The Best Afternoon Tea In London, For Every Budget
It’s not easy compiling the ultimate run-down of the very finest Afternoon Teas in London…
chai’d our best done it.
Yes we’ve ventured into London’s most distinguished hotels, grand cafés and secluded courtyards on an unquenchable quest to find the city’s most noteworthy Afternoon Teas. And after several sleepless nights – primarily due to excessive caffeine intake and the sugar shakes – we’ve crafted this fully comprehensive guide (which we’ve kindly organised by budget, and whether they offer gluten free and / or vegan options).
Rest assured, when it comes to tea…
….these places have got it in the bag.
NOTE: Regarding whether gluten-free or vegan afternoon teas are offered, it’s worth noting that while most places are likely to be able to offer this you should still contact them at least 48 hours in advance to confirm any allergies or dietary requirements.
£ (The Least Expensive)
No. 16 | South Kensington
Number 16 (a jewel box of a hotel in South Kensington) has an unbelievably beautiful orangery and garden. And frankly, it would be a crime if they weren’t offering tea here. Thankfully, they do, and it involves pitch-perfect sandwiches; a choice of patisseries; and the option to go for hot chocolate instead of tea.
Details: Served Thursday-Sunday, 1-4pm | £30pp | +£12 for a glass of Champagne | Book here
Ladurée | Covent Garden
Marie Antoinette would have heartily approved of this place. Not only may you eat cake – and lots of it – the warren of tea rooms here are painted in macaron-hues of pastel greens, blues and lilacs, and crammed with Louis XVIth furnishings. Tucked away in the rafters of Covent Garden market, they have the endearing feel of an eccentric granny’s attic – angle for a spot on the colonnaded balcony for a rare view over the marketplace.
Details: Served daily, 12-6pm | Cream tea £16pp, afternoon tea £38pp inc. glass of bubbly | Book here (weekends walk-in only)
The Dalloway Terrace promises to shower you with smoked salmon and lemon creme fraiche sandwiches; Tahitian vanilla scones; Lapsang Souchong & milk chocolate éclairs; and approximately half a meadow’s-worth of flowers overhead.
Details: Served daily 1-4pm | £35pp | +£10-20 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian and gluten-free menu available | Book here
Lyaness | South Bank
Housed on the bottom floor of the ultra-trendy Sea Containers London, Lyaness offsets powder-blue armchairs and gold furnishings with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river. By night, it’s an award-winning cocktail bar (it opened after its previous incarnation, Dandelyan was crowned best in the world), but by day you can score a two-course afternoon tea which you can enjoy boozeless, with a glass of Champagne, or paired with Ryan Chetiyawardana’s innovative cocktails.
Details: Served weekends | £35pp | £45 with a glass of Champagne | £55 for paired cocktails | Book here
Biscuiteers | Notting Hill & Battersea
Biscuiteers – the adorable iced biscuit cafés – have minimised the risk of any patisserie FOMO by offering all their best-selling cakes and confections in miniature form as part of their afternoon tea, including salted caramel brownies; dainty macarons; and Bakewell tartlets. The fact that you can add on a DIY biscuit decorating session is just the icing on the cake, really.
Details: Served daily, 11am-4pm | £35pp | +£18 for DIY biscuit icing (inc. a complimentary drink) | Vegan and gluten-free options available | Book here
The Ivy Chelsea Garden | Chelsea
There’s a buzz about this place, and it’s not just coming from the bee-hives in the back garden. The Ivy’s more relaxed, leafy Chelsea outpost is a stellar spot for afternoon tea, serving sweet and savoury dishes you can really sink your teeth into – truffled chicken brioche rolls lead to lemon and raspberry donuts, with the option to add on scones if you really want to go the whole hog.
Details: Served daily 3-5pm | Cream tea £8.95pp, afternoon tea £27.95pp | +£9 for a glass of Champagne | Book here
The Wolseley | Piccadilly
The Wolseley is a lovely place to visit at any time of day. But it particularly comes into its own for afternoon tea, which comes with all the usual sweet and savoury trimmings… as well as chocolate and caramel tea.
Details: Served Tues-Fri 3-6.30pm, weekends 3.30-6.30pm | Cream tea £12.75pp, afternoon tea £29.75pp | +£10.25 for a glass of Champagne | Gluten-free options available | Book here
The Zetter Townhouse | Marylebone & Clerkenwell
Packed with Chesterfield sofas, a roaring fire and a clutch of eccentric Victorian trinkets from candlesticks to stuffed animals; The Zetter Townhouse is an atmospheric spot to take tea. There’s two menus to pick from; Aunt Wilhelmina or Uncle Seymour – the former a traditional tea, and the latter a punchy platter of pasties, scotch eggs and truffled sausage rolls.
