For a combined pre-Christmas and new job celebratory treat my oldest friend (in longevity of friendship rather than age) took me on the B-Bakery Routemaster Afternoon Tea Bus around London. It was brilliant! We have a bit of a thing for afternoon teas – me and my oldest friend that is, not the Royal we – and this was the pinnacle of afternoon tea indulgence. Not so much for the food, which was fine but nothing to write home about, and certainly not as generous as some (she says fondly remembering the doggy bag she took home for after the afternoon tea at Mews of Mayfair) but rather for the whole experience.
Now as I said this was a treat from my oldest friend to celebrate her new job and therefore she paid, so I can’t give you details of the price. I assume it didn’t come cheap – feel free to check on the website for yourself but I feel it would be rude of me to do so. However I do know you need to pre order and pay for any fizz you may want to consume for the duration of your afternoon tea in advance. This is a bit of a shame as we (or should I say she) had only pre-ordered one glass each so we were a little lacking on the fizz front… and be warned extra booze purchases cannot be made on board. When you book you can also choose from a selection of seating with different prices – we were in the premier seats top deck at the front! Apparently the most expensive.
The B-Bakery Afternoon Tea bus starts at an official gate at Victoria Coach Station and then tours the top sightseeing spots of London. We boarded the bus to the sound of Kool & the Gang – and I’m pleased to say the music continued in a similarly cheesy fashion for the duration of the one-and-a-half hour ride.
From Victoria we headed to Knightsbridge (the Harrods and Harvey Nicks Christmas window displays a highlight). Drove around Kensington, by the Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Palace, Notting Hill, Marble Arch, along Piccadilly, past the Ritz, Piccadilly Circus, St. James’ Palace, past Downing Street, Big Ben, the back of Buck House, down Whitehall and past the Horse Guard about four times. Saw the Millennium Wheel from across the Thames – basically we pretty much saw most central London landmarks.
I have to admit that eating and drinking on the top deck of an old Routemaster is rather tricky. It’s not like the olden days when you’d be sitting on the bus eating a bag of cheesy Wotsits and drinking a can of pop. We were trying to eat French delicacies (B-Bakery is a French company and a French bakery, in fact they call it L’Afternoon Tea and the bus itself appeared to be staffed by mostly French people apart from the chirpy bus driver) and drink champagne and hot tea. Corners were a nightmare!
Still we persevered and managed to quaff all of our fizz very quickly, and then drink tea from the lidded cup they provided and scoff all our food – and they even let us take home the aforementioned lidded cup. The whole experience was fantastic and one that I would thoroughly recommend.