The history of afternoon tea dates back centuries and is closely linked to British tradition and culture, but also to our Althoff St. James's Hotel & Club, one of our Althoff COLLECTION Hotels.
Enjoy a slice of history at our selected Althoff Hotels, with carefully chose teas that will tantalize your taste buds, as well as delicious delicacies prepared with love and attention to detail by our talented chefs. For those in the mood for something sparkling, we serve our afternoon tea with fine Roederer Champagne.
With our Afternoon Tea, we offer you a special experience that will delight your senses and give you a break from everyday life. Take the time to savour the moment and let yourself be enchanted by the elegance and refinement – a world full of tradition and enjoyment, celebrating the unique connection between past and present.
Anna Maria Russell, née Stanhope, Duchess of Bedford, a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria and lady-in-waiting between 1837 and 1841, introduced "afternoon tea" to society.
To bridge the time in the afternoon between a meager lunch and a late dinner, the duchess introduced a light snack: a light meal with tea and small pastries or sandwiches. After a while, she began to invite her friends to join her. This newly formed ritual of gathering for tea quickly spread and became an established and sociable tradition in many noble households.
Even when Anna Maria Russell returned to her London residence, she continued this cherished habit. She sent invitations to her friends asking them to join her for "tea". The news of Stanhope's ritual reached Queen Victoria, who quickly became enthusiastic about the idea.
In the late 1840s, the royal household began to hold its own daily afternoon parties, which eventually became known as afternoon tea. In the diaries of Queen Victoria, afternoon tea is mentioned over 7,000 times, which underscores her fondness for this tradition.
Also in 1840, Charles Elme Francatelli, an Englishman of Italian descent, was appointed chef to Queen Victoria after previously being head chef at the London St. James's Club. It is believed that he was also responsible for the delicious afternoon teas of the queen.
He recorded his authentic recipes in a cookbook, which was published in 1846 and also contains many references to Queen Victoria and German cuisine, due to the origin of her husband Prince Albert. After leaving his position at the royal court, he worked in various clubs in the St. James area and eventually became manager of the St. James's Club, which was then located at the corner of Berkley Street and Piccadilly.
The St. James's Club was later revived under the name "St. James's Club and Hotel" with its location in Park Place – our present-day Althoff St. James's Hotel & Club.
The tradition of afternoon tea is still a cherished part of British culture today. It recalls the friendship of Queen Victoria and Anna Maria Russell and the influence they had on the customs of their time.
To revive the traditions of days gone by, our renowned chefs from the Althoff Hotels have jointly created a selection of sweet delicacies and sandwiches. Our chefs found inspiration for their creations in the original recipes of the renowned chef Charles Elmé Francatelli.
Our Afternoon Tea is a unique and unforgettable experience that will take you on a journey through time and space. Come and experience the charm of a bygone era for yourself.