In London, an afternoon of scones, sandwiches, pastries, and tea is not one to miss. Afternoon tea was first introduced to Britain in the early 1840s, as a snack to whet one’s appetite before dinner, according to Afternoon Tea.
Nowadays, there are plenty of high-quality afternoon tea spots in London to relax with tea and friends. Here are some of the city’s top afternoon tea places:
The Goring Hotel
Bestowed the “2013 Top London Afternoon Tea Award” by U.K. Tea Council’s The Tea Guild, The Goring Hotel offers traditional afternoon tea and “The Bollinger Tea,” which comes with a glass of Bollinger. Sit on the terrace and take in the view of the Goring Gardens as you try selections such as freshly baked scones, chestnut roll, and chocolate and hazelnut slice.
Apsleys at The Lanesborough
The hotel’s afternoon tea, which was awarded The Tea Guild’s “Awards of Excellence” from 2009-2013, offers fresh scones, clotted cream, and homemade fruit jams. Their tea sommelier will inform guests on the tea varieties they have to offer.
Enjoy a sweet afternoon at Claridge’s Hotel’s Foyer and Reading Room. Be sure to make reservations three months in advance: their afternoon tea service is popular and there may not be enough room for reservations. They serve the classic afternoon tea, champagne afternoon tea, and the seasonal afternoon tea, all with over forty teas to choose from.
Palm Court at The Langham
The Langham’s Palm Court was awarded the “Top London Afternoon Tea” in 2010 by The Tea Guild. Their “Wonderland Afternoon Tea” has a variety of finger sandwiches like the Atlantic prawns with marie rose sauce, scones from the Palm Court bakery with Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry preserve, pastries such as the Victoria sponge or the hibiscus and blackcurrant jelly. Their “Theo Fennell Bijoux Afternoon Tea” has menu items inspired by Theo Fennell jewelry, like the salted caramel pearl and pistachio fudge. A glass of Laurent- Perrier NV Champagne is also available for an extra charge. For a more relaxing day, their “Tea Therapy,” which is available from Tuesday to Thursday, offers a spa experience at their Chuan Spa and an afternoon tea for two.
The Sanderson’s “Mad Hatter’s Tea” is an Alice in Wonderland experience. The menu changes seasonally, but selections include the smoked Cumbrian ham with wholegrain mustard on sundried tomato bread, and the cucumber and chive cream cheese on spinach bread. Look for savory herb butter scones and sweet fruit-studded scones. Going along with the Mad Hatter theme, featured desserts include the “Tick Tock” Victoria sponge cake, a melting mango cheesecake with rainbow-patterned white chocolate, as well as a “Jelly Wonderland” assortment of fruit jellies.
The Thames Foyer at The Savoy
Listen to a live pianist as you sit for The Savoy’s Tea Guild-approved afternoon tea. The Thames Foyer signature cakes, the chocolate fudge, Savoy fruitcake, and Victoria sponge cake, are worth a try. Pastries include the Savoy chocolate and coffee “Opera,” the lavender éclair, and the mandarin and elderflower meringue financier. The hotel serves their specialty breakfast and afternoon tea blend, along with fine and rare teas like the Darjeeling Tresor or the Wazuka Sencha.
Along with their regular afternoon tea, The Dorchester offers a selection of seasonal afternoon teas, like the Summer “Ice Cream Tea” and the Winter “Festive Afternoon Tea.” Their “Vintage Afternoon Tea,” lets you choose slices from a cake trolley full of Victoria Sponge cake, Sacher Torte, Lemon Drizzle, and English Fruit cake. Their scones are made from a recipe that has not been changed for half a century, according to Afternoon Tea.
Park Room at Grosvenor House
The five-star hotel offers afternoon tea at their Park Room, with live piano music and cushy chairs. The “Anna’s Tea” has finger sandwiches, plain and raisin buttermilk scones, homemade cakes, a choice of tea, and an additional option of Piper Heidsieck or Taittinger Rose Champagne. The children’s tea, “Grover’s Tea Time,” includes a fruit salad, ice cream, French pastries, Luscombe Wild Elderflower Bubbly, and a Grover stuffed animal for home.
Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel
The Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel’s is now serving their traditional afternoon tea with a Charlie Chocolate Factory twist until September 1st. Inspired by the West End “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” musical, the tearoom added Wonka Bars, Oompa Loompa cupcakes, fizzy lifting cake, and golden eggs to the usual sandwiches, cupcakes, scones, and macarons they offer. There are also specially designed vegetarian and gluten-free afternoon tea menus.
The 2009 “Top London Afternoon Tea” by The Tea Guild, the tearoom has a traditional afternoon tea, with or without champagne. Their “Tea Tox,” the healthy version of their afternoon teas, has smoked chicken and guacamole on spelt bread, sea bucktorn jelly, fruit sorbet, and more. Don’t forget to stop by Brown’s Seasonal Tea Library to take home teas chosen from select tea gardens around the world.
The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason
The 2013 “Tea Guild Award for Excellence” tea salon serves their own specially blended teas (along with single-estate teas), like the Queen Anne Blend, the Royal Blend, and the Wedding Breakfast Blend, which they created in honor of Prince William and Catherine Middleton’s wedding. They have gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, and dairy-free afternoon tea options along with their regular and children’s afternoon tea.
The Berkeley is known for their Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea, which features desserts inspired by the season’s fashion themes and colors from designers like Oscar de la Renta, Alexander McQueen, Prada, and more. Think Manolo Blahnik’s slingback chocolate biscuit heel and Dolce & Gabbana’s Sicilian chic pistachio green and vanilla striped panna cotta dress.
Palm Court at The Ritz
The Ritz, which received the 2013 “Tea Guild Award for Excellence,” is perhaps the first afternoon tea place in London that people think of. The hotel’s Palm Court serves traditional afternoon tea, with an assortment of six finger sandwiches, raisin and plain scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve, and pastries. Their celebration tea includes a special cake for a birthday or any occasion, and a glass of champagne is always an option.