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The 17 of the Best Afternoon Tea in London from classic afternoon tea Fortnum & Mason Afternoon to the Instagrammable afternoon tea at Sketch this list has the best London afternoon tea
Afternoon tea is a much-loved British tradition that’s gained a lot of popularity around the world. After all, who can refuse a fourth meal that’s composed of so much delicious cake?
Afternoon tea was the brainchild of the Duchess of Bedford. This 19th-century aristocratic lady found that the gap between lunch and dinner was just too long.
So, she started requesting finger sandwiches, cakes and tea at 16:00 every day. The idea quickly caught on, lasting all the way to the 21st century.
Fancy a unique afternoon tea experience?
This afternoon tea bus tour is the perfect solution for budget-minded travellers looking to experience London’s best sights. You’ll enjoy a delicious afternoon tea spread as you take in all the major landmarks from on board a classic double-decker bus. Plus, you’ll get a complimentary glass of Prosecco!
Today, afternoon tea is an indulgent treat that’s enjoyed by locals and visitors to the capital alike.
Many of the loveliest hotels and restaurants, as well as famous London landmarks, offer the teatime meal so you’re spoiled for choice.
You could keep things traditional at iconic venues like Fortnum & Mason or you could enjoy a modern twist with everything from churros to olive tapenade sandwiches on offer. When it comes to the best afternoon tea in London, there’s something for everyone.
Best Afternoon Tea in London | Fabulous Traditional London Afternoon Teas
There’s no better place to try afternoon tea than Britain’s capital. See what all the fuss is about with these excellent afternoon teas in London.
Fortnum & Mason Afternoon Tea
One of the best afternoon teas in London has to be found at Fortnum & Mason. The 18th-century department store boasts a dedicated venue for everyone’s favourite afternoon snacks.
The venue is the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon that overlooks Piccadilly and is one of the more comfortable venues you’ll find.
Fortnum & Mason has over 100 rare teas from across the globe. You could, however, also take a quick 15-minute workshop and blend your own. There’s a choice between the Classic Afternoon Tea (savoury and sweet) and the Savoury Afternoon Tea.
If this is your first time having afternoon tea, I would suggesting sticking to the classic afternoon tea here.
As if you needed any more drawcards, the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon has the special privilege of having been opened by Queen Elizabeth II. She wasn’t the only royal visitor either — she was accompanied by the Duchesses of Cornwall and Cambridge.
● Location: Piccadilly
● Cost: £80 per person
Peggy Porschen Afternoon Tea
Peggy Porschen has to be London’s most photogenic cafe but it has more than just a pretty pink facade.
Its partnership with The Lanesborough means that you get its delicious afternoon tea creations and the stunning glass-ceiling setting of this Knightsbridge hotel.
The savoury flavours are the usual teatime favourites: watercress, cream cheese, dill and salmon finger sandwiches.
The highlight is the pastel-hued sweet stuff. Look forward to pink pavlova, lemon and elderflower tartlets, strawberry and champagne cupcakes, and a delectable lemon, raspberry and rose cake. It’s best served with champagne.
With a piano playing in the background and flowers all over the table (and the food), this is one high tea in London that you won’t forget soon.
● Location: Knightsbridge
● Cost: £54-£75 per person
Cream Tea at Harrods
Fancy a lighter version of afternoon tea? You don’t need to look further than Harrods’ cream tea.
Harrods has been serving afternoon tea since 1896 so it’s no surprise that they’ve got this down to, well, perfection.
Choose between plain or sultana scones and dollop on some clotted cream and one of Harrods’ homemade preserves. The tea selection is more limited than some of the other establishments, with only nine varieties. Then again, you won’t go far wrong with a strong cup of earl grey.
The usual fourth-floor tea room is currently closed but the new venues are equally enchanting.
The ground-floor tea-room is full of elegant luxury. Plus, there’s the new Hans Road Terrace for an al-fresco dining experience.
● Location: Knightsbridge
● Cost: £20 per person
Richoux Afternoon Tea
Richoux’s offering is certainly amongst the top 10 afternoon teas in London. The elegant venue serves up a traditional English tea that will have you coming back for more.
On the savoury side, the finger sandwiches have fillings of egg mayonnaise, chicken, salmon and cucumber.
Alongside them, you’ll find clotted cream and jam on baby scones. You’ll also enjoy fruit cake and your choice from a selection of pastries. There’s an assortment of black, green and fruit teas to sample.
