10 of the best places for afternoon tea in London
There’s nothing as quintessentially English as afternoon tea: crustless sandwiches, jam and scones, tiny cakes, and, of course, a good dose of loose-leaf tea. And nowhere does it better than London.
Whether you’re looking for a formal, classic, quirky or boozy affair, there’s an afternoon tea in the English capital to suit all tastes and moods.
With so many great options available, it’s hard to narrow it down, but we’ve ‘chai’d’ our best. Get it? Here are our top ten tasty picks for the best afternoon tea in London:
1. Fortnum & Mason – The classic option
One of London’s most famous destinations for afternoon tea, Fortnum & Mason has been serving the good stuff since 1926. And it’s still going strong.
High Afternoon Tea takes place in the elegant Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon that was opened by the Queen in 2012. And it really is fit for royalty. Served on stunning fine bone china, there are dainty cucumber finger sandwiches, warm fruit scones, Fortnum & Mason’s famous lemon curd, and loose-leaf speciality teas.
There’s a separate children’s menu, complete with jam-filled biscuits and strawberry swirl jelly. They also have separate gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan menus. Basically, they’ve thought of everything and there’s something for everyone.
4th Floor, Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, St. James’s
2. The Chesterfield Mayfair – The child-friendly option
Sweetshop visits are a rite of passage for schoolchildren. We’ve all been there with a shiny coin and emerged with armfuls of liquorice torpedoes, cola bottles and pink shrimps.
Take a trip down memory lane at The Chesterfield Mayfair’s Original Sweet Shop Afternoon Tea. Inspired by childhood confectionery favourites, it kicks off with homemade pink lemonade floating in dry ice and decorated with flying saucers. This is followed by finger sandwiches filled with the likes of Scottish smoked salmon and horseradish cream cheese on beetroot bread.
Then it’s the main event. Relive your childhood with cola slices, cherry bonbon cupcakes, peanut buttercup pastries, lemon cheesecake, and rhubarb and custard macaroons. Thirsty? Order a cup of fruit salad candy tea.
It goes without saying that this place is a haven for kids. The children’s afternoon tea menu consists of a selection of cakes, sandwiches, biscuits and scones, washed down with a milkshake or tea.
35 Charles Street, Mayfair
3. Brigit’s Bakery Bus Tour – The rainy-day option
Let’s face it: If you’re in the UK, it’s likely to rain. But just because the weather is bleak doesn’t mean you have to sit in the hotel room. Climb aboard an iconic 1960s Routemaster bus for some sightseeing and delicious treats on Brigit’s Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour.
Setting off from Victoria Coach Station or Northumberland Avenue depending on the time of the tour, the bus passes major landmarks including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Marble Arch and Piccadilly Circus. There’s an audio tour for history buffs but you might get distracted by the food…
The savoury muffins, finger sandwiches and scones are fantastic, and the caramel, mango and cream tart is out of this world. A delicious way to spend a rainy afternoon and enjoy an afternoon tea in London.
Victoria Coach Station or 8 Northumberland Avenue (off Trafalgar Square)
Tip: If this taste-filled touristic combo floats your boat, then you might like to try an Afternoon Tea River Thames Cruise too.
4. Hush – The secret option
Exhausted after a hard day’s shopping in the West End? Take the weight off your feet at Hush. Tucked away in a hidden courtyard in Mayfair, it’s a fab spot to chill out with a Gin & Jam Afternoon Tea.
On the menu are finger sandwiches, warm scones, and sweet treats, including raspberry ripple lollipops and passion fruit Jaffa cakes. And of course, gin.
Put the G in your T(ea) with a refreshing cocktail. We recommend the Primrose Hill: a combination of Hush’s own distilled gin, pineapple juice, ginger beer and rhubarb jam, and it works a treat. You’ll be ready to hit the streets again in no time.
The Brasserie at Hush, 8 Lancashire Court
5. Farmacy – The vegan option
Farmacy is a hip vegan restaurant in Notting Hill that prides itself on its approach to ‘clean indulgence.’ And afternoon tea in London doesn’t get more ‘cleanly’ indulgent than this.
Everything on the Farmacy High Tea menu is plant based and chosen for its healing properties. The summer menu includes open sandwiches served on gluten-free charcoal bread, mushroom and spinach quiche, prosecco jelly and berry pavlova.
