Best afternoon teas in London

We're compiling a list of our very favourite tea rooms in the capital, from classic experiences to innovative spreads. Help us out with your suggestions...

Where to go for afternoon tea in London: the low-down

The Goring

The Goring afternoon tea

At a glance...
Price: From £49 per person, £59 with a glass of Bollinger champagne
Best for: Sumptuous surroundings and attentive service
Star turn: A giant lemon macaron with curd and buttercream filling 
Contact details: The Goring, 15 Beeston Place, London SW1W 0JW 

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For anyone in search of a quintessentially traditional English afternoon tea, The Goring tops the list. Aside from the replenishable plates of fresh sandwiches, light scones and perfectly presented patisserie, the true standout feature is without a doubt the service. You won’t have to lift a finger in your opulent surroundings, not even to pour yourself a cup of The Goring’s very own blend. We certainly felt like ladies of leisure on our visit. The heavily draped lounge could easily feel oppressive, but there’s a relaxed atmosphere and a nice buzz without being intrusive.

Between sips of Earl Grey and chunks of bite-sized scones with dollops of homemade raspberry jam, take a moment to spot the sheep secreted in the room (the iconic symbol of The Goring). The crowning glory of the tea is undoubtedly the pastry plate – delicate macarons, squidgy cakes and light choux bites are on offer for hungry patrons. Save some space, as you’ll be wanting to replenish this selection to your heart’s content. 

 


Aqua Shard 

Shard afternoon tea

At a glance...
Price: From £45 per person, £55 with a glass of Hattingley Valley sparkling wine
Best for: Luxury tea with the best views over London
Star turn: A black pudding and sausage roll
Contact details: Aqua Shard at the Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London SE1 9RY

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High in the sky, where the scones are as fluffy as the clouds, one of the finest afternoon teas awaits on the 31st floor of London’s tallest building. Afternoon tea at The Shard is an experience you’re unlikely to forget. To start – if you ever manage to prise your eyes away from the jaw-dropping views – you’ll have eight different lovely tea blends to choose from. Opt for traditional English Breakfast or try some crisp Chinese Silver Tip, and rest assured your teacup will never go empty throughout. When it comes to food, you’ll be greeted by a slightly non-traditional sandwich selection: lobster in a sweet brioche, smoked salmon and cream cheese in a finger sandwich, a tasty goat's cheese and spinach tart, and the main event – their black pudding and sausage roll garnished with chutney.

Try not to fill up too quickly on the savoury selection, because the sweet treats are certainly worth waiting for. You’ll try a bit of everything, from their light strawberry mousse to their peanut butter parfait with popcorn, and the flavours are all beautifully balanced. As you finish everything off with two warm scones, you can go traditional with clotted cream and raspberry jam, or try some of their homemade toffee – a game-changer in scone toppings. No matter the weather, natural light fills the entire room, and you’re guaranteed to get a marvellous view over the capital from every seat. An exquisitely luxurious afternoon tea that will allow you to see London from a different point of view.

 


The Lanesborough

Lanesborough afternoon tea

At a glance...
Price: From £39 per person, £49 with a glass of champagne
Best for: A pre-theatre treat
Star turn: An American pecan pie with caramelised banana topping
Contact details: The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, London SW1X 7TA

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On our visit to this beautiful five-star hotel overlooking Hyde Park, the Lanesborough was making the most of its proximity to the Victoria Palace Theatre – where the smash hit musical Hamilton is currently playing – with an Alexander Hamilton-inspired afternoon tea. It's served in the hotel’s Michelin-star Celeste restaurant, and the stunning room with huge chandeliers, a domed glass roof and resident pianist all add to the elegant feel. There are 25 top-quality teas to choose from, with everything from Sri Lankan Ceylon to Chinese gunpowder. The sandwiches arrived first, a classic selection with smoked salmon & cream cheese, cucumber & mint, coronation chicken, egg & watercress and – our favourite – ham & aged cheddar on a delicious walnut bread. We were offered seconds, which we happily polished off, before the petit fours and warm scones with jam and cream arrived. The service was faultless, and everything was well spaced out, giving us time to digest.

Created by head pastry chef Gabriel Le Quang, the petit fours were a work of art, including an American pecan pie with caramelised banana, a lace cupcake infused with mango, banana and passion fruit (to reflect Alexander Hamilton’s Caribbean heritage) and a pink grapefruit religieuse (inspired by one of the Schuyler sisters, Angelica). The petit fours weren’t too sweet and the fruity flavours cut through the richness, making it easy to finish it all. Perfect for a pre-theatre visit, or as a lovely treat for a special occasion.

