The finest afternoon teas in London

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Henry James may have been an American but he hit the nail on the head when he said, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” There’s something so utterly decadent about this completely unnecessary meal – especially when paired with a glass of mid-afternoon champagne. Finding its origins in the British capital, London remains home to some of the world’s very best and most inventive pastry chefs, creating mouth-wateringly pretty miniatures sandwiches, scones and pastries for your delectation. Here are some of the best afternoon teas in London to book now.

The Athenaeum, Green Park

the athenaeum

Indulge your sweet tooth with this quintessential afternoon tea, served alongside an extensive range of artisan teas and infusions. We recommend the house-blend infusions, especially the antioxidant Blue-tea-ful and naturally immune-boosting Rosy Glow, which combines rose, marigold and hibiscus to create a sweet hot beverage. Food-wise, choose from a selection of traditional sandwiches, such as cucumber and cream cheese and coronation chicken, before enjoying delectable British favourites including carrot cake, treacle tart and chocolate mousse. 

From £45 per person, visit

Shangri-La The Shard, Southwark

Create unforgettable memories in the clouds at London’s tallest building with a spring-inspired Skyline afternoon tea served at the wisteria-clad Ting Lounge at Shangri-La The Shard. Perfect when paired with fragrant rosebud tea, a selection of finger sandwiches, including coronation chicken, smoked salmon and cucumber, classic Reuben and truffle egg and cress, is followed by savouries such as beetroot heart with hibiscus powder, and prawn cocktail with Marie Rose.

Freshly-baked sweet and savoury scones accompanied by strawberry jam and clotted cream lead into a selection of specially-curated desserts including elderflower sponge with strawberry cream and jelly, pistachio profiterole and a heart-shaped pastry filled with white chocolate mousse. There’s even a miniature white chocolate and passion fruit Shard for two to share. 

From £71 per person, visit

The Lane, Covent Garden

the lane covent garden

Having emerged from a thorough refurbishment just a couple of years ago, Theatre Royal Drury Lane — the oldest continuously-used theatre site in the world — restyled itself as The Lane, with a host of new eating, drinking and entertainment options available alongside the famed theatre. As well as The Garden restaurant, Cecil Beaton bar and Rotunda champagne bar, the venue has pressed its Grand Saloon into service to offer an exquisite afternoon tea.

Inspired by the stunning Regency surrounds of the saloon, the menu has been created in collaboration with A-list London baker Lily Vanilli and features savoury treats, including a puff pastry roll packed with Cornish sausage meat, madeleines topped with lapsang-souchong glazed salmon and pickled fennel and bitesize cannelés with smooth goats cheese and pickled beetroot. Warm scones are paired with salted whipped butter, homemade jam and cream, alongside a decadent sweet selection, which includes Lily Vanilli’s signature layered chocolate sponge cake decorated with pink icing, fresh strawberries and pink and red icing flowers. Mini sticky toffee puddings are filled with a custard centre and a pink lemonade tart is topped with strawberry meringue. 

From £59 per person, visit

Aqua Shard, London Bridge

aqua shard peter pan afternoon tea

Served high above the city skyline in the venue’s triple-height atrium, Aqua Shard invites you to whisk the kids off to Neverland with its Peter Pan Afternoon Tea, in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Inspired by the magical characters of J.M Barrie’s beloved story, with confections including Tinker Bell cookies, Tick-Tock the Crocodile desserts and Peter Pan’s Secret Never Tree Entrance, this nostalgic offering is served on tea stands inspired by Captain Hook’s ship, the Jolly Roger, floating atop a mystical sea of dry ice.

Drinks are just as spectacular, with a special Fairy Dust cocktail on offer (mint and cucumber Ketel One botanical, apple liqueur, ginger switchel, Kaffir lime, absinthe and gold dust), and, for the kids, a non-alcoholic Never Grow Up punch with pineapple and pear puree, elderflower tonic and grenadine. Those who like their afternoon tea a little more traditional can enjoy two specials created for the occasion: the Darling Tea and the Adventure Tea. So, that’s the second star to the right, then straight on ‘til morning. See you there.

