We’re free! Sort of. We can at least go out with our household or bubble to enjoy an afternoon of pampering. After you’ve participated in some retail therapy (yes, we’re allowed to shop now!), kick back in a comfy chair and indulge in these tasty treats with a winter twist.
Chocolate-covered snowmen, gingerbread biscuits and edible reindeer cakes are all on the menu. There’s no naughty list this year for Santa – we’ve all been put through quite enough thank you – so tuck into a festive afternoon tea and and sip some champagne… go on, you deserve it.
1. The Corinthia
On the afternoon tea menu at The Corinthia London, it explains how this quintessentially British pastime was born. Apparently, in 1840, the seventh Duchess of Bedford noticed she felt a ‘sinking feeling’ around mid-afternoon. To boost her back up, all she needed was a pot of Darjeeling tea, some bread, butter and biscuits. And that’s how the afternoon tea was born.
About 180 years later, and The Corinthia is still keeping up the tradition. With its Baccarat crystal chandelier, piano melodies and hand-painted china by Richard Brendon (a young British designer you definitely need to write home about), afternoon tea here is really fit for a duchess. Cakes are presented on a trolley which is wheeled from table to table (think Hogwarts Express sweet trolley and you might be on the right lines).
They’ve injected some tasty festive highlights, including chestnut and cassis tartlets; mango, coconut and lime logs, and dark chocolate and praline baubles. Alongside a hot brew, we also recommend you wash it down with a glass of Laurent Perrier.
Price: From £60
Where:Whitehall Place, Westminster, SW1A 2BD
2. The Chesterfield Mayfair
Festive teas are coming home for Christmas, or more importantly, they’re coming to Mayfair. Just minutes from Bond Street, The Chesterfield Mayfair has a ridiculously long list of festive treats lined up for their Winter Wonderland afternoon tea. There are apple jelly snowballs, gingerbread man cupcakes, chocolate yule logs, clementine macarons, and Christmas tree chocolate and coffee pots.
If that doesn’t get the festive juices flowing, the Chesterfield’s Christmas tea blend certainly will. Full of wintery aromatic spices, a cup of these tea leaves will warm your cockles in an instant. Looking for something a bit different? Then sip on a Chesterfield Chocolate tea with roasted chicory root for warming flavours and hints of ginger, cardamom and black pepper to give you a winter boost. Available well into the new year, you can also order this to your house if you’re feeling ultra indulgent.
For those wanting to indulge in their pjs, the afternoon tea is now available for delivery too! £10 for postcodes W1, SW1 and SW3, delivery to other addresses available on request across the Capital.
Price: From £40, delivery options available too
Where: 35 Charles Street, Mayfair, London W1J 5EB
The view is difficult to beat at The Gherkin, and when you’ve been staring at the same four walls for the past month, it’s like looking into another world. Luckily, it’s not a dream. We really are allowed out to experience this beautiful panorama now. Take in the 360⁰ views over the City at Searcys with their Festive Afternoon Tea.
With options ranging from classic to the downright extravagant, you can really make up for lost time. We recommend opting for the limitless sparkling champagne option for complete indulgence. Bite into a traditional freshly baked scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream, or add some festive flair with apple crumble tart, cherry delice and Stollen.
Price: From £39
Where: 30 St Mary Axe, Aldgate, EC3A 8EP
4. Four Seasons Park Lane
Over at the Fours Seasons, they’ve reimagined traditional festive flavours to capture the magic of Christmas. Delicate finger sandwiches made with traditional ingredients fit for the season are complimented by an array of pastries crafted by executive pastry chef Mariano Dileo.
Pile your plate high with salted caramel and peanuts covered in whipped citrus ganache, pomegranate and gingerbread Christmas baubles, a mandarin jelly chestnut tree, and pistachio mousse with amarena cherry delice. They’ve also given the traditional scones and jam an update with clementine, badiane and pine nut marmalade.
Price: From £46
Where: Hamilton Place, Park Lane, Mayfair, W1J 7DR
5. Galvin at Windows
Galvin at Windows has brought an exciting collaboration to life with one of the world’s finest artesian tea companies, Canton Tea. Serving tea at the luxury sky bar, 10º, with epic views, the restaurant is a modern oasis for us busy Londoners. Luscious green interiors, views of the city’s landmarks and plentiful plants will make it feel like you’re balancing on a luxury tree-top.
