Afternoon Tea- one of life’s luxuries, and one of the best reasons to ever venture into our fair capital, am I right? Consisting of a tower of finger sandwiches, scones, mountains of jam and cream- along with some pretty cakes if you’re lucky- this funny little British tradition is one of my favourites (eating and drinking endless tea all afternoon can’t be too tasking, can it?) and one that I’ve been lucky enough to sample in a few different places too. So, seeing as I can’t personally offer every reader a sandwiched jam and clotted cream scone who reads this post, I can offer you a tip off of some of my favourite places to get them, and indulge in a special afternoon too!
Although this post mainly focusses on the ‘classics and greats’ of afternoon tea (my friend Carrie did another lovely guide with some smaller hideouts too), I’ll try and add to this whenever I can- so try and keep this bookmarked, as I’m constantly (hoping) to try more- so would love to keep this up to date with lots of lovely happenings! Where are your favourite places for afternoon tea?
Although renown for their amazing breakfasts, The Wolseley is one of the absolutely greats for afternoon tea in London. With the restaurant reminiscent of a party at Gatsby’s, with 1920’s art deco style interiors- curling up in one of their booths whilst whiling an afternoon away with sandwiches and tea is quite something- but be sure to book far in advance, this place is very popular for a reason!
160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB – £33.50 PP or £10.75 for Cream Tea
The W Hotel isn’t the first place I’d think of for afternoon tea, but after sampling it last weekend- I feel foolish having never been there before. Nestled in Leicester Square, the W offers afternoon tea with serious sparkle. Although the menu changes every few months (which definitely gives you a good reason to keep going back)- the current tea is their Fashion Power Tea, based on the exhibition currently on at the Design Museum. Inspired by Coco Chanel, Vivienne Westwood and Lady Gaga- everything down to the cakes (and cheeky gin cocktails) have been considered, making for a truly special tea. It’s only available until 26th April so get booking!
Leicester Square, 10 Wardour Street, London, England, W1D 6QF – £27.50 PP
Inspired by one of my favourite designers, Matthew Williamson, the afternoon tea at Balthazar is a step away from some of the more ‘typical’ hotel hideouts, but oozes a splash of New York cool (as anyone who has visited the restaurant can vouch for too). With each cake (including macarons), inspired by Williamson’s designs, the treats are undoubtedly a work of art in themselves, and truly give meaning to the phrase ‘too good to eat’. With cocktails on offer to boot, it’s the ultimate way to spend a truly Carrie Bradshaw afternoon.
4-6 Russell Street, London, WC2B 5HZ – £25 PP
If there’s one place in London I would happily eat breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner or even have cocktails- it would be Sketch. To be totally honest, I’d gladly even sit in there without food just to admire the amazing interiors, but don’t get me wrong, Sketch is far more than just some amazing egg shaped toilets. Without a doubt, Sketch is one of my top places for afternoon tea. Unlike most hotels or restaurants, there’s a really unique feel to the main pink parlour, and whether you’re dressed in a ball gown or jeans and a t-shirt- you’d indefinitely feel more than at home. As well as oozing a complete Wes Anderson movie vibe, the waiters and waitresses are militarily efficient, and the afternoon tea is simply delicious. With bottomless sandwiches, and the option to take anything leftover home in a gorgeous pink paper bag, it’s certainly the perfect afternoon tea package (just get there early so you can while away a whole afternoon)!
9 Conduit Street, London W1S 2XG< - £39 PP
Fortnum & Mason:
Whether your visiting the Tea Salon (perfect for the ultimate London afternoon tea experience), or the Parlour (which is more informal, but offers an incredible array of ice cream sundaes and scones too) Fortnum and Mason is the epitome of British tea tradition (they have a tea salon people)! Although the menu is certainly more expensive, they do offer a special dietary and children’s menu at slightly lower prices- but it indefinitely makes for the ultimate treat (and if you can’t quite stomach the £40- the Parlour still makes the perfect pit stop).
