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REVIEW: Afternoon Tea Cruise with City Cruises, London

REVIEW: Afternoon Tea Cruise with City Cruises, London

Afternoon tea, quite possibly the quaintest and most camp of all English traditions, can typically be enjoyed in grand hotels, country manors, or delightfully twee tearooms.

But anglophiles the world over looking for a fix of all things British would be hard pressed to find an activity more satisfying than taking in this very tradition on the River Thames itself (other than, perhaps, a visit to Downton Abbey).

And earlier this week we got to do just that with City Cruises. Boarding their vessel at Tower Pier (which counts Tower Bridge and the Tower of London as its neighbors), we departed at 3.30pm on the dot. Indeed, afternoon tea is historically served between 4-6pm.

As per, the many icons that populate the shores of the River Thames – The London Eye, the Shard – were as impressive as ever, and the boat boasts a large upper deck offering majestic views. But in all honesty my guest and I barely noticed them, instead focusing our attention on the carb-explosive food we were served.

Which is surprising, when you think about it: after all, in culinary terms, afternoon tea has never sought to reinvent the wheel. But while the sandwiches we ate were simple and straightforward (chicken, ham, smoked salmon, egg) they were also very tasty, comforting and clearly freshly-prepared.

The scones, too, tasted familiar and fresh, and once we’d devoured the delicious clotted cream and jam accompaniments, both were swiftly replenished. Meanwhile, the assortment of cakes were all of a high quality, and the melt-in-the-mouth pistachio and coffee macaroons a highlight.

We washed down all of the above with copious amounts of English breakfast tea; my guest and I paid a bit extra for a bottle of house white wine, which, unusually for us, we struggled to finish during the 90-minute journey.

Essentially, afternoon tea on the Thames is impossible not to enjoy – especially at the height of summer, the sun bouncing off the river and bathing everything in a dancing, glittering light. Go now.

For more information, visit the City Cruises website.