The Best Afternoon Tea In London | For Every Budget
Last updated: 20th May 2019 | Main image: Mariage Frères
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 round London’s most distinguished hotels; grand cafés; and even inside a vintage double decker bus 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 a 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 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 3-6pm | £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 | £22pp | +£7 for a bellini; +£13.50 for a glass of Champagne
Not Afternoon Tea | Oxo Tower
The traditional afternoon tea served in the Oxo Tower Restaurant is all well and good… But over in the Brasserie, they’re determined to do things differently – which here means loading plates with sets of four themed desserts, paired with a matching cocktail.
Details: Served Mon – Fri 3-5pm, weekends 2-4.30pm | £22 per plate | +£11 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 strawberry and yuzu 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 miso coladas to go with it.
Details: Served Saturdays 2-5pm | £30pp | Sake from £4 a glass, cocktails at £11, Champagne £13
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 their chocolate afternoon tea, when you can gorge yourself on unusual treats like roast beef and cocoa bread sandwiches; scones with white chocolate cream, and patisserie like éclairs and milk chocolate orange tarts. Oh, and chocolate tea. In for a penny…
Details: Served weekdays 3-6.30pm, weekends 3.30-6.30pm | £29.75pp | +£10.25 for a glass of Champagne
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
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
Kettner’s Townhouse | Soho
Somewhere as quietly luxurious as Kettner’s Townhouse requires an afternoon tea to match – so it’s only right that the offering here comes with Champagne as standard. Soaking up the bubbles are a trio of finger sandwiches – including crab and pickled cucumber – the requisite scones, and a regularly changing selection of patisserie.
Details: Served daily, 3-6pm | £30pp | Glass of Champagne inc., more drinks available à la carte
Hide | Piccadilly
Afternoon tea at Hide is one for the bucket list. Tea is taken care of by Mariage Frères (and includes a smoked Earl Grey), but it’s the Ollie Dabbous-led grub you’re here for. Flagrantly straying from tradition, your table will be piled with bowls bearing molten Spenwood sheep’s cheese gougères; ceramic ‘eggs’ filled with truffled celeriac cream and smoked egg yolk; and wild herb candy-floss presented on a eucalyptus sprig.
Details: Served Friday-Sunday, 4-5pm | £42pp | +£12 for Champagne; +£19 for rosé Champagne
Mariage Frères | Covent Garden
Served either in their zen-like, brilliant white tearoom or in the lanterned gallery overlooking their vast tea emporium, the Mariage Frères afternoon tea is a thing of beauty. Tea-infused savouries and sweets from the appropriately named ‘Chariot de Pâtisseries’ are accompanied by a veritable tome of brews, from blue tea to the ‘Kama Sutra’ blend. It’s equally worth coming back later for the tea-infused cocktails, too…
Details: Served daily 3-6pm | £39pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne
Dominique Ansel | Belgravia
Dominique Ansel – the man who singlehandedly created mass hysteria in multiple cities over a baked good – is now serving afternoon tea in the bakery garden. Which means you should prepare for possible hyperventilation over his wild mushroom, confit garlic and squid ink choux; lavender meringue with coconut ganache; and mascarpone mousse with meringue kisses.
Details: Served Thurs-Sun, 12-4pm | £42pp | £55 with Champagne, £80 with Champagne, lobster & caviar
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 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 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 for tea. The Marylebone branch has 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.
Details: Served daily, 12-5pm | £35.50pp | +£7.50 for a tea-based cocktail, +£10 for a glass of English sparkling wine
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 2.30-5.30pm, weekends 12.30-6pm (Thurs-Sat 6-9pm for tea pot-tail version) | £39.50pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne/tea pot-tail
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
The Dalloway Terrace promises to shower you with sweets like spiced financier and 70% chocolate mousse; cucumber sandwiches on basil bread; and approximately half a meadow’s-worth of flowers overhead.
Details: Served daily 12-4pm | £40pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne
Mr. Fogg’s | Mayfair, 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
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: 109-113 Queen’s Gate, SW7 5LP | £42pp | +£12.50 for a glass of Champagne
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 an elegant setting for their afternoon tea inspired by Queen Victoria – where you can score coronation chicken sandwiches, rose and lychee mousse, blancmange pastries and Victorian teas. Plus, there’s a live pianist – so you will be amused.
Details: Weekdays 1-4pm (complimentary glass of Champagne), weekends 12-5.30pm | £55pp | +£10 glass of Champagne
Aqua Shard | London Bridge
Where better for a Mary Poppins-themed afternoon tea than up at the highest heights of Aqua Shard? Dishes involve quintessential finger sandwiches, candy floss, Bert and Mary tea infusions, patisserie inspired by the book and – should you opt for Champagne – a spoonful of rum, gin or strawberry medicine, which helps the bubbles go down very well indeed.
Details: Served 1-5pm daily | £49pp | +£17 for a glass of Champagne, +£23 for Champagne rosé
The Lanesborough | Hyde Park
The Lanesborough’s afternoon tea offering is all about upgrading the classics, with cucumber and lovage sandwiches; Genmaicha tea éclairs; and glossy blackberry ‘baubles’ served in two unspeakably elegant rooms.
Details: Served daily; times dependent on room | £55pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne
Rosewood London | Holborn
Rosewood London’s Mirror Room has just won Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea for the second year in a row. Which makes sense, since it’s inspired by contemporary art. Expect pastries in the style of Warhol, Lichtenstein and Yayoi Kusama, plus classic sandwiches and tea from Mariage Frères.
Details: Available weekdays 2-5.30pm, and weekends 12-5.30pm | £58pp | Add a glass of Champagne from £10pp
Waldorf Tea Dance | Aldwych
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
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 boiling hot spillages.
Details: 5 tours a day | From £45pp | Add a glass of prosecco for £9 or half bottle of Champagne for £28+
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 salt beef bagels and pear and lemon éclairs, alongside your pick from their library of tea – including one grown relatively locally, in Cornwall.
Details: Daily noon-6pm | From £55pp | Add a glass of Champagne for £10/Champagne rosé for £13
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 | £65pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne, +£20 for a glass of Champagne rosé
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 pineapple & coriander tarts and egg truffle gougères, 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, +£17 for a glass of Champagne rosé
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 | +£30 for two cocktails
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 music; 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
The Savoy | Embankment
The Savoy’s afternoon tea is a deserved classic, served up in a skylit room with its own indoor bandstand. You can score all the traditional dishes here, or plump for their whimsical ode to the children’s book, The Tiger Who Came To Tea – featuring striped scones; peanut butter and jam sandwiches; and five themed desserts.
Details: Served daily 1-5.45pm | From £65pp | +£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 £58pp
Main image: Mariage Frères
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