In this article, we will be taking a look at some of London's most prestigious and renowned Afternoon Tea experiences; from themed locations, to dog friendly teas and even indulgent vegan experiences too, there is sure to be a spot here you haven't tried....yet!
A mid-afternoon meal where the conversation is just as important, Afternoon Tea has been an English staple since the 7th Duchess of Bedford complained of hunger pains in the mid-nineteenth century. She invited friends to a small and intimate meal of tea and light pastries. Since then, Afternoon Tea has come to represent the epitome of luxury – the freedom to be waited upon in high society during the working week.
Afternoon Tea differs greatly from Cream Tea and High Tea; Cream Tea is a lighter offering, consisting of two scones, clotted cream and fruit preserve, and an individual pot of tea. High Tea, often confused with Afternoon Tea in some parts of the world, is a heartier meal served in the evening with a mug of tea.
While many outside of the UK believe that we all stop to sip tea and butter scones at 3 o’clock (and on the subject of tea, they wouldn’t be wrong) most people don’t attend a formal afternoon tea more than once a year. Steeped in tradition and effortlessly elegant, Afternoon Tea is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion, or to treat yourself and a friend to the ultimate patisserie experience. Read on for ten of our very favourite Afternoon Teas in London.
The Library Lounge, Marriott County Hall
Special occasions deserve spectacular venues, and the Marriott County Hall undoubtedly delivers. Afternoon Tea is served in their gilded, oak-filled Library Lounge; wood-panelled bookcases separate seating areas into private booths, achieving a little private luxury.
Held in a historical building opened in 1922 by George V, once used a seat of government, and boasting unparalleled views of the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Bridge, this luxury tea is priced below most of its rivals – though this isn’t reflected in the price.
Afternoon Tea at the Marriott is a traditional affair with all the trimmings. Guests will enjoy a selection of exquisite sandwiches, sweet and savoury scones (a dainty twist!) and some scrumptious pastries, including red velvet macaroons and chocolate dacquoise. Treat yourself and a friend to a glass of champagne and indulge by the River Thames.
From £36pp, served from 2pm to 4.30pm.
Source: Afternoon Tea
A Midsummer Night’s Dream Afternoon Tea at The Swan, Shakespeare’s Globe
The course of true love never did run smooth – but the light, fluffy scones and delicate desserts at The Swan are bound to be love at first sight.
With breath-taking views of St. Pauls and the Thames, The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe pairs elegant tradition with literary decadence. Celebrating 400 years of Shakespeare with an Afternoon Tea inspired by one of his most imaginative plays, The Swan have left no stone unturned. Tea is even served on specially-designed A Midsummer Night’s Dream crockery hand-crafted by illustrator Annika Wester.
Once sat bankside, you’ll be treated to a Shakespearean feast using inspired ingredients, from Oberon’s pea shoots in the sandwiches to the mulberry tree’s fruits in the scones. Don’t forget the outstanding Love Potion cocktail for a fun and fresh kick of gin to finish.
From £28.50pp, served from 12pm to 3pm.
Source: Swan London
The Drawing Room, Egerton House Hotel
Offering a superb selection of Afternoon Teas, the Egerton House Hotel will suit all dietary requirements. Served in the elegant Drawing Room, less impersonal hotel and more comfortable stately home, this townhouse hotel caters for vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free guests, as well as special teas for children and canine companions.
In the spirit of traditional Afternoon Tea, vegans can enjoy chickpea coronation finger sandwiches and homemade vegan cakes and scones. An excellent variety of gluten-free pastries are also available. Especially for the little ones, the Teddy Bear’s Picnic Tea comes with a small assortment of patisseries and a delicious hot chocolate.
Not to be left out, your pooch is also welcome – the Egerton is famous for being especially dog-friendly. Three tiers of delicious doggy nosh and treats will keep them happy while you enjoy your more refined affair. Iced vegan chocolate brownie, yes please!