Details: Book here
Marylebone | Served daily 12-5pm/6pm Sundays | £39.50pp | +£10 to add a tea-infused cocktail or bubbles
Clerkenwell | Served weekends 12-4.30pm | £33pp | +£8 for bubbles, £10 for a tea-infused cocktail
££ (More Expensive)
Mr. Fogg’s | Fitzrovia
The Georgians had the gin craze. The Victorians had afternoon tea. And now we have both. Mr. Fogg’s House of Botanicals offers trays full of traditional sandwiches and cakes alongside not-so-traditional bottomless tea cocktails – something that will no doubt make the eccentric Victorian decor, chirpy old-timey staff, and all sorts of other weird and wonderfulness seem perfectly normal by the end.
Details: Every Saturday from 1.01pm | From £44pp | Drinks included, go bottomless for £20 | Book here
Town House at The Kensington | Kensington
You won’t need to leave this hotel to see London’s most iconic sights. Because alongside the requisite sandwiches and scones, their afternoon tea features dainty desserts shaped like the Gherkin, the Shard, classic red telephone booths and Big Ben. Served on a London Eye-shaped cake stand. Naturally.
Details: Served daily, 12-4pm | £42pp | +£12.50 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan and gluten-free menu available | Book here
The Ampersand Hotel | South Kensington
The Ampersand keep their tea in a very different kind of flask. Taking inspiration from the nearby Science Museum, their afternoon tea arrives in a cloud of dry ice, under which you’ll find marbled ‘planet’ macarons; astronaut-shaped chocolates; dinosaur biscuits to excavate from chocolate soil; and teapot-tails to boot.
Details: Served daily 12-6.30pm (7.30pm weekends) | £44.50pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne/tea pot-tail | Vegan and gluten-free menu available | Book here
Rotunda | Tower Hill
Directly overlooking Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, the Four Seasons hotel’s lounge has an impressive tower of its own, too – a three-tiered afternoon tea themed around the crown jewels, including orange and sesame ‘coin’ pastries.
Details: Served Friday-Sunday from 2-4.30pm | £40pp | +£4 for a glass of Champagne | Book here
The Gherkin | Liverpool Street
The Gherkin takes high tea very literally. 360º skyline views and unlimited Champagne combine with a menu of upgraded classics, like salt beef Reuben brioche buns, Welsh Rarebit bites and yuzu chocolate tart.
Details: Served Monday-Friday from 2-4pm, Saturday 2.30pm-4pm | From £49pp, inc. a glass of bubbles | Go limitless for +£36pp | Book here
£££ (More Expensive)
Rosewood London | Holborn
Rosewood London’s Mirror Room has been repeatedly awarded Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea in the UK – which makes sense, since it’s inspired by contemporary art. Currently they’re paying homage to the iconic works of Yayoi Kusama, with Japanese takes on classic sandwiches followed by stunning patisserie, including this passion-fruit and chocolate mousse number inspired by Kusama’s memory of being spoken to by a pumpkin on her parents’ farm.
Details: Served Thurs-Sun, 12-6pm | £65pp | Add a glass of Champagne for £10-15pp | Book here
Seabird | Blackfriars
You might think that afternoon tea, with its scones and cakes, might look a bit out of place at a seafood restaurant… and you’d be absolutely right. So instead, Seabird serve up to three tiers of shellfish platters, from ten oysters hand-picked by the chef, to banquets of razor clams, fresh langoustines and Alaskan king crab legs with Bloody Mary sauce.
Details: Served daily, subject to 48h pre-order | Oyster platter from £30, £245 all in | Bubbles from £9, cocktails from £12 | Gluten-free menu available | Book here
Sketch | Mayfair
This afternoon tea is seriously sketchy. In a good way. Because London’s most beautiful restaurant has applied all its trademark style and form to this tea. Served up in the huge, very pink Gallery room, you’ll be able to eat truffle buns and bergamot macaroons whilst admiring the David Shrigley artwork, the live string trio in the background, and the cake trolley being wheeled towards your table.
Details: Served daily 11.30am-4.30pm | £70pp | +£14 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan, gluten-free menu available | Book here
Hotel Café Royal | Regent Street
HCR’s gilded, ornate dining room is now named in honour of one of its most famous patrons; Oscar Wilde (other options included Elizabeth Taylor, The Beatles and David Bowie). In fact, Van Gogh is probably one of the few people who hasn’t eaten here, but he’s now being honoured with his own afternoon tea complete with edible paintbrushes and self-portraits.