181 Piccadilly, London, W1A 1ER – £40 PP
I’m yet to meet someone that hasn’t instantly fallen for the charm of this iconic London department store (or Instagrammed it’s beautiful shop front florist), and more so their hidden cafe (tucked away on the 2nd floor). Although Café Liberty unfortunately don’t take reservations, this is the perfect place to make a post-shopping pit-stop for tea and cake, where, you can usually get a table pretty rapidly. The tea is certainly fantastic value, and although slightly more informal- offers an incredible selection of treats- presented to truly ‘gram worthy standards too (plus, who can resist a browse of the shop afterwards)?
Regent Street, London, W1B 5AH – £19.95 PP or £10.95 for Cream Tea
If you’ve ever wanted to ‘tumble down the rabbit hole’ in true Alice and Wonderland style (or at least taste what it’d be like)- afternoon tea at The Sanderson is pretty irresistible. After visiting as a birthday present from one of Joe’s gorgeous sisters last year, we were able to sit outside in the hotel courtyard (which was perfect for the summer weather), and sample some seriously magical delicacies, including marshmallow mushrooms, a ‘Drink Me’ potion as well as a ‘Jelly Wonderland’- which certainly made for a welcome twist on a classic treat.
50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG – £38.00 PP
If you’re after some truly quintessential British afternoon dining, then I can assure you don’t have to look any further than Thomas’s, in the beautiful Burberry flagship. Whether you’re after lobster, chicken, afternoon tea or alternative treats from the Aga (which include crumpets and toasted tea cakes)- there really isn’t anywhere better to sit and while away a couple of hours. On top of that, they’ve also opened an adorable stationary shop on the same floor, with personalisation available too- so if you’re feeling fancy after some scones, definitely pay that a visit too!
Burberry, 5 Vigo St, London W1B 4TB-
No. 11 Cadogan Gardens:
Tucked away around the back of Sloane Square lies the hidden gem that is No. 11 Cadogan Gardens, a rather regal London townhouse hotel, and host to one seriously delightful afternoon tea. At £22 pp, this tea is certainly a snip in comparison with some of its other London counterparts, but huddled away in one of the city’s most luxurious areas (and with it served in one of the most decadent lounges I’ve visited)- it’s certainly not lacking in quality! With everything from endless finger sandwiches, delicious scones and even a mini creme brûlée, it’s the perfect treat after some Christmas shopping on the Kings Road. Just don’t fall asleep in the arm chairs! ; )
11 Cadogan Gardens, London SW3 2RJ
And some other special places…
A rumoured favourite of a certain Royal Family, The Grosvenor near Victoria is one of the most special places I’ve ever been treated to tea (for my 18th birthday, here)- and it’s truly somewhere they treat you like a Princess. With pretty-much bottomless sandwiches and tea, and the most special setting (think beautiful sofas and stunning paintings on the wall)- it’s the closest I’ll probably get to being the next K Mids, but I’m pretty ok with that.
There’s something incredibly special about sitting down for tea whilst essentially being serenaded by a pianist, and that’s exactly what happens at The Savoy. Perched in the centre of the hotel, and underneath a stunning glass dome- The Savoy is another beautiful central London tea favourite. Saying that, at £50.00 per head, the menu is definitely one of the most pricey in London- plus, on experience, we weren’t able to take any leftovers away- so you do have to make the most of it! Perfect for a super special treat though.
If the thought of being able to eat the infamous Moschino ‘M’ bag, an Alexander McQueen ‘armadillo’ shoe and Charlotte Olympia boot all appeal to you- then you will fall head over heels (literally, hohoho) with the Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley. Every fashion lovers dream, each treat is inspired and designed to look like various iconic catwalk designs, season to season, including special glittered macarons too, which, to me, is an edible dream- you can see an old post on it here.
Cabbages and Kings:
Although completely out of London (in Kent in fact)- if you’re ever venturing into the Garden of England, Cabbages and Kings is one of my favourite weekend spots, both for brunch and afternoon tea (their coconut bread is my absolute numero uno)- and well worth popping in to (especially if you’re a sucker for home wares and gorgeous interiors). Plus, I believe they also double up as a B & B- so if you fancy a mini weekend getaway AND tea, here’s a pretty good bet!