Best afternoon tea in London
Celebrating a special occasion? See our best afternoon teas review, including classic establishments like The Ritz, Fortnum & Mason, The Savoy and more
Treat yourself and a loved one to special afternoon tea in the capital city with our top afternoon tea in London recommendations. Find everything from classic British menus to more unique options and servings for kids. There's no better way to celebrate a birthday, holiday or special occasion.
We've carefully reviewed a selection of offerings around London and considered the price against the service, quality of food and drink and atmosphere.
Discover even more teas with the best coronation afternoon teas in London or the best afternoon teas in the UK for cities around England and Wales. For more travel ideas, see the best luxury family hotels in the UK. To make your own dishes at home, see our afternoon tea recipes for all things scones and sandwiches.
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Best afternoon teas in London at a glance
- Best for timeless luxury: Ritz afternoon tea, from £67 per person
- Best for special occasions: Hotel Café Royal Van Gough Afternoon tea, from £70 per person
- Best for Japanese flavours: Nobu Hotel afternoon tea, from £60 per person
- Best for seasonal ingredients: The Petersham afternoon tea, from £55 per person
- Best for chocolate lovers: Chocolate Afternoon Tea at The Park Tower, from £39 per person
- Best for airy ambience: High Palms High Tea at The Landmark London, from £65 per person
- Best for whimsy: Peter Pan afternoon tea at Aqua Shard, from £53 per person
- Best traditional afternoon tea: The Savoy afternoon tea, from £65 per person
- Best value afternoon tea with a view: oblix at The Shard, from £58 per person
- Best themed tea: The Kensington Hotel, from £58 per person
- Best selection of teas: Parisian afternoon tea at Mariage Frères, from £35 per person
- Best for central location: The Stage at The Londoner, from £55 per person
- Best for theatre fans: The Grand Saloon at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, from £59 per person
- Best for a family day out: Sweetshop afternoon tea at Chesterfield Hotel, from £55 per person
- Best for riverside views: The Library at County Hall afternoon tea, from £55 per person
- Best for a sweet tooth: Fortnum and Mason afternoon tea, from £62.50 per person
- Best for a generous selection: The Goring afternoon tea, from £65 per person
- Best for exceptional service: The Langham afternoon tea, from £65 per person
- Best for kids: One Aldwych Charlie & the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea, from £38 per child, £58 per adult
- Best for stunning views: Ting at the Shangri-La Hotel afternoon tea, from £69 per person
- Best for Halloween fans: Wizard afternoon tea at Georgian House Hotel, from £40 per person
- Best for green tea lovers: The Rosebery Lounge at Mandarin Oriental afternoon tea, from £68 per person
- Best for a couple's day out: Royal Lancaster London afternoon tea, from £45 per person
- Best for 1920's elegance: The Beaumont Hotel afternoon tea, from £62 per person
Best afternoon teas in London 2023
The Ritz afternoon tea
At a glance…
Price: £67 per person/ £89 with glass of Barons de Rothschild Champagne
Best for: timeless luxury
Contact details: The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR
Afternoon tea at The Ritz is one of the most timeless experiences in London for a reason. Attention to detail and fantastic service make this afternoon tea well worth the splurge. Step into the glamorous Palm Court salon with mirrored surfaces, gold detailing and leafy palms. The luxurious atmosphere is complete with a live pianist and harpist. The food is traditional with classic British flavours and generous servings; savoury sandwiches include Scottish smoked salmon, chicken with tarragon creamed mayonnaise, cheddar cheese with chutney, and more. Fresh plain and fruit scones come with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve, and the pastries and cakes, which are the real stars of the show, have delicate details and stunning finishes. We enjoyed a selection of light choux buns, tart raspberry pastries and creamy lemon mousses. There are 18 luxury teas to choose from, including everything from passion fruit and orange to chocolate mint rooibos and more. We chose the classic Ritz Royal English - a breakfast tea with a blend of Golden Kenyan, Assam and Orange Pekoe. Consider upgrading with a glass of champagne for £21 for a well balanced Barons de Rothschild, 'Réserve Ritz', Brut NV. Overall, the service is a fantastic option for a special occasion with friendly and attentive staff and a gorgeous ambiance.
