Day 3 in London – Buckingham Palace, Bar Boulud, Harrod’s, afternoon tea at Claridge’s

Day 3 – Changing the Guard> lunch at Bar Boulud > Harrod’s > afternoon tea at Claridge’s

We got off at Westminster tube station and walked to Buckingham Palace to see the changing of the guard. We saw Big Ben up close as soon as we got out of the tube station. It was a pity that the weather was rainy and cold that day. What’s worse was we didn’t bring our umbrella and they were also sold out at the closest convenient store. Note to self: always bring an umbrella when travelling around the UK.

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You should definitely check the time and date of the official changing guard website before your visit as the timing will change over time. The ceremony lasts about 30mins. We arrived about 30mins earlier than the changing guard trying to secure a good spot for a photo. Since we didn’t have an umbrella and our jacket was soaked with rain, we went to the Queen’s Gallery Shop to stay warm. It is a good place for getting quality souvenirs but it is a bit pricey. I was particular interested in their kitchenware and dreaming about having a full set of nice tableware to host an English tea party. My dream didn’t come true as they are pretty pricey and it would be quite heavy to carry back home (also there’d be a huge possibiltiy of breaking them).

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We walked back to the outside of the Buckingham Palace when it was about time to have the ceremony. We were hiding under other peoples’ umbrellas whilst fighting for a good spot for photo taking.

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I was a bit disappointed as the guards showed up with the cape over their signature red coat. Hopefully I can get a better photo when I visit London again.

We also missed Mr Bean by 1 week at the Buckingham Palace. He was taking his iconic mini for a ride around Buckingham Palace to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Mr Bean show. I have to admit, I find Mr Bean a little annoying, though Mr Map thinks that he is hilarious. Click here for details.

Buckingham Palace

Opening hours: click here for details

Changing of the guards timing: http://changing-guard.com/dates-buckingham-palace.html

Address: Buckingham Palace, London

How to get there: By Underground – Victoria, Green Park and Hyde Park Corner.

Admission fee: click here for details

Official website: https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/the-state-rooms-buckingham-palace

We went straight to Bar Boulud after to keep us dry. It is well known for their good value for money lunch deal. You get a 3 courses meal at the price of around £20 including tea or coffee. Not to mention, the restaurant is located at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at Hyde Park!

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Grilled mackerel & braised lamb shoulder

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I can’t complain for the price I paid and the quality of food I get. Definitely great value!

Bar Boulud

Opening hours: Restaurant – Mon to Sat 12:00-23:00, Sun 12:00-22:00

Address: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London

Official Website: http://www.barboulud.com/london/

Remarks: Smart casual dress code. If you are going to visit some upscale restaurants in London, it is recommended to bring collar shirt and leather shoes just in case.

Knightsbridge is an upscale area renowned for its designer shops such as Harrods & Harvey Nichols. I didn’t win the lottery ticket and so for me, it is too expensive to shop in the area. Since we needed to kill time between our lunch and afternoon tea, we decided to take a stroll at Harrods. It is famous for their food hall but we were not in the mood to buy more food/snacks. Regardless, it is a great place to buy souvenirs. You can easily get lost as there are seven floors and 330 departments.

The shop itself is a landmark in the area.

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The signature Egyptian escalator

Harrods

Opening hours: Mon to Sat 10:00 – 21:00; Sun 11:30-18:00

Address: 87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London

Website: http://www.harrods.com

The traditional afternoon tea is part of the British culinary experience and Claridge’s is the top choice from my list. It is both classic and stylish, and it was definitely our culinary highlight and a real treat of our London trip. It is extremely popular (and pricey) and I had to book a few weeks ahead. Click here to see the afternoon tea menu.

Claridge’s is located in Mayfair, London. It is an exclusive area with many upscale shops and restaurants. It is also an area with London’s largest concentration of 5-star hotels.

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The elegant hotel interior design.

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Foyer & reading room – the area where they serve afternoon tea

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I love the simple but stylish tableware.

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Selection of traditional sandwiches – egg mayo, cucumber with cream cheese, chicken, salmon and ham.

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Classic raisin & plain scones serve with clotted cream & Marco Polo gelee.

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Selection of hand made pastry

The waiter asked if we needed any more sandwiches and I think we asked for a few more. We were so full and couldn’t move by the end of the meal, and Mr Map left the restaurant with the top button of his pants undone. It costs about £60 per head for the basic afternoon tea set and it is more for the experience and service. I have only paid so much for afternoon tea in Burj Al Arab hotel, Dubai but the food quality was way better at Claridge’s.

If you want something more edgy and playful, I would recommend you to visit Claridge’s sister hotel Berkeley Hotel for their fashionista afternoon tea. For others, please click here for Telegraph’s London’s 10 best afternoon teas.

Claridge’s

Afternoon tea: Served daily 2:45pm, 3pm, 3:15pm, 3:30pm, 4.45pm, 5pm, 5:15pm & 5:30pm

Address: Brook Street, Mayfair, London

Dress code: Elegant smart casual; no shorts, vests, sportswear, flip flops, ripped jeans or baseball caps.

Official website: http://www.claridges.co.uk/mayfair-restaurants-bars/london-afternoon-tea/

If you are going extreme, you can have some light breakfast and go for the 2:45pm session for afternoon tea. You will last the whole day and could even skip dinner.

What is your favourite afternoon tea spot in London? If you enjoy reading my blog, feel free to follow me on twitter @MinionTravel to get the latest update.

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