One of Britain’s finest traditions, the art of taking tea provides ample opportunity to catch up with friends or family over fine blends, dainty finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and elegant viennoiserie in a refined setting.
Whether you feel like a classic afternoon tea at Claridge’s, The Berkeley’s fashion-inspired Prêt-à-Portea, or want to try newcomers such as the Liquid Afternoon Tea by GŎNG, we’ve taste-tested our way through the capital’s menus to bring you our essential afternoon tea guide.
London’s best afternoon teas
A tribute To Nature at The Chinoiserie – The Carlton Tower Jumeirah
1 Cadogan Place, Ground Floor, The Carlton Tower Jumeirah
The Carlton Tower Jumeirah is partnering with renowned pastry chef Jessica Préalpato for its new Afternoon Tea offering, inspired by Kew Gardens and its iconic verdure and floribunda. Recognised as the World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2019 and the Pastry Chef of the Year by Gault et Millau in 2020, Préalpato carefully designed a unique Afternoon Tea menu grounded in her original philosophy of Desseralité—a concept marrying Alain Ducasse’s principle of ‘naturalité’ (which focuses on preserving the natural flavours of ingredients) and her expertise in desserts. Disrupting the classic British Afternoon Tea tradition, Préalpato brings unexpected and innovative pairings to the table with her Kew Gardens-Inspired Afternoon Tea at The Carlton Tower Jumeirah.
Classic Afternoon Tea: £75
Champagne Afternoon Tea: from £85
The Rosebery at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
Taking tea at this Knightsbridge location is a suitably glamorous affair, and makes for the perfect post-shopping indulgence. Delicacies such as smoked and nori poached salmon sandwiches and Japanese chiffon rolls sit side by side with more traditional sandwiches and pastries, and are served with the finest selection of teas, courtesy of the in-house tea master. For something different, try the wine, sake or beer pairings. There are also gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan menus, as well as a separate children’s afternoon tea menu.
Afternoon tea: £58
The Harrods Tea Rooms
87-135 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge SW1X 7XL
Once a hotspot for tea dances in the 1920s and 1930s, The Georgian, as it was known then, today serves an elegant afternoon tea that includes classic choices and additional highlights such as lobster rolls. You can even add Oscietra caviar to your order, and how about a tea-based cocktail such as the Earl Grey Cooler? A wide range of teas are available too, of course, as recommended by the in-house tea tailor, as well as vegan and children’s menus – all to be enjoyed beneath a beautiful art deco skylight, with a live pianist adding to the atmosphere.
Afternoon tea: £59
Kids’ afternoon tea: £33
Brook Street, Mayfair W1K 4HR
For many of our members, the Foyer at Claridge’s is London’s most beautiful location for a classic afternoon tea. Surrounded by original art deco mirrors, with music from a grand piano drifting past, taking tea here almost feels like journeying back to a different era. The menu features traditional delicacies with a twist, such as an egg sandwich made with Clarence Court duck eggs and Earl Grey macarons. Choose from plain or raisin scones (Claridge’s stands firmly on the side of those who believe that the clotted cream should come before the jam), and pair with Claridge’s special house blend.
Traditional afternoon tea: £70
With a glass of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée Brut: £80
With a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé: £90
Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley
Wilton Place, Knightsbridge SW1X 7RL
Having delighted fashionistas for many seasons, London’s most famous ‘cakewalk’ is back with a vibrant spring/summer ’21 collection. Inspired by the runway’s most talked about pieces, the sweet creations are works of art – this season sees Anna Wintour’s signature bob and sunglasses turned into an intricately iced vanilla biscuit, and Donatella Versace’s ocean-themed cocktail dress reinterpreted as a coconut dacquoise and mango confit. Avid fashion followers will also recognise creations by Valentino, Isabel Marant and Halpern – all to be washed down with the finest tea selection.
Champagne Prêt-à-Portea: from £70
Liquid Afternoon Tea by GŎNG at Shangri-La The Shard, London
Shangri-La The Shard, 31 Saint Thomas Street, Southwark SE1 9QU
Western Europe’s highest hotel bar has launched a rival to the classic British tea experience with its Liquid Afternoon Tea – a food and miniature cocktail pairing featuring a tempting line-up of tea-inspired tipples, accompanied by a selection of sweet and savoury treats. And while traditional scones are available, you won’t find any traditional sandwiches here – as a nod to GŎNG’s Eastern heritage, the menu stars contemporary Asian snacks such as beef tataki nigiri and salmon sushi. Available from 12pm-4pm Thursday to Sunday, this is a great way to celebrate the weekend.
Liquid Afternoon Tea: £48
Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge SW1X 7TA
Served in Céleste, underneath the dining room’s beautiful domed glass roof, afternoon tea at The Lanesborough is always a special occasion. The latest instalment of the hotel’s innovative series of seasonal afternoon teas is called ‘It’s a Little Bit Mad’, an homage to Disney’s new film Cruella. Currently available until 4 August 2021, the black, red and gold-hued tea features treats such as Rebel Heart – a fragmented black heart with a white chocolate feuilletine base, yoghurt raspberry mousse and liquid hibiscus centre. If you prefer something more classic, from 5 August the menu will once again be created in partnership with revered bakery Peggy Porschen.
It’s a Little Bit Mad afternoon tea: £55
With a Scene Stealer cocktail: £72
With a glass of Champagne: £74
160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, Westminster W1J 9EB
While Chris Corbin and Jeremy King’s glamorous 1920s-style brasserie is usually a favourite for breakfast among our members, the afternoon tea offering proves to be equally mouth-watering. Take a seat at one of the sleek leather banquettes and choose from a cream tea, featuring fruit scones with home-made jam and clotted cream along with a choice of teas; classic afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, cakes, and fruit scones; or Champagne afternoon tea. Alternatively, pick and choose from individual sweet and savoury treats, including millefeuille, eclairs and macarons.
Cream tea: £12.75
Classic afternoon tea: £29.75
Champagne afternoon tea: £40
The Ivy Chelsea Garden
195-197 King’s Road, Chelsea SW3 5EQ
Meeting friends for tea in The Ivy’s verdant Orangery or manicured garden is a rather pleasant way to spend an afternoon on the King’s Road. If you can do without sandwiches, go for the simple cream tea with freshly baked fruit scones, Dorset clotted cream and strawberry preserve, plus a choice of teas, infusions or coffees. For the full experience, the summer garden afternoon tea ticks all the boxes – think savouries, such as smoked salmon on beetroot bread with cream cheese and chives, and sweets including pistachio nasturtium crème brûlée.
Cream tea: £8.95
Summer garden afternoon tea: £27.95
Champagne afternoon tea: £36.95
33 Albemarle Street, Mayfair W1S 4BP
If it’s good enough for the queen… Follow in the footsteps of Queen Victoria, who loved to take tea in The Drawing Room at Brown’s. Tea here is a classic British affair, with neatly crimped sandwiches (all the traditional varieties are present, including smoked salmon, salt beef with horseradish mayonnaise, prawn cocktail, and coronation chicken), dainty pastries and pillowy scones stuffed with fresh cream and jam, all served with a fine selection of teas and herbal infusions. Gluten-free and plant-based alternatives are available. For a special occasion, or simply to celebrate life, add a glass of Champagne.
Traditional afternoon tea: £55
Champagne afternoon tea: from £65
Why not round off your afternoon tea with a drink at one of London’s best rooftop bars? View our list here.