Details: Served Thursday-Sunday | £65pp | +£10 glass of Champagne | Vegan menu available | Book here
Aqua Shard | London Bridge
Aqua Shard serve afternoon tea on the 31st floor of one of the most iconic skyscrapers in London. And frankly, they could have let the view do the talking. But instead they’ve created a Peter Pan themed extravaganza that includes “an enormous mushroom chimney”, an absinthe cocktail shimmering with golden fairy dust, and a gummy crocodile trapped in tea jelly, all of which is delivered to your table via this smoking pirate ship.
Details: Served Thursday-Sunday, 12.15-4.15pm | £52pp | +£16 glass of Champagne, +£23 glass of Champagne rosé | Book here
The Petersham | Covent Garden
Elephants never forget… so if you support the Elephant Family charity with this special afternoon tea at The Petersham, you’ll be in their good books forever. The fact you get spring pea and potato samosas, kedgeree scotch quail eggs and banana & turmeric macarons is purely incidental…
Details: Served Thurs-Sat, 3-5pm | £55pp | Hibiscus bellini included | Book here
The Berkeley | Knightsbridge
Afternoon tea’s in fashion at The Berkeley, where pastry chef and artistic genius Mourad Khiat puts together delicately composed sweet treats based on catwalks from around the globe. Currently you can munch on Anna Wintour in biscuit form, and enjoy financier cake for two shaped like Halpern’s feather gown, alongside a selection of elegant canapés and sandwiches.
Details: Served daily 1-5.30pm | £60pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Book here
The Lanesborough | Hyde Park
Served under a glass dome in a pretty pale blue dining room that looks like a cake in itself, The Lanesborough Hotel’s current afternoon tea is a collaboration with Peggy Porschen, who landed her first pastry job there before opening her famously pink Belgravia bakery. So naturally you can expect a pink cocktail, pink pavlova & patisserie, and normal-coloured egg & cress sandwiches.
Details: Served Mon-Thurs 2.30-4.30pm; Fri-Sun 12-4pm | £54pp | +£16 for a cocktail, +£19 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan and gluten-free menu available | Book here
The Landmark | Marylebone
Afternoon tea in an 8-storey high atrium – it might sound like a tall order. But The Landmark are making the most of their insanely elegant palm conservatory by filling it with tinkling piano music; a huge spread of teas; and Lapsang Souchong-smoked salmon sandwiches.
Details: Served Friday 3-5.30pm, weekends 1-5.30pm | £58pp | +£10 for Champagne/ £20 for Champagne rosé | Book now
The English Tea Room | Mayfair
The English Tea Room is secreted away in Brown’s Hotel, a grand establishment taking up no fewer than 11 Georgian townhouses in Mayfair – a not insignificant part of which has been dedicated to the ritual of afternoon tea. Amidst richly wood-panelled surroundings, you’ll be treated to dishes like smoked coronation chicken & apricot sandwiches and almond bakewells, alongside your pick from their library of tea – including one grown relatively locally, in Cornwall.
Details: Served daily, noon-6pm | From £55pp | Add a glass of Champagne for £10/Champagne rosé for £13 | Vegan and gluten-free menu available | Book here
Claridge’s | Mayfair
Claridge’s is a classic for a reason – and that reason is a century-tested menu with deluxe takes on the classic finger sandwiches, cakes and scones. Their tea selection has been specially curated with the help of a tea sommelier; and the cutlery is all old-school glamour, designed to mimic the opulent art deco setting.
Details: Served daily between 2.45 and 5.30pm | £75pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne, +£20 for a glass of Champagne rosé | Vegan and gluten-free menu available | Book now
Fortnum & Mason | Piccadilly
The Fortnum’s store is a gourmand’s paradise of loose leaf teas, fancy biscuits and preserves. But the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon upstairs has also been serving it since 2012 (when it was opened by who else, but the Queen). Throughout the month of August you’ll be able to enjoy their luxury menu (lobster omelette, baked brill with Champagne, etc) for dinner, alongside live jazz performances by Ronnie Scott’s musicians.
Details: Served daily, jazz on selected dates | £80pp | Glass of Champagne included | Vegan and gluten-free options available | Book now
The Ritz | Piccadilly
The Ritz’s claim that the ornate ceiling, antique mirrors, chandeliers and golden statues “add a light and stylish flourish to the room” is like saying Liberace was fond of the occasional ruffle. As such, it’s one of the grandest spots in London to take a traditional tea, with harpists, pianists and string quartets to serenade you as you tuck into seasonal pastries and smoked salmon on sourdough.
Details: Served daily at sittings from 11.30am-7.30pm | From £55pp | +£21 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan and gluten-free menu available | Book now
Last Updated: 2nd August 2021 | Main image: The Landmark
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