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Hattie Lloyd 27/02/23

The Best Afternoon Tea In London For Every Budget

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

We’ve put together a run-down of the best afternoon tea in London right now.

And yes, we spent oolong time on it.

We’ve fearlessly ventured into fancy hotels, grand cafés and elegant salons, all in the noble pursuit of whittling down their afternoon tea offerings to find the very best. We’ve considered the crust-to-bread ratio on the sandwiches. We’ve assessed the fiddliness of the loose leaf tea strainers. And we have judiciously sampled the scones with both jam and cream first.

So here it is: 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):

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 Least Expensive Afternoon Tea In London)

Ladurée | Covent Garden

Laduree Covent Garden

Marie Antoinette would have heartily approved of Ladurée. Not only may you eat cake – and lots of it – the warren of tea rooms here are painted in hues of pastel greens, blues and lilacs, and crammed with Louis XVIth furnishings. But if you sit outside on their heated terrace or balcony, you’ll be able to look out over Covent Garden’s grand piazza as you munch on sandwiches, scones, patisserie and their famous macarons.

Details: Served daily, 12-6pm Cream tea £16pp, afternoon tea £38pp including a glass of bubbles | Book here

Dalloway Terrace | Bloomsbury

Dalloway Terrace

Dalloway Terrace promises to shower you with poached salmon sandwiches on cocoa bread; cheddar cheese scones; whisky & Scottish honey mousse; and approximately half a meadow’s-worth of flowers overhead.

Details: Served daily 1-4pm £45pp +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian and gluten-free menu available with 24h notice | 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 yuzu & lemon meringue tarts; ruby chocolate macarons and hazelnut choux buns, too. You can even plump to add on your own DIY biscuit icing experience…

Details: Served daily, 11am-5.30pm £45pp | +£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 Thurs-Sun 1-4pm | £40pp | +£12 for a glass of Champagne | Gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan options available | Book here

Lyaness | South Bank

lyaness afternoon tea london

Housed on the bottom floor of the ultra-trendy Sea Containers London, Lyaness offsets powder-blue armchairs and gold furnishings with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the river. By night, it’s an award-winning cocktail bar (it opened after its previous incarnation, Dandelyan was crowned best in the world), but by day you can score a three-course afternoon tea which you can enjoy boozeless, with a glass of Champagne, or paired with Ryan Chetiyawardana’s innovative cocktails.

Details: Served weekends 12-5pm | £35pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne, or +£20 for 3 paired cocktails | 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 towers stacked with red velvet and madeleine cake, fruit scones, and quintessential finger sandwiches.

Details: Served daily 3-5pm | Cream tea £9.50pp, afternoon tea £28.95pp +£9 for a glass of Champagne | Book here

The Wolseley | Piccadilly

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 £16.75pp, afternoon tea £37.50pp +£12.25 for a glass of Champagne | Veggie, vegan, nut-free and gluten-free options available | Book here

The Zetter Townhouse | Marylebone & Clerkenwell

The Zetter Townhouse's Afternoon Tea

Packed with Chesterfield sofas, a roaring fire and a clutch of eccentric Victorian trinkets from candlesticks to stuffed animals; The Zetter Townhouses look like afternoon tea could have been invented there. There’s two menus to pick from; Aunt Wilhelmina’s or Uncle Seymour’s – the former a traditional tea, and the latter a punchy platter of pasties, scotch eggs and sausage & haggis rolls – and both have vegetarian options.

Zetter Townhouse Marylebone | Served Wed-Sun, 12-4pm | £45pp | +£10 for bubbles or a tea-infused cocktail | Book here
Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell | Served weekends 12-4.30pm |  £39.50pp +£10 for bubbles or a tea-infused cocktailBook here


££ (More Expensive)

Rotunda | 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, too, stacked with patisserie inspired by the Crown Jewels (stored under lock and key just a stone’s throw away). Traditional scones & sandwiches are followed by a rhubarb & yuzu crown; a coconut & ginger orb; a salted caramel ‘coin’ and chocolate and berry rubies.

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

Theatre Royal Drury Lane | Covent Garden

theatre royal afternoon tea london

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 frilly pastel-piped cakes; sausage rolls with roast bacon lardons; and lapsang souchong-glazed salmon madeleines… and if you’ve still got room, you can always hail down the roaming ice cream trolley.

Details: Served daily, 11am-5.30pm | £59pp (£35 for children) Add a glass of Champagne for £11pp | Vegan menus available Book here

The Lanesborough | Hyde Park

lanesborough afternoon tea london

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. For their springtime menu they’re rolling out dishes like apple blossom patisserie; scones with fruit jam and a dark chocolate & jasmine fudge cake.

Details: Served Mon-Thurs 2.30-4:30pm; Fri-Sat 12-4pm, Sun 3.30-4.30pm | £68pp/£35 for kids | +£17 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian, vegan & gluten-free menus available | Book here

The Gherkin | The City

The Gherkin takes high tea very literally. Panoramic London views and unlimited Champagne combine with a menu of devilled egg sandwiches; fruit scones and lemon posset choux.

Details: From £55pp, inc. a glass of bubbles Bottomless Champagne for £85pp | Book here

The Landmark | Marylebone

The Landmark

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 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 £65pp | +£13 for a glass of Champagne | Book now

Town House at The Kensington | Kensington

The Town House at The Kensington afternoon tea

You won’t need to leave this hotel to see the sights. Inspired by Around the World in 80 Days, Town House’s afternoon tea takes you from London (with a puff pastry beef pie) to Rome (parmesan gougères) via Cairo (and rose & pistachio twirls).