 


One Aldwych

Charlie afternoon tea

At a glance...
Price: From £45 per person, £56 with a glass of Lallier Grande Réserve champagne or a Cocktail Charlie
Best for: A whimsical treat for both big and little kids 
Star turn: A chocolate egg filled with vanilla cheesecake and passion fruit purée
Contact details: One Aldwych, 1 Aldwych, London WC2B 4BZ

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The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed afternoon tea at One Aldwych starts with a magical opener – a chocolate, whiskey & cherry cocktail, complete with dry ice smoke, poured from a glass teapot. There’s also a non-alcoholic version, so everyone can enjoy the drama. We opted for the chocolate tea (it seemed only right) which had a delicious cocoa aroma. Three finger sandwiches, a savoury scone served with bacon jam, and a warm quiche went down nicely alongside our drinks. The attentive staff offered to refill the savoury plate, but we were saving space for the main event. Scones arrived in baskets; they were OK, not as light and buttery as we were hoping for, but as a vehicle for the lemon curd, blackberry jam and clotted cream they were served with, they did the job.

Everyone around the room was busily snapping photos of their sweets display, and when ours arrived, we could see why. It’s a sweet tooth’s dream: rainbow layers of bubblegum-flavoured panna cotta, candy floss (guess the mystery flavour) and honeycomb cake pops take centre stage, but our favourite was a chocolate egg filled with vanilla cheesecake and passion fruit purée. A bottle of chocolate milk washes it all down. A special afternoon which kids will remember forever, or an excuse not to act your age – whatever your reason for visiting, it’s a sweet treat not to be missed. 

 


The Langham

The Langham afternoon tea

At a glance...
Price: From £55 per person, £74 with a glass of Perrier-Jouët champagne
Best for: Tourists
Star turns: Truffled duck egg brioche; smoked salmon rye cracker; yuzu chocolate log
Contact details: The Langham, 1c Portland Place, London W1B 1JA

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Just off Regent Street, the Langham has been serving afternoon tea since 1865. After our tea sommelier guided us through the menu, an amuse-bouche of silky panna cotta was served to cleanse our palates. Finger sandwiches were served from silver platters, and when we finally finished our seconds (and thirds) of sandwiches, warm scones were delivered and our pastry options explained in depth. The scones were perfectly crumbly and soft and the selection of pastries had the wow factor. Aside from the attention to detail and stunning design on each, the flavour was great. The yuzu chocolate log was really interesting and worked well; everything else was very classic, refined and executed perfectly.

 


Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour

Mr Fogg's

At a glance...
Price: From £45 per person with a gin teapot to share between two
Best for: Mad hatters and gin lovers
Star turns: Cherry Bakewell cocktail; chai tea & almond butter-infused gin
Contact details: Mr Fogg’s Gin Parlour, 1 New Row, London WC2N 4EA

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The aptly named ‘tipsy tea’ at Mr Fogg’s boasts an impressive list of pun-tastic champagne and gin cocktails, each infused with a specially selected tea. We ordered two varieties of teapot cocktails: the dry and delicate ‘Et chai, Brute?’ and the sweeter cherry Bakewell gin cocktail. There was certainly no skimping on the food portions. Our traditional sandwiches were filled to bursting and we were given dishes overflowing with jam and cream for our golden brown, raisin-filled scones. We particularly enjoyed the cream-filled brandy snaps and super squidgy brownies to finish off our afternoon tea. We weren’t left wanting for savoury pastries or sweet jellies and struggled to finish our top tier. Overall, this boozy, cocktail-filled tea was a relaxed, very enjoyable experience. Make sure to book in advance as the parlour is a snug fit, with limited space available for walk-ins.

 


Oxo Tower

At a glance...
Price: From £22 per person including a bespoke cocktail, £33 with a bespoke cocktail and a glass of champagne
Best for: Booze lovers
Star turns: Portobello Road gin & rhubarb cocktail; rum and raisin pudding
Contact details: Oxo Tower, Barge House Street, London SE1 9PH

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If you’re looking for something to finish off an afternoon stroll on the South Bank or to perk you up post-lunch, the Oxo Tower’s ‘not afternoon tea’ menu is for you. A plate of four desserts and a flavour-paired cocktail from one of four sweet menus are on offer, with views of St Paul’s and the Thames served on the side. We highly recommend the rhubarb menu, which comes with a variety of crunchy meringue, punchy ginger and creamy cheesecake accompaniments.

 


Flemings

Flemings

At a glance...
Price: From £34.50 per person, £48 with a glass of Devaux champagne
Best for: Treating mum or catching up with friends
Star turns: Bottomless Bombay chai tea; Black Forest choux buns; strawberry macaron tree
Contact details: Flemings Hotel, 7-12 Half Moon Street
, 
London W1J 7BH

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Flemings is the quintessential afternoon tea for the modern traditionalist. The tea selection itself was explained to us by attentive staff, who were as knowledgeable as any sommelier worth their salt. Classic sandwich fillings including ham & mustard and egg mayonnaise were held in neat fingers of soft white and nutty wholemeal bread, and two dainty, warm scones came with large portions of strawberry jam and thick clotted cream. The generous offering of four cakes per person was visually striking. We started with the Black Forest choux buns, followed by chocolate and coffee gateau opera. Sated, we admitted defeat and asked for a doggy bag for the chocolate orange sphere and strawberry macaron tower. Generous staff, to-die-for patisserie and supremely scoffable sarnies in an intimate and stylish setting – Flemings gets big ticks all round.
 


