Discover quintessentially English, family friendly fare at
The Orangery, Kensington Gardens
Words Pendle Harte
Teatime in Kensington Gardens is as quintessentially English a thing as you could imagine. No wonder the place is crawling with tourists. But even jaded Londoners won’t be immune to the charms of the Orangery. This beautiful, cool white space with grand high ceilings, statue-filled alcoves and sweeping views over the ever-beautiful Kensington Gardens has an irresistible allure that not even the most unromantic anti-monarchist could fail to warm to. Just walking through the door makes me feel like a real princess on her wedding day.
We’re here for tea, of course, though they do also serve breakfast and lunch. Predictably stiff starched tablecloths and beautiful turquoise and gold ornate china (featuring a design inspired by all the palaces, with details including the rose gardens at Hampton Court, the golden gates of Kensington Palace and the Crown Jewels, and available to buy in the Kensington Palace gift shop) create an old-fashioned and stylish vibe, and there’s an authenticity here that’s missing from many of today’s eateries. This is a place that’s so comfortable in its own skin that it doesn’t need to shout about it on Instagram.
So we order the Royal Afternoon Tea, which differs only from the English Orangery Afternoon Tea in that it comes with champagne, Pimms, or sparkling pink Merlot as well as an impossibly long list of tea types. These are the only choices on the menu, though it does also offer a gluten-free option. On the impossibly shiny cake stand is an attractive three-layered ensemble which we approach from the bottom up. First off are darling miniature Coronation chicken wraps (note the royal connection) and tiny smoked salmon and cream cheese bagel bites, plus the obligatory cucumber sandwiches (crusts off, and with mint). Then it’s up a level to scones – orange-scented and currant ones, with clotted cream and jam, of course – before the crowning glory that is cake. More royalty comes in the shape of a Victoria sponge slice, while other treats include little lemon cakes and shot glasses of lemon posset. Everything is canapé-sized, which means that you can try everything and still not spoil your supper. It’s official: afternoon tea in Kensington Gardens is our new guilty pleasure.
Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens W8
020 3166 6113