Details: Served daily, 12-4pm £58pp | +£18 for a glass of Champagne | Veggie, vegan and gluten-free menus available | 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 cloud of dry ice, under which you’ll find T-rex footprint macarons; dark chocolate & caramel dino egg nests; fossils to excavate from chocolate soil; and themed teapot-tails to boot…

Details: Served daily 12-5.30pm £49.50pp/£35 for kids | +£15 for a glass of Champagne/tea pot-tail | Vegetarian and gluten-free menus available | Book here

Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden | Covent Garden

Petersham afternoon tea

Sit down to tea in the glamorous surroundings of Petersham Nurseries, where glass cake stands are loaded with chestnut & girolle tarts; mandarin choux; fruit scones and white chocolate macarons.

Details: Served Thurs-Sat, 3-5pm | £55pp Seasonal bellini included | Vegetarian & vegan menus available | 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 a gummy crocodile trapped in tea jelly, all of which is delivered to your table via this smoking pirate ship.

Details: Served daily, 11am-3.30pm £52pp +£19 glass of Champagne, +£28 glass of Champagne rosé | Gluten-free not currently availableBook here


£££ (The Most Expensive Afternoon Tea)

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 | Oyster platter from £40, £220 all-in Bubbles from £10, cocktails from £14 | Book here

Hotel Café Royal | Regent Street

afternoon tea london hotel cafe royal

Giles Christopher

HCR’s gilded, ornate dining room is named in honour of one of its most famous patrons; Oscar Wilde (although other options included Elizabeth Taylor, The Beatles, Muhammad Ali and David Bowie). And it’s home to an equally gilded afternoon tea offering, including scones with Earl Grey tea jelly; smoked salmon sandwiches with marinated Persian cucumber; and an exotic fruit entremet with coconut sponge & bergamot gel.

Details: Served Wed – Sunday, 12-5.30pm £70pp +£10 for a glass of Champagne Vegan, gluten-free and halal menus 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 Norfolk chicken breast with tarragon mayonnaise on malt bread; freshly baked fruit scones; and a wonderfully fragrant mandarin & shiso cake…

Details: Served daily between 2.45 and 5.30pm £75pp/£45 for kids | +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan and gluten-free menu available | Book now

The Chinoiserie, The Carlton Tower Jumeirah | Knightsbridge

The Carlton Tower

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 Kew Gardens, so handpicked teas, home-cured salmon sandwiches, swanky scones (served with emulsified honeycomb and chocolate crèmeux) and kumquat & pear tart all feature.

Details: Served daily 12-5pm | £75pp | +£10 for a glass of Champagne + | Book now

Rosewood London | Holborn

rosewood london art 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. They’ve just unveiled their latest menu, inspired by the colourful works of David Hockney. Expect a sponge rendition of The Splash cloaked in an Earl Grey & chocolate bavarois; a vanilla cheesecake pastry covered with winding branches and leaves; and a sculpture of pistachio sponge & cherry mousse to represent The Arrival of Spring.

Details: Served daily, 12-5.45pm £75pp/£35 for kids +£15 for a glass of Champagne | Book here

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, now very yellow Gallery room, you’ll be able to dine on dainty treats whilst admiring the Yinka Shonibare artwork, the live string trio playing pop hits, and the Victoria sponge trolley being wheeled towards your table.

Details: Served daily 11.00-4pm £75pp/£45 for kids +£14 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan, gluten-free menu available | Book here

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 quite partial to taking it here. And she probably would have been quite partial to the caramelised artichoke sandwiches they serve there now…

Details: Served daily, 12-4.30pm From £75pp +£10 for a glass of Champagne | Vegan menu available | Book here

The Orchid Lounge at Pan Pacific | The City

The Orchid Lounge’s setting is as neutral and inconspicuous as you’d expect a lounge in a fancy City hotel to be, but that’s by the by when the plates are loaded with so much colour, courtesy of top pastry chef Cherish Finden (who regards patisserie as ‘edible art’). Her current menu celebrates Lunar New Year, so you can enjoy the Singaporean speciality of Kaya Toast; poached lobster buns; lychee mousse and more (until 27th March).

Details: Served daily, 12-4.30pm (and 6-8pm on Mondays) £78pp/£35 for kids Add a glass of Champagne/cocktail from £10 | Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free menus available 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, Coronation Chicken sandwiches and a cake trolley loaded with Battenburg.

Details: Served daily £75pp | +£16.75 for a glass of Champagne | Vegetarian, vegan, dairy and gluten-free options available | Book now

The Berkeley’s Fashion Afternoon Tea | Knightsbridge

The Berkley Fashion tea

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 Christopher Kane’s floral gown (actually a vanilla cheesecake, on a crunch sablé biscuit, sandwiched with vanilla crémeux and ultra thin chocolate) and D&G’s colourful faux fur coat reimagined as a Battenburg with a chewy meringue hat.

Details: Served daily 1-5.30pm | £75pp | Add a glass of Champagne for £12 | Vegetarian & vegan menus availableBook here

The Ritz | Piccadilly

The Ritz

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 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 From £70pp (£48 for children) | +£22 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

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