It’s not easy to compile the ultimate run-down of the best afternoon tea in London…
…but we’ve chai’d our best.
That is, we’ve tiptoed around London’s most distinguished hotels; grand cafés; and vintage double decker buses on an unquenchable quest to find the city’s most noteworthy afternoon teas. And after several sleepless nights (primarily due to excessive caffeine intake) we’ve crafted this fully comprehensive guide – organised by budget – so that you can book in knowing that you’re in safe hands.
Because when it comes to tea…
….these guys have got it in the bag.
£ (The Least Expensive)
The Delaunay | Aldwych
The Delaunay is, unequivocally, the best value afternoon tea to be had in London. Swing by its wood-panelled, Grand Café-inspired dining room and pick sandwiches and pastries à la carte, or settle in for the whole triple-storeyed extravaganza, piled with Viennese cakes and their famous gugelhupf – traditional poppy seed-sprinkled sponge cakes that are much less intimidating than scones when you reach that final tier.
Details: Served daily 3-5.45pm | £19.75pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne
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 ‘garden bellinis’.
Details: Served all day, every day | £26pp | +£7 for a bellini; +£13 for a glass of Champagne
Kaia at The Ned | Bank
A Japanese-themed afternoon tea is hard to matcha. Especially when it’s set in the grand, marble-clad atrium of The Ned, and involves raspberry and lychee choux buns; temari sushi; and matcha-infused ‘green’ forest gateaux. Naturally, there’s a solid tea selection here – but if you’re feeling indulgent, line up some sake or shiso palomas to go with it.
Details: Served Saturdays 2-5pm | £30pp | Sake from £8 a glass, cocktails at £11, prosecco +£5
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 | £27.50pp | Drinks available à la carte
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 – book ahead | £30pp | +£18 for DIY biscuit icing
The Wolseley | St James’s
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 weekdays 3-6.30pm, weekends 3.30-6.30pm | £29.75pp | +£10.25 for a glass of Champagne
Balthazar | Covent Garden
New York isn’t just the Big Apple. It’s also deli-style pastrami buns with egg and pickle; smoked salmon bagels; peanut butter and jelly eclairs; pecan pies; cookies & cream tarts; key lime pies; and bourbon cocktails. At least, according to Balthazar. And we’re not about to argue.
Details: Served 3-5pm Mon-Sat, 3-6.30pm Sun | £29.95pp | +£10 for bourbon cocktail/glass of Champagne
££ (More Expensive)
Momo | Mayfair
Momo’s Moroccan afternoon tea is very Moorish. The sister restaurant to nearby Sketch, the place is a bohemian paradise of hanging lanterns, tiled flooring, and low-slung pouffes and banquettes swaddled with throws. Head out to the outdoor terrace, and you can feast on an extravagant afternoon tea with ornate silver teapots, four tiers of sandwiches and patisserie (including lemon meringue pie, cherry clafoutis and a spicy chocolate choux cake); sweet Moroccan tea (poured from a dramatic height to add the signature frothy top); date scones with clotted cream and delicate floral-scented jam; and an extra dessert of your choice. Just in case.
Details: Served daily from 12-4.30pm | £32pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne
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 a particularly 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, devilled eggs and truffled sausage rolls. Plus, you can even collect your afternoon tea in a picnic hamper to head off and enjoy in the park.
Details: Served daily, 12-5pm/6pm Sundays | Clerkenwell: £33pp, Marylebone £35.50pp | +£9.50 for a tea-based cocktail, +£10 for a glass of English sparkling wine
Dominique Ansel | Belgravia
Dominique Ansel – the man who singlehandedly created mass hysteria in multiple cities over baked goods – is serving a new, all-vegetarian afternoon tea in the bakery’s conservatory. Which means you should prepare for possible hyperventilation over his mini peas-in-the-pod (pea mousse with parmesan sablé pods), square strawberry cakes, home-made scones and mini chocolate honeybees, which you can pick off the fountain of foliage at the top of the tea stand.
Details: Served Thurs-Sun, at 2 and 4.15pm | £42pp | £55 with Champagne, £80 with Champagne, lobster & caviar
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
La Suite West | Hyde Park
Cream teas can pose a bit of an inherent challenge to vegans. Luckily sleek hotel La Suite West have stepped up to the plate, serving an all-vegan afternoon tea in the minimalist bliss of their private terrace by Hyde Park.
Details: Served 12-5pm daily | £35 inc. non-alcoholic fizz | +£5 for a mocktail
Lyaness | South Bank
Housed on the bottom floor of the ultra trendy Sea Containers London – with floor-to-ceiling windows, overlooking the river – Lyaness offers a two-course, both savoury and sweet afternoon tea which, you can enjoy either boozeless; with a glass of Champagne; or cocktail-paired, with cocktails specially created by Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr Lyan himself. Sat in a plush, milky-blue armchair, pulled up to a table of marble and gold, you can tuck in to everything from roast beef and rosemary focaccia sandwiches to a strawberry & mascarpone éclair so good we begged for another.
