As we round Trafalgar Square tourists turn from Nelson’s Column and the four bronze lions and point their cameras our way. It’s the same the whole length of the route, with passers-by waving and passengers on standard London bus tours peering in with what I suspect is a hint of food envy.
I can’t say I blame them. In front of me is a beautiful spread with freshly made sandwiches and exquisite cakes. As our classic red Routemaster bus makes its way around Central London I switch between eyeing what to have next and looking out of the window.
I’m all aboard Brigit’s Bakery Classic Afternoon Tea Bus Tour, and it’s enormous fun. The French-style patisserie in Covent Garden has taken its tea out on the road with a range of bus trips, starting from different points around the capital. Having arrived at London Victoria by train I choose the convenient option of joining a tour starting from the coach station just across the road.
As normal coaches come and go from the various ranks there’s a palpable air of excitement as our head-turning bus – with a jolly livery of ladies shopping and one stealing a cheeky kiss with a guardsman – comes into view. After a swift and easy check-in, following the online booking system where you pick your seats in advance, we’re shown to our table for two (there are also tables for four). A mouth-watering tea is already laid out and some people can’t resist starting to tuck in before we’ve pulled out of the coach station.
Savouries include cucumber, cream cheese and mint on basil bread, a salmon and cucumber pretzel, a mini mushroom quiche and a feta, tomato and red pepper savoury muffin. Among the pretty sweet treats are passion fruit and white chocolate panna cotta, a tangy strawberry and yuzu tart and an orange and poppy seed cupcake.
Along the way plates are topped up with warm scones served with jam and clotted cream and there’s a choice of unlimited teas and soft drinks. It was a sunny afternoon for our tour and American guests, in particular, appreciated the iced tea that was also available. Cardboard fans were another practical and novel addition.
Vegan, vegetarian, halal and gluten-free afternoon teas can all be pre-booked, and you can add a sparkle to the experience by ordering a glass or bottle of bubbly, starting with a reasonable £8 flute of prosecco. If you want to really go to town there’s Louis Roederer Cristal for £315 a bottle.
Our 90-minute tour took in all the main sights, including Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park, Downing Street, Tower Bridge and more. Even if you know London, the tour is equally appealing to both visitors and locals, and I picked up a few interesting facts from the recorded commentary that I’d never heard about before.
Towards the end of the tour there was a fun sing-along competition with a prize. I won’t spoil it by saying too much more here. Another nice touch, if you can’t finish everything, is a Brigit’s Bakery doggy bag so you can take home any leftovers.
As well as the popular classic tour, the bakery offers a range of other circular trips including a grown-up gin tea for over-18s and family-friendly teas including the Peppa Pig and Paddington Bear tours, some with on board entertainers. From now until 10th September 2023, there’s a limited edition Beano Blamtastic Afternoon Tea Bus Tour. There are also themed tours throughout the year such as Father’s Day, and the buses are also available for private hire.
If you’re looking for an afternoon tea with a difference – and a delicious way to see London – then Brigit’s Bakery bus tours are definitely the way to go.
Brigit’s Bakery, 6-7 Chandos Place, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4HU, England.
The Covent Garden bakery is open daily from 10:00am to 6:00pm and Brigit’s Bakery Classic Afternoon Tea Bus Tour is available daily from noon to 5:00pm with departures from Victoria Coach Station and Trafalgar Square. See the website for details and timings of other bus tours.
Price Band: Medium with the Classic Afternoon Tea Bus Tour starting from £45 per adult and £35 for children.
Insider Tip: For an extra treat – and a ‘high tea’ in every sense – book one of the two VIP tables on the top deck right at the front of the bus which seat two people.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Photographs courtesy of Brigit’s Bakery