Afternoon Tea is a quintessential British tradition dating back to the Victorian era as a means to curb any hunger pangs between lunch and the evening meal. Today, afternoon tea has become a celebrated occasion in its own right and its growing popularity has resulted in a tasty array of creative menus, delectable dishes and imaginative presentations. Check out our favourite places in London to enjoy this wonderfully celebrated foodie fare.
The Lanesborough Afternoon Tea
Enjoy a seasonally themed afternoon tea at The Lanesborough, with two options of location: Céleste or the elegant Withdrawing Room. Christmas time is extra special with festive fancies and yuletide classics recreated in pastry form, while a pianist plays familiar tunes to add to the Christmas magic. Vegetarian and vegan visitors don’t miss out here and are ably catered for. And at the weekend, a special tea for children under the age of 10 is provided, making this a wonderful setting for family time. Expectant mothers and drivers adore the option to imbibe 0% alcohol Pierre Chavin sparkling rosé or white, while those choosing to consume something a little stronger can order Moet & Chandon Impérial Brut or a ½ bottle of Lanson “Extra Age”.
Corinthia London Afternoon Tea
Take a seat under a stunning Baccarat chandelier made up of 1001 crystals, as you indulge in the unhurried ceremony of afternoon tea at the Corinthia. The bustling city is left behind as guests enter through the doors, greeted by a sense of calm and tradition, accompanied by the sound of a tinkling piano. Opt for a traditional afternoon tea, or add a glass of rose or champagne for extra sparkle, and those aged from 4 to 12 have their own selection. With its proximity to the historic tourist attractions of Westminster and Whitehall, this makes a wonderful interlude for visitors exploring the area.
Only the finest British produce is used to craft the traditional afternoon tea at Claridge’s. Sip on their signature blend and savour the likes of fresh poached salmon and pastries with seasonal fruits from the unique specially designed Claridge’s stand. Parisian pâtissier Jérôme Chaucesse brings his expertise and twist on the otherwise timelessly English menu. All infusions are prepared at your table to your preferred strength and served in bone china. A festive special features a yuletide theme and carols from a children’s choir. While the rest of the year, it can be taken with or without luxury fizz. The children’s menu doubles as a colouring book and is designed to delight younger tastebuds. The ritual of afternoon tea has been observed for nearly 150 years at this regal hotel, and they certainly know how to do it with finesse.
Aqua Shard Afternoon Tea
Those seeking innovative afternoon tea flock to The Shard. As Aqua Shard is located on the 31st floor, the panoramic views are a truly breathtaking backdrop to feast on the sweet – and savoury – treats. With service spanning the whole afternoon, it’s possible to take in sunset during late autumn and winter months. Currently guests can enjoy Aqua Shards Festive Afternoon Tea, begin the journey with a selection of savoury sandwiches, including Turkey and Cranberry and Lettuce, Black Truffle and Egg Sandwiches, Fig Chutney and Brie as well as a Crumpet with Smoked Salmon. Then move onto freshly-baked vanilla scones, while a selection of homemade cakes and sweet treats top off the tea which include a moreish Gingerbread, Milk Chocolate and Coffee Christmas Tree, a sweet Clementine and Prosecco Trifle as well as a fun Pear and Cinnamon Santa Hat.
Another dynamic and exciting option departing from the classic is Rosewood London’s Art Afternoon Tea. This was voted as Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea in the UK in 2017 and 2018 and is taken in the sleek Mirror Room. The creations are all designed by Executive Chef Mark Perkins, inspired by the life and work of British sculptor Antony Gormley. There are still scones and sandwiches to be nibbled, but these are complemented by stunning carefully crafted desserts mirroring the aesthetics of some of Gormley’s best-known works. Kids have a lot of fun with their own colourful version made up of a painter’s palette, paint tubes filled with jam and lemon curd and palette knives to spread toppings – all edible of course. It’s a remarkable experience and must for those who especially appreciate food as art.
This is arguably the most iconic location you could choose. Tea at The Ritz has become an institution, featuring in many a film and TV series across the decades. Taken in The Palm Court, its suitably traditional fare of scones, clotted cream, finely cut sandwiches, pastries, teacakes, 18 types of loose leaf teas – including their own signature blend – and champers. Dining is accompanied by the delicate sounds of a pianist and harpist. There’s a dress code – gentleman are required to wear a jacket and tie and jeans aren’t allowed, because afternoon tea at The Ritz is an elegant occasion for dressing to the nines.
Como The Halkin
Try afternoon tea with a distinctly Spanish twist at Ametsa at Como The Halkin. Served with the flair and passion that has become the restaurant’s trademark, the talented team at Ametsa, has created a menu which draws on the principles of Basque cuisine. The usual sandwiches have been replaced by a selection of savoury tapas, followed by a series of desserts that match extraordinary taste with stunning presentation. Enjoyed in their recently updated Halkin bar and lounge, each afternoon tea is served with a choice of tea leaves and the team of experts will help you to select the perfect two teas to match with your menu selections. If you want to enjoy something stronger they have designed new cocktails using NOVELTEA, a spirit using unique blends of tea and botanicals. Cocktails include: the Tale of Tangier, the Tale of Oolong and the Tale of Earl Grey. For an extra special occasion, guests can enjoy a chilled glass of Spanish Cava or Taittinger Brut Reserve.
St James Hotel & Club
The five-star St. James’s Hotel and Club in Mayfair is offering a historical-themed 1840 Afternoon Tea, designed by Executive Chef William Drabble of in-house Michelin Star Restaurant Seven Park Place. Guests will be transported to Victorian times and taste classic cakes of that period, keeping its originality but with slight modern-day twist. The tea features highlights from Victorian times including a Tipsy Cake, soaked in sherry and served with custard, profiteroles, lemon drizzle cake, custard tart and a classic Victoria Sponge Cake. Other dishes include Cheshire cheese scones, made with the oldest recorded British cheese, plain scones with jam and clotted cream as well as an array of traditional savoury sandwiches. All served on Victorian inspired crockery and washed down with a cup of an exclusive fine loose tea blend from The East India Company – created especially for the hotel – or for those in the mood for something fizzy, St. James’s Hotel and Club’s finest Champagne.
The Landmark London
At The Landmark London, they have been perfecting and refining the art of traditional Afternoon Tea for over century. Today you can experience their quintessentially London afternoon tea the High Palms, High Tea in inimitable style under the high palms of their magnificent Victorian Winter Garden atrium. The setting is serene and magical, the atmosphere relaxed and refined with the soft sound of piano and daylight twinkling through. Indulge in an irresistible assortment of delicacies, delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones served with rich Cornish clotted cream and delicious preserves, along with a selection of crafted cakes and pastries.
Photo credit: Robert McCourt
Playing on the infamous connection with the martini and DUKES LONDON, the hotel has created The MarTEAni Afternoon Tea in partnership with The East India Company; comprising three beautifully crafted mini martinis as well as an assortment of tasty treats. Available daily, from 12pm to 6pm in the DUKES Drawing Room and costing £48 per person, guests will be able to enjoy this quintessentially British custom… with a twist!