Whatever the occasion, there’s no more classically British way to enjoy London than with afternoon tea. As well as all of the major London hotels hosting afternoon teas, plenty of cafes and restaurants dotted across the city serve up their own individual spins on the delicious 3-tiered ensemblage. Indulge in a selection of delightful cakes, sandwiches and fine teas from some of the best spots the capital has to offer. Here are 5 places we’d recommend, which blend everything you love about the British tradition, with an added something special.
BB Bakery Bus Tour
The creators behind BB Bakery Bus Tour really pushed the boundaries when they conjured up this concept – what could be more British than afternoon tea served on a London tour bus? It’s a tour like no other, though, as diners can enjoy a fine feast of goodies and take in the capital’s landmarks, including the London Eye and Big Ben. There’s no tour guide either, letting you savor the refreshments and marvel the sights in peace.
All of your favorite goodies are on the menu, including tiny sandwiches and finger quiches, macaroons, strawberries and cream, and scones. And you don’t need to worry about the motion being a problem – everything is designed perfectly so you won’t spill a (precious) drop of your tea.
8 Northumberland Avenue, Nr. Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5BY
+44 (0)20 3026 1188
Tours run daily: 12 noon, 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3 pm and 5 pm
£45 per adult; £35 per child
Making a name for itself due to its blush pink interiors, sketch not only wins points for its decor, it also has a top-notch menu. The gorgeous room, designed by artist David Shrigley and designer India Mahdavi, has a quintessential, classy charm that perfectly complements the fine delicacies and drinks.
On the menu are 2 tiers of cakes, including French pastries and miniature chocolate gateaux, comte cheese toasties and caviar-topped egg sandwiches, and a delightful side of pink marshmallows to match the surroundings. Champagne is an optional extra so that you can truly toast the occasion.
9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, W1S 2XG
+44 (0)20 7659 4500
Afternoon tea served daily: 12:30 pm – 4:30 pm
£45 per person; £57 with champagne; £27 for children
The cute cosiness of Orange Pekoe makes it really stand out from its more refined competitors. Tucked away in the chic Barnes neighborhood, the tearoom pays close attention to detail with its collection of decorative vintage teacups and crockery. It might not be big inside but the skylight roof and white-brick walls add to the laidback atmosphere, and in the summer the cafe moves outdoors so that you can enjoy afternoon tea in the sunshine.
Renowned for its homely cooking and hearty menu, every cake and sandwich is beautifully reminiscent of something your grandmother used to bake. There are more than 50 loose-leaf teas to choose between, so you can try out a new or unusual herbal or fruit infusion every time, from classic black and oolong teas, to premium Japanese green tea.
3 White Hart Lane, Barnes, SW13 0PX
+44 (0)20 8876 6070
Afternoon tea served daily: 2 pm – 5 pm
From £19.95 per person
Fortnum & Mason
No one understands tea quite like luxury tea brand Fortnum & Mason. The elegant salon was originally opened by Her Majesty The Queen, to mark her Diamond Jubilee, so it holds a place close to the British heart.
Diners can expect to enjoy Fortnum & Mason’s impeccable tea served in the finest of china, alongside a first-class menu all laid out on white linen tablecloths with decorative roses on every table. Choose between their iconic selections, from a sweet option complete with scones and finger sponges, to an exclusively savory platter of sandwiches and quiches – or opt for High Tea, a mix of all the goodness of both!
Fourth Floor, Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, St. James’s, W1A 1ER
+44 (0)20 7734 8040
Tea salon open: Mon – Sat 12 noon – 7 pm; Sun 12 noon – 6 pm
From £44 per person
Bea’s Cake Boutique
After the success of its opening cafe in Bloomsbury, Bea’s has expanded to locations in Marylebone and St Paul’s too. The cake boutique knows a thing or two about cakes and scones of every kind. Their casual, no-frills afternoon tea is a pared-back selection of all of your favorite cakes and sandwiches, lovingly hand-baked into petite morsel-sized bites, by Bea’s master bakers.
From strawberries-and-cream cupcakes to lemon meringue cupcakes, Bea’s captures the essence of much-loved British desserts, all adorably decorated and topped so you’ll want to share a photo on your Instagram before you eat them! The menu also includes limited gluten-free and vegan options to suit special dietary requirements. Choose from their selection of loose-leaf teas, including traditional English Breakfast Tea and Apple & Cinnamon. All 3 locations are well-known across London and can get busy, so afternoon tea slots must be booked in advance.
44 Theobalds Road, Bloomsbury, WC1X 8NW
+44 (0)207 242 8330
Afternoon tea served daily: 11:30 pm – 7 pm (last booking 5:30 pm)
From £24.50 per person
About the Author: Essential Living
Essential Living is a London-based property developer, with beautifully designed flats across Islington, Canary Wharf, Bethnal Green and more.