All food is free from dairy, refined sugars, additives and chemicals. But it’s absolutely not short on taste. Give it a whirl.
74 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill
6. Rosewood London – The arty option
Art lover? Experience Vincent Van Gogh in a whole new way at Rosewood London hotel, with their Art Afternoon Tea. Inspired by the works of Van Gogh, the tea kicks off with a selection of finger sandwiches, scones, and a yellow spring vegetable tart in tribute to the artist’s favourite colour.
But the stars of the show are the Van Gogh inspired desserts created by executive pastry chef Mark Perkins. Our favourite is ‘Sunflowers’, which takes the form of a lemon and olive oil cake, made with citrus pine cremeux and Jivara chocolate mousse. A green and white chocolate glaze represents the vase, and a chocolate sunflower sits on top. It’s almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
252 High Holborn, London
7. Oblix – The romantic option
Looking to impress your other half? Whizz them up to the 32nd floor of The Shard for an afternoon tea at Oblix. The panoramic views of London alone are enough to stop them in their tracks. But the food is just as amazing.
It’s all about local produce here. The chai spice comes from Brick Lane Market, the Angus beef from a butcher in Lambeth and everything else from other London boroughs.
Our top picks? The duck egg and truffle mayonnaise sandwiches and the chocolate and passion fruit tart. Exquisite.
Level 32, The Shard, 31 St. Thomas Street
8. The OXO Tower – The sociable option
For city views, it’s hard to beat the OXO Tower. Located on the south bank of the Thames, the iconic building overlooks St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tate Modern, and the London Eye.
At this typical afternoon tea in London, expect mini versions of British classics like Yorkshire puddings filled with braised beef and horseradish cream, and Dorset crab choux buns.
Fancy something a little different? Choose their Not Afternoon Tea and enjoy four indulgent desserts and a cocktail or glass of bubbly. It’s a great way to while away a Saturday afternoon with friends. And it’s good value too.
To find out what else you can do in London without breaking the bank, check out our top things to see and do in London on a budget.
Barge House St, South Bank
9. The Kensington Hotel – The quirky option
For a real taste of London, head to The Kensington Hotel and enjoy a London Landmarks Afternoon Tea. Inspired by the capital’s iconic buildings, there’s a white and dark chocolate ganache Gherkin, a red telephone box crafted out of rhubarb mousse, and a carrot cake Shard.
There are some classic savoury treats too: steak and ale pie, Colston Bassett Stilton and broccoli quiche, and coronation chicken sandwiches, to name a few.
Everything is served on a London Eye-inspired cake stand, and you’ll get a gorgeous illustrated map of London to take home.
Reward tip: If you want to see the landmarks for real, take a look at the tours and activities offered via GetYourGuide, and you can earn 5% CashPoints on every reservation.
109-113 Queen’s Gate, South Kensington
10. One Aldwych Hotel – The chocolate-lover’s option
If you’ve got a sweet tooth, One Aldwych’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea is for you.
Enter a world of pure imagination and chomp on freshly-baked scones with snozzberry jam and cream, Loompaland lemon floss and meal-in-marshmallows. If you’re thirsty, order the scrumdiddlyumptious Chocolatier cocktail. Consisting of Naked Grouse whisky, Merlet Cherry liqueur, grapefruit juice, cherry pureé, chocolate bitters and champagne, it’s a taste sensation.
If the cocktails don’t take your fancy, sip on a chocolate or lemon sherbet tea.
Quirky, fun and very chocolatey. Willy Wonka would be proud.
1 Aldwych, London
Bonus option: DIY tea at Cookery School
If you fancy yourself as a pastry chef, you can make your own afternoon tea at Cookery School at Little Portland Street. Craft your own speciality sandwiches and cakes, then tuck into your creations with a cup of Tregothnan Cornish tea, or a glass of sparkling wine. The three-hour course costs £125 per person.
Book your trip to London and earn CashPoints
If you want to try out a few of these afternoon tea places in London and explore the magical capital city, you’ll need to book a hotel. Check out some of our picks in our 10 boutique hotels in London post.
Before booking anything, be sure to join Norwegian Reward. Members earn CashPoints on flights to London, hotels, and activities in the city, which can be used to get discounts on future flights booked with Norwegian.