Stylish spots in the capital for when you need a hit of cake (and sandwiches, obvs)
Looking for the best afternoon tea in London? As people of Britain, it’s our God-given right to indulge our sweet tooth in lavish surroundings at least once a year as part of the sacred ritual that is High Tea.
From tiny sandwiches cut into squares (never triangles – please) to cherry-topped desserts and immaculate white-gloved waiters, here are the best places to have afternoon tea in London.
The Gallery, Sketch
For a more modern take on the traditional high tea, opt for an afternoon spent in Sketch’s Gallery room. With its plush baby pink velvet interior and walls covered in humorous posters, the decor is as much a part of the experience as the delicacies it serves. From £59 per person, you can expect to feast on traditional scones, a selection of petits gateaux and a string of mouth-watering sandwiches (- of particular note, the truffle croque and salmon, cucumber and ricotta sound divine.)
The Afternoon Tea starts from £59 per person and goes up to £77 if you would like to enjoy your high tea with some added bubbly.
Alice’s Queen of Hearts Afternoon Tea, Kona
Tucked inside the opulent courtyard of Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences is Kona, just one of the hotel’s many eateries – infamous for its award-winning themed afternoon teas. Currently on offer is Alice’s Queen of Hearts Afternoon Tea, inspired by the much loved children’s classic Alice in Wonderland. Presented on delicate crockery patterned with illustrations from the story, alongside a bespoke-designed top hat elevated above the table, this afternoon tea will transport you straight to the dreamy world of our favourite wanderer. After trying delicious sandwiches such as the Smoked salmon with horseradish crème fraîche on rye bread, you can enjoy a selection of beautifully designed pastries inspired by the iconic Queen of Hearts herself.
The Afternoon Tea costs £45, with vegetarian and vegan versions of the tea available upon request 48 hours in advance.
Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, Fortnum and Mason
For a quintessentially British high tea, take a seat at Fortnum and Mason’s; set with crockery so fine, even the queen would be impressed, this is an experience for those seeking tradition steeped in abundant elegance mixed with a hint of teal. You can look forward to a selection of finger sandwiches filled with reformed takes on British classics: cucumber with mint cream cheese, smoked salmon with tartare dressing and Norfolk cured ham with english mustard to name but a few. And of course, no high tea would be complete without a roster of lovingly crafted patisseries – think, scones accompanied with rich clotted cream and strawberry preserve as well as a carriage brimming with cakes.
The Afternoon Tea costs £60 per person and is served with Fortnum’s famous British tea.
High Palms High Tea, The Landmark
Served beneath the luscious palms of the hotel’s elegant Winter Garden Restaurant, you can sit back and relax all the while indulging in a cream tea or two. With the soft sound of a piano playing in the background, The Landmark promises refinement in a soothing, utterly tranquil atmosphere. The menu is every bit as appealing, offering a wide range of preserves – from apricot to rhubarb and vanilla – to be enjoyed with a freshly baked scone and Cornish cream. Sandwiches are upmarket versions of the British classics; from cucumber to egg and cress, it’s a true ode to all things British.
Afternoon tea at The Landmark starts from £45 per person. Enjoy with a glass of champagne for £52.
Prêt-à-Portea, The Berkeley
For the fashionista extraordinaire, this haute couture inspired afternoon tea is as beautiful as it is delicious. The confectionary ensemble – or should we say, collection – includes a Moschino million dollar bill-topped pistachio delice and an Emilia Wickstead red velvet gown reinvented as an exquisite choux bun. And if that didn’t wet your sartorial tastebuds enough, it will also include the – now, widely recognised – neon pink Molly Goddard dress, made famous by Vilanelle in Killing Eve.
Prices start at £60 per person. For added bubbles, enjoy with a glass of Laurent-Perrier at £70 per person.
Farmacy, Notting Hill
With a focus on food that benefits both the body and the mind, Farmacy is dedicated to wholesome dining which is reflected in their vegan, fresh and deliciously healthy afternoon tea. The experience will set you back by £50, but you’ll be treated to the likes of pecan CBD truffles, scones with coconut clotted cream and berry compote as well as a wide collection of vegan sandwiches.
