Cédric Grolet's Goûtea

Features

Hattie Lloyd 15/07/24


The Best Afternoon Tea In London For Every Budget

Afternoon Tea in London | These Top 32 Spots 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.

Behold our 32 favourite Afternoon Tea spots in London…. 


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.


First, The Most Affordable Afternoon Teas In London (£)

1) 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, when the waistcoated waiters glide across the marble floors with trays of Champagne and silver cloches. The menu comes with all the usual sweet and savoury trimmings, enormous scones and an array of teas to choose from… including their chocolate and caramel tea.

Details: Served Mon-Fri 3-6.30pm, weekends 3.30-6.30pm | Cream tea £19.50pp, afternoon tea £44.50pp +£13.50 for a glass of Champagne | Veggie, vegan, nut-free and gluten-free options available | Book The Wolseley

2) Dean Street Townhouse | Soho

dean street townhouse afternoon tea

You’ve got friends in town. They are (understandably) confused at the concept of an afternoon ‘snack’ that somehow replaces dinner, and costs £100pp. You need to take them to Dean Street Townhouse. The open-to-all restaurant at the base of Soho House on Dean Street is suitably lavish enough to impress, all tasseled cushions and plump velvet armchairs, and embraces tradition without feeling fusty (your neighbours will probably be swigging picantes, after all). And with three tiers of finely prepped grub for under £30 a head, it’s one of the best value afternoon teas in London.

Details: Served Mon-Sat, 2-5pm | £28pp +£13.50 for a glass of Champagne | Veggie, vegan, nut-free and gluten-free options available | Book Dean Street Townhouse

3) 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 two Zetter Townhouse hotels 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, 12-4pm | £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

4) 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

5) Socca | Mayfair

Socca afternoon tea

Scones or scohnes? Plain or with sultanas? Jam first or cream first? 

All very serious questions… but thankfully not ones you’ll need to concern yourself with at Socca. Tucked away in Mayfair, this charming French bistro with hand painted walls and oyster shell light fixtures serves up an indulgent afternoon tea inspired by the French Riviera. It ditches scones for choquettes (choux pastry filled with chocolate cream); cucumber sandwiches for lobster and prawn rolls; and victoria sponge for passionfruit and banana cake. By the end of the tea, the traditional British afternoon tea will likely be a distant memory.

Details: Served Monday – Saturday, 2.30-4pm | £35 | +£16 for a glass of Champagne | Book Socca


6)
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 al fresco, featuring grilled chicken & truffle mayo brioche rolls; freshly baked scones; and madeleines drizzled with chocolate sauce…

Details: Served daily 3-5pm | £34.95pp +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Book The Ivy Chelsea Garden

7) Millie’s Lounge | The City

millies lounge afternoon tea

The Ned fills its enormous former banking hall home with a mere six restaurants, a cocktail bar and a central bandstand stage – so statistically speaking, it would be surprising if you couldn’t go for afternoon tea here. You’ll find it served in Millie’s Lounge, a pretty section of the double-height hall with pink banquettes, chintzy crockery and sheer curtains diffusing the light over the room’s imposing green marble pillars. The afternoon tea stand is just as lofty, with traditional treats layered over three tiers, and plenty of tea & coffee choices.

Details: Served weekdays 2-5pm, Saturday 12-5pm | £50pp +£13 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian & vegan menus available | Book here

8) 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 Mon-Wed 2.45-4.45pm, weekends 12-4.45pm | £40 | +£15 for cocktails | Book Oscar

9) 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 Biscuiteers

10) Number 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 Number 16

 

And Now, More Expensive Afternoon Teas In London (££)

11) Rosewood London | Holborn

rosewood mirror room afternoon tea

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 collaboration with artist John Booth, featuring paint-swatched patisserie inspired by an artist’s palette; a tulip-crowned mousse; and a cake of two sides, inspired by Booth and his twin.

Details: Served daily, 12-5.45pm £75 +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Book the Mirror Room

12) NoMad | Covent Garden

nomad new afternoon tea

In case you were wondering, NoMad boasts some of the most impressively gorgeous interiors in 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 – Sunday, 2-4pm £65pp | +£18 for a glass of sparkling wine | Book NoMad

13) Koto Afternoon Tea at The Prince Akatoki | Marble Arch

japanese afternoon tea london

The Prince Akatoki is an exceptionally beautiful, serene hotel in Marble Arch. So it’s no surprise that they put on an exceptionally beautiful and serene afternoon tea. The menu fuses Eastern and Western influences with a brilliant array of savoury treats like seared tuna & avocado on brioche; chicken katsu sandos and a trio of nigiri sushi. Then comes the sweet stuff, spanning strawberry & cream sandos to yuzu crème brûlée and an insanely moreish sesame & caramelised chocolate tart. And just when you think you’ve hit your limit, along come two freshly baked scones studded with jewel-like cranberries.

It all takes place in the wood-panelled Malt Lounge bar, so the barkeeps are on-hand to rustle up a few cocktails for you if you fancy something stronger than the highly artisanal Japanese tea on offer. And best of all? Once a month, koto player Keiko Kitamura comes in to serenade you with exquisite live music, as well as giving you a brief introduction to Japan’s national instrument.

Details: Served Friday – Saturday, 12-2.30pm £60pp/£70 with live music | +£15 for a cocktail | Book The Malt Lounge

14) 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/£20 for kids Add a glass of Champagne for £10pp | Gluten-free & vegan menus available Book the Theatre Royal Drury Lane

15) The Orchid Lounge at Pan Pacific London | The City

orchid lounge 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 floral flavours.