From £61 per person, visit

The Londoner, Leicester Square

the londoner

Hosted in the Londoner hotel’s opulent champagne bar, The Stage, this decadent champagne afternoon tea offering comprises the best of British tea traditions, with fine loose-leaf tea from the East India Company and an impressive spread of treats curated by Executive Pastry Chef Dale DeSimone. Guests of Afternoon Tea at The Stage are invited to indulge in a selection of delectable delights, with sandwiches including smoked salmon and Devon crab with yuzu kosho crème fraîche, and lemon-roasted Norfolk chicken with truffle mayonnaise. Elsewhere, freshly baked artisanal cakes and patisserie creations include The Londoner’s contemporary take on a classic lemon meringue pie, with black pepper Sable Breton, and a black truffle patisserie with milk chocolate and caramel mousse, hazelnut dacquoise, praline crisp, Périgord truffle and salted caramel marmalade. Enjoy washed down with tea, or one of The Stage’s 35 bottles of bubbles, as you are serenaded by live pianists, harpists and vocalists.

From £55 per person, visit

Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square, Clerkenwell

four seasons hotel

Inspired by its neighbouring national treasures at the Tower of London, the Four Seasons serves its Crown Jewels Afternoon Tea in its opulent Rotunda Lounge — the perfect treat for busy tourists and seasoned Londoners. Kick off your royal celebration by tucking into a range of delicate finger sandwiches, filled with coronation chicken, beef pastrami and smoked salmon. The real star of the show is the selection of dainty pastries, including The Crown, inspired by King Edward’s crown, featuring Yorkshire rhubarb compote, Madagascar vanilla crémeux, yuzu sponge and The Ruby, comprising chocolate-infused Timut berry, cranberry and grapefruit confit washed down with a number of fine teas. 

From £65 per person, visit

The Guardsman, Buckingham Gate

the guardsman

Inspired by the native flora of our Royal Parks, this brilliantly British afternoon tea from The Guardsman looks just as delightful as it tastes. Begin with a selection of sandwiches, from Burford brown egg mimosa and rocket mayonnaise to Golstein Scottish salmon, cream cheese and lemon butter, followed by irresistible pastries including a raspberry, pistachio and Chantilly cream tart, and the Toadstool – a light strawberry and cream sponge – alongside freshly baked scones with Dorset clotted cream and jams. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free afternoon teas are all available, and the price includes a glass of champagne for good measure.

From £45 per person, visit

Searcys at the Gherkin, City of London

searcys at the gherkin

Boasting 360-degree panoramic views of London’s dramatic skyline, you’d be hard-pressed to find an afternoon tea offering with a better backdrop than that of Searcys at the Gherkin, and with 175 years of afternoon tea experience, you can rest assured Searcys knows what it’s doing. Paired with a glass of English sparkling wine, or Whispering Angel rosé, this delectable high tea offering includes a range of savouries and sweet treats, including Jersey fruit and plain scones, served with Cornish clotted cream and jams, followed by indulgent pastries of Florentine chocolate tart, blackberry macaron and caramel choux.

From £55 per person, visit

The Savoy, The Strand

savoy afternoon tea

Served under the elegant glass-domed atrium of the Thames Foyer restaurant, guests have been coming to The Savoy for afternoon tea for more than a century. Led by Simona Spennati, The Savoy’s expert pastry team has devised a menu of signature cakes and pastries including Graceburn feta and Scottish smoked salmon open sandwiches, an apple delice with Nottinghamshire Bramley apple mousse and a signature Savoy sandwich with honey sponge and clementine marmalade. Vegan and vegetarian options are also available and don’t forget to add a glass of Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine or Laurent-Perrier Champagne to make the event that much more special.

From £75 per person, visit

The Langham, Fitzrovia

the langham london

One of London’s true grande dame hotels, The Langham is the undisputed birthplace of afternoon tea. Still served in the glamorously serene Palm Court, where the very first afternoon tea was served in 1865, its modern offering draws on this extraordinary legacy and the generations of exceptional chefs who have helmed the kitchen. Now overseen by Michel Roux Jr and executive pastry chef Andrew Gravett, The Langham afternoon tea is a celebration of all things British.

A vast list of Jing teas are served in delicate Wedgwood teacups while pastries take their cues from classic British biscuits, with particularly memorable takes on the Custard Cream and Jammie Dodger. There are also seasonal finger sandwiches, including Devon white chicken on garam masala bread, smoked salmon and pesto, and cucumber and cream cheese, a miniature Ploughman’s cheese scone and, of course, some of the best sweet scones you’ll find in the city.