Taiwanese Afternoon Tea, Xu
For a spin on the classic scone and jam, the makers at XU have brought to London a traditional Taiwanese afternoon tea ceremony set. From sweet potato taro dumplings to steamed red bean buns and a fried peanut mochi, you won’t be short on flavour. And at only £32 per person, it’s remarkably reasonable.
Back to Classic Afternoon Tea, The Lanesborough
In the heart of Knightsbridge, The Lanesborough hotel’s ‘Back to Classic’ Afternoon Tea is an occasion to be treasured. Served in the Michelin-starred Céleste dining room, guests are treated to brand new pastry creations created by Head Pastry Chef Gabriel Le Quang.
On top of these incredible pastries, get ready to enjoy scones still warm from the oven, sumptuous finger sandwiches (including the best coronation chicken you will ever taste), a huge range of teas and of course, a glass of champagne to top it all off.
We loved the exotic lace cupcake and the blackberry cheesecake and, as nothing is too much trouble for The Lanesborough team, gluten-free guests can enjoy equally delicious tea-time treats.
The ‘Back to Classic’ Afternoon Tea is available at The Lanesborough priced from £53 per person
Afternoon Tea Dance, Waldorf Hilton
This tea has it all (champagne, Charleston and a bonafide jazz band). Set in the 1908 Waldorf Hilton’s airy Palm Court, dancing duo The Twin Swing will treat you to a silver-sequinned display of classic 1920s dance, accompanied by the Berkeley Square Society Band. When the girls aren’t doing their thing, the marble floor is free for the tea-takers (cue adorable older couples waltzing across the dance floor). After a tea of warm scones, finger sandwiches and delicate cakes, there is an (optional) dance lesson where you can try your luck at the Charleston (warning: you may come away with heightened sympathy for contestants on Strictly), followed by more jazz tunes. This is an afternoon excursion that will warm your heart, leaving you pleasantly full, and possibly a little breathless.
Japanese Afternoon Tea, Sosharu
Escape from Britain for a little while and head out east to Sosharu, which offers a gorgeous Japanese take on an English classic. Combining traditional Japanese desserts such as taiyaki, a fish shaped pastry filled with cream, and creating new staples such as matcha iced fingers, the entire selection stems around the ritual of tea ceremony. Of course, you can’t have afternoon tea without said drink and the tea list is long – as well as the cocktail list.
Summer Garden Afternoon Tea, Strand Palace Hotel
Revamped especially for the summer, the culinary team over at Strand Palace Hotel have revised their classic afternoon tea and made it a little more summer-friendly. The entire set is a stroll through a British garden, with floral touches such as white chocolate roses and milk chocolate butterflies. You can’t go wrong with the savouries either and they put a little spin on the standards – think sirloin steak and horseradish served on orange bread and smoked salmon and cream cheese on charcoal toast.
Designer Afternoon Tea, Thomas’ Cafe at Burberry
Head to the Burberry flagship store on Regent Street to delight in a truly British offering at Thomas’ Cafe – primed and ready for Instagram. With all the classic staples like delicate finger sandwiches, scones and a selection of miniature desserts including lemon drizzles and apple choux buns, it’s all served on a vintage-chic brass cake stand. It also washes down a little easily with a complimentary glass of sparkling rose, which might make perusing their store slightly dangerous.
The Savoy, The Strand
Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea, Sanderson London
Take a tumble down Fitzrovia’s rabbit hole to Sanderson Hotel‘s courtyard garden, where you’ll be treated to a smorgasbord of Alice in Wonderland inspired treats, including a chessboard gateau, a chocolate and pistachio blue caterpillar, an apple, cinnamon and peach ‘Drink Me’ potion, alongside Tweedle Dee’s lemon curd financier. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser for literary fans, each addition is inspired by key characters and chapters from the Wonderland books, served with “Alice” China black tea, (or something stronger if you prefer). It looks so good that you’ll almost have trouble finishing it off (emphasis on ‘almost’). Follow the white rabbit for directions.
Jazz Afternoon Tea, Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
Get inspired by 20s London with this Jazz Afternoon Tea served in the art deco surroundings of the Sheraton Grand’s Palm Court. This musically inspired tea is available for 90 days from April 30th (International Jazz Day) to celebrate the hotel’s 90th anniversary, and is accompanied by live jazz. It arrives in a bird cage – an homage to the unique structure of the 1920’s hotel. Highlights include the edible saxophone atop a chocolate tart, and the pinacolada crème topped with a musical note. There’s a veggie sandwich option too, and of course champagne and fresh fruit juice on offer. As for the tea, there are 27 flavours from which to choose – we recommend the Passion Fruit Ceylon from Sri Lanka.