From £40pp (children £20), served from 12pm to 6pm.
Source: Afternoon Tea
Cliveden House, Taplow
Treat the family to a quintessential Afternoon Tea in the country with a day out to Cliveden House, less than an hour from London. Surrounded by a gorgeous National Trust estate built in 1666, Cliveden House has played host to some familiar faces, including Queen Victoria, Winston Churchill and Britain’s first female MP, Nancy Astor.
Start the day with a walk through the 376 acres of Berkshire countryside, with carefully-curated gardens and fantastic views of the Thames. The National Trust runs family-friendly events all year round, and kids will love the play dens and hidden maze. Then return and relax in the Great Hall.
Afternoon Tea at Cliveden House includes five types of savoury sandwiches, plain and raisin scones (served warm) and elegantly-decorated cakes, such as the pistachio éclair and passionfruit dome. Spoil the adults to a glass from their exceptional champagne list to end the day on a particularly sweet high note.
From £37pp, served from 3pm to 5pm.
Source: Cliveden House
Seymour’s Parlour, Zetter Townhouse
Walk right into a Georgian drawing room for the perfect Mr and Mrs Tea. Crafted for the mysterious Uncle Seymour and Aunt Wilhelmina who “own” the hotel, the Zetter Townhouse offers two options for Afternoon Tea: the traditional finger sandwiches, or a gentleman’s savoury offering, served with Lincolnshire pork pie and haggis sausage roll. Cakes include lemon and elderflower cake, salted caramel and apple choux buns and bitter chocolate brownies. There’s nothing dainty about these, but they’re just as delicious and in generous portions, too.
The setting is dark yet dapper, full of leather armchairs and dark-wood cabinets that hold trinket odds and ends. It’s a comfortable rather than formal affair, an attempt to mirror a classy, cosy sitting room. Just off the hustle and bustle of busy Edgware Road, the ambience remains surprisingly peaceful – this is the perfect little all-day shopping pit-stop.
As we get into the colder months, book a table by the roaring fire for an ultra-comfy afternoon and settle down with fluffy scones and a nice cup of tea.
From £33pp, served from 12pm to 5pm.
Source: Zetter Townhouse
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych, London
Themed teas are all the rage right now, with opportunities for West End magic such as Wicked and Wonderland. The One Aldwych has jumped on the bandwagon with an extraordinary adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a real treat for the sweet tooth! Tea is served in the five-star Indigo Restaurant, a stone’s throw from most major London attractions and moments away from the Strand and Waterloo Bridge.
Once sitting comfortably, you’ll be presented with a delightful array of themed delicacies alongside the usual (but no less delicious) sandwiches and scones. The stars of the show include chocolate caramel milkshakes, homemade candy floss and gleaming gold-dusted chocolate eggs. To top off the experience is ‘Cocktail Charlie’, a sweet (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) cocktail served in a smoking teapot.
A scrumdiddlyumptious treat for young and old, pair this fabulous Afternoon Tea with a critically-acclaimed showing of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, on at the Cambridge Theatre nearby.
From £42pp (children £32), served from 12.30pm to 3.30pm (Mon-Sat) and 12.30pm to 5.30pm (Sun).
Source: One Aldwych
Bea’s of Bloosmbury, Various Locations
For a stunning Afternoon Tea that won’t cost an arm and a leg, Bea’s of Bloomsbury doesn’t disappoint. The cheapest recommendation on this list, Bea’s delivers a spread worthy of more luxury options. Now hosted in three different cafés, all with Bea’s laid-back charm, there are lots of places to get your sugar fix.
Afternoon Tea at Bea’s is a cosy, informal affair. Sandwiches are served open, scones served warm and pastries include their legendary cupcakes with fancy frosting. You have your pick of further sweet treats, including macaroons, meringues, brownies and blondies. There is a variety of teas and infusions to choose from, as well as the option for coffee.
