Afternoon tea is quite possibly the most British of all institutions. But once in a while, an egg and cress sandwich and a scone need a little jazzing up. These are the current 15 best afternoon teas in the city, from the traditional to the innovative, and even a little something for the children…
The Best Afternoon Teas in London
Served since 1910, Afternoon Tea at The Goring in Victoria is particularly special. As the only hotel to hold a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen for hospitality services, you can be absolutely certain that everything upon your visit will be impeccable. The afternoon tea is classic in style, reflecting The Goring’s dedication to tradition as the only luxury hotel in London still owned and run by the family that built it. Why mess with perfection? Expect dainty and delicate finger sandwiches, homemade scones and pastries, and unparalleled service. Enjoy your tea in the garden during the summer months for a quintessentially English experience. From £49 per person, every day.
World-renowned for its iconic High Tea, The Savoy is constantly updating its menu to ensure its guests enjoy the very best of the season. The Summer Afternoon Tea has been specially created to awaken your summer senses with a selection of fresh and fragrant pastries and cakes such as apricot délice and strawberry macaroons, as well as the classics, of course. Served in the magnificent Thomas Foyer and accompanied by live piano music, The Savoy’s High Tea is a London classic. From £52.50 per person, daily.
Nestled around the corner from the hustle and bustle of Piccadilly Circus, the Hotel Cafe Royal’s classic London Royal Tea, is a welcome escape set within the opulent Oscar Wilde Bar. The menu has been curated to represent afternoon tea through the ages. Highlights include the traditional Battenberg and macaroons inspired by the London Underground. Available from £42 per person, from midday until 5pm.
From September 1, you can also enjoy an exclusive diptyque afternoon tea in collaboration with the leading French perfumer. It’s a treat for all the senses with cakes inspired by diptyque’s iconic scents, as well as a gorgeous Baies candle to take home. From £60 per person, available daily
Art lovers can’t miss the highly visual and architectural afternoon tea at the Rosewood. Served in the beautiful ‘Mirror Room’ restaurant, each item in the tea is recognisable as being influenced by one of five artists: Yayoi Kusama, Alexander Calder, Mark Rothko, Damien Hirst and Banksy. The chef Mark Perkins’ art-inspired afternoon tea will combine the very best of tradition and contemporaneity, in a selection of beautiful and artistic creations, each one immediately identifiable as being influenced by a famed work of art or revered artist. The tea is almost too good to eat…almost. From £50, Mon-Sun 12-7pm.
Another classic afternoon tea spot on the London scene is The Dorchester on Park Lane. Serving one of the finest in the city for over 85 years, head pastry chef David Girard is constantly adding new treats to the menu, recently including an artisanal ‘Flowering Tea’ palate cleanser to follow a selection of delicate pastries. The hotel is renowned for its beautiful floristry, which serves also as inspiration for new creations such as the Mayfair Rose mousse and Berry Blossom compote. It’s by far one of the prettiest High Teas in town. From £55 per person, daily.
Throughout August, you can also sample the exclusive Ice Cream Champagne Afternoon Tea which comes with a glass of chilled Laurent-Perrier and homemade ice cream cones, alongside the classics. A winning combination! From £65 per person, until August 31. Book here.
For those of you who are fed up with the conventional afternoon tea, you’ll love the Not Afternoon Tea menu at The OXO Tower. Choose from a selection of rum cocktails, each matched with rum-infused desserts. Because who would ever choose tea over rum? The new Summer version even includes a Pimm’s plate inspired by the iconic tipple. Available for £22 per person, Mon-Fri 3-5pm, Sat 2-4pm and Sun 2-4.30pm.
An institution since 1707 and still one of the best, Fortnum & Mason’s iconic afternoon tea is an absolute must-try. It’s finger sandwich, cake and scone heaven, with trademark eau de nil china and the biggest selection of fine teas you will ever see. Tea experts are on hand to help you choose – and be sure to pick up a pack to take home, too. Available for £44 per person (£48 with Rare tea), 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER.
