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Hattie Lloyd 17/01/24


The Best Afternoon Tea In London For Every Budget

Afternoon Tea in London | These places have got it in the bag…

There’s a lot of debate when it comes to afternoon tea.

Is it better to put the jam or cream first? Should you say scone like ‘cone’, or scone like ‘gone’? And where can you find the best afternoon tea in London?

The answers to which, of course, are a) cream, obviously b) it’s pronounced ‘scone’, and c) these places right here, in our fully comprehensive guide to afternoon teas in London (which we’ve also organised by budget, and whether they offer gluten-free and/or vegan afternoon teas).

We’re talking afternoon teas inspired by fashion, contemporary art and musicals; teas where you can ice your own biscuits; and quirky afternoon tea featuring miniature volcanoes and dinosaur fossils. Plus, you know, a couple of really classic afternoon teas served in some of London’s most palatial and glitzy settings.

Here they are:


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 Most Affordable Afternoon Tea In London)

The Wolseley | Mayfair

The Wolseley afternoon tea

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 Mon-Fri 3-6.30pm, weekends 3.30-6.30pm | Cream tea £19.50pp, afternoon tea £44.50pp +£11.50 for a glass of Champagne | Veggie, vegan, nut-free and gluten-free options available | Book here

NoMad | Covent Garden | NEW AFTERNOON TEA

nomad new afternoon tea

In case you were wondering, NoMad boasts some of the most impressively gorgeous interiors of the city. So it was only a matter of time before the hotel put aside its NYC roots aside to adopt this most British of traditions. Seated in the triple-height atrium, surrounded by glass lanterns and cascading greenery, you can now enjoy a (quite reasonably priced) afternoon tea with all the trimmings: elegant twists on the classic finger sandwiches, exquisite miniature tarts and cheesecakes, and rum & raisin scones.

Details: Served Thursday – Saturday, 2-4pm £55pp | +£18 for a glass of sparkling wine | Book here

The Zetter Townhouse | Marylebone & Clerkenwell

zetter townhouse afternoon tea

Packed with Chesterfield sofas, a roaring fire and a clutch of eccentric Victorian trinkets from candlesticks to stuffed animals; The Zetter Townhouse hotels both look like afternoon tea could have been invented there. There’s two menus to pick from; dainty finger sandwiches filled with the likes of Coronation chicken and brie with fig jam, or ‘hearty treats’ of ox cheek croquettes and goats cheese tarts. Then everyone gets to enjoy the scones, sweet treats and array of teas.

Zetter Townhouse Marylebone | Served Wed-Sun, 12-4.30pm | £45pp | +£10 for Champagne or a cocktail | Book here
Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell | Served weekends 12-4.30pm | £45pp | +£10 for Champagne or a cocktailBook here

The Soho Hotel | Soho

afternoon tea soho hotel

Justin De Souza

The Soho Hotel serves up an afternoon tea that’s as colourful as the setting. You’ll enjoy fancy takes on the usual sandwiches with cucumber & hummus on granary, cheddar & pickle on tomato basil bread, and chicken & tarragon mayo before moving onto scones with clotted cream, and envelope-pushing patisserie like blood orange & Earl Grey choux buns and green apple mousse with ginger shortbread.

Details: Served daily, 12-4pm | £45 | +£12 for a glass of Champagne | Book here

The Ivy Chelsea Garden | Chelsea

The Ivy Chelsea

There’s a buzz about this place, and it’s not just coming from the beehives in the back garden. The Ivy‘s more relaxed, leafy West London outpost is a beautifully verdant spot for a traditional afternoon tea, featuring grilled chicken & truffle mayo brioche rolls; freshly baked scones; and madeleines drizzled with chocolate sauce…

Details: Served daily 3-5pm | £32.95pp +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Book here

Charlotte Street Hotel | Fitzrovia

The colourful Kit Kemp-designed restaurant at Charlotte Street Hotel, Oscar, offers an alternative afternoon tea ‘with a twist’. You’ll get three mini cocktails – alcoholic or non-alcoholic – paired with an assortment of sandwiches (cucumber & mint, smoked salmon & cream cheese, ham & mustard), gratifying sweet things like a strawberry and prosecco mousse cake, and those mandatory homemade scones with clotted cream and preserves.

