The best (and most fabulous) afternoon teas in London
From opulent to whimsical, the diverse range of afternoon teas in London means there’s always a cake or finger sandwich with your name on it; regardless of what takes your fancy.
Take a look at some of the best afternoon teas that the capital city has to offer including classic teas to a Taiwanese take on the tradition.
No matter how many times we sit down for afternoon tea (and believe us, we’ve experienced plenty) the pleasure of gorging on an array of dainty finger sandwiches, miniature pastries and fluffy, warm scones doesn’t seem to fade. On the contrary, with so many fabulous offerings to choose from in London, our hunger for this essential British tradition is more insatiable than ever.
Discover our pick of the best afternoon teas in London right now, from quintessentially classic offerings to teas to suit gin-lovers, arty types, fashionistas and more.
Where to go for afternoon tea in London
The best for 20s glamour
For a traditional afternoon tea with a contemporary twist, experience 1920s London glamour at The Sheraton’s Nineteen Twen-Tea Afternoon Tea. Sip on tiramisu-flavoured tea and eat truffle egg sandwiches in the glitzy surrounds of the Palm Court – one of the hotel’s original features from when it was completed back in 1927. The Court’s stunning Art Deco-inspired interiors, from marble floors to grand ceilings, are stylishly echoed in the intrinsically designed pastries (pistachio and blackcurrant Paris-Brest is a stand-out treat). We suggest opting for the free-flowing champagne option, set against the soothing sounds of the hotel’s harpist, for next-level indulgence.
Address: Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7BX
Price: starts from £42 per person
The best for gin-lovers
Gin lovers, rejoice! There’s now a whole afternoon tea dedicated to the nation’s favourite tipple. The Gin Lovers Bus Tour, partnered with Yorkshire gin producer Slingsby, is a somewhat traditional tea, given a twist or two. The first thing to note is that you’ll be gliding across Central London on a revamped 1960s double-decker bus, beautifully adorned with flower garlands and sinkable leather booths. Secondly, your breakfast brew is swapped for a refreshing trio of Slingsby gin cocktails; an idea which we are fully on board with (on board, gettit?). Savoury morsels and scones are more in keeping with tradition; expect minty cucumber sandwiches, salmon pretzels with cream cheese and mini pastrami burgers with mustard mayonnaise. Finish with an enticing assortment of gin-infused treats from Brigit’s Bakery – from raspberry tarts to lime mousse jellies and strawberry moelleux – giving you an extra boozy kick to sail you through the afternoon.
Address: tours depart daily from Trafalgar Square or Victoria Coach Station
Price: £62.50 per person
The cosiest afternoon tea
The Capital’s traditional afternoon tea is served in the intimate surrounds of The Sitting Room at this central boutique hotel. The small but utterly charming ‘sitting room’ offers up old-school grandness on a comfortable and cosy scale. Choose your tea (we recommend their signature Grand Reserve Darjeeling 2nd Flush 2018) while you listen to the calming classical playlist murmur in the background. The sandwiches are dainty and pleasingly colourful – think smoked salmon on matcha bread, beef and horseradish on beetroot bread and cream cheese and cucumber on turmeric-stained rye. Miniature, standout sweets arrive on an old-school cake stand featuring plenty of classic flavours: rich chocolate tarts, light lemon and poppyseed cupcakes, buttery raspberry and frangipane tarts and more. The real highlight of the sweet section, though, has got to be the scones which come served with an addictive sweet-but-sharp cherry and black pepper jam. Plus, you can add optional free-flowing prosecco for an extra tenner!
Address: The Capital Hotel, 22-24 Basil Street, London, SW3 1AT
Price: starts at £78 for two people
The best American-style twist
Tradition goes out the window at 45 Park Lane’s ‘CUTcakes & tea’ and trust us, you won’t be missing the cucumber sandwiches. This unique afternoon tea plays an elegant ode to American-style classics. Mouth-watering savouries include wagu beef sliders, tuna tartare ‘sandwiches’, minuscule lobster rolls and lollipop Southern fried chicken served. It’s fun, smile-inducing, carby heaven and you’ll love sampling every bite-sized morsel. The showstopping element, though, has got to be the sweet course. There are seven different options all based on quintessential American favourites. Giant buttermilk scones, with clotted cream, jam and passion fruit curd, are paired with a strawberry ripple milkshake. Not forgetting the small but hefty New York cheesecakes, red velvet bites dappled in hundreds and thousands, rotund key lime pies, peanut butter Twinkies and the fudgiest chocolate devil’s food cake you’ve ever eaten. It may not be classic but, boy, is it good.
Address: 45 Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1K 1PN
Price: £55 per person
The best retro afternoon tea
80s dinner party favourites are given the ‘fancy’ treatment in this elegant afternoon tea. Lyaness at Sea Containers London, on London’s South Bank, serve up retro-style party food – think devilled eggs, bite-sized sausage rolls and mini eclairs – in the daintiest of forms. The real stars of the show are the sweets, though. Pineapple upside down scones are served with clotted cream and cherry jam, trifle-inspired tarts are topped with jelly and filled with a zingy fruit compote and teacakes get an overhaul, featuring an exceptionally crunchy base and with the addition of sunflower sea salt. The cocktails are the ‘thing’ to go for here, with four boozy creations designed to lead you from the savoury to sweet course, but champagne and boozeless options are also available.