Head chef Marc Hardiman has created three afternoon tea menus: The Classic, The Gin and The Champagne. You have a vast choice of sweet treats, including: rich and smooth green apple mousse, paired with baked apple and cinnamon; a crunchy pumpkin and pecan pie; as well as traditional freshly baked scones served with Cornish clotted cream, strawberry preserve and apple and cinnamon compote.
If that doesn’t have you bursting at the seams, try the savoury sandwiches of oak smoked salmon, horseradish cream on beetroot bread and the Burford brown egg mayonnaise, gherkin and mustard cress in a brioche roll. You can thank us later, when you’re rolling home.
Price: From £49
Where: Hilton on Park Lane, 22 Park Ln, Mayfair, London, W1K 1BE
6. Taj 51 Buckingham Gate
When you’ve finished your Christmas shopping and want to rest your weary feet and credit card, escape the hustle and bustle with Taj 51 Buckingham Gate’s Mystic Christmas Afternoon Tea. The elegant array of fancy nibbles is available from 2 to 25 December at the Kona restaurant.
Start with a spiced winter warmer hot chocolate drink and a selection of cranberry and plain scones, then work your way through a variety of savoury and sweet treats. For the former, try some British classics including a festive egg mayo and mustard cress pinwheel; rosemary roast beef roulade with English mustard cream; smoked salmon and orange flavoured horseradish sandwich; and a Yorkshire ham, cheddar and Branston pickle sandwich.
The unmissable sweet options include: spicy gianduja chocolate gateaux topped with twinkling snowflakes; a flavoursome Christmas pistachio cremeux cone; marron glace dome snowman; and the absolute winner… a creamy yule log with a Baileys twist. Yum. Enough said.
Where: 51 Buckingham Gate, Westminster, SW1E 6AF
7. The Petersham
Escape to the country (almost) at the The Petersham. After a brisk winter walk around Richmond Park, spotting Santa’s reindeer (or just plain deer), saunter on down to the hotel. You can take in the sounds and views of the Thames and the Petersham meadow while gobbling up some British classics.
Try a trusty mini pork pie, turkey and cranberry quiche, smoked salmon roulade, and cheese and caramelise onion on sourdough. If you have space, squeeze in a Christmas pudding with chocolate mousse and cherry rum jelly or a Christmas fruitcake with marzipan and mulled wine jelly. Other mouthwatering delights include an orange bauble with salted caramel, cinnamon biscuit and white chocolate, and an opera cake with moka buttercream, chocolate ganache and hazelnut.
Head Chef, Jean-Didier, has also knocked together three different types of scone: cranberry and orange; vanilla and star anise; and a West Country clotted cream and strawberry preserve classic. So much food, so much guilt – but at least you did five laps of Richmond park right?
Where: Nightingale Lane, Richmond, TW10 6UZ
8. The Lanesborough Hotel
Have you ever been to Peggy Porschen’s fairytale pink boutique in Belgravia? No. Well, you really must, if just for the wonderfully imaginative window displays. But they also bake some of the most delicious cakes in London. And now they’re partnering with The Lanesborough Hotel for an exclusive new festive afternoon tea experience.
The tea takes place under the domed glass roof of the Michelin-starred Céleste restaurant. Get ready to immerse yourself in charming floral features, pastel hues and exquisite tastes. Peggy Porschen has knocked up some of their signature creations, such as finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream and jam, alongside some bespoke afternoon tea blends.
Our festive favourites include: the jolly gingerbread cupcake, the chocolate and cherry snowflake cupcake, and the cranberry Christmas pavlova. But that’s just the start. You can pair these tastes with a selection of ‘Teas with a Twist’, such as a chocolate brownie black tea, white choco chilli Chinese white tea, and a rhubarb and vanilla Chinese green tea.
Peggy, the founder of the Peggy Porschen, actually held her first pastry chef position at The Lanesborough in 1999 after graduating from Le Cordon Bleu’s ‘The Grand Diploma of Cuisine & Patisserie’ – so it’s a match made in heaven.
Where: Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, SW1X 7TA
9. The Milestone Hotel & Residences
We’ve all been obsessing over The Crown. You might have seen our constant commentary on the Netflix spectacular, including the one about cardigans inspired by Princess Di. And we’re not done yet. That’s because the The Milestone Hotel & Residences has a Festive Royal Afternoon Tea ready for us, and it’s inspired by The Crown.
