Claridges is one of those hotel names that evoke a Victorian and earlier style of Britishness of Peers of the Realm, Charles Dickens, Hackney Carriages and Omnibuses. In C21 reality, the House of Lords is now the Supreme Court, Peers of the Realm are largely ignored in favour of Celebs though hopefully Dickens is still read, Hackey Carriages have become Taxis, Omnibuses are buses and doubtless Claridges is no longer British owned but its tea is exquisite both in atmosphere and taste and I'd guess as much so now in C21 as in C19.
Despite its very much C21 price - no change to speak of from £50 each but admittedly including champagne - the nearest Saturday afternoon booking I could make to dad's 90th birthday in February was Saturday 19th June. The atmosphere both as regards decor and furnishings including armchairs so deep and heavy that you really did need the help offered by the attentive but not over attentive waiters to sit down comfortably in, was fantastic - being an upper class toff at Claridges for a few hours is probably more enjoyable than being one all the time as much of the pleasure from the experience is in the contrast with ordinary real life.
Mum (now 94) enjoyed chatting to the young men helping her and the French waiter was not even phased by questions and comments about the rather ignominous exit being made by the French soccer team from the World cup.
The scones cakes sweatmeats sandwhiches and so on were made by the chefs downstairs with great care and creativity as regards their ingredients, appearance taste and presentation. Mentioning that the waiters took the trouble to explain every detail down to the farm from which the ham and mustards originated might sound a little contrived or silly even but was fun at the time. Second helpings were brought on without quibble or further cost.
As for the hydraulic part of the tea: Dad opted for Chinese tea Lapsang Souchon; mum, little sister and mrs maytrees plumped for the Yorkshire tea equivalent whereas I decided to push the boat out a bit with a pot of one of the world's rarest teas (apparently) Silver Needle tea from China - the best tea I have ever tasted and the sensation is akin to that of tasing a rare or fine wine when all one usually drinks is supermarket plonk.
A live 3 piece orchestra added that je ne sais qua to the atmosphere, which was rounded off much to dad's emabarrassment if not delight, by a rendition of "Happy Birthday".