Details: Served Wed-Thurs 2.45-4.45pm, Fri-Sun 12-4.45pm | £38 | +£15 for cocktails | Book here

Biscuiteers | Notting Hill & Belgravia

biscuiteers afternoon tea

Biscuiteers are known for their incredibly detailed, hand-iced biscuits – but you’re about to get to know them for their mandarin & chocolate choux buns, ruby chocolate macarons and raisin-studded scones, too. It’s all served alongside their personal house blend of Tregothnan tea, and you can even tack on your own DIY biscuit icing experience…

Details: Served daily, 11am-5.30pm £45-68pp | +£7.50 for a glass of prosecco | Vegan and gluten-free options available | Book here

No. 16 | South Kensington

Number 16 Afternoon Tea London

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 didn’t offer afternoon tea here. But thankfully they do, and it involves pitch-perfect sandwiches; a choice of elegant patisserie; and the option to go for hot chocolate instead of tea.

Details: Served daily, 1-4pm | £45pp | +£12 for a glass of Champagne | Gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan options available | Book here

 

££ (More Expensive)

Rosewood London | Holborn

rosewood hotel afternoon tea

© Patricia Niven

The Mirror Room at Holborn hotel Rosewood London has been repeatedly awarded Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea in the UK – which is fitting, since it’s inspired by contemporary art. Their current menu is a kind of afternoon tea all-stars, bringing back some of their most impressive creations from the past few years. Munch on an iced white chocolate cube inspired by Banksy; an edible Campbell’s soup can paying tribute to Warhol; Dali’s Lobster Telephone (transformed into chocolate); and a dotty creation in the style of Yayoi Kusama.

Details: Served daily, 12-5.45pm £68 +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Book here

Dalloway Terrace | Bloomsbury

dalloway terrace afternoon tea

Dalloway Terrace promises to shower you with goodies like roast chicken with sage mayo on onion bread; gruyère and chive scones; blood orange tarts and salted caramel choux… and approximately half a meadow’s-worth of flowers overhead.

Details: Served daily 1-4pm £55pp +£15 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian and gluten-free menu available with 24h notice | Book here

Theatre Royal Drury Lane | Covent Garden

The beautifully restored Theatre Royal on Drury Lane serves up a suitably theatrical afternoon tea in their peach-painted, emerald-green marble pillared Grand Saloon (as well as on the balcony, in the warmer months). It’s all been designed by legendary Hackney baker Lily Vanilli, and features miniature crumpets with Earl Grey cream cheese; tiny little coronation chicken pies; frilly pastel-piped cakes; and ice cream sandwiches stacked with strawberry syrup and marshmallow. We would say it’s the most delicious afternoon tea ever created… but we’d hate to be dramatic.

Details: Served daily, 11am-5.30pm | £59pp/£35 for kids Add a glass of Champagne for £10pp | Gluten-free & vegan menus available Book here

The Orchid Lounge at Pan Pacific London | The City

pan pacific afternoon tea

The Orchid Lounge’s setting is as neutral and inconspicuous as you’d expect a lounge in a sleek City hotel to be, but that’s by the by when the plates are loaded with so much colour. In a nod to the hotel’s Singaporean roots, there are two afternoon teas on offer: a traditional version with finger sandwiches and scones, and a kopi tiam version which features baskets of delicious siu mai and freshly steamed buns. And they’re both capped off with some exquisite patisserie inspired by forest fruits.

Details: Served Thurs-Mon, 12.30-4pm £60 +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available Book here

Rotunda at Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square | Tower Hill

rotunda four seasons afternoon tea

Directly overlooking Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, the Four Seasons hotel’s lounge has an impressive tower of its own – one stacked with elegant afternoon tea treats. Traditional scones & sandwiches are capped off by patisserie inspired by the crown jewels held under lock and key down below, with strawberry confit & yuzu chocolate crowns and a miniature Victoria sponge with Darjeeling mousse (apparently the king’s favourite tea).

Details: Served Friday-Sunday, with live music 2-5pm | £65 | +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Book here

Petersham Nurseries Richmond | Richmond

petersham nurseries richmond afternoon tea

Sit down to tea in the beautifully bohemian surroundings of Petersham Nurseries Richmond, where, underneath a canopy of flowers and vines, hand-blown Florentine glass cake stands are loaded with gruyère & cranberry gougères, chive & gorgonzola scones, sticky ginger cake and spiced apple choux. Plus the option to tack on a glass of sparkling wine, if you trust yourself around all that priceless glass.

