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The Best Places for Afternoon Tea in London

by Stacy D

The history of afternoon tea is steeped in tradition, making it a must-do activity for those looking to immerse themselves in British culture. This delightful custom dates back to the early 19th century and continues to be a popular ritual for both Londoners and tourists alike. Whether you’re looking for a classic experience or something with a modern twist, here are 10 places to enjoy the best afternoon tea in London.

Afternoon tea at the Ritz

The Ritz London afternoon tea experience is highly sought after by many visitors to the city. Synonymous with luxury and elegance, the prestigious hotel offers a service that perfectly complements its esteemed reputation. Taking place in the elegant Palm Court, guests are treated to a delectable assortment of finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and an array of delicate pastries and teacakes. The Ritz is one of the only hotels in the UK with a certified Tea Master, setting itself apart from other establishments.

Highlights

  • Ambience: Opulent and grand, with a resident pianist adding to the atmosphere.
  • Menu: Classic options with a selection of 18 types of loose-leaf tea.
  • Dress Code: Formal (jacket and tie for men).

Address: 150 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9BR

Price: From £75 per person

The Foyer and Reading Room, Claridge’s

When it comes to finding the best tea in London, Claridge’s afternoon tea stands out as a true gem. With a history spanning over 150 years, this refined encounter has been perfected to offer guests a memorable moment. The elegant surroundings of the Art Deco Foyer and Reading Room provide the perfect backdrop for indulging in an afternoon tea menu that caters to both sweet and savoury cravings. The star of the show is undoubtedly the scones, served with Claridge’s own jam, rich desserts and seasonal pastries.

Highlights

  • Ambience: Luxurious with an Art Deco twist, featuring live music.
  • Menu: Seasonal and classic offerings with an extensive tea menu.
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Address: Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR

Price: From £90 per person

Afternoon tea at The Gallery at Sketch

If you’re looking for a contemporary and artistic twist on traditional afternoon tea, Sketch is a must-visit restaurant. Established in 2003 by French chef Pierre Gagnaire and restaurateur Mourad Mazouz, this establishment has gained recognition for its innovative and imaginative approach to this quintessentially British tradition. With its quirky and whimsical interiors, it’s one of the best places in London for tea, offering an enchanting atmosphere where the menu features inventive pastries, savoury bites, and classic scones. Housed in a charming 18th-century townhouse, Sketch combines history and contemporary artistry to create a truly unique dining experience.

Highlights

  • Ambience: Eclectic and artistic, with a playful and modern twist.
  • Menu: Creative and contemporary, with carefully curated tea blends.
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Address: 9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG

Price: From £55 per person

The English Garden at Fortnum & Mason

The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, situated within the respected Fortnum & Mason department store, has long been a cherished destination. Inaugurated by the late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2012, the iconic tea room provides guests with a truly traditional affair within its spacious and beautifully decorated dining room, complete with soft pastel colours. Pair your best tea with a delightful mixture of finger sandwiches, an assortment of patisserie, such as rose éclairs and ganache, and perhaps the best scones in London. 

Highlights

  • Ambience: Elegant and historic, with a focus on quality and tradition.
  • Menu: Traditional with an emphasis on high-quality ingredients and a vast collection of teas.
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Address: 181 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1A 1ER

Price: From £80 per person

Traditional afternoon tea at The Savoy

The Savoy London afternoon tea taking place at the Thames Foyer is not to be missed. With its lofty glass dome, it serves as the perfect milieu for this culinary delight. The centrepiece of the airy room is a stunning gazebo often adorned with seasonal flowers, creating a picturesque scene. The refined atmosphere is further enhanced by the presence of a talented pianist, serenading guests with live music. As you have the savoy afternoon tea experience, indulge in the finest selection of treats, including homemade scones paired with clotted cream, and exquisite pastries, making it one of the best places in London for tea and cakes. ​​

Highlights

  • Ambience: Classic and elegant, with a live pianist.
  • Menu: Traditional offerings with a wide range of teas.
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Address: Strand, London WC2R 0EZ

Price: From £80 per person

Afternoon tea at The Promenade, The Dorchester

Walk past the gigantic lobby bouquets and into the Promenade where you’ll find plush sofas and draped curtains in a grand space. Referred to as ‘the drawing room of Mayfair’ since its establishment in 1931, enjoying afternoon tea at the Dorchester is an unparalleled experience. Presenting savoury and sweet courses, choose from sandwiches stuffed with fillings such as chicken with lime, garlic and ginger. Vegetarians can sample some of their gems, including their salt-crusted beetroot sandwich. Those coming for the sweets can indulge in delicious pastries paired with fine teas.

Highlights

  • Ambience: Luxurious and grand, with live piano music.
  • Menu: Traditional and seasonal options with an extensive tea range.
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Address: 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA

Price: From £95 per person

Afternoon tea at the Brown’s Hotel

For your next afternoon tea experience, head to Brown’s Hotel, a Rocco Forte Hotel and one of London’s oldest and most prestigious hotels. Opened in 1837, it’s home to the elegant Drawing Room where a comprehensive array of world-class teas from around the world and lovely food are on the extensive menu. If you want to spruce things up, add a glass of champagne to the menu as you enjoy it at the English Tea Room. From classic sandwiches to Brown’s signature chocolate orange, every item on the menu is crafted with utmost care and attention to detail.

Highlights

  • Ambience: Cosy and refined, with a traditional British charm.
  • Menu: Classic and seasonal offerings with a focus on quality.
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Address: 33 Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London W1S 4BP

Price: From £75 per person

Afternoon tea at The Goring Hotel

The epitome of luxury, the Goring is a prestigious hotel with strong ties to the British royal family. Immerse in their elegant dining room or, weather permitting, bask in the beauty of their enchanting garden while enjoying a sumptuous afternoon tea. The hotel takes pride in its ever-changing menu, which showcases seasonal delights such as Coronation chicken sandwiches, pear and caramel choux buns, and freshly baked scones wrapped in a napkin nest to preserve their warmth. Enjoy their beautifully curated tea selections, or have a glass of bubbles for an added touch of sparkle.

Highlights

  • Ambience: Traditional and elegant, with a touch of royal charm.
  • Menu: Classic options with extensive tea options.
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Address: 15 Beeston Place, Westminster, London SW1W 0JW

Price: From £70 per person

Afternoon tea at Aqua Shard

For the best afternoon tea in London with a view, visit the Aqua Shard on the 31st floor, boasting panoramic views in a spectacular setting with floor-to-ceiling windows. The timeless activity is a modern and creative affair, featuring a range of delicious treats with a contemporary twist. Currently, the menu is inspired by the adventures of Peter Pan on the island of Neverland. Try their sweet and savoury afternoon tea selection – we recommend the enormous mushroom Chimney made with mushroom-shaped bread.

Highlights

  • Ambience: Modern and sophisticated
  • Menu: Classic options with a fantasy twist
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Address: Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY

Price: From £70 per person

Harrods

 
 
 
 
 
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Immerse in afternoon tea Harrods style at their tea rooms designed to evoke a sense of timeless elegance and grandeur. The decor features a blend of classic and contemporary styles decor and tasteful floral arrangements. Picks of meticulously crafted treats are found on their high tea menu, from cream teas to freshly baked scones to dreamy patisserie. As the tea rooms are being renovated over the summer, guests are invited to visit the temporary area on the Fourth Floor.

Highlights

  • Ambience: Modern and cosy
  • Menu: Classic and traditional 
  • Dress Code: Smart casual.

Address: 87–135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7XL

Price: From £65 per person

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