Richoux serves its tea in an orange setting with intricate wall art and comfy furniture. The crockery may be plain white stone but the atmosphere is warm and cosy.
● Location: Piccadilly
● Cost: £19.50 for one person; £36.50 for two persons
Quirky Places for Afternoon Tea in London
Ready to put a twist on Britain’s most indulgent tradition? Contemporary establishments are doing just that with some of the best high teas in London.
With influences from France and Saudi Arabia inspiring modern chefs, London’s cosmopolitan atmosphere can now be tasted at teatime.
The Knot Churros – Sweet Churros Afternoon Tea
You won’t find a quirkier high tea in London than this one. Forget scones, finger sandwiches and fine bone china — The Knot’s offering throws all that out of the window. Instead, you can look forward to cotton candy and slushes!
The afternoon tea menu is inspired by Dumbo and has all the associated whimsy you would imagine.
The establishment’s specialty, churros, occupies pride of place on the tea menu. There’s an indulgent choice of Belgian chocolate dips and sprinkles to brighten your (probably rainy) afternoon.
Also available are bagels, which bring a thoroughly modern feel to high tea. Cream cheese and salmon, chilli tuna or Caprese…they’re all scrumptious. For the sweet tooths, there are cotton candy and ice cream.
And you’re not only limited to tea; you could also go for a latte or even a slush…Never has a tagline, “Don’t fly, SOAR”, rang as true!
● Location: Kensington
● Cost: £30 for one person/£90 for two persons
Sketch Afternoon Tea
If you’re a pretty in pink kinda person, you’ll love Sketch’s afternoon tea. With such yummy decor and an even yummier menu, their teatime offering gets the thumbs-up in all departments.
This to date has been one of my best afternoon tea experience. This place is not just an Instagram hype, I would do their afternoon tea again in a heartbeat.
Sketch has three Michelin stars, so you know you’re in good hands. The award-winning chef bakes peach ruby cheesecake and Guanaja chocolate eclair, alongside the classic Victoria sponge and scones. Try the Earl Grey jam.
Tea aficionados will probably find Sketch to be London’s best afternoon tea venue since it offers unlimited cups included in the price. The tea’s brought round by a tea master who expertly guides you to that perfect cuppa.
Tea is served in the stunning Sketch Gallery which itself is a work of art by renowned artist David Shrigley and India Mahdavi. The retro salon displays 239 original artworks.
● Location: Mayfair
● Cost: standard afternoon tea at £85 per person; seasonal afternoon tea at £95 per person
Mariage Frères Afternoon Tea
Mariage Frères is France’s oldest tea house and the world’s most exclusive stockist of luxury teas.
Luckily, it’s made a home for itself in Covent Garden where it boasts 1000 varieties of tea — the world’s largest tea collection! No surprises then that Mariage Frères is among the best places for tea in London.
The teas come from 36 different countries, so you’ll probably want more than just a cup. As if that’s not enough, you can also sample the establishment’s unique tea cocktails.
White rum infused with black tea, red hibiscus, liquorice and lychee, anyone? Why not add a gold-leaf covered cake flavoured with Marco Polo tea? Mmm!
There’s a lot to love about the decor at Mariage Frères, too. The five-storey Georgian townhouse displays the 1000 tea varieties in apothecary-style shelving.
You may also want to pop into the museum to admire wonderful antiques from the world of tea trading.
● Location: Covent Garden
● Cost: around £50 per person
Bafarat Cafe Afternoon Tea
Bafarat Cafe, part of a Saudi family business, brings a welcome pop of colour and spice to teatime in London. It’s a thoroughly modern take on afternoon tea that nevertheless retains the decadence we’ve all come to expect from this meal.
The presentation is outstanding. No cake stands for Bafarat; you’ll get pistachio eclairs and chocolate macarons balanced on a chocolate tree branch! Passionfruit cheesecake and coffee cake are some other delicious flavours.
The savoury pieces won’t disappoint either. Bafarat serves the millennial staple of avocado toast along with lobster rolls. And why limit yourself to tea? Try their lattes and eponymous coffee blends.
Bafarat Cafe is a minimalist take on Art Deco with just enough velvet seating to give you a taste of luxury. Considering all this, it’s great value for money.