The Lancaster

The Lancaster afternoon tea

At a glance...
Price: From £35 per person, £45 with a glass of Moët & Chandon champagne
Best for: A couple’s day out
Star turns: Signature chocolate & honey lollipops; lemon macarons; raisin scones with homemade strawberry jam
Contact details: The Lancaster Hotel, Lancaster Terrace, London W2 2TY

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If you’re looking for a traditional afternoon tea in luxe surroundings with unexpected homemade goodies thrown in, The Lancaster Hotel is for you. Each pot of tea comes with an infusion card to keep track of optimum brewing times. The selection of sandwiches ticked all the classic boxes, and we were presented with a separate plate of sandwiches for our vegetarian guest, including more adventurous alternatives such as piquillo red pepper and hummus to accompany the traditional cucumber and cream cheese. Accompanying the sandwiches were delectable warm tarts with caramelised red onion and goat’s cheese. Almond, plain and fruited scones, hot from the kitchen, were the highlight and came accompanied by homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream. We were big fans of the chocolate truffle lollipops with honey centres – especially as the honey was made from beehives on the roof of the hotel itself.

 


The Savoy

The Savoy

At a glance...
Price: From £60 per person, £70 with a glass of Louis Roederer champagne (champagne pairings also available for an extra charge)
Best for: Traditional grandeur in a world-famous setting
Star turns: Strawberry and vanilla cream macaron; chocolate, passion fruit & mango éclair; lemon meringue & white chocolate domes
Contact details: The Savoy, The Strand, London WC2R 0EU

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When it comes to timeless elegance, the Savoy knows how to do it right. The selection of teas on offer in the glass-domed Thames Foyer is vast; we opted for the Savoy blend, which was pleasantly bitter and smoky. Classic sandwich fillings, including ham & mustard, egg mayonnaise and coronation chicken, are served in fresh, soft bread, and are replenishable – but there’s lots more food to come! The oven-fresh scones were exceptional, and the buttery, sharp lemon curd served alongside was exquisite. The third course was a selection of French patisserie served tableside on a silver platter. You’re welcomed to try one or all five of the selection, which of course we did. The final course was a wedge of Thames Foyer signature cake – flourless chocolate or Victoria sponge. If you manage this, on top of the previous three courses, I salute you. To say this tea is generous is an exaggeration, but I can think of no better way to while away an afternoon.

 


Fortnum & Mason

Fortnums

At a glance...
Price: From £44 to £50 per person, depending on tea selection 
Best for: Traditionalists and lovers of classic, charming service 
Star turns: Lobster scone with brandy cream cheese & caviar; brown crab muffin; coconut & passion fruit macaron
Contact details: Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1A 1ER

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The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason has to be one of the top locations for a classic afternoon tea. Service is seamless without being stuffy, and we found the waiting staff charming, relaxed and exceptionally well informed – with 92 teas on offer, they need to know their stuff. The sweet patisserie treats are an art form in their own right, and the lobster scone with cream cheese and caviar topping makes the savoury selection a must-try, especially if you're sharing. Fortnum & Mason is a classic afternoon tea experience, although what's on offer is subtly inventive. The care that goes into every aspect of the creation and presentation of the dishes, as well as the knowledge and charm of the staff, make this a truly special experience. 

 


The Rosebery Lounge

Festive afternoon tea

At a glance...
Price: From £53 for a seasonal offering to £84 for a sake afternoon tea
Best for: Special occasions and dessert gourmands
Star turn: Eggs mixed with black truffle and crab & crayfish in lemon bread sandwiches 
Contact details: The Rosebery Lounge at Mandarin Oriental, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA

If you want to feel like you’ve stepped into movie-land London, a trip to Knightsbridge and the acclaimed Mandarin Oriental is one for your bucket list. The Rosebery Lounge is accessed by ascending the hotel’s grand staircase into awaiting luxury, where the service is super-sleek yet never stuffy. On our visit in December, we warmed ourselves in front of an open fire and chose the festive afternoon tea, although we were more than tempted by other evergreen offerings of sake, beer and the classic afternoon feasts. Our first bites came from six mini sandwiches, and as soon as we started eating we realised why the portions were controlled. Delectable fillings (egg and black truffle, lemon bread with Portland crab and short rib beef among our favourites) were small but mighty, with rich, satisfying and complex flavours.

Round two’s tiered tower was hung from a beautifully designed metal tree stand, from which we could peck at Paul Thieblemont’s perfect pastry creations like greedy birds. We managed to sample everything, from the chocolate delicacies and cakes with a festive spin (Santa’s hat, caramel & chocolate log, festive Battenberg) to the light and fluffy scones complete with homemade lemon curd and rose petal jelly. Completed by the fizz of pink champagne and cups of smooth green tea – never empty, thanks to attentive yet never invasive service – this was an afternoon to remember.
 


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What's your favourite afternoon tea in London? Leave a comment below...

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