Details: Served Thurs-Sun, 12-5pm | £38pp | £48 with a glass of Champagne | £58 for four paired cocktails
The Barbican Conservatory | Barbican
The Barbican may be something of a concrete jungle… but it also has an actual jungle. It just happens to be hidden away in the Barbican Conservatory, a surprisingly vast glass hideaway filled with overhanging palms, fish-filled ponds and an entire section dedicated to cacti. And now, you can even take tea there… if you don’t mind the prickly atmosphere.
Details: Served on occasional Sundays, check and book ahead HERE | £35pp | Prosecco included
The Dalloway Terrace promises to shower you with smoked salmon rillettes on Guinness bread; Bourbon vanilla scones; blueberry and lavender éclairs; and approximately half a meadow’s-worth of flowers overhead.
Details: Served daily 12-4pm | £40pp | +£10/20 for a glass of Champagne
Mr. Fogg’s | Mayfair, Fitzrovia & Covent Garden
The Georgians had the gin craze. The Victorians had afternoon tea. And now we have both. Mr. Fogg’s offers traditional sandwiches and cakes alongside not-so-traditional bottomless tea cocktails – something that will no doubt make the stuffed animals, eccentric Victorian ephemera and old-timey piano player seem perfectly normal by the end.
Details: Every weekend | From £44pp | Drinks included, go bottomless at Mr. Fogg’s House of Botanicals for +£20
£££ (More Expensive)
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 weekdays 12.30-9pm (!), weekends 12.30-7pm | £50pp | +£15 for a glass of Champagne/tea pot-tail
Rosewood London | Holborn
Rosewood London’s Mirror Room has won Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea for two years in a row – which makes sense, since it’s inspired by contemporary art. Currently they’re paying homage to Picasso, with Spanish-infused takes on classic sandwiches, followed by stunning cubist cakes, like this cheesecake version of Head of a Woman.
Details: Available weekdays 2.30-5.45pm, and weekends 12-5.45pm | £65pp | Add a glass of Champagne for £10pp, cocktail £15pp
Waldorf Tea Dance | Aldwych
The Swing Twins
Tea dances – they’re not just the char-char-char. In fact this tea dance is something of an event; with live bands (who have played the West End in hundreds of shows); a glamorous dress code; ballroom lessons and social dancing – and, of course, an excellent afternoon tea.
Details: Check here for dates | From £72pp
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 croques and mandarin battenburgs, whilst admiring the David Shrigley artwork, live music tinkling in the background, and Victoria Sponge trolley rapidly making its way to your table.
Details: Served daily 11.30am-4.30pm | £59pp | +£14 for a glass of Champagne, +£18 for a glass of Champagne rosé
The B Bakery Bus | Across London
The folks at Covent Garden’s B Bakery want to get you on board with their afternoon tea… so they’ve stripped out an old Routemaster and kitted it out with retro seating, garlands of flowers and fairy-lights, to create a fully functioning afternoon tea bus. The driver will take you round all the London sights during your tea, and the tables are even fitted with cup holsters to avoid any scalding spillages.
Details: 5 tours a day | From £45pp | Add a glass of prosecco for £9 or half bottle of Champagne for £28+
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). Gloriously extravagant, with ceiling frescoes and golden crockery, it’s a fitting setting for their afternoon tea inspired by Queen Victoria – where you can score coronation chicken sandwiches, miniature Victoria sponges, blancmange pastries and Victorian teas. Plus, there’s a live pianist – so you will be amused.
Details: Served daily, 12-5.30pm | £55pp | +£10 glass of Champagne
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 mini smoked coronation chicken bagels and rhubarb mille feuille, 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
Cutter & Squidge | Soho
Cutter & Squidge’s basement tea den has variously appeared as a Hello Kitty garden, a genie’s cave, and now – as if by magic – it’s been transformed into a potions classroom. Besides all the afternoon tea staples, you’ll also be treated to a glittering vial of ‘Galaxy Juice’, plus a smoking cauldron, beakers of mysterious liquids and a magic wand to tie it all together.
Details: Available daily at 12, 3 and 6pm: book ahead HERE | £49.50pp
The Lanesborough | Hyde Park
The Lanesborough’s afternoon tea offering is all about upgrading the classics, with smoked salmon and yuzu cream buns; chicken bonbons with tandoori mayo; and strawberry & verbena pavlova served in an unspeakably elegant room.
Details: Served Mon-Thurs 2.30-4.30pm; Fri-Sun 12.30-4.30pm | £53pp | +£19 for a glass of Champagne
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 conservatory by filling it with tinkling piano; a huge spread of teas; and Lapsang Souchong-smoked salmon sandwiches.
Details: Served weekdays from 3-5pm, weekends 1.30-5pm | £45pp | +£7 for a glass of Champagne, +£13 for rosé Champagne
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 | £70pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne, +£20 for a glass of Champagne rosé
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 £60pp | +£19 for a glass of Champagne
Last Updated: 23rd March 2020 | Main image: Sketch London
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