If it’s cupcakes you’ve set your heart on, then we recommend Bea’s. Try the classic Bloomsbury café-kitchen (where the magic started), directly opposite St Paul’s (designed especially for Afternoon Tea) or their newest Marylebone location, which is chic and effortlessly stylish. Wherever you go, you can be certain the cakes will be up to scratch.
From £24.50pp, served from 11.30am to 5.30pm. Locations include: Bloomsbury, St Paul’s and Marylebone.
Source: Beas’s of Bloomsbury
The Milestone Hotel, London
This award-winning Afternoon Tea exemplifies traditional luxury. The Milestone Hotel is a nineteenth-century pair of townhouses that overlook Kensington Palace and Gardens. This sophisticated experience is served in especially fine surroundings with many original features, framed by gilded windows and ornate fireplaces, and takes place in either the Conservatory, the Park Lounge or Cheneston’s Restaurant.
Afternoon Tea highlights at The Milestone include the roast ham and English mustard finger sandwiches, freshly-baked scones with homemade strawberry preserve, and an assortment of pastries comprised of tartlets, cupcakes, eclairs and macaroons.
The Milestone Hotel also offers a Little Prince & Princess Tea to welcome families into this quintessential tradition. Children are presented with their own finger sandwiches, scones and pastries, topped off with decadent hot chocolate. Creative princes and princesses are also given a fresh cupcake to decorate with icing and sprinkles themselves. A worthwhile treat for all the family.
From £48pp (children £24), served in sittings at 1pm, 3pm and 5pm.
Source: Afternoon Tea
The Crystal Moon Lounge, Corinthia Hotel
Take a five-star Afternoon Tea in the striking Crystal Moon Lounge, underneath the spectacular Baccarat Chandelier. In the heart of London, the Corinthia Hotel is housed in a late-nineteenth-century building in Westminster. This exclusive setting blends chic comfort with timeless elegance, for an exceptionally luxurious tea-time experience.
Afternoon Tea is served traditionally on bespoke William Edwards tea sets. Delectable finger sandwich choices include coronation chicken and tuna confit with lemon mayonnaise, followed by plain and raisin warm scones, and finished with timely delicacies such as apple and cinnamon mousse and a spiced salted caramel chocolate bar.
The Corinthia offers a fantastic Afternoon Tea with an ever-changing seasonal twist – and that crystal chandelier is not to be missed.
From £50pp (children £25), served from 2pm to 6pm (Mon-Fri) and 12pm-6pm (Sat-Sun).
The Roseberry Lounge, Mandarin Oriental
In one of the most fashionable areas in London, a short walk from Harrods, Mandarin Oriental offers Afternoon Tea in lavish surroundings. Upon arrival, you’ll be taken into the beautiful Roseberry Lounge, where the sumptuous, traditional tea is served in a gilded, hanging bird cage. Teas can be chosen from an extensive list of rare and fine teas, including signature blends, followed by hand-made pastries and seasonal cakes.
In keeping with the green theme, the Mandarin Oriental also features a Wicked Afternoon Tea for theatre-goers young and old. Fans will be treated to a hand-crafted selection of themed treats, including Elphaba’s chocolate hat and the Good Witch’s choux. This memorable occasion can be finished off with a glass of Bollinger champagne.
An altogether wonderfully wicked experience, this Afternoon Tea will make others green with envy.
From £53pp (children £28), served from 12pm to 7.30pm.
Source: Mandarin Oriental
Afternoon Tea should be filling, fantastic and faultlessly served, and this list has a range of critically-acclaimed tea-experiences to ensure the occasion is memorable for all involved. A wonderful way to treat loved ones, this is a timeless English tradition with well-deserved notoriety.
We all crave a little luxury in our lives, whether it’s a nourishing and decadent body lotion, or an indulgent five-star tea in town. Whatever the case, if you’re looking for a luxury five-star experience or a themed afternoon with the kids, there’s an Afternoon Tea in London for you.