● Location: Soho
● Cost: £25 per person
Brigit’s Bakery Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea with a French twist is what you’ll get at Brigit’s Bakery. The beloved cafe has a decadent offering for patrons at its Covent Garden location.
The menu is the same one you’ll find on Brigit’s Bakery London Vintage Bus Tour. Scones and petit gateaux mingle with pretzels and mini burgers.
Everything is freshly prepared, and the serving is very generous. You can also drink as much tea as you like, included in the price.
Brigit’s Bakery is a small but spacious venue with lush plants along the walls. The floral theme continues on the china and the splashes of bright pink add a contemporary feel. It’s a quaint, yet relaxed venue that’s perfect for catch-ups with friends.
● Location: Covent Garden
● Cost: £39-75 per person
PAUL Afternoon Tea
For a bit of French style, head to Le Restaurant de PAUL for your London afternoon tea. PAUL is a well-known, fifth-generation family baking company that’s increasingly taking the world by storm.
London’s no exception. The Covent Garden brasserie’s tea offering comes with some welcome French flair.
The finger sandwiches are made with artisanal bread and Mediterranean ingredients, such as tomatoes and olive tapenade.
The sweet options don’t disappoint, either. Millefeuille, strawberry tartlets and craqant (mousse and praline chocolate cake) are all on the menu.
Alternatively (more like additionally), there are mini macarons and, in place of the conventional British scone, a delicious almond brioche.
PAUL’s venue for afternoon tea is more muted than many of the other options I’ve visited. There’s no pink and no florals; instead, you get a minimalist, neutral retreat from the hustle and bustle where the pastel confectionaries are the true stars.
● Location: Covent Garden
● Cost: £19.95 per person
The Best Afternoon Teas in London While on the Move
Venue is a big drawcard when it comes to choosing where to take your tea. But what if you could have your cuppa while moving between some of London’s most iconic landmarks? These afternoon teas do just that, taking the institution to a whole new level.
Golden Tours Afternoon Tea Bus
See London the relaxed way with a trip on the English Way Tea Bus. From its design to its menu, this double-decker bus is full of English charm.
It may sound like a messy affair but, thanks to fixed tables and chairs, it’s the ideal scenic London afternoon tea.
The bus drives through central London for 90 minutes, taking in some of the capital’s most iconic points of interest.
Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London are some of the highlights you can ogle while biting into a scone or two.
On the menu is the traditional mix of sweet and savoury delights. There’s a slight twist on the savoury with salmon, cream cheese and egg mayonnaise served on either finger sandwiches or wraps. Red velvet cake and hazelnut choux are served alongside scones.
● Location: departs from Waterloo
● Cost: £45 on the lower deck; £55 on the top deck
Afternoon Tea on the London Vintage Bus Tour
A somewhat more stylish affair than its mobile competitors, the Vintage Bus offers an outstanding tea in London. It’s the product of Brigit’s Bakery, the trendy Covent Garden establishment.
The 90-minute drive through central London offers views of Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Downing Street and other iconic landmarks. With only ten tables available, it’s an intimate setting.
The decor’s chic with houndstooth seating banks, floral china and vibrant pink accessories.
Alongside the usual finger sandwiches, you can also enjoy a pastrami burger and a salmon pretzel. Sweet teeth will be happy with the lemon meringue tarts, red choux and delicately piped cupcakes.
The standard array of teas is on offer in pretty to-go cups, as is a glass of champagne (at an extra cost). There are also fun themes on offer, such as the current Peppa Pig Afternoon Tea which is, unsurprisingly, a hit with kids.
● Location: departs from Victoria Coach Station or Trafalgar Square
● Cost: £45 per person
Bustronome Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
With a glass ceiling and fresh dishes prepared on board, Bustronome’s offering is probably the best London afternoon tea that combines elegance and quality with convenience.
Tuck into finger sandwich fillings like mushroom and cheese, mustard and cecina, and egg Florentine. Then there’s lemon meringue pie, mini madeleines and mini cake slices. Fresh strawberries and macarons round off the meal.
Don’t worry about things flying everywhere: there are magnets on the items and table to make sure your tea is as accident-free as possible.
Bustronome’s use of technology really enriches the experience. As you pass London’s iconic landmarks, you can use the audio pens to touch to the place on the map so that you can learn a few cool facts about it.
