Forget brunch, linner, and elevenses—while it has evolved considerably—the decadent 150-year-old British tradition of afternoon tea has stood the test of time as the classiest of in-between meals for a reason.
And when it comes to all things tea, London delivers tenfold. Whether you're looking to quench your thirst and scone-intake in grand cafes and London's finest hotels surrounded by chandeliers and china tea sets, in a tropical conservatory in East London's Barbican, or on a delightfully kitschy double-decker bus touring Covent Garden. These afternoon teas are the creme de la creme. Lift your pinky and take your pick.
Prosecco jelly, berry pavlova, CBD-infused chocolates, and gluten-free charcoal bread, Farmacy's Summer High Tea is abundant, lavish, and... plant-based. While it is definitely decadent and quirky, rest assured all food is free from dairy, refined sugars, additives, and chemicals.
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White tablecloths, gilded chandeliers, and lofty ceilings—this is one of London's most classic high teas for good reason. Let the resident pianist and harpists be the soundtrack to your decadent tiered sammies, scone, and sweet indulgences. If you're here during summer, sneak a drink or two outside post-tea at The Secret Garden Bar.
Open for a limited number of Sundays each month, the Barbican's conservatory is one of London's hidden treasures with over 2,000 species of tropical plants and trees. Every item on the afternoon tea menu features a fruit, flower, or herb grown in the urban oasis around you.
Yes, there are cakes, tarts, teas, and choux at Momo, but the afternoon tea menu at this "refined North African and Mediterranean" restaurant in central London also features labneh and Tunisian fricassee.
You've most likely seen the all-pink-everything space and the kaleidoscopic bathrooms that resemble a spaceship, flooding your Instagram feed. And the afternoon tea on offer is a delicious spectacle, too.
For a very "Shoreditch" afternoon tea, The Curtain's gilded, green-velvet-clad cocktail bar is the answer. Come here for classics with a twist, like G&T cucumber sandwiches and tea from Hackney Herbal, a local social outfit focusing on the health benefits of herbs (including the Curtain's own blend, a mix of spearmint, echinacea, sage, and licorice). Want to step things up? Order the Veuve Clicquot Rich teapot, a whole bottle of champagne, infused with a tea of your choice. And then make your way up to the rooftop for sundowners looking over London's achingly trendy neighborhood.
Overlooking Bloomsbury’s Russell Square and clad in thé-au-lait terracotta, this grand dame (formerly known as Principal London) was originally designed by Charles Fitzroy Doll in 1898. And its Palm Court makes afternoon tea center stage in the Winter Garden. But come here from June 7 onwards for the ‘Summer Rose Garden’ Afternoon Tea in partnership with Laurent-Perrier.
Belmond's first London property opened in this landmark 19th-century building this year after a four-year top-to-bottom renovation. Afternoon tea is served in Cadogan's with pots dressed in hand-knitted tea-cozies by chef Adam Handling's mom. If you're staying here make your way to Cadogan Place Gardens after, a proper English garden (members-only but open to hotel guests) shaded by mulberry and plane trees and featuring a pair of macadam tennis courts.
A secret garden hideaway in the middle of the buzzy Covent Garden, Petersham Nurseries' afternoon tea is served Thursday to Sunday from 3 p.m. until 4:30 p.m., and blooms take center stage here. Each tiered cake stand comes with a bouquet which you can buy and take home. This is one of London’s prettiest afternoon teas.
A traditional take on afternoon tea, a hop away from Shoreditch. Come to this ginormous Soho House outpost to sit in The Ned hotel's eye-catching brasserie.
The dessert king's first foray into afternoon tea is as lavish as expected. It goes from traditional fresh baked scones to butter-poached Canadian lobster rolls and Sevruga caviar with buckwheat blinis and crème fraîche. Ansel's afternoon tea is served each Thursday to Sunday from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. in the bakery’s beautiful covered garden terrace.
Imaginative, experimental, Victorian-costume-clad. Mr Fogg's whimsical Tipsy Tea is not your average formal scone and clotted cream festivities. "Spirited Teas" (the teas on offer here are largely champagne and gin-based) are served alongside sandwiches and cakes every Saturday and Sunday—with a large dose of quirk.
This red-bricked townhouse on Egerton Gardens always changes its afternoon tea offerings with what's on next door at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Currently, it's a culinary fashion experience inspired by Christian Dior's retrospective, Designer Of Dreams Exhibition.
The Instagram-favorite Bloomsbury restaurant has once again been transformed, this time into a tropical paradise adorned with the unique flora of Sri Lanka. And so the summer afternoon tea menu comes with a Sri Lankan twist. New additions include a Mango and Coriander Tart with pink peppercorn meringue; a Lychee and Coconut Cake with lime glaze; and a Pineapple and Red Chilli Terrine with red vein sorrel. There’ll also be plenty of Sri Lankan teas to try, of course.
The British traditional afternoon tea service that's been going for 150 years at this plush 19th-century hotel meets French flair as Parisian pâtissier Jérôme Chaucesse introduces his twist on pastries.
Boat or vintage bus? That's your afternoon tea-slash-tour transportation options with B's Bakery. Take in some of central London's best landmarks kicking off from Trafalgar Square while indulging in cakes, pastries, and tea. Vegan, gluten-free, and halal options are available, too.
This glamorous new-ish boutique hotel has embraced its heritage with a whimsical cheekiness—it's set in a former 1901 Baptist church. So the Saint & Sinner afternoon tea serving Religieuse Buns and Devilled Chicken Sandwich is spot on. Pick the Saint package to pair food with tea, or the Sinner option which comes with three cocktails.
Take the elevator up to level 31 of The Shard for a "Mary Poppins Afternoon Tea" that comes with pretty decent views of London and delicacies inspired by author P.L. Travers' tales. The kid's menu comes with an old-fashioned lemonade float served in a sundae glass at the end.