It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and what better way to celebrate than with some tea and cake? Many of London’s finest restaurants have given their afternoon teas a festive shake-up, with seasonal sandwiches, mince pies and mulled wine being thrown into the mix. So toast your teacups and enjoy some festive feasting at some of the best Christmas afternoon teas in town…
Dine like royalty in Hotel Café Royal’s Oscar Wilde Lounge, where a festive afternoon tea inspired by Queen Victoria’s Christmas and New Year celebrations in 1894 has launched. Festivities begin with a carrot velouté with celery and Bellota ham, created by Charles Elme Francatelli – who was once the Royal Chef to Queen Victoria – as well as a wild boar and Manuka honey amuse bouche, a gift from the Emperor of Germany. A selection of the finest tea sandwiches will also be on offer, with fillings including duck liver terrine with spicy plum chutney, Yorkshire turkey with roasted chestnuts and cured bacon, and Aberdeen roast beef with English mustard, horseradish and Brussel sprout. There’s also a game pie – which was a gift from Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lord Cadogan – alongside an impressive selection of sweet delicacies, such as chocolate and cherry cake, and coconut and pineapple choux. From £65pp.
Fancy afternoon tea at high altitude? Where better than Aqua Shard, located on the 31st floor of the city’s highest building. Their Christmas afternoon tea offering features festive twists on classics: sandwich fillings include turkey and cranberry, black truffle and egg, and fig chutney and brie. Top things off by getting stuck into the selection of homemade cakes and sweet treats – there’s a gingerbread, milk chocolate and coffee Christmas tree, as well as a clementine and prosecco trifle. Toast to the festive season with a glass of Veuve Clicquot. Available Monday-Sunday 1-5pm. £67pp with a glass of Champagne.
The Christmas Par-tea experience at Taj 51 takes place in their stylish restaurant Kona. Kick things off with a winter warmer shot of warm cocoa and whipped cream followed by an array of savoury treats including a egg mayo and mustard cress pinwheel, Rosemary roast beef roulade with horseradish cream, sweet Honey-glazed turkey on cranberry bread, and Thyme chicken mousse open face pie. Next up is the impressive sweet selection, which includes a traditional cinnamon eggnog, gingerbread gnomes, seasonal dark fruit cake, and a roulade filled with hazelnuts and chestnuts. Located just a short walk from Oxford Street, it’s perfectly placed for a visit after some Christmas shopping, too. Available daily in the Kona restaurant from 1-31 December with seatings at 12.30pm, 2.30pm and 4.30pm, priced at £45 per person.
With its show-stopping tree and glittering decorations, Claridge’s shines brightest at Christmas time – as does its legendary afternoon tea. Begin by dining on a selection of their traditional sandwiches: the delightfully festive malt bread turkey sandwich, complete with pork, chestnut & sage stuffing and cranberry is a must-try. Sweeter delights include freshly baked raisin scones with Cornish clotted cream, a winter spiced pear pastry with white chocolate mousse and ginger sablé and the Claridge’s Christmas Pudding, served with brandy sauce. A range of teas from around the world are available, which have been carefully selected to complement the food. And to top it off, all this is to be enjoyed to the tune of festive carols from The Southend children’s choir. 12 November 2019-1 January 2020. £90pp Monday-Friday, £95pp Saturday & Sunday.
Raise a glass to the festive season in The Dorchester’s beautiful Promenade restaurant. This year their Christmas offering includes an assortment of seasonal finger sandwiches, cranberry scones and pastries including a spiced fig and honey cake, a salted caramel and Williams pear, and a gingerbread with hazelnut. These sit alongside a fine selection of rare teas, including a spiced caramel tea reminiscent of a Christmas pudding. 16 November-5 January. £85pp for adults and £35 for children.
Nothing says Christmas like a trip to see The Nutcracker – and now you can enjoy its festive feels at The Waldorf Hilton, located just a stone’s throw away from the English National Opera. Its traditional afternoon tea has been given a Nutcracker-inspired makeover in homage to Tchaikovsky’s classical ballet, served in the Waldorf’s grand dining room, The Homage Restaurant. Festive additions include a specially created sugar plum jam to channel the Sugar Plum Fairy, to be enjoyed with freshly baked scones, alongside some of the prettiest choux crown cakes, decorated biscuits, and bags of lemon and raspberry bonbons. Don’t forget about the savoury side though: smoked salmon blinis, house smoked beef and pumpernickel rye bread are all up for the taking, paired with an array of floral spreads. From 25 November, £39pp.
Gorge on pastries while a choir belts out Christmas carols at The Ritz’ Palm Court, which transforms into an Edwardian winter wonderland for the jolly season. Choose from a big selection of fine teas specially selected by the Ritz Tea Master – the ‘Ritz Christmas Spice’ featuring orange peel, juicy apple and Christmas spices gets our vote. Indulge in mince pies and freshly baked feather-light pastries as you admire the huge Christmas tree. You’ll leave feeing warm and fuzzy (and full). £80 per adult, £50 per child (up t0 15 years old).
With its Baccarat crystal chandelier, piano melodies and Richard Brendon hand-painted china, you’ll struggle to find a prettier afternoon tea setting than The Corinthia Hotel. Cakes are appetisingly presented on a trolley which is wheeled from table to table, with festive highlights including a spiced pineapple and vanilla éclair, a chestnut, rum and vanilla tartlet, and a maple syrup sponge, pear and cranberry compote with lemon chantilly – washed down with a glass of Laurent Perrier. £60pp per person, £70pp with Champagne.
Served since 1910, afternoon tea at The Goring is classic in style, reflecting the iconic hotel’s dedication to tradition. Their festive edition is no exception, offering a selection of seasonally inspired finger sandwiches and sweet treats, including a classic yule log, a mince pie, and a ‘Snowman Dome’ comprised of a bergamot curd tart topped with meringue. Why mess with perfection? 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. £80pp.
Soak up the beautiful Neo-Gothic architecture while savouring afternoon tea at The Hansom, the atmospheric restaurant at St Pancras Renaissance. Guests can enjoy mulled drinks or a glass of Perrier Jouet alongside festive sweets like dark chocolate and mandarin mousse Christmas trees, strawberry and coconut baubles and vanilla and raspberry wreaths. For an elevated luxury experience, book the Festive Treat package and indulge in a pine and eucalyptus-scented, warming treatment in the Victorian-inspired St. Pancras spa, before settling down for your champagne tea. £38 pp, £50 with champagne; afternoon tea & spa £145–£155 pp.
Few spots are as pretty as Petersham Nurseries’ twinkling Floral Court – particularly when bedecked in festive floristry. Their festive afternoon tea is served here, with the menu featuring croquettes drizzled in cranberry sauce; and milk buns filled with squash, blue cheese and walnuts. Homemade sweet treats, meanwhile, include a Christmas pudding chocolate choux bun and a gingerbread macaron. Inspired by the beautiful décor? You can take a slice of the floral festivities home – the table displays are on sale for an extra £15. Thursday-Sunday, 3-4.30pm. From £45pp.