Hotel Café Royal Van Gogh afternoon tea
At a glance...
Price: from £70 per person / £80 with a glass of champagne
Best for: historic surroundings and excellent service, ideal for special occasions
Contact details: Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent Street, London W1B 4DY
Offering a luxury afternoon tea experience in stunning surroundings, Hotel Café Royal is one to remember. Tea is served in a gilded mirrored tea room dating back to 1865, set to the sound of a live pianist and with a choice of more than 25 tea infusions and three champagnes. The menu is a celebration of renowned artist Vincent van Gogh, and features his most beloved works in a variety of stunning pastries, sandwiches and cakes. Each element of the tea has its own story that's told by the waiter as it arrives at your table, and it’s evident a lot of time and love has gone into the creation of the menu. The black garlic Aberdeen Angus roast beef sandwich is the standout of the savoury options, with a light dash of fresh horseradish and flavourful tomato bread. The scones are light and fluffy, paired with a unique earl grey tea jelly. The real stars of the show are the spectacular desserts. By far the most creative entries in an afternoon tea, we love the edible sunflowers made with sunflower seed praline and salted caramel. An impressive self portrait of VanGough comes in the form of a coffee mousse with a crunchy pecan base, complete in a mini easel for display. The starry night dessert perfectly captures the beauty of his work and is loaded pink grapefruit compote and orange marmalade. Overall, this is a truly unique experience not to be missed by art lovers or those celebrating a special occasion.
Nobu Hotel London Portman Square afternoon tea
At a glance...
Price: from £60 per person
Best for: Japanese-inspired flavours
Contact details: Nobu Hotel, 22 Portman Square, London W1H 7BG
Settle into the upscale lounge at Nobu Hotel in Portman Square for afternoon tea. The relaxing ambiance is the perfect setting for a luxurious tea, right off the busy streets of Oxford Circus. The friendly service and and calming atmosphere make this trendy hotel approachable, a great place to celebrate a special occasion. The menu combines contemporary Japanese flavours with traditional afternoon tea classics. The tea selection offers many unique options, like lychee & rose noir and Kabuse sencha. The selection of sushi cups showcase exquisite cuts of high quality salmon and yellowtail. Canapés and savoury options include crispy fried chicken, mushroom Matsuhisa tacos and beef tataki buns with wasabi sauce. The snow crab roll with jalapeño dressing is a personal favourite, showing off the freshest of ingredients. The fluffy scones are served with Cornish clotted cream, raspberry mint jam and a tart yuzu curd. The delectable sweets are visually stunning and full of creative flavours. Stand outs include miso chocolate caramel tart, Fuji apple shiso mirin pillow and a beautiful Hojicha cheesecake. Overall, this service is outstanding and full of unique treats for a one-of-a-kind experience.
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The Petersham afternoon tea
At a glance…
Best for: fresh ingredients
Contact details: The Petersham, 2 Floral Court, London, WC2E 9FB
We've tested a lot of afternoon teas (as you can see from this list), but this one truly stood out. Sitting in the middle of Covent Garden, The Petersham is the central London outpost of Petersham Nurseries, which originated in Richmond. Tea takes place in the smart, light restaurant with impressive, giant works of art and good people-watching. With a brief to incorporate a classic British afternoon tea into the Italian vibe of the restaurant, there's a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients throughout. When visiting in March, the extremely generous tea kicked off with six sandwiches, including crab (our favourite), mushroom & parmesan, courgette & mint or aubergine. Each one was freshly made to order and well-seasoned. Fruit and plain scones were served warm with homemade blackcurrant jam. The classic patisserie continued the focus on seasonal ingredients that weren't overly fussed with – our highlights included a rhubarb financier and clever pistachio brûlée. The tea is delivered on a striking glass cake stand by its friendly and attentive staff and considering the quantities of food, felt like good value for money. As a truly memorable bonus, you get to keep the stunning bouquet that crowns your tea at the end, too.
Chocolate afternoon tea at The Park Tower, Knightsbridge
At a glance...
