but it also gives you the option of three wines. For £33.50 per person, you’ll get a glass of Merlot Rosé Spumante NV. For £34 per person, you can have a glass of Pimm’s, and £37.50 per person will get you your tea with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut NV. All gluten-free visitors have nothing to worry about, for both of these options can come with non-gluten treats. Who doesn’t love a place where you can have your cake and eat it, too?
There are also full menus of heartier meals that you can order. On the breakfast menu, you’ll find everything from Eggs Benedict with chervil hollandaise, to a hot waffle with caramel apples and cinnamon cream. The lunch menu is just as decadent with savory dishes like English pea and mint risotto and Gressingham duck terrine, and a dessert menu featuring choices such as pineapple carpaccio and a chocolate and hazelnut brownie with raspberry coulis.
The Orangery is open from 10am-6pm, with breakfast being served from 10am-12pm, lunch from 12pm-2pm and afternoon tea from 12pm-6pm. The service is excellent and the atmosphere is bright and crisp, so it’s definitely worth the visit. Go to the website to check out the menus and make your reservation at this historic restaurant, because no matter how many tea dates you’ve enjoyed, everyone should experience dining in the previous home of Queen Victoria and Princess Diana at least once!