● Location: departs from Victoria Embankment
● Cost: £60 per person
Afternoon Tea Cruise on the River Thames
The River Thames is London’s historical lifeline. It’s best experienced with a trip on the water so you might as well throw in a delicious afternoon tea.
City Cruises is one of the companies offering this super fun experience. This is probably the best London afternoon tea to have while on the go.
The menu is the conventional trio of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. What’s more, you get to drink as many cups of tea and coffee as you like (perfect for those chilly London days).
The decor is fairly plain but that’s to be expected when the view out is so beautiful. The cruise lasts an hour and a half, during which time you’ll get fantastic views of sights like the London Eye, the Tower of London and the Houses of Parliament.
● Location: departs from Tower Pier
● Cost: £34 per person
Best Afternoon Teas at London Landmarks
There are so many incredible things to do in the British capital that you may find yourself under pressure to fit that fourth meal in your itinerary.
No need to worry. Some London landmarks are also moonlighting as tearooms where you can refresh your energy with a scrumptious afternoon tea.
Westminster Abbey Afternoon Tea
Once you’ve wandered around Westminster’s impressive monuments, it’s surely time for tea! Head on down to Westminster Abbey’s cellar where you’ll find Cellarium Cafe & Terrace and their delightful afternoon tea.
Cellarium doesn’t have the grandeur of Fortnum & Mason but its traditional trio of scones, cake and finger sandwiches is top-notch.
Alongside the usual fillings, you can try your finger sandwiches with duck roule and chive butter. Sweet tooths will appreciate the giant scones.
The cafe is a converted Benedictine monks’ food and drinks storeroom. There are two storeys. Downstairs, you can sit in converted pews under vaulted ceilings. Upstairs, it’s white cafe chairs and stunning modern architecture.
The glass and wood structure reveals exposed brick walls and a breathtaking view of Westminster Abbey’s turrets. There’s also some outdoor seating for warmer days.
● Location: Westminster
● Cost: £26-£32
The Royal Opera House Afternoon Tea
The Royal Opera House is one of London’s most beautiful cultural institutions. Why not start the fun before the show and sit down to afternoon tea at the venue?
In keeping with its location, the Royal Opera House’s eateries often design their afternoon tea offerings around whatever is on stage at the time. Past themes have included Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake.
So, you could enjoy swan macarons and A Sloe Kiss cocktails while admiring the display of costumes from previous performances.
The tea selection is limited but all teas are from Hope&Glory, a British company that specialises in sourcing ethically grown teas.
The menu changes but past dishes have included seared tuna, Nicoise salad and salmon on rye. Macarons and fruit tarts are also staples.
Tea is served either on the Piazza Terrace, which has lovely views of Covent Garden, beneath the glass ceiling of the Paul Hamlyn Hall or in the modern Piazza Restaurant.
● Location: Covent Garden
● Cost: £40
Afternoon Tea at the British Museum
The British Museum remains high up on many tourists’ itineraries and visits can easily last hours.
Take a break between galleries or reward yourself on your way out with a well-deserved stop at the Great Court Restaurant. Here, you can experience a lovely afternoon tea in London.
Finger sandwich fillings include Wiltshire ham and farmhouse chutney, as well as the conventional Coronation chicken.
Amongst the sweet baked goods, you’ll find a Yorkshire rhubarb and orange cake, and a pea and lemon loaf.
When you’re studying Egypt’s Rosetta Stone or ogling Greece’s Parthenon Marbles, it’s easy to forget that the museum itself is a work of art.
You can appreciate this architectural marvel over afternoon tea since the restaurant is right under the picturesque glass ceiling.
● Location: Bloomsbury
● Cost: £30 person
Final Thoughts on Best Places for Afternoon Tea in London
Afternoon tea in London has come a long way since the Duchess of Bedford first came up with the idea. It’s evolved alongside the capital to be a tradition that’s just as vibrant as London itself.
It’s up to you whether you dress up for the traditional teatime fare or go for a bit of colour at the capital’s trendiest eateries. But you can’t stay in the British capital without having a taste of afternoon tea.
And with some of London’s landmarks offering the meal, there’s no excuse not to try it.
Whether you’re a sweet tooth or a savoury kind of person, you’ll find plenty to love on the plate at tea-time.
Just make sure you’ve got some wiggle room in your trousers because I can guarantee you’ll find it hard to stop eating during any of the best afternoon teas in London!