Price: £39 per person / £59 with a glass of champagne
Best for: chocolate lovers and those after a unique menu with a beautiful and inviting room
Contact details: The Park Tower Knightsbridge, 101 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7RN
Standing tall behind the luxurious fashion stores in Knightsbridge is The Park Tower Knightsbridge, a Luxury Collection Hotel London. Inside, grey turns to gold – a bar to the left and a reception to the right all in a nod to art deco style. Right ahead is the foyer – where you have your afternoon tea. Soft sofas dot around the airy room to create a sense of cosiness that offsets the grand staircase and even grander chandelier that centres the room.
The afternoon tea menu is entirely chocolate themed. We first visited in summer, when we started the feast with a pannacotta-like white chocolate mousse crown, adorned with pistachio, cardamom and saffron. Another favourite was the minted dark chocolate ganache with a satisfyingly crunchy shortbread base. In-keeping with the theme are chocolate scones, which are definitely an upgrade to your standard, but traditionalists can order warm, plain scones instead. The savoury course is an unusual – but delicious – kipper & dark chocolate quiche, with a salty-umami flavour. Highlights on the sandwich offerings include the jammy Burford Brown egg & cress croissant, and the flavour-bomb hickory-smoked chicken, piquillo pepper mayonnaise and rocket white bread sandwich.
We've since visited again for the winter edition of the tea, with tea blends by Twinings and hot chocolate inspired by Rococo Chocolates. The highlight is intricate chocolate brownie pyramids filled with a unique juniper mousse. We also enjoyed apple and cinnamon tarts, rich mini chocolate cupcakes and decadent savouries including a lobster muffin and delicate wild mushroom quiche.
It's a real chocolate feast, and a charming experience that's not to be missed.
High Palms High Tea at The Landmark London
At a glance...
Price: from £65 per person
Best for: airy ambience and classic flavours
Contact details: The Landmark London, 222 Marylebone Rd, London NW1 6JQ
Located in the heart of Marylebone, The Landmark London offers a phenomenal afternoon tea with classic British dishes and flavours. The eight-storey glass atrium is adorned with leafy palm trees and full of airy sunlight. Service is friendly and attentive, with a live pianist for added ambience. The menu begins with a glass of Champagne Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée and a wide selection of teas including darjeeling, assam, English breakfast, organic rose grey and sencha aloe vera. The sandwiches are traditional and moreish, with lapsang souchong smoked Scottish salmon, organic egg mayonnaise and mustard cress, classic cucumber and coronation chicken on walnut bread. Scones are served warm with Cornish clotted cream and a selection of jams and marmalade. The luxurious desserts are full of flavour with intricate details. Our favourites include delicate macarons, rich chocolate mousse and fruity tartlets. This would be a great offering for those looking for a classic afternoon tea with top-notch service.
Peter Pan afternoon tea at Aqua Shard
At a glance…
Price: £53 per person/ £68 with a glass of champagne
Best for: whimsical bites and literary luxury
Contact details: Aqua Shard, The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY
Get transported to Neverland with magical views, as if you're Peter Pan flying over the rooftops of London. Children and adults alike will love the nostalgic treats and artistic touches included in this afternoon tea. From the custom crafted ship that holds the food, to the story behind each component (the cod brandade is in the shape of a hook, as Peter calls him a ‘codfish’, for example), everything is meticulously designed and pure magic. Choose from either 'darling tea', which has delicious floral notes, or 'adventure tea', made from black tea with citrus, mango and ginger. The perfectly cut sandwiches are light, soft and fluffy, with flavoursome fillings of chicken, bacon and mustard, along with the standout truffle egg mayo (more vegetarian options are available). Your next course, after a fresh round of specially designed plates with Peter Pan characters on them, are freshly baked scones served with delicious apple jam and coconut clotted cream. The magic continues into the desserts. The ‘Peter’s secret never tree entrance’ is particularly noteworthy – a soft chocolate sponge with chocolate mousse, ganache and raspberry jam. Like the waitress spraying the Tinkerbell biscuit with edible gold glitter, the thought behind each element brought so much joy. From start to finish, this afternoon tea is a display of enchanting storybook delicacies in a stunning, picturesque setting.
The Savoy afternoon tea
At a glance...