Address: Sea Containers London, 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD
Price: starts from £38 per person
The most iconic afternoon tea
Nothing conjures a more iconic 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 more glamorous era.
Address: 150 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9BR
Price: starts at £60 per person
The best afternoon tea for art-aficionados
If you’re looking for a room with view to relax in after browsing some of the world’s finest paintings then the National Dining Room is the perfect spot for afternoon tea. Overlooking Trafalgar Square, this relaxed yet buzzing room is a great place to expand your waist having expanding your mind in the galleries. The Classic Afternoon Tea offers sandwiches with Severn & Rye smoked salmon or egg mayonnaise with mustard cress, followed by warm sultana scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, battenburg cake and macarons. The ‘English Fizz’ Afternoon Tea includes a glass of Chapel Down English sparkling rose wine. Prices start from £29.50 per person.
Address: The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London, WC2N 5DN
Price: starts at £29.50 per person
The best healthier afternoon tea
The oldest hotel in London, graced by royalty and celebrities throughout the years, Brown’s Hotel exudes a sense of nostalgia and warmth. Try their slightly lighter ‘Tea-Tox’ offering – there’s hummus with roasted peppers and rocket; dainty ‘sandwiches’ including avocado cream and pickled radish or mushroom and nori algen, all on gluten free bread; desserts such as coconut and mango chia seed pudding and banana and caramel loaf cake will keep your sweet tooth in check. Treat yourself to a glass of extra-Brut Champagne, which is low in calories.
Address: Albemarle Street, London, W1S 4BP
Price: starts from £55 per person
The best casual afternoon tea
Named Time Out’s Best No-Frills Afternoon Tea, this stylish café boasts a wide selection of unique treats including cakes, brownies and ‘duffins’ along with superior teas and coffees that are as easy on the eye as they are on the wallet. Bea’s offers three variations of afternoon tea (Bea’s Signature, Gluten-Free or Vegetarian), which each costs £30 and includes a range of dainty sandwiches, scones, and a selection of 5 sweet treats. Or, for just under £10 why not try Bea’s Cream Tea, which features two freshly baked scones with the finest ‘English Preserves’ Jam, Cornish clotted cream and your choice of speciality tea or coffee.
Address: 72 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5BA (plus two other locations in Marylebone and St. Paul’s)
Price: £30 per person
The best afternoon tea for fashionistas
The skilled pastry team at The Berkeley has designed a couture afternoon tea service cunningly named ‘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 £60 per person.
Address: Wilton Place, London, SW1X 7RL
Price: starts at £60 per person
The best traditional afternoon tea
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.
Address: Park Lane, London W1K 1QA
Price: £45 per person
The best luxurious afternoon tea
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.
Address: Brook Street, London, W1K 4HR
Price: starts from £70 per person
The best value-for-money afternoon tea
Experience a slice of Continental glamour with the Delaunay’s Viennese tea, inspired by the classic grand cafés of central Europe. Alongside traditional fruit scones, you’ll find their signature poppy seed Gugelhupf (a yeasted bundt-shaped cake) served with apricot jam and whipped cream, as well as a selection of classic Viennese ‘kuchen’ including linzertorte and slices of oh-so-rich sachertorte. It’s excellent value, too, at £19.95 per person, although for a lighter alternative they also offer a cream tea priced at £9.50.
Address: 55 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BB
Price: £19.95 per person
The best afternoon tea for nature lovers
An award-winning pastry chef and creator of the cronut, French-born Dominique Ansel has now turned his hand to the art of afternoon tea. However, as you might have expected, his is an afternoon tea with a bit of a difference. Set in a covered garden terrace featuring an entire wall of flowers, afternoon tea at his Belgravia bakery is very much a floral affair. The menu concept – which was a year in the making – follows the journey of a seed as it progresses to bud and eventually fully bloom into a flower. Expect exceptional, hand-crafted sweet and savoury pastries, and fluffy, glossy scones, served with jam and clotted cream concealed within homemade white chocolate strawberries.
Address: 17-21 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W 9RP
Price: starts at £42 per person
The best Taiwanese afternoon tea
‘There are few hours in life more agreeable than those dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea,’ wrote Henry James in The Portrait of a Lady.
This is a sentiment that is fundamental at XU, the Soho-based Taiwanese teahouse and restaurant. XU’s ‘afternoon tea ceremony’ is a unique Taiwanese interpretation of the classic British afternoon tea in which tea firmly takes centre stage. Guests are encouraged to choose two different teas from their extensive menu of exotic loose-leaf blends, around which the rest of the ‘ceremony’ will be based. Teas are sorted according to levels of oxidation, and there are also fermented and aged teas, all served in a hand-crafted clay pot and tea brewing tray. Alternatively, try one of Xu’s selection of hot or cold house-brewed teas. To accompany the tea, expect savoury delights such as the char sui girolle puff or sweet potato taro dumpling and sweet pastries including steamed red bean bun and fried peanut mochi.
Address: 30 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DL
Price: £32 per person