Whether you want classic, quirky, gluten-free, affordable or afternoon tea with a view, we have got you covered...
Birthdays, anniversarys or simply treat-yourself days are all best celebrated with tea and cake. The capital has some of the best afternoon teas in Britain, with hotel chefs getting innovative with ingredients and putting subtle twists on an old classic. Whatever you’re after, we’ve sought out the best afternoon tea in London.
The best afternoon tea with a view in London
Afternoon tea on the Thames with the Glass Room
Forget the towering skyscrapers of the City for an afternoon tea with a view. It’s all about being on the water and looking up at them as you cruise past. Jump on a Glass Room departure and you’ll get a glorious afternoon tea (you can pay extra for champagne) with views of the Houses of Parliament, London Eye and Tower Bridge. More information here.
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For gin girls: Conrad St James, St James’ Park
If gin is your thing, then head to the Conrad St James just opposite St James’s Park station. Not only will you get to enjoy a spectacular array of delicate sweets and delicious scones in the opulent interiors of this lovely hotel, but it all comes with a gin twist. Expect gin-cured salmon and sloe gin pickled cucumber for the savouries, then move onto the sweets and pair it with a flight of three different gin cocktails.
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Putting a new twist on the term G&T, each cocktail is made with gin and a special blend of tea, and to be matched with a specific dessert – the waiter will brief you on what to drink with each one. The cocktails are strong, so sip lightly and take your time, and the desserts do indeed taste as good as they look. See the full menu here, or stay overnight for an extra indulgent experience.
Spanish afternoon tea at COMO The Halkin, near Hyde Park
For something completely different, try a Spanish-themed afternoon tea at COMO The Halkin. There are no scones and three-tier cake stands to be seen here, but you’ll love the mini dessert platters of Catalan Creme and classic Spanish snacks like croquettes with crispy potato and pintxos.
It’s not the cheapest on this list, but it does come with a choice of a delicious gin cocktail, Spanish cava or French champagne – perfect for a special occasion, and best paired with a long walk in the park afterwards. Find more information here, or make a night of it and book into one of the hotel's gorgeous rooms here.
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Afternoon tea at St Ermin’s Hotel
If unlimited prosecco is what you’re after, you’ll get it at St Ermin’s. This stunning, upmarket hotel hosts afternoon tea up on its mezzanine floor, or on the outdoor balcony when the weather’s good. From the moment you’re seated, you’ll get a glass of bubbly and you’ve got 90-minutes to drink as much as you like – the staff are experts at refills.
The tea itself is lovely, with pretty china cups and a tall, three-tier stand filled with pastries and mini scones. The clincher here, though, is the kids’ afternoon tea. Garden themed, it’s set atop its own little picket-fenced lawn, and is made using produce grown on the St Ermin's rooftop garden and using honey from the hotel's urban bee colony on the third floor terrace. Find out more here, or book in for a night of sublime luxury here.
The best affordable afternoon tea
The Greenwich Fan Museum
Pay to enter the Greenwich Fan Museum (£5) – a genuinely delightful little space – and you’ll get access to The Orangery, a gorgeous area with lots of natural light and pretty murals. Then, for just £9 more you can indulge in a seriously affordable afternoon tea (most teas in London these days will set you back around £30-50 per person). There will be tea, scones, cream and either a lemon drizzle cake or salted caramel brownie. More information here.
The most quirky afternoon tea london
Afternoon cheese at Georgian House Hotel, Pimlico
This one’s for the cheese fiends – while it’s far from traditional, this cheese-centric afternoon tea is by far one of London’s finest. Set inside the gorgeous boutique Georgian House Hotel, the downstairs Pantry here serves a serious dairy feast. Expect cheesy hors d'oeuvres like Welsh rarebit and creamy burrata on toast, followed by cheese scones paired with even more of the salty, yellow stuff, plus a divine Deerview chutney from Sussex.
The dessert course isn’t too sweet, with the likes of ricotta in a creamy, fruity bite-sized cone and cheesecake in a shot glass. Pair it with the English wine and cider flight – with bubbles from Surrey and red from Sussex – and you’ll be winning. Great care has been taken to purchase all the cheeses and drinks here from British producers, so it’s perfect for anyone seeking a culinary tour of the UK. See the full menu here, and make a night of it by booking into one of their rooms here.
London Landmarks by Town House at The Kensington
See all of London on your plate at Town House this summer with their new landmarks afternoon tea. Expect a skyline of scones, sandwiches and sweets that celebrates London’s finest, most iconic buildings, from the London Eye (recreated as your cake stand) to chocolate replicas of The Gherkin and the clock face that hides Big Ben. More information here.
The best gluten free afternoon tea in London
Indigo at One Aldwych
This stunning hotel restaurant is reopening in spring 2019 to resume service on its gluten free menus. Serving up coeliac-friendly sandiwches, such as smoked salmon and betroot with almonds, plus warm gluten-free scones with plenty of jam and cream. See the full menu here.
Lottie is an NCTJ-trained journalist, an experienced travel writer and an expert in creating compelling digital content.
Lottie has been in the travel writing business for nearly a decade and has writing and photography bylines at The Telegraph, The Times, The Independent, the i and National Geographic Traveller. She's done broadcast work for BBC Radio 4 and have contributed to a number of guidebooks and coffee table titles during her career.
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