Set in the heart of the Royal Borough of Kensington and overlooking Kensington Palace and Gardens, the location seems particularly fitting. Get ready to embark on an enchanting royal journey. The centrepiece is an edible gold tiara, placed on top of a raspberry, strawberry and Valhrona chocolate mousse cube with a pistachio biscuit, all sprayed in royal purple.
A selection of pastries, including éclairs, tartlets, cupcakes and macarons, follows – an array to make even The Queen smile. Sip on a vast collection of loose leaf teas or opt for a glass of Lanson champagne, a Royal Warrant holder since 1900, no less.
Afterward, nip next door to enjoy the ‘Diana: Designing for a Princess’ exhibition at Kensington Palace, Diana’s former home. Signature items from the Princess of Wales’ wardrobe are exhibited alongside original sketches created for her during the design process. For The Crown fans, it really is the perfect way to spend an afternoon.
Where: 1-3 Kensington Court, Kensington, W8 5DL
10. Aqua Shard
The West End might not be drawing the curtains back for lots of pantomimes this year, but Aqua Shard is not going to let us miss out on any theatrical fun. Tuck into a Peter Pan-themed afternoon tea and take in some childlike magic next to a shimmering tree made of intricate golden paintbrushes. The spectacular tree has been created as a celebration of the craftspeople behind the scenes of London’s celebrated theatre industry and features a sparkling Tinker Bell on top.
That’s just part of the fun though… Enjoy a selection of mouth-watering savoury and sweet treats, all perched on Captain Hook’s ship, including an edible crocodile, buried treasure and a little Tinker Bell.
Price: From £52
Where: Level 31, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY
11. The Egerton House Hotel
Renowned florist Jane Wadham has been working with the team at The Egerton House Hotel to spread festive cheer with an incredible floral display. Step into a world of flora and fauna and enjoy an afternoon tea of fresh sandwiches and home baked plain and fruit scones served with Devonshire clotted cream and a selection of preserves.
Sip on a loose leaf tea and soak it up with homemade cakes, such as a rosewater chocolate brownie, marigold macaroons, lavender posset with poppy seed biscuit, a blueberry tower, or spinach and blackcurrant cupcakes. What’s more, there are gluten free, vegan and vegetarian options, too.
Price: From £48
Where: 17-19 Egerton Terrace, Chelsea, SW3 2BX
For a century or more, the executive chefs at Claridge’s have remained faithful to the classic combination of finger sandwiches, scones served warm, and sweet pastries. However, the centrepiece of afternoon tea is, of course, the drink itself. The hotel’s tea connoisseur, Henrietta Lovell, has scoured the world to bring an array of flavours from all corners of the world. From hojicha green tea to wild rooibos, the choice is endless.
And there’s just as much variety in the sweet treats too. Choose from dulcey and coffee éclairs, mirabelle and bergamot streusel tarts, fig and mascarpone mousse, and pecan and dark chocolate brownie. These sweet delights will be served until 3 January.
Price: From £78.75
Where: Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K 4HR
13. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
The festive afternoon tea in The Rosebery at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park oozes luxury. On the sweet side, indulge in a coconut snowball, spiced Santa hat, Jaffa gift and pineapple Christmas tree. For savoury sandwiches, there’s Cotswold egg and black truffle and confit duck and turkey.
Children will also be pleased to hear there is something for them with the return of the Harrods Teddy Bear afternoon tea, where each child is gifted a Harrods’ teddy bear to take home. This year, the bear’s name is Nicholas and apparently, you just can’t have a good afternoon tea without him.
Price: From £62
Where: 66 Knightsbridge, SW1X 7LA
14. The Rubens At The Palace
The Rubens hotel has unrivalled views of the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace and the comings and goings of royal carriages. Adding to this already illustrious experience, the hotel is now serving Ceylon Golden Tips alongside its festive selection of scones, pastries and finger sandwiches. This rare tea is produced in the highlands of Sri Lanka and is skilfully handpicked by expert tea pluckers at sunset. The velvety, silvery tips are carefully turned into gold and sun dried on a velvet cloth.
This delicate tea is weighed with precision at The Rubens with a white glove service and golden scales; each tip is placed into the silver teapot individually with golden tweezers. The tea which is showcased in a locked mahogany box lined with velvet is infused with still mineral water to produce an extraordinary flavour and a smooth, light and mellow texture. An experience that’s fit for a queen.
Where: 39 Buckingham Palace Road, Westminster, SW1W 0PS