Details: Served Thurs-Mon, 1-4pm £58 +£21 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available Book The Orchid Lounge

16) 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). And it all feels like a bit of an occasion thanks to the soundtrack by live musicians.

Details: Served Friday-Sunday, 2-5pm | £65 | +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Book The Rotunda

17) Petersham Nurseries Restaurant | Covent Garden

petersham nurseries afternoon tea

One of our all-time favourite afternoon teas in the whole city, Petersham Nurseries’ La Merenda afternoon tea is an elegant fusion of British tradition with Italian products. Your highly civilised afternoon of overindulgence begins with a goblet of Bicerin, an Italian concoction of espresso and thick hot chocolate topped with a mound of firm whipped cream. Then comes a glass of sparkling wine. And then comes the exquisite, three-tiered glass cake stand which doubles as a vase erupting with fresh, seasonal flowers.

On the trays below you’ll find ‘pizzette’ reinvented as vol-au-vents topped with the likes of asparagus, wild garlic & scamorza cheese; a plate of thick-cut sandwiches including a mouthwatering grilled zucchini & stracciatella number; and a generous array of sweet treats, ranging from honey-drizzled coccoli (like bite-sized doughnuts) to a syrupy chocolate & caramel tart and an outrageous babà au rhum. Given the quantity of food, and the elegant surroundings studded with Murano glass chandeliers, it’s possibly the best-value afternoon tea in London right now.

Details: Served Thurs-Sat 3-5pm, Sun 2-5pm | From £55pp, inc. a glass of prosecco | Vegetarian & vegan menus available, nut-free as standard | Book here

18) 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 Fri & Sat, 12-4pm | From £55pp, inc. a glass of rosé Bottomless Champagne for £99pp | Book The Gherkin

19) 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 £59.50pp/£39.50 for kids | +£15 for a glass of Champagne/tea pot-tail | Vegetarian and gluten-free menus available | Book The Ampersand

20) 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 The Landmark

21) 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 The Stafford

22) 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, 12-3.15pm £70pp/£50 for kids +£20 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian, pescatarian and vegan menus available | Book Aqua Shard

 

And Finally The Fanciest Afternoon Teas In London (£££)

23) The Berkeley’s Goûtea | Knightsbridge

the berkeley afternoon tea

While The Berkeley’s couture-inspired afternoon tea will be returning (fashionably) later this year, it’s the turn of pastry superstar Cédric Grolet to step under the limelight. You can pop into his scleral-white patisserie fronting Hyde Park for a trompe l’oeuil pastry to take away, but if money’s no object (at least till next month’s credit card bill rolls in), book in for his take on afternoon tea: Goûtea. Sitting in the beautifully designed café space, all modern art deco with walnut wood and sleekly curving banquettes, you’ll be presented with wagyu croissants, truffle arancini, pistachio ‘flowers’, and more…

Details: Served daily 12, 2 & 4pm | £85pp | +£12 for a glass of Champagne | No dietary alternatives availableBook Goûtea at The Berkeley

24) 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 an Afternoon Sea with 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 & cocktails from £11 | Book Seabird

25) 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 on a plate since 2012, when it was opened by (who else but) the late Queen herself. It’s a quintessential London afternoon tea, executed to perfection: 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 | +£17.95 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan and dairy-free options available | Book the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon

26) The Carlton Tower Jumeirah | Knightsbridge

Carlton Jumeirah 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 the royal gardens at Highgrove, so handpicked teas, asparagus tartlets and a jasmine Black Forest gâteau all feature – alongside four different types of scone in what they’re calling ‘The Scones Experience’.

Details: Served daily 12-4pm | £75pp | +£15 for a cocktail or glass of Champagne | Book the Carlton Tower’s afternoon tea

27) The Drawing Room | Mayfair

lock & co afternoon tea

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 their new collaboration with the royal hatters, Lock & Co, for which they’ve created an array of millinery-inspired macarons, choux buns and more…

Details: Served daily, 12-6.30pm, until 31st August | £80 | +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan menu available | Book The Drawing Room

28) 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, 2.45-5.30pm £90pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan and gluten-free menu available | Book Claridge’s

29) 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 citrus sponge trolley being wheeled towards your table.

Details: Served daily 11.00-4.30pm (11am-5pm Sun) £80/£55 for kids (inc. a bear) +£14 for a glass of sparkling wine | Vegan, gluten-free menu available | Book Sketch

30) 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 glitzy afternoon tea offering, including truffled egg brioche sandwiches, raisin scones with Earl Grey jam, and red apple tartlets.

Details: Served Wed-Sun, 12-5.30pm £79pp +£11 for a glass of Champagne Vegetarian & vegan menus available, other dietaries catered for with 48hrs notice | Book Hotel Café Royal

31) The Lanesborough | Hyde Park

bridgerton themed 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 new Bridgerton-inspired menu they’re rolling out dishes like tea-cured salmon sandwiches, fresh scones with clotted cream, and bittersweet patisserie in honour of Lady Whistledown.

Details: Served Mon-Thurs 12.30-4pm; Fri-Sat 12-4pm, Sun 3.30-4.30pm | £85pp | +£13 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian, vegan & gluten-free menus available | Book The Lanesborough

32) 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 | £76pp (£55 for children) | +£23 for a glass of Champagne | Book The Ritz

 


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