The Best Afternoon Tea In London | For Every Budget
Last updated: 24th July 2018
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…
Blakes | Chelsea
On the rare occasions that London is blessed with vaguely clement weather, the best thing to do is hotfoot it to boutique hotel Blakes, hole up in the Matthew Williamson-designed courtyard for the day, and order a steady stream of their paired teas and pastries (put together by a triple Michelin-starred pastry chef, no less).
Details: Served daily | £12.75 per pairing | +£9 for a glass of Prosecco, £13 for Champagne
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 3-6.30pm | £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
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, when you can gorge yourself on quintessential British treats like roast beef and horseradish sandwiches and strawberry tarts – or, go a little more French, and gorge yourself on Champagne and millefeuille instead.
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 thankfully 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 tarts. The fact that you can add on a DIY biscuit decorating session is just the icing on the cake, really.
Details: Book ahead via email | £28.50pp | +£10 for DIY biscuit icing
Ladurée | Covent Garden
Marie Antoinette would have heartily approved of this place. Not only are you allowed to 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 | 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 asparagus cream and smoked yolk; and wild herb candy-floss presented on a eucalyptus sprig.
Details: Served daily | £42pp | +£12 for Champagne; +£22 for rosé 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 butter-poached Canadian lobster rolls; smoked salmon sandwiches with ‘microbasil’; and lavender meringue decorated with white chocolate petals.
Details: Served Thurs-Sun, 12-4pm | £42pp | £55 with Champagne, £80 with Champagne & caviar
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 a live pianist, it’s the perfect setting for an old fashioned tea (in fact, it’s just been awarded Best Traditional Afternoon Tea at the Afternoon Tea Awards). That’s not to say they’re not adventurous, though – their current offering takes inspiration from Diptyque scented candles.
Details: Served daily | £45pp | +£10 glass of Champagne (complimentary Mon-Thurs), +£15 for a Diptyque gift candle, +£25 for both
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 | £35 | +£10 for a glass of Champagne
Momo | Mayfair
Momo’s Moroccan afternoon tea – it’s very Moorish. The sister restaurant to nearby Sketch, it’s 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 nibble on cucumber and labneh sandwiches; date scones with quince jam; and lightly spiced Moroccan mint tea (which you can also have topped up with prosecco).
Details: Served daily from 12.30-5.30pm | £32pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne/tea cocktail
Mr. Fogg’s Residence | Mayfair
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 £40pp | Drinks included
The Ampersand Hotel | South Kensington
The Ampersand serve 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
The Dalloway Terrace promises to shower you with cakes like white elderflower parfait and rose chocolate mousse; savouries like gin smoked salmon palmier; and approximately half a meadow’s worth of flowers overhead.
Details: Served daily 12-4pm | £35pp | +£10 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
The Lanesborough | Hyde Park
The Lanesborough’s afternoon tea offering is currently inspired by Frida Kahlo… but don’t worry, it’s not all high-brow. Expect colourful self-portrait cakes; margarita babas; and Mexican spiced hot chocolate – all served in their beautiful pastel-blue, chandeliered dining room.
Details: Served weekdays 2.30-4.30pm, weekends 3-4.30pm | £39pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne/margarita cocktail
Cocktail Trading Company | Shoreditch
CTC – the bar responsible for bringing you cocktails served in chip bags and SPAM cans – are now bringing you actual food, too. Their Afternoon Par-Teas involve a live band covering pop and rock classics; a feast of traditional finger food; and cocktails inspired by those very treats – including a rum old fashioned laced with almond-mandarin sherbet, and served with a Battenburg garnish.
Details: First and last Saturdays of every month, 1-3pm | £35pp
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
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, Charleston performances from a pair of jazz-age twins; and, of course, an excellent afternoon tea.
Details: Check here for dates | From £69pp
The B Bakery Bus | Across London
The folks at Covent Garden’s B Bakery want to get you on board with their afternoon tea… because 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 £48pp | Add bottle of prosecco for £28+ or champagne for £48+
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 salmon and caper butter on onion bread, 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
Wyld Afternoon Tea at the Mondrian | Southbank
Dandelyan didn’t reach second place in the World’s 50 Best Bars by not having a genius mixologist (Ryan Chetiyawardana) at its head; eye-catching Wes Anderson-style interiors; and floor-to-ceiling views of the Thames. And it certainly didn’t reach this list by not serving an afternoon tea combining 70s-inspired nibbles with paired cocktails, either.
Details: Available Thurs-Sun, 12-5pm | £55pp | £35 alcohol-free, £45 with Champagne instead
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 | £60pp | +£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 pear bourdaloue tarts and egg truffle gougère, 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
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, book ahead HERE | £49.50pp | Non-alcoholic only
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 grande dame style conservatory by filling it with tinkling music, a huge spread of teas, and chocolate chip-studded scones.
Details: Served weekdays from 3-5.30pm, weekends 1.30-5.30pm | £45pp | +£7 for a glass of Champagne, +£13 for rosé Champagne
Savoy | Embankment
The Savoy’s afternoon tea is a deserved classic, served up in a room with its own indoor bandstand. The sandwiches cover all the classics, but it’s the desserts that stand out – like the strawberry and rhubarb tartlet; roast apricot choux; and blood peach macarons.
Details: Served daily 1-5.45pm | £65pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne, +£20 for a glass of rosé Champagne
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-5.30pm | From £57pp
Main image: Sketch
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