From £75 per person, visit

The Beaumont, Mayfair

the beaumont

Fresh from an extensive refurbishment, The Beaumont hotel’s afternoon tea offering is quintessentially English — with just a hint of American modernity. Vegan, gluten-free and children’s menus are all available, to be enjoyed among the richly panelled surrounds and world-class art collection of the hotel’s Gatsby Room. The trans-Atlantic menu promises treats including oak smoked lox, devilled eggs, and a saltwater taffy, accompanied by fine Jing teas, Gusbourne English Sparkling Wine or an innovative non-alcoholic sparkling tea.

From £62 per person, visit

Pan Pacific London, Liverpool Street 

pan pacific

Having opened its doors in 2021, the Pan Pacific London has been impressing guests with its delectable afternoon tea offering ever since. Devised by award-winning Executive Pastry Chef Cherish Finden, and served in the gorgeous surrounds of the Orchid Lounge restaurant, the Singaporean-inspired Kopi Tiam (named for the country’s traditional coffee shops) eschews sandwiches in favour of crispy dumplings, bao buns and choux. These are served alongside a range of unusual pastries, including Finden’s signatures, such as Mandarin orange mousse with marmalade and tiger sponge and passionfruit, lime and mango jelly. A more classic afternoon tea menu is available for traditionalists, while tea is sourced from the Rare Tea Company, with a Tea Connoisseur on hand to suggest perfect pairings, and a range of champagnes and English sparkling wines are also on offer.

From £78 per person, visit

The Great Scotland Yard Hotel, Westminster

Housed, as you may have guessed, in the former Great Scotland Yard building, located between the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square, this is a brilliant option for anyone entertaining guests also interested in seeing the London sights. Served in the Parlour, a sumptuously decorated space that takes its cues from Britain’s colonial past and the introduction of tea from China and India, the hotel’s Mulberry Fig afternoon tea has been created in collaboration with royal perfumer Floris.

The multi-sensory afternoon tea has been inspired by the notes of the historical British fragrance Mulberry Fig, which inspired head pastry chef, Verónica Garrido Martínez, to explore this exclusive perfume. The scent evokes a floral oriental fragrance combining the soft powdery character of orris with hints of fruit and spice, reflected through an assortment of delicious cakes and patisserie. Indulge in savoury finger sandwiches such as smoked salmon, horseradish, dill on malted bread and egg truffle mayo on briochette. With freshly baked warm scones accompanied with Cornish clotted rhubarb and elderflower jam, dine on an assortment of delicate pastries and cakes including raspberry and violet tartlet, coconut and cardamom layered slice and fig, hazelnut and yogurt mousse.

From £59 per person, visit

The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner

lanesborough afternoon tea

If you’re after traditional pastries with an Instagrammable twist this is the afternoon tea for you. Settle down in five-star comfort in the hotel’s pretty powder-blue dining room, The Lanesborough Grill, before sampling the Meadow Afternoon Tea, inspired by the flora and fauna of the Royal parks which surrounded the five-star hotel. Sandwiches come in the form of poached Cotswold chicken with mustard mayonnaise and Scottish smoked salmon and horseradish, followed by a selection of delectable pastries including the Apple Blossom, the Meadow Slice Cheesecake and the Chamomile Daisy. 

From £68 per person, visit

Rosewood London, Bloomsbury

rosewood afternoon tea

Inspired by the work of Salvador Dali, executive pastry chef Mark Perkins looked to the Tate Modern’s Surrealism Beyond Borders exhibition for the Rosewood London’s latest Art Afternoon Tea offering. Served in the hotel’s elegant Mirror Room, the eye-catching pastries combine the artist’s surrealist shapes and motifs with indulgent flavours to create elegant French patisserie with a twist. Pastries, including a Lobster Telephone and Butterfly Windmill, are accompanied by finger sandwiches, scones and loose-leaf teas. And if that wasn’t enough, guests of this artfully arranged afternoon tea will leave with their own NFTea souvenir, bolstered by an AR experience. Prepare to be wowed.

