Afternoon tea has finally returned to the city after months of lockdowns and delivery versions, bringing with it bite size sandwiches, miniature eclairs and copious amounts of English Breakfast tea (or, unlimited flutes of Champagne if you’re that way inclined).
With restaurants, bars and indoor dining back, now’s the time to book in for that afternoon tea experience you’ve been dreaming about all lockdown long. From quintessentially British takes at Fortnum & Mason to Aqua Shard’s Peter Pan inspired experience, here are 22 of the best afternoon teas you need to try out this summer.
Live out your catwalk dreams and venture to The Berkeley to try out their infamous Prêt-à-Portea.
A favourite amongst the fashion set, Prêt-à-Portea returns with a brand new Spring/Summer 2021 collection bringing to life couture cakes inspired by the world of fashion runways. This season’s treats showcase Donatella Versace’s ocean-themed cocktail dress that’s been reimagined in the form of a coconut turquoise and mango confit, encased with fruit mousse and topped with a sugar starfish.
There’s also a homage to the queen of fashion herself, Anna Wintour in the form of an iced vanilla biscuit that’s finished with her signature sunglasses and bob haircut.
A favourite amongst the fashion set...
Where: Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL
See the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland come to life this summer at The Franklin London and their new themed tea, nodding to Lewis Carroll’s curious tale.
Drawing inspiration from the Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser exhibition at the Victoria & Albert museum, the afternoon tea will take its visitors on a culinary journey through the tastes, sounds and colours associated with the tale.
Join the White Rabbit and Mad Hatter’s tea party and delight in dishes inspired by the fictional themes and characters. The menu begins with a savoury sandwich course, including a crab bun filled with crab salad, soy mayo, avocado, cucumber and lime, and a beetroot pita stuffed with burrata cheese and bresaola – a nod to The Franklin’s Italian hospitality heritage.
Sweet treats continue with a brownie hat, a chocolate top hat filled with pecan sablé, kataifi pastry, brownie sponge and soft pecan cream; a Heart Cake red velvet sponge with vanilla buttercream and raspberry compote; and a Carrot Caramel Cupcake filled with orange sablé, caramel mousse and meringue, decorated with a white rabbit and a caterpillar. Scones will complete the tea, with a blueberry scone topped with berry meringue resembling a mushroom. How quaint.
Don’t forget, it’s always tea time in Wonderland…
AVAILABLE UNTIL 31 DECEMBER 2021
WHERE: 24 EGERTON GARDENS, KNIGHTSBRIDGE, SW3 2DB
Unlock your inner child this summer and journey to Neverland with Aqua Shard’s Peter Pan inspired afternoon tea. Created in partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, the experience will see you enjoying sandwiches, scones, treats and beverages all that hint to the children’s classic tale.
Each part has been carefully chosen and named after the colourful characters in the story, from ‘The Lostboys’ roasted chicken, crispy bacon, mayonnaise and mustard sandwiches to the ‘Tinker-Bell’ sweet pastry biscuit that’s topped with white icing and gold fairy dust.
For those wanting to add an alcoholic element to the experience, try one of the two cocktails on offer. The ‘Fairy Dust’, made up of mint and cucumber Ketel One, apple liqueur, ginger switchel, Kaffir lime leaf powder, Absinthe and gold fairy dust, is simply delicious. The tea is also available for delivery.
Where: Level 31 The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY
Available daily from 3-5pm, the afternoon comes complete with delicious savouries, freshly baked scones topped with strawberry preserve and clotted cream, and sweet delicacies, including a passion fruit eclair and yuzu chocolate tart. One up the experience and upgrade with a glass of Veuve Clicquot.
Where: ST PANCRAS INTERNATIONAL, KINGS CROSS, N1C 4QL
From cocktails to champagne, sandwiches to scones, there’s something everyone will enjoy on the afternoon tea menu at The Stafford.
Home to London’s finest courtyard dining destination, The Stafford also boasts a great afternoon tea selection in The Game Bird. The sweet selection has been inspired by some of St James’s oldest boutiques. Think Lock & Co, Floris, James J. Fox, Henry Poole & Co and Foster & Son.
