An afternoon tea experience on board the Cutty Sark
As much fun as it’s traveling the world, it’s easy to forget about the many attractions in your own backyard. So, when I was invited for afternoon tea on board the historical Cutty Sark, I jumped at the chance. The event was also an opportunity to celebrate 150 years of the world’s only surviving tea clipper.
Cutty Sark afternoon tea – what is the Cutty Sark?
The Cutty Sark is a clipper ship that was built in Glasgow, Scotland in 1869. Clippers have a long, narrow hull, a yacht-like appearance and a large sail area. They were designed to move quickly through the water.
The Cutty Sark first began life in the tea trade carrying goods from London to Shanghai. However, once the Suez Canal opened — also in 1869 — steamships had a shorter route to reach its destination. Eventually, the Cutty Sark was pushed out from the business, and turned its attention to the wool trade.
The Cutty Sark is the world’s oldest surviving tea clipper
“The Cutty Sark first began life in the tea trade carrying goods from London to Shanghai.”
Cutty Sark route to Australia
For 10 years, the clipper continued in the business, making the journey from London to Australia. However, after another round of improvements in steam technology, steamships gradually took over this trade route too. Once again, the Cutty Sark was out of a job.
After this period, the clipper was used as a cargo, and later as a cadet training, ship. It was eventually transferred to its home in Greenwich, London in 1954.
Present day Cutty Sark
Today, the Cutty Sark is part of the Royal Museums of Greenwich. It’s open to the public every day from 10am to 5pm, with last entry at 4.15pm.
It can get busy depending on the time of year you visit. Saying that, you may prefer to book your tickets in advance. It costs slightly less than paying at the door, plus you get to skip the lines and go straight inside.
Just some of the figureheads in the collection at the Cutty Sark
The Cutty Sark afternoon tea
From the many places where I’ve had afternoon tea, the Cutty Sark has to be one of the most memorable. Its café is on the lower ground ‘deck’, giving you a view of the elongated bottom of the clipper.
In the far distance, you also catch a glimpse of the collection of colorful and theatrical figureheads. These are the wooden figures that decorate the ships’ prows. The Cutty Sark’s home to the world’s biggest collection of figureheads, with its own taking center stage.
Our traditional cream tea also marked another celebration that day, ‘National Cream Tea Day!’ Our eyes lit up in delight and our bellies grumbled at the sight. Trays piled high with finger sandwiches, cakes and of course scones with jam and clotted cream. They serve it with tea in delicate Fine China teapots, but you can also ask for coffee if you prefer.
Afternoon tea on board the Cutty Sark – are you hungry yet?!
How did the Cutty Sark get its name?
The name Cutty Sark comes from a poem called Tam O’Shanter by Scottish poet Robert Burns. It refers to a nightdress worn by a young witch called Nannie, who’s one of the poem’s main characters.
Where is the Cutty Sark based? Cutty Sark afternoon tea
The Cutty Sark’s located in Greenwich, south-east London. It’s a pretty, and very green, part of the capital, next to the river, with a great indoor market too.
What’s more, there are other top attractions nearby, like The Royal Observatory (home of GMT) and The National Maritime Museum.
The lower deck of the Cutty Sark
How do I reach the Cutty Sark?
You can easily reach the Cutty Sark from central London by public transport. The tube station’s on the DLR, which stands for Docklands Light Railway. It’s a track that operates only in this area of London.
It’s impossible to miss the stop for the Cutty Sark, since it’s called ‘Cutty Sark (for Maritime Greenwich) DLR Station!
Alternatively, you can also take the train (National Rail) to Greenwich or Maze Hill from central London, or even the boat. MBNA Thames Clippers travel along the river, and can bring you to Greenwich Pier from London Bridge in 20 minutes.
What do you think of the Cutty Sark afternoon tea? Is it an attraction you’d like to see, and experience, in London? Let me know in the comments below.
Till next time, happy boutique travels x
Disclosure: Although I was invited by Royal Museums Greenwich, all views expressed are my own. This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something that I’ve recommended. Thank you for your support.
The figurehead of Nannie is the white figure in the center holding the lock of hair
Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience; a demographic (late 20s onwards) that enjoys glamping over camping, staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels, sampling the local food and wine, cultural activities, and indulging in a spot of wellness on their travels. Read more here…