San Jose (California)
Wife and I are going to be in London on a day trip. Any recommendations for a place for high tea where we can be dressed casually?
Jessie, London! Best city ever! First off, for any high tea, call and book early. You won't be able to guarantee a spot if you just walk in.
My best casual recommendations are Sketch, which is a super funky space with several dining rooms, a tea room, and the coolest bathroom in London (seriously, check it out even if you don't have to use them). You'll definitely have a cool (and expensive, because all High Tea is expensive) experience, and it's definitely casual.
The other place that's getting a ton of buzz--they're booking out into October now--is Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium out east. As the name suggests, you'll have high tea among the kitties who live at Lady Dinah's. The company supports animal refuge and the cats who live on-site are super friendly and cute. Seriously, just check out their Twitter (https://twitter.com/LadyDinahsCats). If you're allergic, obviously not the best choice, but if you're not, you'll have been to one of the hottest spots in the whole of London.
Even more casual, Bea's of Bloomsbury (with locations also in St. Paul's (Bea's of Bloomsbury) and Farringdon (Bea's of Bloomsbury on Cowcross Street, EC1M 6BY)) does a lovely high tea, and they have the best cupcakes too! I prefer the Bloomsbury/Holborn location, but you will want to call in advance because it is a small location.
Friday through Sunday, the Tate Modern does Afternoon Tea at the restaurant at the top level of the museum. You'll have a beautiful view of the City of London and St. Paul's, and the ambiance is pretty casual, since it's in the museum.
If you change your mind and decide to go upscale (trust me, it's one of those bucket list things you've got to do), The Dorchester is the agreed-upon standard for the Higest of High Tea. You'll pay as though you're royalty, but you'll also feel like royalty, so it's totally worth it.
That's a good starting point. Have an amazing trip! Remember: book now!
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I'd definitely recommend The Wolseley for tea. A British institution but its still quite casual and reasonable prices.