This year one of my most favourite people in the whole world booked a surprise afternoon tea for us. Since I was already having brunch on my actual birthday, she very thoughtfully booked a tea instead. This wasn’t just any afternoon tea though, I was going to be enjoying tea on the Thames with Bateaux London; taking in all the sights of the city from the river whilst enjoying sandwiches, pastries and scones.
The boat actually has a huge capacity, definitely more than I had expected. If you get there early there’s a waiting area that you can sit and chill. They have a small sliding wardrobe that is on the dock if you wish to leave your coats and jackets.
The seats are allocated and should be on your tickets. If you want a window view you can request it (but obviously that’s subject to availability). I was lucky enough to actually get one and be seated at the back of the boat so it was much quieter. The website says that there is a solo pianist but we couldn’t hear or see one if there was.
The actual boat ride itself was fantastic. Luckily the weather was on our side so it was lovely to spot the usual sites but also unusual river facing restaurants that I want to visit in the future.
I would love to rave about how great the tea was but unfortunately the tea experience was so terrible that I could only laugh. We were promised a selection of teas but the waiter only gave us an option of tea or coffee. I thought this would be whilst we waited for the boat to get going but once I finished my cup we weren’t offered anything else. The selection of sandwiches, pastries and scones. then arrived but still no sign of the tea! In the end we has to ask and were given just normal english breakfast tea.
The food looked ok and we just started tucking into our sandwiches we noticed that we had been given meat.
Luckily I hadn’t taken a bite just yet but my poor friend did. We called over the wait staff who said he would take it back to the kitchen. We were then left for ages without anything to eat, luckily we were too engrossed in conversation to be too annoyed. When he eventually emerged from the ktichen, we had a completely different cake stand that had nothing on it that was on the menu. There were no brownies and even the scones had been removed, only to be replaced by strawberries.
The ‘selection of teas’ that was described on the menu still weren’t offered to us and in the end we just had to laugh off how appalling the tea and service had been. It honestlyfelt like a real life faulty towers with our very own Manuel!
What saved the day was actually the latter half of our time on the Harmony when we decided to take a trip up to the to of the boat. There is Astroturf all across the top with benches to sit and enjoy the sites. he sun was shining and honestly it just all felt so wonderful and made the whole thing worth it.
If you’re not one for climbing up to the roof, you can still enjoy the outside if you make your way to the back of the boat (see my last pic).
The whole afternoon tea cruise lasts for a total of 1 hour and 15 minutes and the costs £32 per person. Honestly this isn’t a bad price. It’s just a shame the tea wasn’t nicer. Further details on bookings can be found here.
Would I recommend the Bateaux Cruis experience? As long as you’re not expecting a Ritz quality tea exerience then yes. Its hard to predict the weather of course but if you can then go on a sunny day and get upstairs as quick as you can to fully enjoy the whole experience.
Would I go again? To be completely honest, I think I would!