Enjoy bites to eat such as honey-roast Wiltshire ham and mustard sandwiches; Foster & Son’s chocolate shoe horn; Lock & Co white chocolate and lime ‘top hat’; and sweet and savoury scone options too.
It’s not everyday your two favourite restos collide but luckily for us, ours have.
The Lanesborough has partnered with Peggy Porschen for an afternoon tea that encompasses the millennial phrase ‘pretty in pink’ to its fullest. Served up under the domed glass roof in the Michelin-starred restaurant, Céleste, the afternoon tea will be bringing Peggy Porschen’s pastel-hues, floral facets and a whole lot of Instagrammable delights that you’ll simply adore.
Where: THE LANESBOROUGH, HYDE PARK CORNER, SW1X 7TA
For a quintessentially British experience, abrim with all of the glamour, allure and luxury, it’s got to be Claridge’s.
Available in The Foyer and Reading Room from 17th May, Claridge’s afternoon tea celebrates the best of afternoon tea traditions and elevates them further with a little touch of Claridge’s creativity. Head here for delights such as Scottish salmon and pastries that are bursting with fruits of the season.
Where: Claridge’s, Brook Street, W1K 4HR
A favourite amongst the ‘grammers, Sketch is home to Michelin-star dining, London’s most talked about loos and next level afternoon tea.
Located in the gloriously pink Gallery, their afternoon tea often comes complete with a live classic string trio performing as you munch through the delicacies on offer. Enjoy an assortment of sandwiches, sweets and scones, just make sure you snap up an Insta (or ten) for the ‘gram before diving in.
High above the clouds sits TĪNG, one of the Shangri-La’s restaurants, and their afternoon tea offering inspired by the humble British picnic.
Overlook London’s skyline and sample finger sandwiches filled with cucumber and cream cheese; sage and onion sausage rolls; asparagus and goat’s cheese quiche; and smoked salmon. Leave space for the sweets that come complete with carrot cake; a bramble and lime ‘lollipop’; sheep’s yoghurt; and Yorkshire rhubarb mousse.
Where: 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9QU
Afternoon tea doesn’t get better or quite more quintessentially British than at The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon in Fortnum & Mason.
What once started life as an apartment for the Fortnum family, before overtime becoming an interior decorating department, antiques department and a restaurant (spread across various periods), has since transformed into the place to head for the timeless tradition of afternoon tea.
Fortnum’s chefs have been busy perfecting their craft, creating the best afternoon tea menu yet – baking by the dozen, drinking countless cups of tea and undertaking the tough job of 43 tastings. It’s here you’ll find expert afternoon tea that’s both dazzling and traditional.
Where: 4th Floor, Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, St. James’s, W1A 1ER
Expect only the finest when you embark on an afternoon tea date at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square.
Located in the Rotunda, the Crown Jewels Afternoon Tea, reimagined by new Executive Pastry Chef Sylvain Goujon will take centre stage. The menu will comprise of patisserie delights, such as The Ruby, a chocolate shortbread with mint infused chocolate ganache and a cherry confit; The Crown with flavours of peach, verbena and yuzu; and The Coin, a combination of salted caramel and milk chocolate mousse infused with tonka bean.
Afternoon tea servings will commence from 17th May.
Where: 10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ
Afternoon tea never looked so sweet. Brigit’s Bakery has become a popular destination for those wanting an afternoon tea experience with a difference. Explore the sites of London via bus as you tuck into delicious sweet treats on the Brigit’s Bakery Classic Afternoon Tea Bus London Tour.
You’ll be zipping past all of the city’s finest landmarks, cultural areas and delving into its history all while sipping on a cuppa and enjoying the unique tastes of France in petite pastry form.
They offer various dietary options from vegan to vegetarian, halal to gluten free.
Created using the finest ingredients, many of which come directly from Royal Warrant holders who supply goods to The Queen, The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences’ afternoon tea offering is as royal, luxurious and delicious as it comes.
Sample sandwiches such as hot smoked salmon, spring onion and lemon sour cream; and roast beef and horseradish relish, and homemade sweets such as clementine and Prosecco trifle; raspberry pavlova; and chocolate profiterole.
Boasting a traditional, vegan, gluten free and vegetarian menu, there’s something for everyone here.
