You can’t come to the capital of the UK and not indulge in one of its greatest culinary traditions: an afternoon tea in London. With some of the greatest chefs and beautiful restaurants in the world scattered around the city, your only problem will be all the options – whether you’re opting for a good old classic afternoon tea with scones and pastries or delving into a more adventurous sort.
It doesn’t get much better than The Savoy’s traditional afternoon tea, which takes regular staples and turns them up to eleven. Set in their elegant Thames Foyer and naturally lit by the sun streaming through its glass ceiling, their tea set is more than enough for two. With a wide selection of teas, delectable finger sandwiches and hearty scones, it all goes down well with a glass of bubbly.
This afternoon tea is practically an institution. The Dorchester tea has been running since 1931 and is served in their grand Promenade, but you’ll have to dress the part if you want to partake. With everything from delicate cucumber sandwiches to raisin scones served with Cornish clotted cream, their head pastry chef David Girard will see you through with his seasonal delights.
Head to Piccadilly Circus and the Ritz Carlton to their luxurious Palm Court. Opulence is the name of the game here, with grand chandeliers and over the top floral arrangements bringing everything together.
Fortnum and Mason are synonymous with quality British tea and it’s no surprise their flagship London store offers a proper sit down experience. At their Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, you’ll be able to indulge in coronation chicken finger sandwiches, fruit scones slathered in lemon curd, Somerset clotted cream and wild blueberry jam and naturally brewed tea from their selection.
This afternoon tea is set in an all-pink Instagram daydream – think velvet couches, patterned floors and glowy sconces. This tea is ultra luxe and an upgrade on classic staples, with caviar and egg sandwiches and a selection of macaroons. The cherry on top? Live music, classy art and beautifully artistic patisseries.
Leave London behind for a little while and disappear to Wonderland at the Sanderson Hotel. Created to honour the 150th anniversary of Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, this Alice in Wonderland-themed tea brings little flourishes from the story to their tea sets. Choose your selection from a menu tucked away in a vintage book, then move onto King of Hearts croque monsieurs served on card-themed crockery. Move onto sweeter things with a Tweedle Dee lemon curd financier or Mad March hare vanilla pocket watch macaroon, then wash it all down with their special cocktail list. Anyone for a vodka-based Down the Rabbit Hole?
You won’t need a golden ticket for this one, but maybe you’ll need a reservation. Do Roald Dahl proud at the One Aldwych Hotel, where their Charlie and the Chocolate-themed afternoon tea is a welcome dose of nostalgia. While you’ll find all the traditional afternoon tea staples like scones and sandwiches, they’ve brought some Wonka-esque touches like golden chocolate eggs filled with vanilla cheesecake and homemade candyfloss.
This is one of the most picturesque offerings in London, with a stellar view over the River Thames. While they offer a classic tea, their Not Afternoon Tea is fun choice for cocktail king and queens as each of their themed teas are paired with one of their mixologist’s creations. The Pimm’s plate draws on all the fruits in the summer drink – strawberry parfait, orange cake, mint macaroons – while the Rum plates bring a selection of cocktails and tropical desserts to the table.
Kurobuta puts a Japanese stamp on British afternoon tea, swapping out classic favourites for pastries such as honey barbecue short rib puffs as well as a confit duck and taro croquette. Held everyday from 3-6pm at Harvey Nichols, the menu also includes matcha-infused desserts and is relatively well priced at just 19 pounds (though you can always upgrade tea with a glass of prosecco).
Head to the Athenaeum for a meatier option, that brings together good old British pub classics for a hearty meal. Think duck scotch eggs, sausage rolls, rarebit and crumpets, all washed down with the hotel’s in house whisky. Even the staples are given special treatment – anybody for a cheese scone with bacon butter?