Price: from £65 per person / £75 with a glass of Louis Roederer champagne
Best for: traditional grandeur in a world-famous setting
Contact details: The Savoy, The Strand, London WC2R 0EZ
When it comes to timeless elegance, The Savoy knows how to do it right. The selection of teas on offer in the glass-domed Thames Foyer is vast; we opted for The Savoy blend, which was pleasantly bitter and smoky. Classic sandwich fillings, including ham & mustard, egg mayonnaise and coronation chicken, are served in fresh, soft bread, and are replenishable, but there’s plenty of other bites to enjoy. The oven-fresh scones were exceptional, and the buttery, sharp lemon curd served alongside was exquisite. The third course was a selection of French patisserie served tableside on a silver platter. You’re welcomed to try one or all five, which of course we did. To say this tea is generous is an exaggeration, but we can think of no better way to while away an afternoon.
oblix at The Shard
At a glance...
Price: from £58 per person, £76 with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut
Best for: good value tea with stunning view
Contact details: oblix East, Level 32, The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY
If you want brilliant views of London, then the 32nd floor of the Shard is a good place to start. Instead of buying a ticket up the Shard to see the view (which can cost approx £30 by itself), head to Oblix in the Shard instead and treat yourself to a special afternoon tea complete with those panoramic views. We visited in December, where the menu had been given a light festive makeover but many of the classics are on the menu all year round. The tea kicks off with a plate of sandwiches including a standout buttery brioche roll filled with egg mayo and topped with a generous amount of truffle. We also had a classic coronation chicken, smoked salmon, an avocado tartlet and impressive mini lobster roll. Scones were served warm with a perfect raspberry jam and sticky fresh honeycomb - although controversially also with whipped cream instead of clotted cream. Patisserie was delicate but familiar favourites - our five treats included a nutty macaron, highly caramelised apple tart tatin and rich chocolate hazelnut ball. If you go for the rosé package, unlimited wine and a cocktail are included along with your pick of tea from the short tea menu.
The Kensington Hotel afternoon tea
At a glance...
Price: from £58 per person, £76 with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut
Best for: a themed tea done well
Contact details: The Kensington Hotel, 109-113 Queen's Gate, South Kensington, London SW7 5LP
There are so many afternoon teas to choose from, it can be hard to stand out, but The Kensington Hotel is planning a whole series of seasonal themed teas to keep things fresh. Currently available is the '80 Days Around the World’ afternoon tea, inspired by the global travels of Phileas Fogg. The theme is clear from the outset, without being kitsch or overdone – there are hot air balloons around the door as you enter the hotel, and they also feature on the plates and throughout the menu.
This theme carries through to the tea. The previous edition of the tea covered Rome, Paris, London and Egypt, whilst the latest version of the tea takes you travelling through Yemen, India, Hong Kong and Singapore. These exotic locations make a thoroughly unique tea – although traditionalists will be pleased to know that warm scones still make an appearance. Start with an Indian onion bhaji and simple hummus on pitta bread. Our favourites of the global sandwiches were a super soft and fluffy egg and potato brioche bun, and a melting cheese flatbread to represent Yemen. After classic scones and jam, the final patisserie returns to global inspiration. Each one is rich, creamy and more complex than the simple names suggest. We washed it all down with an excellent peppermint tea. A fun option, with new dishes for the seasoned afternoon tea attendee to try.
The Stage at The Londoner
At a glance...
Price: from £55 per person, £70 champagne tea, £75 rosé champagne tea
Best for: central location
Contact details: The Londoner, 38 Leicester Square, London, WC2H 7DX, United Kingdom
If you’re doing some central London shopping, The Stage afternoon tea is handily located right on the corner of Leicester Square. The tea is held in what is essentially the hotel lobby - there’s a buzzy atmosphere (especially when the live pianist is playing), although it can get pretty chilly if you’re sat too near the front door. A surprise palate cleanser of elderflower sorbet drizzled with honey is delicate and refreshing. Sandwiches arrive playfully cut into tiny squares instead of fingers and served in three tiers - a chicken sandwich on basil bread was a standout highlight (plus you’re offered seconds if you’re still hungry!). Warm scones are light, fluffy and the perfect size, served with a floral and citrusy bergamot curd as well as strawberry jam. In a twist from other afternoon teas we’ve tried, for the patisserie course you head up to a cabinet to pick two larger patisserie to finish the tea. We visited near Christmas, so a ‘Joyeux Noel’ of chocolate cake, cream and boozy cherries was a perfect festive treat.