The Chelsea Harbour Hotel, Chelsea Marina
The great thing about this tea is it gives you harbour-side views without having to leave London. The Chelsea Harbour Hotel has partnered with Whittard of Chelsea, bringing the world-famous 130-year-old tea brand back to its roots. They offer a curated selection of traditional, herbal and speciality teas, which you can leave to brew while enjoying the repertoire of the live pianist. The scones and sandwiches are as delicious as you’d expect, but don’t forget to save space for the sweeter treats – the mini bakewell tart and red velvet cupcakes being the ones to look out for. And at just £22 per person, it’s affordable too. Go on a sunny day to get the best views over the marina.
The Balcon at the Sofitel London St James
High Tea with a difference – think traditional afternoon tea but with a classic French twist. The Balcon serve traditional Dammann Frères tea (which dates back to 1692 when tea was exclusively sold in France by Monsier Damame), accompanied by a delicious array of finger sandwiches and cakes, as well as Parisienne pastries. If you wish, opt for a glass of champagne or signature cocktail – or opt for 90 minutes of free-flowing champagne for an afternoon of decadence. Taking children out for their first afternoon tea experience? The adorable children’s version comes in a paintbox with an accompanying colouring kit.
Balthazar, Covent Garden
For the sweet-tooth junkie who wants to spend a morning indulging in some mouth watering treats, this American-inspired afternoon tea is fit for a king (and queen, prince, princess – okay, you get it). With flavours, symbols and colours drawn from the oh-so-wonderful Big Apple, it’s well worth the visit. You can book your visit here.
The Bulgari Hotel, Knightsbridge
If you’re less of a ‘chintz’ person (and you fancy a spin around Harrods afterwards) try the ultra-sleek Bulgari Hotel’s festive afternoon tea. The menu includes a nod to the hotel’s Italian roots with mini panettone, while there are other Christmassy flavours in the orange and winter spiced macaroons. If you’re feeling seriously decadent, you can even add a glass of Ruinart champagne.
Hotel Cafe Royal, Mayfair
A quintessentially British choice. Hosted at the hotel’s Oscar Wilde bar, the Royal Tea offers an insight into the history of the tradition, followed by a London-themed menu including strawberry jam roly-poly, their Queen of Heart’s Bakewell Tart, and of course, a choice of custom-blend teas.
Mr Fogg’s, Mayfair
Looking to sip on something a bit stronger than a cup of Earl Grey? Mr Fogg’s is the place. A cocktail menu, a hidden location and a new botanical garden make it a top choice for those looking to indulge their inner-glutton in style. If you’re a gin fiend, you’re in for a treat with their bottomless gin tea.
Muriel’s Kitchen, Soho
Banoffee pie jars, brownie bites and little carrot loafs all accompany the usual suspects at cute Muriel’s Kitchen which is known for its healthy but hearty food. We suggest hitting the Soho branch for cake and Prosecco before heading out to the shops for a bit of tipsy retail therapy.
La Suite West, Hyde Park
This is one of very few vegan afternoon teas in London – at La Suite West’s Nosh Garden Kitchen the cream is coconut and the cream cheese is cashew nut. If you haven’t got on board with the whole vegan thing don’t be put off, because there’s plenty here to please. (The chocolate brownie and home-made cinnamon scones are a particular highlight). Plus, it can be enjoyed al-fresco in the hotel’s garden terrace, alongside a tea of your choice or a passion fruit and vanilla lychee mocktail (perfect if you’re trying to cut down on the booze too).
The Modern Pantry, Clerkenwell
Bluebird Chelsea, King’s Road
Aqua Shard, London Bridge
Not just a delicious menu and some of the best views in the capital, Aqua Shard also offers a glorious nostalgia trip in the form of afternoon tea. As a tribute to the iconic children’s author, Roald Dahl, you can enjoy a selection of novel delicacies from James’ giant peach (meringue) to Mr Twit’s bird pie. In case you were wondering, Snozzcumbers didn’t make the cut.