From the opulent, to the cheeky, to an informal treat, the diverse range of afternoon teas in London means there's always a cake or a finger sandwich with your name on it – regardless of what takes your fancy.
For a slice of history
The Ritz Hotel
Nothing conjures a more famous image of luxury and indulgence than tea at the Ritz. Afternoon tea is served amidst lavish Louis XVI furnishings, glittering chandeliers, and elaborate draperies in the grand Palm Court. Enjoy the views of the royal gardens in Green Park and let the soothing melodies of live classical music in the background take you back to another more glamorous era. Prices start at £39 per person.
150 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9BR
T: 020 7493 8181
For a room with a view
National Portrait Gallery
If you’re looking for a room with view to relax after browsing some of the world’s finest paintings then the National Dining Room is the afternoon tea venue for you. Overlooking Trafalgar Square, this relaxed yet buzzing room is a great place to expand your waist after expanding your mind. The Classic Tea offers lemony poached salmon and egg & mayo sandwiches followed by warm buttermilk scones with jam and cream, carrot cake and cookies. The Champagne Tea includes cream cheese and salmon sandwiches, dainty cupcakes, a cute crème brulee and rhubarb jellies. Prices start from £16.50 per person.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN
T: 020 7747 2525
For a bit of burlesque
Relaxed, informal and just a little bit saucy, if you’re going to indulge in high tea, do so in this downtown speakeasy, while watching a bit of tongue-in-cheek (and sometimes just plain cheeky) entertainment on a Saturday afternoon. Residing on a non-descript street in the City, Volupte is basement club that specialises in retro nights and burlesque shows. This is one kooky, cool venue, with a scattering of starched linen tables, plum walls and low lighting. Sandwiches – crusts off – are supersoft, there are scones with clotted cream and cakes, while the acts – comedians, burlesque dancers, and a live band – are as decadent as the cocktails. The crowd is an interesting mix of surprisingly well-behaved hen dos, curious couples and friends. Afternoon Tea, with a glass of champagne and some funny, sexy entertainment, costs £35.
9 Norwich Street, London, EC4A 1EJ
T: 020 7831 1622
For the health conscious
The oldest hotel in London, graced by royalty and celebrities throughout the years, Brown’s Hotel exudes a sense of nostalgia and warmth. Enjoy a traditional afternoon tea or go for the healthy Tea-Tox option. There’s hummus and guacamole with crudities; dainty ‘sandwiches’ include smoked chicken and walnut on a chicory leaf and egg white and mushroom duxelle on spelt bread; while desserts such as moist orange cake with yogurt topping and blueberries and cream served in a chocolate cup will keep your sweet tooth in check. Treat yourself to a glass of extra-brut Champagne, which is low in calories. Prices start from £37 per person.
Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4BP
T: 020 7518 4155
deVille Restaurant, Mandeville Hotel London
Tea and cake gets a manly makeover at the Mandeville Hotel. The Men’s Afternoon Tea promises to cater to those looking for a masculine alternative to finger food. A selection of game, roast sirloin sandwiches and chicken satays are available alongside whiskies, pots of tea and pastries. For those metrosexuals in touch with their feminine side, a more traditional afternoon tea menu is available. Prices start from £23.50 per person.
Mandeville Place, London W1U 2BE
T: 020 7935 5599
For the sophisticate
Fortnum & Mason
Like tea drinking itself, Fortnum & Mason is one of Britain’s oldest traditions. There are various offerings at Fortnum’s classy St James’s Restaurant: Classic Afternoon Tea, £32; Estate Tea, £36; and High Tea, £34. Classic is a modern twist on the traditional where teas are paired with ideal desserts, including cupcakes, éclairs and lavender and honey cake. Estate takes guests through the different styles of China, India and Sri Lanka and matches tea with finger sandwiches and sweet treats. Originally a man’s meal, High Tea will suit all tastes these days. Savouries include Welsh rarebit, muffin with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce, and St James’s famous fish pie. All options are served with scones with clotted cream and F&M preserves, cakes and biscuits. The 4th floor restaurant is a haven of quiet sophistication; guests eat while listening to a live pianist. Ideal for a pre-theatre supper or glamorous hen do.