The Grand Saloon, Theatre Royal Drury Lane
At a glance...
Price: from £59 per person, £69 champagne tea, £99 caviar and champagne tea
Best for: theatre fans, visiting around a show
Contact details: The Lane, Catherine St, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5JF
If you’re in London to see a show, an afternoon tea beforehand is an extra special treat. The Lane at Theatre Royal is ideally situated for this - right in the theatre (currently showing the musical of Frozen) in Covent Garden. The tea takes place in a beautiful grand room with a large central bar, stunning high ceilings and marble panels on the wall, all teal and pale pink colour scheme. Friendly and skilled staff expertly pour tea and champagne into a tea set ornately decorated with illustrated characters. We loved the subtle soundtrack of classical versions of pop songs too (fans of Bridgerton will recognise these)!
Controversially, there are no sandwiches in this tea. The savouries comprise of a sausage roll, herby goat’s cheese-filled cannele (our favourite) and smoked salmon-topped caviar, unusual savoury twists on classically sweet bakes. The scones were a standout highlight of the tea: still warm, generously topped with plenty of crunchy Demerara sugar and perfectly soft and fluffy, served with classic clotted cream and strawberry jam. The sweet course was a bit hit and miss for us - a pleasant classic chocolate cake was good, but we weren’t fully convinced by the ‘lemonade’ tart or a cold sticky toffee pudding. We enjoyed a brilliantly refreshing peppermint tea from the short tea menu and there are various options of the whole tea to choose from, including a caviar option for extra luxury!
Parisian afternoon tea at Mariage Frères
At a glance...
Price: £35 per person, + £49 extra with a bottle of champagne
Contact details: Mariage Frères, 38 King Street, London WC2E 8JS
Best for: An extensive menu of speciality teas and tea-infused treats
As France’s oldest tea house, Mariage Frères is renowned as one of the world’s most exclusive purveyors of fine teas – an afternoon spent at its Covent Garden branch is an absolute must for any tea enthusiast. We sampled its Parisian afternoon tea in the elegant salon with a gallery overlooking the ground floor tea shop. Needless to say, the choice of speciality teas is staggering, spanning a range of herbal, fruit, vintage and rare blends from across the globe. Luckily, a well-versed team of staff are on hand to offer a wealth of knowledge on everything from flavour profiles to oxidation states, allowing us to narrow down to a beautifully floral Formosa blue tea and earthy Namring high mountain darjeeling. A medley of tea-infused treats are served alongside this extensive tea menu. Begin with a round of warm plain scones or bourbon vanilla & golden raisin scones – both are served with a fragrant tea-infused jelly. On the savoury side, traditional sarnies are replaced with a trio of eye-catching coloured bao burgers. Wrapped in a light and fluffy tea-infused bun, each is filled with a tantalising combination of ingredients, from smoked salmon with matcha green tea yogurt & green apple, to seared beef tataki with soy glaze, carrots tahini & seeds. Leave some room for the trio of exquisite tea-infused patisserie: we were especially impressed with the strawberry cheesecake fashioned to look like a vibrant red glazed mushroom, plus a finely layered matcha & chocolate opera cake.
If you have some time spare, it’s well worth perusing the expansive tea emporium on the ground floor, called the Compotoir de Thé. Here, nearly 1000 varieties of rare teas are displayed in antique wooden shelves alongside a range of packaged products, such as tea-themed gift sets, teapots, cups, strainers, books and more. Finally, an assortment of fresh sweet and savoury tea-infused pastries are also available to purchase for the journey home.
Sweetshop afternoon tea at Chesterfield Hotel
At a glance…
Price: from £55 per person/ £65 with glass of Lanson Champagne/ £31 per child
Best for: a family day out
Contact details: The Chesterfield Hotel, Mayfair, London W1J 5EB
If you’re looking for a magical afternoon tea for a special occasion that will inspire the imagination and excite the palate of both adults and children, then the Chesterfield is for you. Set in a grand, Georgian hotel on a smart Mayfair street, the service is exceptional from the moment you step into their large marble hallway. Once you’re seated and have been talked through the extensive range of teas, your experience will start with a dramatic smoking pink lemonade topped with a flying saucer, you’ll then move onto a selection of beautifully presented finger sandwiches, our favourites were the Scottish smoked salmon with chive cream cheese and roast chicken with mustard mayonnaise and nibbed almonds.