The ultimate Afternoon Tea with a view. Enjoy the vistas from the 31st floor of the Shard, accompanied by a rather impressive selection of high tea treats. There are the classics, as well as some special additions to the menu, including a wonderful lobster finger sandwich, black pudding and sausage roll, as well as a truly unique Marmite milk chocolate, rose raspberry jelly and pistachio crunch. They certainly don’t do things by halves here! From £45 per person. Weekdays 1-5pm, Weekends 1-4pm. Book here.
The latest place du jour for the fashion crowd happens to house the prettiest afternoon tea out there. So pretty and thoroughly pink the interior (by India Mahdavi) is a confection of dainty scalloped chairs and plush banquettes, witty bespoke ceramics by British brand Caverswall in collaboration with David Shrigley, and over 200 illustrations jostling for space on the dusty pink walls. Every bit the Marie Antoinette dream you imagine, Sketch embodies her famous saying, ‘let them eat cake’ with its afternoon tea menu. Featuring caviar and quail’s egg sandwiches, and all too beautiful pastries, Sketch is a must visit parlour of pink and frivolity. Corset and humongous wig optional. Daily, from £58, 11.30-3.30pm.
For a healthier option, head to The Delaunay in Covent Garden. The dairy, gluten, egg and sugar-free options mean there’s no guilt involved – and the lightness of it all means there’s plenty of space for more! With the class and atmosphere of a top hotel, but in a more relaxed environment, nibble on sandwiches of cucumber and mint or avocado and red pepper, followed by a lovely raisin and cinnamon Gugelhupf and fun cakes including a chocolate and banana sponge with coconut cream. Make sure to try their specially-blended Rose tea for something a little different. Daily, from £19.75 per person.
Cutter & Squidge’s fabulous Signature afternoon tea has been temporarily put on hold to welcome the limited edition Genie’s Cave Afternoon Tea. London’s favourite all-natural bakery has transformed its Secret Garden into a magical setting for a special afternoon tea experience, complete with genie’s lamp, precious treasures and ornate decoration. And this is definitely not your average, traditional High Tea experience… Tea begins with a ‘Genie’s Welcome’, followed by ‘Magic Carpet Cookies’ and other mysterious magical treats, while the bakery’s trademark Biskie has been transformed to contain a pearl and 24 carat gold. Be sure to try it before it sinks back into the sand… From £29.50 per person. Book here.
The NYC export opened in London’s St James’s Market late last year, but now it’s launched a Nordic Afternoon Tea. Expect an array of fika, open rye bread sandwiches and Swedish pastries including semla (cardamom buns), punsch-roll (crushed cookies and punsch liqueur with marzipan and chocolate) and delicious teas and Swedish coffees from Johan & Nystrom. From £27.50, Mon-Fri 3-5.30pm, weekends 3.30-6pm.
Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at Sanderson Hotel
For an afternoon tea with a difference, fall down the rabbit hole to Sanderson’s Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. A little gimmicky, but in the best possible way, this fun afternoon tea offers delicious teas (which are also available to purchase) named after Lewis Carroll’s characters, from Alice to The Queen of Hearts; delicate patisseries and cakes; excellent savoury options with a difference (the parmesan croque-monsieur was a highlight) and lovely, crumbly scones. There’s also a host of themed cocktails and drinks to be enjoyed with your tea, in case you needed any further persuading… From £48 per person (excluding service and dependent on choice of drink accompaniments). Available daily.
For those who like an afternoon tea with a twist, the new Italian-inspired Napolitea at The Hari Hotel ticks all the boxes. From the kitchens of Il Pampero comes the best of Italy on three tiers. Instead of finger sandwiches, think truffle arancini and burrata bites. What seem like scones from afar are in fact bomboloni, mini sugar-sprinkled doughnuts with Italian crema inside. We’ll leave the top tier of cakes and pastries for you to discover… £35 per person, £45 including bottomless Prosecco, Thursday-Sunday.
Head to Dandelyan, the award-winning bar at Mondrian London, for a unique afternoon tea with a summer botanical twist. Their new Wyld Tea is made up of 4 delicious courses comprising of finger sandwiches, savoury bites and retro cakes paired with exclusive botanical themed cocktails. And so pretty, too! Thursday – Sunday, from £35 per person.