181 Piccadilly, London, W1A 1ER
T: 0845 602 5694
For tea and sushi
Pan Asian restaurant, Chino Latino, does afternoon tea with a sushi-inspired twist. Combining Eastern flavours with one of Britain’s oldest libations, Chino Latino’s afternoon tea replaces finger sandwiches with sushi rolls. Desserts include an exotic cheesecake and patisseries are decorated with Japanese Pocky chocolate sticks. Teas are a mix of customary English and Eastern favourites, from Earl Grey to Jasmine, and is served from 1pm-5pm. £13.50 per person.
Park Plaza Riverbank hotel, 18 Albert Embankment, London, SE1 7TJ
T: 020 7769 2500
For macaroons aficionados
The only hotel in London collaborating with the world-renowned Parisian pâtisserie, The Athenaeum offers a special Ladurée Afternoon Tea complete with a selection of Ladurée specialty teas and those famously dainty and decadent Ladurée macaroons. For those desiring a more classic afternoon tea option, a Pink Afternoon Tea is also available. Prices start from £27.50 per person.
116 Piccadilly, London, W1J 7BJ
T: 020 7499 3464
For an informal treat
Bea’s of Bloomsbury
Recently named Time Out’s Best No-Frills Afternoon Tea, this stylish café boasts inspirational cuisine, marshmallows, cakes and pastries along with superior teas and coffees that are as easy on the eye as the wallet. For just under £10 give your tastebuds a real treat by opting for the Sweet Tea which features a pot of Jing tea alongside a scone with clotted cream and jam, a signature cupcake, a mini Valrhona brownie, a mini Belgian Blondie, and a mini meringue. On the weekends, savoury mini baguettes can be added for an additional charge. Prices start from £9.90 per person.
44 Theobald's Road London, WC1X 8NW
T: 0207 242 8330
The Berkeley Hotel
The skilled pastry team at The Berkeley has designed a couture afternoon tea service called the Prêt à Portea that is sure to delight fashionistas with a sweet tooth. Designs from the fashion houses of Christian Dior, Burberry, Christian Lacroix, Mulberry and Louis Vuitton take their shape in the form of delectable biscuits, cakes, and pastries on your plate. Prices start from £35 per person.
Wilton Place, London. SW1X 7RL
T: 020 7201 1619
For old school glamour
Glitz, glamour, and flawless execution are to be expected when partaking in a spot of tea at The Dorchester. Boasting its very own tea chef along with a team of 15 pastry chefs, the hotel is, not surprisingly, the recipient of numerous awards for its afternoon tea service. The famous Promenade entrance lounge with its marble and gold detailing provides a stylish yet comfortable setting in which to enjoy a selection of teas, sandwiches, scones, and pastries. Prices start from £35.50 per person.
Park Lane, London W1K 1QA
T: 020 7629 8888
For something a little different
Espelette at The Connaught
The Chic and Shock Afternoon Tea at the stylish Espelette at The Connaught is sure to give your tastebuds a jolt. Savour such dazzling flavour combinations as hazelnut Dacquoise, chocolate ganache and salty caramel mousse and Financier biscuit, apricot mousse and orange blossom marshmallow. Equally mouthwatering options without the shock factor include freshly baked scones with jam and clotted cream. Prices start from £35 per person.
Carlos Place, London, W1K 2AL
T: 020 3147 7100
For the hip
The Metropolitan Hotel
Afternoon Tea at the achingly hip Met Bar is a deliciously decadent yet refreshingly guilt-free experience. On the menu is a selection of old classics such as tea sandwiches, iced cakes, macaroons and scones that have been reinvented for the health-conscious foodie. Scrumptious ‘de-lights’ are made using healthy alternatives such as locally sourced organic produce wherever possible, low fat crème fraiche, fresh fruit purées and olive oil. In addition, a variety of fruit infusions and fresh fruit ‘Eco-Tinis’ mixed with London Gin are available. Prices start from £25 per person.
The Met Bar at The Metropolitan Hotel, Old Park Lane, London W1K 1LB
T: 020 7447 4757
For pure opulence
Immerse yourself in the luxurious environs of Claridge’s while sipping a cup of one of 30 different blends of tea from around the world. Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s is a feast for the eyes and the palate. The luscious pastries, scones and scrumptious sandwiches are as sumptuous as the glamorous surroundings. Prices start from £35 per person.
Brook Street, London, W1K 4HR
T: 020 7409 6307