Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tea in London Day 1 The Orangery at Kensington Gardens and Harrods

It has been a dream of mine ever since I saw Princess Diana walk down the isle on TV that I wanted to go to London.  It seemed like a magical place filled with royal happenings and majestic architecture.  My dream grew even stronger once I fell in love with tea. 

It finally came true just after Christmas and I want to share with all of you where I went and what I did.  Of course, as with all of my blogs, it will have a slight (OK well strong) tea slant to it! 

I took off on my journey to Sri Lanka and scheduled a four day layover in London.  I made a list of things I wanted to see and appointments with those I needed to talk to for research for my new book. 

After some searching, it was suggested I stay in the Kensington area of London which  was lovely.  My inn was just a couple short blocks away from Kensington palace.  This is the palace where Princess Dianna lived after her separation from Prince Charles. Unfortunately, the palace was under renovation at the time, but the tearoom next to the palace was open. 

File:Kensingtonhighstreet.jpgAfter flying all night, I figured out how to get from the airport to my inn using the tube (subway) and it was fairly easy to navigate.  After checking in, I quickly showered and was ready to go have my first cup of tea and some lunch in London.  I chose the Orangery because of how close it was to my inn and the history of the building.  It is just adjacent to Kensington Palace and Gardens.

It is a charming tearoom built originally by the request of Queen Anne as a greenhouse for the Kensington Gardens in 1704-1705.  It was fashionable for the wealthy to import tropicals to their garden for their beauty and also their fruit.  However, due to the climate in London, it was important to find a home for "the oranges" during the cold winter months.  An "orangery" greenhouse was the solution.

It was a beautiful sunny day in London and it was the perfect location to enjoy the afternoon.  It is apparent when I walked into the tearoom and saw the beautiful large elaborate windows that fill the interior with light of its purpose in its prior life.

Here is a closer look at the detailed woodwork.

I had to pinch myself to know I was really in London at a place royals had visited for centuries!

The tearoom is beautiful from its expansive windows and high ceilings that it doesn't require much embellishment as you can see.  To keep with the "orangery" theme, each table has a real small orange plant on the table as a centerpiece. 

I was quite hungry after just having airplane food for breakfast very much earlier in the day.  I am often a skeptic of tourist places for the quality of food, so I was cautiously optimistic. 

 I chose the warm salad of roasted chicken and butternut squash with tarragon dressing.  I was delighted when I tasted my salad as it was so good.  The chicken was moist and well roasted and the squash was just the right amount of softness without being mushy.  

To make my experience even better, I ordered a pot of Afternoon at the Palace which is a blend Darjeeling and China black tea.  It was served in a white teapot.  To my surprise, they even had it in a tea sac so I could decant the leaves when I thought they had steeped enough. 

Ahhh, my first cup of tea in London did not disappoint.

I just sat for some time enjoying my surroundings and my tea.  It was the perfect place to welcome myself to London on a beautiful unusually sunny winter afternoon.

When I finished my lunch, I enjoyed walking through the large gardens that connect to Hyde Park.  Then, I was off to Harrods along with everyone else in London! The after Christmas sales were in full swing, but I did manage to check out the tea happenings at Harrods. There are many floors and opportunities for tea on most of them.  Here is just one of them below.

I hopped on a double-decker red bus back to my inn-another thing I always wanted to do! I even managed to take the correct one too which was a quite a relief. There is something liberating and fun to discover new places on your own. 

I couldn't believe it. I was in London!  It was a perfect first day!  My next blog will be full of new tea places and stops.

Happy Sipping with Memories of London, Lisa    


  1. Reading your account of taking tea at the Orangery near Kensington Palace transported me back in time. As a participant on the Tea In London tour hosted by Denise LeCroy several years ago, this was one of our destinations, and I remember it well. I enjoyed sharing in your adventure, looking forward to more!

  2. Thanks Rosemary! London is a wonderful tea city.

  3. Dearest Lisa,

    Great experience you had and you did write it down very well. Thanks for the birthday wishes on FB! It was a rough week on the phone a lot with my loved ones due to my brother's severe accident. Tea is soothing...
    Love to you,


  4. Loved having tea at The Orangery, but didn't have time for Harrod's. Oh for another trip there to explore some more. Thanks for the memories. That salad looks and sounds wonderful.

  5. Wonderful account of tea time in London. If only more Londoners actually drank tea the way you did. Probably 99% only use tea bags, most of these are the very economical kind, and usually the settings are not quite so glamorous.
    Anyway, I shall pass this article on, it was very nice to read.

  6. Enjoyed reading your account of your first day in London. Thanks for sharing. I can't wait to go there again myself. A Tea Tour would be fun!


  7. I am 8 months away from a month-long stay in London. The Orangery is on the list!
    Thanks for helping me start drooling early.

  8. I loved the scones piled high at the doorway when we had tea years ago at the Orangery, thought it was such a lovely place, we did get to tour Kensington Palace, and loved the pretty little pond out to the side. It was dark when we left and we had to exit and walk in the dark to the sidewalk, a very long way and it was quite an experience! London and tea are such fun!