Accompanying the sandwiches are endless fluffy scones, Drumstick macaroons, strawberry liquorice allsorts cheesecake, blue raspberry & bubblegum Battenberg, giant jazzie lollipops, coca cola slice and a decadent take on a Reece’s peanut butter cup. When it’s time to leave you’ll be escorted to a traditional sweet shop stand where you can select a bag of your favourite pick and mix sweets to take home, any treats you couldn’t quite finish will be beautifully boxed up for you to take away too.
The Library at County Hall afternoon tea
At a glance…
Price: from £55 per person/£71 free flowing English sparkling wine
Best for: riverside views
Contact details: The Library, London County Hall, Westminster Bridge Rd, London SE1 7PB
The afternoon tea at The Library at County Hall thoroughly makes the most of its location. From tables overlooking the river, to the Big Ben-themed menu, it’s perfect for first-timers to London or if you’re hosting friends or family.
Situated next to Westminster Bridge, bag a window table for views of the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben and, of course, the river to watch boats come and go whilst you sip your tea. The experience starts with a choice of tea brought brought to your table – the Library’s own signature blend is our top pick – and soon to be available to buy and take home with you, too. Sandwiches tick off the classics, including a super creamy egg mayo and gently spiced coronation chicken. A crayfish cocktail in a brioche bun was an enjoyable twist on a traditional prawn cocktail. For the scone course, unusual fresh basil scones were paired with lemon curd and clotted cream and were a surprise hit, a winning combination that tasted well balanced. For purists, there are sultana scones with strawberry jam, too.
The finishing dessert course brings in the Big Ben element, with each intricate pastry impressively designed to represent a different part of this London icon. All three are rich and creamy – from the chocolate mousse tower to the lemon and raspberry bell with a whole raspberry hidden inside, adding some welcome freshness. We weren’t offered extra sandwiches or a change of tea, but the menu is plenty filling enough that you won’t need extra.
Fortnum & Mason afternoon tea
At a glance...
Price: from £70 per person
Best for: traditionalists and lovers of classic, charming service
Contact details: Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER
The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason has to be one of the top locations for a classic afternoon tea. Service is seamless without being stuffy, and we found the waiting staff charming, relaxed and exceptionally well informed – with 92 teas on offer, they need to know their stuff. The sweet patisserie treats are an art form in their own right, and the lobster scone with cream cheese and caviar topping makes the savoury selection a must-try, especially if you’re sharing. Fortnum & Mason is a classic afternoon tea experience with an ever-evolving menu that’s subtly inventive. The care that goes into every aspect of the creation and presentation of the dishes, as well as the knowledge and charm of the staff, make this a truly special experience.
The Goring afternoon tea
At a glance...
Price: from £60 per person/£70 with a glass of Bollinger champagne
Best for: sumptuous surroundings and attentive service
Contact details: The Goring, 15 Beeston Place, London SW1W 0JW
For anyone in search of a quintessentially traditional English afternoon tea, The Goring tops the list. Aside from the replenishable plates of fresh sandwiches, light scones and perfectly presented patisserie, the true standout feature is without a doubt the service. You won’t have to lift a finger in your opulent surroundings, not even to pour yourself a cup of The Goring’s very own blend. We certainly felt like ladies of leisure on our visit. The heavily draped lounge could easily feel oppressive, but there’s a relaxed atmosphere and a nice buzz without being intrusive. Between sips of Earl Grey and chunks of bite-sized scones with dollops of homemade raspberry jam, take a moment to spot the sheep secreted in the room (the iconic symbol of The Goring). The crowning glory of the tea is undoubtedly the pastry plate – delicate macarons, squidgy cakes and light choux bites are on offer for hungry patrons. Save some space, as you’ll be wanting to replenish this selection to your heart’s content.
The Langham afternoon tea
At a glance...
