My husband and I spent our honeymoon over Christmas in London a few years ago. We had heard Christmas tea at the Ritz was (while of course a bit touristy) a special thing to do in London around the holidays. So I booked a champagne tea for two months in advance and swallowed our sticker shock at the price – it was $2 to the pound back then but we knew it would be a memorable treat.
Well, the tea was memorable, but for a different reason than we anticipated. The decorations were lovely, I do remember that. The service was mildly attentive but not what you’d expect from a hotel of this caliber. What we both vividly remember was the two year old at the table squarely in the center of the tearoom, behaving in a manner not suitable at any family-friendly restaurant, let alone the Ritz tearoom, where all men are expected to be in coat and tie and ladies in their smartest afternoon dress.
This child was not only screaming, he was climbing over his chair and pulling the hair of the lady behind him, messing with the delicately adorned Christmas tree, and I repeat, screaming at the top of his lungs repeatedly through the meal. The parents made no effort to remove him from the tearoom, there were no visible disciplinary measures taken other than “shushing,” which did not have any affect whatsoever. I felt for this kid, who was receiving his fair share of ugly looks thanks to his lack of parenting and need for attention.
I glared down the waiters, who appeared unfazed as the toddler continued to scream in the middle of the tearoom. Surely they will do something! Any place with a strict dress code should know that this is far more offensive than any jeans or trainers would be to one’s fellow diners, who are paying a high price for the privilege of being there. All the other patrons were visibly shocked and irritated as well – and the poor lady who was most affected deserved a medal for her patience (or perhaps should have been the one to say something on all of our behalf?). I don’t care if little Prince William is sitting in that chair, it was intolerably inconsiderate.
Shame on his parents for taking him to an expensive restaurant and expecting him to behave, and shame on the Ritz for not doing anything about the situation. Looking back, shame on us for not fighting them on the bill. I can’t believe we paid £100 to sit at TGI Fridays!