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Here's a treat... how about booking yourself an afternoon tea in one of the riverside restaurants at the Houses of Parliament?
It sounds almost unbelievable, but it's possible for the public to book a sitting in the elegant Terrace Pavilion -- the same place where the MPs eat during the week. (Note: It's not always in the Terrace Pavilion, because there might be parliamentary business going on).
You'll get a seasonal menu of savouries and sweets by Parliament's award-winning chefs, served up with a selection of luxury teas and coffees.
Important note: It's not possible to have the tea on it's own. You need to combine it with a tour, which costs extra. What you need to do is book yourself a Saturday tour of Parliament beforehand (at least one day in advance -- you can't just turn up and do it on the same day). And you need to book your tour time at least two hours in advance of the tea, to give you time to complete it. The tea has sittings at 2 PM and 3.45 PM.
The tour comes in two different versions: a guided tour, and a self-guided tour on a pair of headphones. Craig has tried them both and described them on his blog. Read his review of the guided tour and review of the self-guided tour before you go, to help you decide which one to pick.
If you're into luxury teas then there are plenty more to choose from. How about an Afternoon Tea at The Ritz? That really is the ultimate tea in London, but it will make a big dent in your wallet. Another option is the Tea at Fortnum & Mason (a posh shop in Piccadilly). Or maybe you could book yourself an evening meal onboard a Bateaux Cruise as it floats slowly down the Thames?
brucemartin – “I hope to tour the Parliament when I next visit the UK. But I understand that they plan to close it for improvements for a few years. Does anyone know if they will have tours while the works are in progress? And what are the expected dates of closure? Thanks. Edit: I will add that I just saw the following on their web site, and I wonder if anything further is known? Are there non-Saturday tours in June? When can I go on a guided tour? You can go on a guided tour on Saturdays throughout the year and most weekdays when Parliament is not in session. Book tickets now for the following dates: Every Saturday until 29 September 2018 Tuesday to Friday between 3 and 13 April 2018 Wednesday to Friday between 25 May and 1 June 2018 Monday to Friday between 1 and 31 August 2018 (except 27 August 2018) Tuesday to Friday between 18 and 28 September 2018”
Admin – “Hi Bruce. It’s not going to be for a long while yet. There are no official dates, but we’ve heard that the big closure might not happen until 2025. The building will still be undergoing other repairs in the meantime (large parts of it are already covered in scaffolding). The last time we went on a tour of Parliament the Royal Gallery was closed and they had some of the old tiled floors up, so if you do go on a tour expect to see some work going on. The exception is Big Ben, which has already been closed. That will not reopen again until 2020. It’s also completely covered in scaffolding. The only thing that’s visible now is the small square of the clock face There are no non-Saturday tours in June because that’s when Parliament is a working building. It’s only when the MPs are on holiday over the summer and during Christmas and Easter that they offer midweek tours. Ps. We still definitely recomnend going on a tour even with the building works”
Craig’s review of Houses of Parliament – “I love this place. I even love the politicians inside it (well, most of them). If you come to London and don't go to the Summer Opening at the Houses of Parliament then you're basically nuts. It will have been a wasted trip. It's like going to Rome and not seeing the Vatican. Or going to Amsterdam and not getting stoned. A tour of this place will make your holiday. Th… continued”
Listen to MPs in the Houses of Commons – 8 Jan to 20 Dec 2018 – Visitors can enter the Houses of Parliament for free, and watch MPs debating in the House of Lords and House of Commons.
Attend PMQs (Prime Minister’s Questions) – Every Wed – You can watch the Prime Minister get grilled by the House of Commons every Wednesday, at Prime Minister's Questions.
Listen to a speech at Speakers’ Corner – Every Sun (around noon) – If you visit Speakers' Corner at Sunday lunchtime you can listen to an orator stand up and discuss whatever they like -- all in the name of free speech.
Sadiq Khan, at Mayor’s Question Time – 22 Mar, 17 May, 21 Jun, 19 Jul, 13 Sep, 18 Oct, 15 Nov and 13 Dec 2018 – The London Assembly will be grilling Sadiq Khan at Mayor's Question Time, in their monthly meeting at City Hall.
Disclaimer: Event details can change at short notice and you should reconfirm everything before making plans