Price: from £65 per person / £80 with a glass of Gusbourne Brut Reserve or Blanc de blancs
Best for: exceptional service
Contact details: The Langham, 1c Portland Place, London W1B 1JA
The Palm Court at The Langham is a haven of comfort and luxury in which to enjoy afternoon tea. From the teeny stool provided for your handbag to the seasonal flowers, offer of more sandwiches and refills of tea, the Langham leaves no detail unconsidered. They’ve been serving afternoon tea since 1865, so they’ve had plenty of practice. The setting gives a stylish nod to art deco with the huge lights that really come into their own as the afternoon fades to evening (book at 4.30pm for this timing), and there’s a relaxed air about the place that welcomes all ages.
Created by Chef Michel Roux Jr and Executive Pastry Chef Andrew Gravett, the current menu is inspired by the nation’s favourite biscuits, reimagined with clever textural changes and flavours. That pink wafer is not at all how it appears, and the custard cream is fitted into a delicate dulcey (think posh Caramac) chocolate shell. Sandwiches are welcomingly familiar, each with a different style of bread, and include cucumber, cream cheese and chive, and hot smoked Scottish salmon, sour cream and dill. Scones come as both savoury (with extra cheese on the side) and sweet with cream and homemade preserves. The very generous tiffin for two defeated us, so we opted to take it home as a treat for later. No one hurries you here and the meal is very well paced. Teas can be chosen from a variety of flavours supplied by JING; there are lighter white teas and green teas, floral numbers like the Ceylon & rose and classics like Assam with milk. Or drink English sparkling wine from Gusbourne throughout the meal if you prefer. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus are available and there is a children’s menu for smaller visitors.
The Beaumont hotel afternoon tea
At a glance…
Price: £62pp/ £77 with a glass of champagne
Best for: 1920’s decadence
Contact details The Beaumont, Brown Heart Gardens, Mayfair, London, W1K 6TF
Afternoon tea at The Beaumont hotel is served in the aptly-named Gatsby room, which is home to a grand baby piano, a hidden door posing as a bookshelf and plenty of oil paintings to gaze at and soft furnishings to relax on. The new menu has a transatlantic twist in true Gatsby fashion, you’ll find sandwiches filled with devilled egg mayonnaise, shrimp cocktail and salt beef which are replenished as much as you’d like. However, you’ll need to leave room for sweet treats such as the Alabama lane cake, Missisippi mud pie and wild blueberry Religieuse as well a plenty of freshly baked scones. The afternoon tea here is a very generous affair with faultless service, so it’s the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion and the cleverly paired cocktails are well worth a try too.
One Aldwych Charlie & the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea
At a glance...
Price: from £38 per child, £58 per adult, including glass of sparkling wine/ £42 children under the age of 12
Best for: a whimsical treat for both big and little kids
Contact details: One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BZ
The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed afternoon tea at One Aldwych starts with a magical opener – a chocolate, whisky & cherry cocktail complete with dry ice smoke and poured from a glass teapot. There’s also a non-alcoholic version so everyone can enjoy the drama. We opted for the chocolate tea (it seemed only right) which had a delicious cocoa aroma. Three finger sandwiches, a savoury scone served with bacon jam, and a warm quiche went down nicely alongside our drinks. The attentive staff offered to refill the savoury plate, but we were saving space for the main event.
Scones arrived in baskets; they were okay, but not as light and buttery as we had hoped. However, as a vehicle for lemon curd, blackberry jam and clotted cream, they did the job. Everyone around the room was busily snapping photos of their sweets displays, and when ours arrived, we could see why. It’s a sweet tooth’s dream: rainbow layers of bubblegum-flavoured panna cotta, mysteriously flavoured candy floss and honeycomb cake pops take centre stage, but our favourite was a chocolate egg filled with vanilla cheesecake and fruit purée. A bottle of chocolate milk washes it all down. This makes for a special afternoon that kids will remember forever, or an excuse not to act your age – whatever your reason for visiting, it’s a sweet treat not to be missed.
Ting at the Shangri-La Hotel afternoon tea
At a glance
Price: from £69 per person / £79 with champagne
Best for: wonderful views, tourists, treat for friends
Contact details: Ting, Level 35, Shangri-La Hotel, 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9QU
We visited Ting in the run up to the Royal Jubilee. The team of thoughtful pastry chefs and mixologists created recipes using the royal celebrations as inspiration; the platinum fizz cocktail combines strawberries, pineapple and lemon juice and is the perfect way to start a luxurious afternoon. Savoury bites included miniature duck pancakes, chicken liver parfait and a selection of imaginative finger sandwiches.