Where: 116 Piccadilly, W1J 7BJ
Searcys at the Gherkin will reopen from 17th May, bringing with it the return of their afternoon tea offering, high up in the clouds.
Served from 3-5pm during the week, you can enjoy sweet and savoury options, as well as piling your plate with freshly baked scones. Served alongside a glass of Moët & Chandon, this is the ultimate afternoon tea experience.
Where: 30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8EP
Scheduled to open late summer 2021, Pan Pacific London is set to open with five innovative new hospitality offerings, one of which being The Orchid Lounge which boasts afternoon tea.
Created by TV personality judge and award-winning Executive Pastry Chef, Cherish Finden, the two serene afternoon teas here will take the popular treat to new heights. For traditional offerings, opt for the quintessentially British sandwiches, scones and patisseries, or mix it up and sample the Singaporean-inspired Kopi Tiam. This will celebrate bao, dim sum and choux.
Where: 80 Houndsditch, EC3A 7AB
We can finally wave goodbye to Zoom catch ups – hooray – and celebrate all of those lost lockdown birthdays, engagements and promotions in style with Kona’s Alice in Wonderland inspired afternoon tea.
Venture down the rabbithole and embark on a culinary adventure filled with Wonderland inspired goodies. Expect checkerboard platters filled with ‘Off with their Heads’ banana moelleux with raspberry cremeux dress; ‘Running Late’ strawberry pocket watch macaron; and ‘Checkmate’ redcurrant and chocolate battenburg.
Where: 51 Buckingham Gate, SW1E 6AF
Free flowing afternoon tea inside a library? Only if you insist…
Literary lovers, make sure you book into this one as you’ll be tucking into afternoon tea whilst sitting surrounded by busts of literary and historical figures and stack upon stack of novels. Expect free flowing sparkling wine and a plentiful spread of finger sandwiches, scones and scrumptious sweet treats, all for just £55 per person.
Free flowing afternoon tea inside a library? Only if you insist…
Where: London County Hall, Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7PB
Set amongst the liveliness of Soho and the glamour of Mayfair, Ham Yard Hotel provides the perfect space to escape it all thanks to its British quirks and traditional interiors.
Venture here for afternoon tea and delight in savouries such as smoked salmon and dill sandwiches and broccoli and brie quiche, before making your way onto the sweets. Expect cakes, macarons, scones and choux.
Aren’t important enough to have tea with The Queen? Head to The Rubens at the Palace for the next best thing… Here the Palace Lounge boasts views overlooking the Royal Mews of Buckingham Palace so it’s almost like you’re doing the same thing anyway.
Enjoy the freshest cakes and pastries on offer, with options such as the Crown Jewel, an earl grey infused mousse with yuzu chocolate; Fruit from the Queen’s Orchard, a seasonal glazed fruit-shaped mousse with compote; and Jam Penny, an almond, raspberry jam topped raspberry whip with raspberry chocolate.
Where: 39 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 0PS
The Oscar Wilde Lounge, nuzzled within Hotel Café Royal, has seen some of the greats pass through it over the years. From Oscar Wilde falling in love with Lord Alfred Douglas to David Bowie retiring Ziggy Stardust, it’s abrim with history, allure and glamour. Nowadays you can enjoy expertly made afternoon tea, led by the award-winning Executive Head Pastry Chef Michael Kwan.
Where: 10 Air Street, W1B 4DY
Afternoon tea with cocktails? Yes please. Lyaness, the Bankside bar from the award-winning Mr Lyan, has a delicious tea offering. And yes, your traditional tea classics have been given a bold twist from the Lyan team.
Expect treats such as pickled cucumber, cream cheese and chives, and smoke salmon, dill and crème fraiche sandwiches; caramelised banana & chocolate éclair; coconut panna cotta, berry compote & honeycomb and cocktails that match perfectly against these select dishes.
Where: 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD
Sure, afternoon tea is good, but bottomless afternoon tea is better. Borough Market’s finest restaurant establishment, Roast offers just that.
Book in and enjoy dishes such as Pimms trifle shots; golden lemon meringue tart; homemade eclairs; billionaire cake; house scones; and a moreish selection of finger sandwiches too. Yum.
Sure, afternoon tea is good, but bottomless afternoon tea is better.
Where: The Floral Hall, Stoney Street, SE1 1TL