Details: Served Fri-Sat, 10am-4.30pm, Sun 11am-4.30pm | From £55pp/£25 for kids | +£10 for a glass of crémant | Vegetarian, dairy-free & vegan menus available | Book here

The Gherkin | The City

The Gherkin takes high tea very literally. Panoramic views of the London skyline and unlimited Champagne combine with a menu of smoked salmon & caviar sandwiches, Jersey fruit scones, and elegant patisserie.

Details: Served Mon-Sat, 12-3pm | From £55pp, inc. a glass of bubbles Bottomless Champagne for £99pp | Book here

The Ampersand Hotel |  South Kensington

ampersand quirky afternoon tea

Amy Murrell

Taking inspiration from the nearby Natural History Museum, afternoon tea at The Ampersand hotel arrives in a swirling cloud of dry ice, under which you’ll find T-rex footprint macarons; dark chocolate & caramel dino egg nests; biscuit fossils to excavate from chocolate soil; and themed teapot-tails to boot…

Details: Served daily 12-6.30pm £54.50pp/£37.50 for kids | +£15 for a glass of Champagne/tea pot-tail | Vegetarian and gluten-free menus available | Book here

Town House at The Kensington | Kensington

chanel afternoon tea town house kensington

“I only drink Champagne on three occasions, when I am in love, when I am not, and when I’m enjoying afternoon tea at the Town House Kensington.” So said Coco Chanel (or at least, something like that), the muse behind the Town House’s ‘high fashion high tea’. Indulge in Chapel & Swan smoked salmon sandwiches, fruit scones with clotted cream and dark chocolate macarons, and disregard her other piece of advice: “elegance is refusal”.

Details: Served daily, 12-4.30pm £58pp | +£12 for a glass of Champagne | Veggie, vegan and gluten-free menus available | Book here

The Landmark | Marylebone

landmark hotel afternoon tea

Afternoon tea in an 8-storey high atrium – it might sound like a tall order. But The Landmark makes the most of its insanely elegant palm conservatory by filling it with tinkling piano music; a huge spread of teas; and Lapsang Souchong-smoked salmon sandwiches.

Details: Served weekdays 3-5pm, weekends 1-5pm £70pp+£13 for a glass of Champagne | Book now

The Stafford Hotel | St James’s

stafford hotel afternoon tea trolley

Duck down a passageway off Green Park to emerge onto a quiet, genteel cul-de-sac where you’ll find The Stafford, hotel of choice for WWII spies, Hollywood stars… and those in pursuit of an exceptional afternoon tea. The hotel’s Game Bird restaurant is a lavish setting that befits its elegant menu, where freshly cut red roses accompany triple-tiered silver stands. Those stands come bearing gifts like truffled egg brioche buns; smoked salmon sandwiches and a trio of scones (plain, raisin, and cheddar – to be enjoyed with cream cheese, rather than cream). And just as you start to think you’ve reached the peak of high society living, in comes a bespoke cake trolley loaded with coffee choux buns, vivid green macarons, and slices of their earl grey and honey layer cake. Your only task? To narrow them down to five…

Details: Served daily from 12-5.30pm | £70 | +£17 for a glass of Champagne | Book here

Aqua Shard | London Bridge

Afternoon Tea At Aqua Shard

Aqua Shard serves 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 Peter’s hat crafted from choux pastry, all of which is delivered to your table via this smoking pirate ship.

Details: Served daily, 12-2.30pm £68pp/£50 for kids +£20 for a glass of Champagne | Book here

 

£££ (The Fanciest Afternoon Tea)

The Berkeley’s Fashion Afternoon Tea | Knightsbridge

pret a portea berkeley hotel

Afternoon tea is always 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. This season’s creations include a vanilla mousse with a fruit tulle skirt inspired by a Versace gown; a Prada handbag reimagined as a cinnamon blondie; and a delicately hand-iced biscuit resembling Victoria Beckham’s trophy jacket for AW’23.

Details: Served daily 1-5.30pm | £80pp | +£12 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian menu availableBook here

Seabird | Southwark

seabird quirky afternoon tea

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 right. So instead, Seabird serves up to three tiers of shellfish platters, starting with ten oysters hand-picked by the chef, and scaling up to banquets of razor clams, fresh langoustines and an entire half lobster.