From £72 per person, visit

The Rosebery at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London

the rosebery

The Rosebery, named after Lord Rosebery, was a stylish tea room in the 1920s and it reopened in 2014 as a contemporary tea salon, making the most of its Victorian features, high ceilings and the natural light that floods in. Here, it’s easy to forget that bustling Knightsbridge traffic streams by outside. Also exceptional and worthy of note are the staff – without exception impeccably polite and informative, with a relaxed charm.

Tea lovers, rejoice. The menu has no fewer than 29 loose-leaf teas on offer and do take advice about which you might most enjoy. Savour the sandwich selection (our highlights include the famed egg with truffle and braised Hereford beef) but resist the temptation to accept more (they’re unlimited) — you’re going to need to save room. Scones come with strawberry jam, ginger preserve and rose petal jelly. Drawing on the Asian flavours synonymous with the hotel group, a winter Mandarin fan is finished with a matcha and yogurt mousse with cherry gel while the jaffa orange Battenburg features orange compote, genoise and marzipan. Take your time, enjoy every mouthful, and go ravenous.

From £75 per person, visit

The Berkeley, Knightsbridge

berkeley pret-a-portea aw22

The Berkeley launched its now legendary fashion-themed Prêt-à-Portea back in 2006, when most hotels in London drew the line at anything more outré than sandwiches and scones. Nowadays, the vogue is for quirky, themed afternoon teas, and The Berkeley did it first. Every six months, its menu of couture cakes changes to reflect the latest catwalk trends and designs. This season’s Prêt-à-Portea takes AW22 trends and key pieces and reimagines them into foodie fancies such as Christopher Kane’s memorable floral gown inspiring a velvety cheesecake set on vanilla crémeux and a crunchy sable base, and Black Forest flavours and rouge tones defining Ralph Lauren’s hero coat, created from layered Pain de Gênes sponge, sour cherry jelly, and vanilla Chantilly finished with a statement chocolate button. Enjoy these creative cakes with savoury canapés, sandwiches and, of course, plenty of tea.

From £80 per person, visit

The Dorchester, Hyde Park

the dorchester

Served in the hotel’s magnificent, newly-renovated Promenade Restaurant, afternoon tea at The Dorchester is about as traditional as they come and begins with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne, poured by an impeccably polite, tail-coated waiter. A bounty of crust-free sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream and tiers of almost-too-pretty-to-eat French pastries by pastry chef Michael Kwan follow, featuring pistachio and apricot Swiss roll and raspberry Bakewell tart. Fanciful fare is complemented by an extensive menu of teas, including The Dorchester’s unique house blend. From the service to the daintily decorated chocolate sponge, everything about this afternoon tea is flawless. The hotel also offers a children’s afternoon tea priced at £70 per head, featuring bite-size sandwiches, cupcakes and milkshakes.

From £95 per person, visit

Brown’s Hotel, Mayfair

browns mayfair

Brown’s claim to baking fame is that Queen Victoria loved to take tea there. Its afternoon tea offering remains as classic as anything Her Majesty would have expected, with cucumber, smoked salmon and prawn cocktail sandwiches followed by scones, strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. Pastries, too, err on the side of traditional with a vanilla mille-feuille, chocolate tart and pistachio opera cake all featuring. Pair with one of the hotel’s vast selections of core and seasonal loose leaf teas or treat yourself with a glass of Moet & Chandon Brut NV. Vegan and gluten-free options are also available.

From £75 per person, visit

Lyaness at Sea Containers London, Southbank


For those of you who feel alcohol is a key part of any good restaurant experience, this is the tea for you. Ryan ‘Mr. Lyan’ Chetiyawardana wanted his Spirited Tea to act as the quintessential pairing between the bar’s mastery of craft cocktails and its playful way with food. So there are cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, roast chicken and tarragon mayo treats, classic scones with blueberry lemon thyme jam, lemongrass meringue tart and caramelised banana and chocolate eclairs. Each course is paired with a bespoke cocktail: Rosebud (Infinite banana, galangal and ginger, Bacardi Carta Blanca and bubbles), Orchard Spritz (honey, apple reduction, Roku gin and soda) and Rock Melon Gimlet (Grey Goose vodka, melon, cacao and seeded vermouth).

From £55 per person, visit

Read more: The best restaurants in Kensington & Chelsea

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