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 12 best afternoon teas in the city, from the traditional to the innovative.
The Savoy has a new collaboration with British couturier, Suzie Turner – the Salon Couture High-Tea which has been inspired by the salon style fashion shows of the 1950s.
Showcasing stunning couture gowns, the show will present ten to 12 looks from Suzie Turner’s eagerly awaited collection. Pairing high fashion with high tea, guests at the salon will enjoy a welcome cocktail accompanied by a selection of delectable sandwiches, cakes, scones and éclairs, all created by The Savoy’s Executive Pastry Chef, Ludwig Hely. The bespoke éclairs will be decorated with intricate sketches of Suzie Turner designs.
Salon Couture High-tea will take place in the beautiful Thames Foyer on the first Wednesday of every month. Priced at £58 per person, including a welcome cocktail created by American Bar Head Bartender Erik Lorincz.
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? Available for £22 per person, Mon-Fri 3-5pm, Sat 2-4pm and Sun 2-4.30pm.
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.
Hosted in the Rosebery Lounge, the afternoon tea menu includes treats such as hazelnut praline choux, black forest bon-bons and chocolate ganache finished cakes, as well as delicate and delish finger sandwiches. With an extensive selection of the finest teas from around the world including Oriental Afternoon Blend, Orange Pekoe from Sri Lanka and the Golden Monkey leaf from China, the dedicated Tea Master has created a menu of bespoke blends. From £53, daily, 12-7.30pm.
Everything on the menu is all natural, handmade from scratch and utterly delicious! Tea is served in bamboo steamers as a playful nod to Emily & Annabel’s Asian heritage (sister duo behind Cutter & Squidge). The menu offers an interesting take on the traditional afternoon tea, with modern and Asian additions including sriracha egg sandwiches, cheese clouds, and lychee pearl biskie and a s’more marshmallow. And not a single egg and cress and Victoria sponge in sight… The all-natural C&S Signature Afternoon Tea is served daily from 11am-5pm. From £27.50 and £32.50 pp with a glass of Prosecco or cocktail.
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.
The offering from Belgravia’s R Chocolate is a very proper traditional High Tea. With highlights including cherry Battenberg, strawberry & champagne mousse and your choice of teas (with wonderful names such as Queen of Green and Ever-So-English-Breakfast). This spread is fit for a queen… From £35, weekdays 12-4.15pm; weekends at 12 noon, 2.30pm or 4.30pm.
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.