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 15 best afternoon teas in the city, from the traditional to the innovative, and even a little something for the children…
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.
Don’t miss the one-off Bridal Couture Tea being held on Wednesday 2 August. British bridal couturier Suzie Turner will present stunning gowns from her new collection in the Thomas Foyer, alongside an exclusive afternoon tea and glass of Moët Ice Imperial champagne to celebrate the occasion. £59 including a glass of champagne. Wednesday 2 August at 5:30pm.
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.
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 that 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.
For a special OXO children’s afternoon tea, see below…
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 London Edition hotel’s off-beat Scandal Water afternoon tea draws its inspiration from the time the upper echelons of 19th-century society indulged in exotic teas while exchanging “salacious gossip”. The setting is in an oak-panelled, Mad Men-style Punch Room bar, and the menu offers five pairings (tea, punch and a snack); guests pick three.
Delicately balanced combinations include the fragrant miso-cured salmon served with Japanese Sencha tea; a salted chocolate tartlet with citrusy house punch; and cheesy Lincolnshire poacher shortbread accompanied by a mezcal-based cocktail which includes ingredients such as Vermentino, lemon sherbet and chamomile soda. The focus here is on the teas and cocktails, rather than cucumber sandwiches and scones but you also get a fluffy English muffin slathered in hot butter. From £35, Fri-Sun 3-5pm.
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.
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 including the traditional Battenberg (in case you missed it earlier) and macaroons inspired by the London Underground. Available from £42 per person, from midday until 5pm.
Thomas’s Cafe at Burberry opened in June 2015, offering a menu of British classics using the finest seasonal produce from small farms and artisan suppliers from around the UK. Their afternoon tea includes all the usual suspects; an assortment of finger sandwiches miniature finger cakes served alongside Thomas’s signature pale orange fondant fancy and apple crumble choux bun. There is also an extensive tea list to accompany the selection of cakes and biscuits from the Burberry aga. Inside the Regent’s Street Burberry flagship shop, the location couldn’t be better for a fashionable stop off. Daily, from £32, 12-6pm.
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.
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.
The NYC export opened in London’s St James’s Market late last year, but this month it launches 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.
And for the little ones…
Served every afternoon, OXO’s children’s afternoon tea is sure to keep holiday boredom at bay. Under 12s can enjoy a banana milkshake slot, finger sandwiches and caramel and sea salt popcorn, as well as mini sweet treats to finished. As tried and tested by the head chef’s two sons, this has our thumbs up! £16 per person, served weekdays 3-4:30pm, Saturday 3-4pm and Sunday 3:34-4:45pm. Book here.
This is one to book well in advance. This coming October half term (23-27 October), the iconic Dorchester hotel will be putting on a special children’s afternoon tea in association with the English National Ballet School to provide the little ones with a full afternoon’s entertainment. Created around Sleeping Beauty, ENB dancers will be found pirouetting amongst the guests as key characters from the ballet, stopping to share magical tales and dance tips. There will be face painting, mini-tutus and crowns, performances and, of course, the Sleeping Beauty inspired afternoon tea itself. £39 for children and £68 per adult (including a glass of Champagne). Between 12-5 pm during October Half Term, 23- 27 October. Book here.