The themes here are taken very seriously, and there is excellent attention to detail, but never at the expense of flavour. The selection of cakes we tried were beautifully balanced in terms of sweetness, sharpness and richness (which made it even easier to try the whole range!). The chocolate & raspberry shard is served in a cloud of dry ice and is the final show-piece to your experience. This is a generous afternoon tea and the waiting staff were extremely knowledgeable about their extensive list of teas on offer. Some could even predict instinctively which ones we would enjoy – with great success! Go for the views, stay for the scones.
Wizard afternoon tea at Georgian House Hotel
At a glance…
Price: £35 per person/ £20 children under the age of 12
Best for: A family treat or fans of Halloween
Contact details: Georgian House hotel, Pimlico, London SW1.
This fun and imaginative afternoon tea is one that’ll delight kids and adults alike, upon entering the smart Georgian house hotel you’ll be led to the basement where your spooky afternoon tea awaits. Expect plenty of surprises with overflowing cauldrons, salmon sandwiches served from a smoking box, bubbling cocktails and mocktails and golden chocolate wizard hats. The afternoon tea is served in a gothic looking bird cage and is a very generous affair with a variety of delicate savoury treats from tiny tarts to a selection of open and closed sandwiches. Freshly baked eye of newt scones are served with curdled cream and crushed strawberries after which a fresh bird cage is brought out with an abundance of sweet treats, a favourite had to be the web topped passion fruit jelly which almost looked too good to eat. The staff were attentive, relaxed and fun and there’s plenty of quirky decorations and spooky music for an authentically ghostly experience. There is also the option of a vegan version as well as bottomless prosecco for an extra £20.
The Rosebery Lounge at Mandarin Oriental afternoon tea
At a glance...
Price: £56 per person for traditional afternoon tea / £75 for sake afternoon tea
Best for: special occasions and dessert gourmands
Contact details: The Rosebery Lounge at Mandarin Oriental, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
If you want to feel like you’ve stepped into a film, a trip to Knightsbridge and the acclaimed Mandarin Oriental is one for your bucket list. The Rosebery Lounge, where the service is sleek yet never stuffy, is accessed via the hotel’s grand staircase. On our visit in December, we warmed ourselves in front of an open fire and chose the festive afternoon tea, although we were more than tempted by the evergreen teas, including sake and beer.
Our first bites were six mini sandwiches, and as soon as we started eating we realised why the portions were controlled. Delectable fillings (egg & black truffle, lemon bread with Portland crab, and short rib beef were among our favourites) were small but mighty, with rich, satisfying and complex flavours. Round two’s tiered tower was hung from a beautifully designed metal tree stand, from which we could peck at Paul Thiéblemont’s perfect pastry creations. We managed to sample everything, from the chocolate delicacies and cakes given a festive spin (Santa’s hat, caramel & chocolate log, festive Battenberg) to the light and fluffy scones complete with homemade lemon curd and rose petal jelly. With pink champagne and cups of smooth green tea – which were never empty, thanks to attentive but never invasive service – this was an afternoon to remember.
Royal Lancaster London afternoon tea
At a glance...
Price: from £35 per person / £45 with a glass of Moët & Chandon brut champagne
Best for: a couple’s day out
Contact details: Royal Lancaster London, Lancaster Terrace, London W2 2TY
If you’re looking for a traditional afternoon tea in luxe surroundings with unexpected homemade goodies thrown in, the Royal Lancaster London is for you. Each pot of tea comes with an infusion card to keep track of optimum brewing times. The selection of sandwiches ticked all the classic boxes, and we were presented with a separate plate of sandwiches for our vegetarian guest, including more adventurous alternatives such as piquillo red pepper & hummus to accompany the traditional cucumber & cream cheese.
Accompanying the sandwiches were delectable warm tarts with caramelised red onion and goat’s cheese. Almond, plain and fruited scones hot from the kitchen were the highlight, and came with homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream. The menu changes seasonally – on our visit, we were big fans of the chocolate truffle lollipops with honey centres, especially as the honey was made from beehives on the roof of the hotel itself.
Afternoon tea recipes, tips and advice
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