I once had afternoon tea at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. It was just ok. From then on I figured not to expect too much out of an afternoon tea at a museum. (Not that there are many US museums that serve afternoon tea.)
But anyways, when I found out the British Museum in London served afternoon tea, my hopes in museum afternoon teas rose. I mean, being in England, I figured it had to be good all over the country.
On a Sunday afternoon, I had the chance to test my theory.
The British Museum is located in Bloomsbury, a neighborhood in central London. Authors like Virginia Woolf and economist John Maynard Keynes have left their mark there. Nowadays it’s home to several universities, squares, parks, residences and the museum is in the center of it all.
I was staying in Bloomsbury at a hotel called The Bloomsbury. It’s only a three minute walk from the museum!
After spending some time searching for the Elgin Marbles (I had written a report about it in the previous semester- how cool is it to actually see it in person?! Well, despite the controversy.), I went to the Great Court Restaurant, where afternoon tea at the British Museum is served.
It was crowded. Every table was occupied and it was loud. Not exactly the typical hotel afternoon tea environment I’m used to. I didn’t have a reservation but waited in line. I ended up making a reservation through OpenTable really quickly while waiting, just in case.
There are tables for four and two scattered around the Great Court Restaurant but right in the center are two long communal tables with blue bar stools. There was a couple at the other end of the table having a late lunch and I was seated at the other end of the table.
The above was my view… until they seated another lone diner… get this… right ACROSS from me! Yea so no view after that. I honestly thought that only happens in restaurants in China (if you’ve been there, you know what I mean).
Tea options included English breakfast, earl grey, green tea and herbal teas. I was happy to find they serve loose leaf teas! There’s a price for the teas on the menu, but it’s included in your package if you order the Afternoon Tea.
I ordered earl grey. Turns out the guy sitting directly in front of me also ordered earl grey. And that’s when we began talking.
I was curious to know why a guy who looked to be in his mid to late 20s was having afternoon tea and if this was a thing for guys to have afternoon tea…?
There are two afternoon tea packages offered at the Great Court Restaurant. One is the regular Afternoon Tea and the other, Prosecco Afternoon Tea which comes with a glass of prosecco. This review shows the regular Afternoon Tea.
The Savory – (four varieties per person)
Savory items included:
Provençal red pepper and goat’s cheese tart, Irish beef pastrami and rocket brioche, cured salmon and dill cream cheese bagel and mustard cress sandwich.
The Scone – (two scones per person)
One plain and one with raisins served with a little mason jar of clotted cream and strawberry preserve.
The Sweet – (four varieties per person)
A selection of homemade patisserie. Mine included a moist brownie with icing, mango tart, cream puff like pastry with colored red sugar and a layered chocolate cake.
All food and tea are served on similarly designed plates, tea pots, cups and bowls with green flowers on white. The afternoon tea tray has two tiers, one for sweet and the other for savory. Meanwhile the scones are served separately.
A great option if you want something lighter is to order a Cream Tea. This is afternoon tea but just with scones. At the Great Court Restaurant, that would mean everything included in the Afternoon Tea package minus the two tiered tea tray.
Apart from the fact that they seated someone right in front of me (which was just strange because there were other tables) staff were friendly. It was very busy at the afternoon tea hours so other than being served the tea and food in a reasonable amount of time, I barely had contact with the staff.
Yes. Fast WiFi is available throughout the museum. You do not need a password to access.
Social Media Aspect
The British Museum is on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Like the MET, being a big museum, don’t expect a reply to your tweets to them. But they keep their followers and fans updated with news and of course, art!
So about my question of why a guy in his mid to late 20s was having afternoon tea by himself at a museum? Turns out he’s a member of the museum and tries to go as often as possible. He was just waiting for some friends so he was just passing the time by having tea.
Would I have afternoon tea at the British Museum again? Sure. Food was ok (better than the MET’s).
Maybe I’ll meet another interesting person. Or I’ll have it with my mom (who I usually have afternoon tea with) and reminiscence about my first afternoon tea experience at the museum.
Cost: £19.50 per person
Tea Time: Daily 3-5:30 pm at Great Court Restaurant at the British Museum
Great Russell Street
London WC1B 3DG