Details: Served daily, subject to 48h pre-order | £40-220 Bubbles from £11, cocktails from £14 | Book here

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 been serving it all since 2012, when it was opened by (who else but) the late Queen herself. It’s a quintessential London afternoon tea: tuck into sugar-dusted scones with strawberry & Champagne jam, cucumber & minted cream sandwiches and a quintet of tiny little cakes to finish… until the cake trolley loaded with Battenberg rolls around, that is.

Details: Served daily £80pp | +£17.50 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian, vegan, nut-, gluten- and dairy-free options available | Book now

The Carlton Tower Jumeirah | Knightsbridge

carlton tower afternoon tea

The Carlton Tower’s afternoon tea is tagged with some serious name-value. Jessica Préalpato was voted the world’s best pastry chef in 2019 by World’s 50 Best (it’s like the Oscars for pâtisserie people), and was head pastry chef under Alain Ducasse at Paris’s Plaza Athénée. Here she’s drummed up an afternoon tea menu inspired by nature, so handpicked teas, pear & lime sorbet, and apple & tamarind tarts all feature – alongside four different types of scone in what they’re calling ‘The Scone Experience’.

Details: Served daily 12-4pm | £75pp | +£15 for a glass of Champagne | Book now

The Drawing Room | Mayfair

The Drawing 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. In fact, Queen Victoria herself was apparently quite partial to taking it here. And she probably would have been quite partial to the roast Ibérico ham sandwiches, golden raisin scones and chocolate marble cake they serve there now…

Details: Served daily, 12-6.30pm | £75 | +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan menu available | Book here

Claridge’s | Mayfair

Claridge's afternoon tea

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. Expect honey-glazed ham with tomato relish on onion bread; freshly baked fruit scones; and a banana & caramel St Honoré – all served with Claridge’s own unique blend of tea – in supremely elegant art deco surroundings.

Details: Served daily between 2.45 and 5.30pm £90pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan and gluten-free menu available | Book now

Sketch | Mayfair

sketch afternoon tea

The city’s most beautiful restaurant has applied all its trademark style and form to its afternoon tea. Served up in the huge, very yellow Gallery room, you’ll be able to dine on dainty patisserie treats whilst admiring the Yinka Shonibare artwork, the live string trio, and the Victoria sponge trolley being wheeled towards your table.

Details: Served daily 11.00-4.30pm £80 +£14 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan, gluten-free menu available | Book here

Hotel Café Royal | Regent Street

Hotel Cafe Royal

HCR’s gilded, ornate dining room has, in its time, been frequented by Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Taylor, The Beatles, Muhammad Ali and David Bowie. And it’s home to an equally gilded afternoon tea offering, including truffled egg brioche sandwiches, raisin scones with Earl Grey jam, and red apple tartlets.

Details: Served daily, 12-5.30pm £75pp +£10 for a glass of Champagne Vegetarian & vegan menus available, other dietaries catered for with 48hrs notice | Book here

The Lanesborough | Hyde Park

bridgerton afternoon tea

Served under a glass dome in a pretty pale blue dining room that looks like a cake in itself, The Lanesborough Hotel has to be one of the most elegant spots for afternoon tea in London, complete with a live pianist on weekends. For their current Bridgerton-inspired menu they’re rolling out dishes like tea-cured salmon sandwiches, fresh scones with clotted cream, and patisserie topped with a tiny crown, all served alongside a cocktail inspired by a genuine Regency-era punch recipe.

Details: Served Mon-Thurs 2.30-4pm; Fri-Sat 12-4pm, Sun 3.30-4.30pm from 10th November | £90pp (inc. a cocktail) | +£5 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian, vegan & gluten-free menus available | Book here

The Ritz | Piccadilly

the ritz afternoon tea

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, The Ritz’s Palm Court is one of the grandest spots in London to take a traditional afternoon tea, with harpists, pianists and the London Dance Orchestra to serenade you as you tuck into seasonal pastries, scones and smoked salmon sandwiches.

Details: Served daily at sittings from 11.30am-7.30pm | £75pp (£53 for children) | +£23 for a glass of Champagne | Book now

 


Like eating between meals? Then you’ll probably like this thing called brunch. Check out our ultimate London brunch guide