A visit to London would not be complete without a spot of that quintessential middle-of-the-day British indulgence: Afternoon Tea. If you’re going to spend a good chunk of your day hauling yourself around the shops and tourist attractions of Westminster, Covent Garden, Soho, Piccadilly, Leicester Square, Mayfair, Knightsbridge, Trafalgar Square, and beyond, you’re going to need some down time; and what better way to punctuate that period of recuperation than to wolf down posh scones, strawberry jam, clotted cream, finger sandwiches, a pot of tea and a glass of Champagne? Be a smart tourist (or native Londoner) though, and book in advance. Here are London’s Top 10 Best Afternoon Teas to indulge your culturally-weary mind.
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Afternoon Tea at The Goring
Victoria / Restaurant / Hotel / Cuisine: Afternoon Tea
Victoria - How's this for an afternoon: Pall Mall, Buckingham Palace, ICA, Churchills War Room, and then before catching the Wicked show on stage, an afternoon tea at the splendid Goring Hotel? From 3-4.30pm each day you can take tea in various places on the property; the best being the sun terrace overlooking the gardens. Finger sandwiches, homemade scones with Devonshire clotted cream come as standard. Seasonal variations appear on the menu too. This was voted the Top London Afternoon Tea 2013 by the Tea Guild, the Oscars of Afternoon Tea. Click here to book
Afternoon Tea at The Library Lounge
Waterloo / Restaurant / Hotel / Cuisine: Afternoon Tea
South Bank - resplendent views of London's best landmarks - Big Ben, House of Parliament, the London Eye - is just part of the overall package for this Afternoon Tea. The room in which the tea is served is so tranquil, you might feel the need for a snooze. We recommend a Saturday visit if possible though because at no extra cost a live pianist adds to the occasion. Click here to book.
The Terrace Grill & Bar
Mayfair / Bar / Restaurant / Cuisine: British
Piccadilly - Ideally located for anyone shopping in Mayfair or visiting the Royal Academy of Arts, the Afternoon Tea at this light-filled restaurant offers a variety of exciting options. No two Afternoon Teas are ever the same. Served from noon-6pm every day, the traditional Afternoon Tea is £25 (includes sandwiches, scones, Cornish clotted cream & French pastries), the Champagne Afternoon Tea is £35, and the Light Afternoon Tea is £18. Teas range from Earl Grey, to Blackcurrant & Lavender, to Russian Caravan. Click here to book
The Glade at Sketch - Afternoon Tea
Mayfair / Restaurant / Cuisine: Afternoon Tea
Mayfair - An enchanted afternoon tea in central London for any creatively minded pixies who seek the verdant bosom of the forest and all its magic. The Glade at Sketch serves afternoon tea from 1-6pm every day and would ideally suit anyone who is out getting angry with the shopping crowds of Regent Street, Oxford Street and the West End and needs a true retreat for an hour or so to alleviate the retail madness. Finger sandwiches, including egg and mayonnaise, quail egg, caviar; plus all the scones, pastries, tartlets and teas for £34pp or £62 for two. Click here to book
Boyds Brasserie Bar & Lounge
West End / Bar / Restaurant / Hotel / Cuisine: British
Trafalgar Square - Picture the scene: you've marvelled the range of famous artwork in The National Gallery, praised a number of noble images in The Portrait Gallery, then watched several cute children chase pigeons around Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square. You're culturally exhausted. What you need is an Afternoon Cream Tea to finish off your quintessential London day trip. This modern yet grand brasserie and cocktail bar is a few footsteps away and from noon-5pm you can enjoy tea plus fresh homemade scones with jam and clotted cream for a mere £6.90. Click here to book
Afternoon Tea at the Waldorf
West End / Restaurant / Hotel / Cuisine: Afternoon Tea
West End - Let's no mess about here, this is a posh afternoon tea. Fine bone China, sparkling flutes of Champagne, crisp white linen-clad tables, rigid service and that classically British tea-in-a-famous-hotel ambiance. Throw in an array of Earl Greys, Darjeelings, Assams, Jasmines and Moroccan Mints and you have the makings of a pre-theatre afternoon that is simply delightful. Sparkling afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco is £29.50, Champagne afternoon tea is £34.50, and the 'boozeless' contemporary afternoon tea for £23.50. Click here to book
Palm Court Lounge
Mayfair / Restaurant / Hotel / Cuisine: Afternoon Tea
Piccadilly - Palm Court won the coveted award of excellence from the Afternoon Tea Guild in 2010 and the head pastry chef won the Pastry Chef of the Year from the Craft Guild of Chefs, so her pastries definitely make the afternoon tea worth a visit. Soothing harp music plays every day in this Art Deco lounge, and it's conveniently close to Buckingham Palace. Click here to book your afternoon tea here.
The Lobby Bar
West End / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Afternoon Tea
Covent Garden - This luxury hotel is walking distance from most of central London's larger galleries and all 15 of the major West End theatres , so now your day is bookended, time to book some R&R in between. Afternoon Tea in the Lobby Bar has highlights such as Welsh rarebit, quail scotch eggs with caper mayonnaise, smoked salmon sandwiches, and scones with cream and jam. And let's not allow standards to slip: wear your almost-best attire. Click here to book
Knightsbridge / Bar / Hotel / Cuisine: Afternoon Tea
Knightsbridge - Planning to hit Harrods and Harvey Nichs on a excursion to one of London's poshest shopping districts? Or plotting a cultural raid on the V&A or the Natural History Museum? A traditional Afternoon Tea, a Champagne Afternoon Tea, or a birthday Champagne Afternoon Tea (if it's your big day), in the chic Sitting Room at The Capital (3pm-5.30pm) will breathe new life into you. Click here to book your Afternoon tea.
Belgravia / Restaurant / Hotel / Cuisine: International
Afternoon Tea in Kensington - With a posh setting and Channel 4's celebrity chef Eric Lanlard on board, the afternoon tea at Kensington's Jumeirah Carleton Tower is sure to please. Seasonal high teas celebrate the changing times with the latest - Mon Beau Papillon - showing off flowers, butterflies and spring colours in honour of the Chelsea Flower Show. Try the intriguing raspberry macaroon with home smoked duck and smoked chilli jelly or the indulgent pine infused dark chocolate mousse on red berry compote with edible chocolate spoon while a beautifully dressed harpist lulls you to relaxation. Now that's an afternoon in style!