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Afternoon tea in London, Sketch Gallery
Photograph: Sketch

London’s best afternoon teas

Here are the best classic afternoon teas and quirky cuppas in London

By Time Out London Food & Drink

Forget brinner and brunch: eating at odd hours doesn’t get more indulgent, more delightfully decadent, than afternoon tea. London’s hotels, restaurants and cafés have the world’s best spread, so we’ve done the decent thing and eaten our way through the crème de la crème. 

We’ve got the lowdown on exactly which afternoon teas are being served again in London and we’ll keep you updated as even more places share info on welcoming back customers. 

It’s going to be a little bit different: many hotels and restaurants have reduced opening hours and limited places due to social distancing. For any other safety details, check with venues in advance of your visit. But otherwise, go and devour all those miniature treats!    

Video: check out our pick of five of the best afternoon teas in town.

The best afternoon teas in London

Afternoon tea bus tour at B Bakery

Restaurants Bakeries Covent Garden

What’s the vibe? If you’re entertaining visitors looking to ‘do’ London in a day or so, this Routemaster-based tea-cum-tour is fab value and a smart use of your time. Hop aboard a vintage double-decker at Victoria (or near Trafalgar Square) and scoff a fancy-schmancy platter of finger sandwiches, profiteroles, croque monsieurs and cupcakes as lively staff flit about with drinks. An unobtrusive voiceover gives an accessible overview of historic London as it passes by outside. Tourists bloody love it – we got stuck behind Theresa May’s motorcade on Whitehall, and a neighbouring tea taker got so excited, Earl Grey shot out of his nose. In tune with the trends, also check out its new vegan afternoon tea.

Price? £45 per person.

Dietary needs? Gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher needs can be accommodated. Notice on booking is required.

Times? Daily noon, 2.30pm or 5pm from Victoria; 12.30pm, 3pm from Northumberland Avenue.

Afternoon Tea at Corinthia Hotel London

Restaurants Whitehall

What’s the vibe? Head to the Corinthia Hotel’s light-filled Crystal Moon Lounge if you want to sample afternoon tea amid the comforting glow of 1,001 baccarat crystals. The indulgent spread (with or without a glass of fizz) includes an assortment of upscale finger sandwiches (truffle egg mayo, tandoori chicken with green apple etc) plus scones and a host of sweet-toothed delicacies such as pear and cinnamon eclairs. Tea drinkers will find a fascinating line-up of bespoke blends and single-estate sips – but don’t miss Corinthia’s indulgent hot chocolate, served in a pot with marshmallows, whipped cream and chocolate splinters. Luxuriate at your leisure while a Steinway tinkles in the background.  

Price? £55 per person, £65 with a glass of champagne, £75 with a glass of rosé champagne.

Dietary needs? All dietary requests can be accommodated. 24 hours’ notice is preferred.

Times? Daily, 2pm-6pm.


Fortnum’s afternoon tea at The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason

Restaurants British Piccadilly

What’s the vibe? F&M’s elegant tea salon has been serving the good stuff since 1926. A pastel-coloured dining room on the fourth floor of the iconic St James’s department store, this spacious spot excels in both ‘sweet’ and ‘savoury’ teas. Top picks from the former include the smooth chocolate mousse (not forgetting treats from the ‘cake carriage’), while stars of the latter include savoury scones with Shropshire Blue cheese and cranberry jelly or courgette and thyme with red onion marmalade. Our all-round winner, however, is Fortnum’s very own smoked salmon sandwich with tartare dressing (available on both menus). Tip: if you're going on a sunny day, ask to sit close to the windows, where there's more natural light.

Price? £60 per person (£30 per child), £74.95 with a glass of Fortnum’s Blanc de Blancs, Hostomme NV. 

Dietary needs? Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free menus available on request. 

Times? Mon-Sat 11.30am-7pm, Sun noon-6pm.

Afternoon Tea at the Ritz
Afternoon Tea at the Ritz
Antonio Busiello

Afternoon tea at the Palm Court at The Ritz

Restaurants British Piccadilly

Available from July 18 

What’s the vibe? As Harrods is to shopping, so The Ritz is to hotels: a London icon and the perfect haven for out-of-towners who’ll revel in its bespoke traditions – right down to the formal dress code. The high-ceilinged Palm Court, where one takes tea, frames feminine pastels with gilt edging and chandeliers, while live entertainment comes from the house pianist, a harpist or string quintet. Come if you’ve got a sweet tooth: the (unlimited) sandwiches and scones are somewhat ordinary, but the showstoppers here are the wonderful pastries, from a delectable ‘rhubarb and custard’ choux to a nicely sharp lemon posset macaron. There’s even a dessert trolley for by-the-slice delights (such as an excellent ‘belle époque’ pear tart).

Price? £61 per person (£40 per child), £80 with a glass of Ritz champagne. Celebration tea £72 per person, including a slice of cake (£91 with a glass of Ritz champagne).

Dietary needs? All dietary requests can be accommodated. 48 hours’ notice is required.

Times? Daily, sittings 11.30am-7.30pm.


Afternoon tea at The Gallery at Sketch

Restaurants Contemporary European Mayfair

Available from July 17

What’s the vibe? As part of Sketch’s luxe Mayfair pleasuredome, the velvet-clad dandy-esque Gallery is a lesson in more-is-more eclecticism, a restaurant and exhibition space that’s currently home to more than 200 prints and drawings by Turner Prize-winning artist David Shrigley – he’s even put his own stamp on some of the tableware. Afternoon tea in this decadent pink boudoir is something else – a gorgeous line-up of pretty delights ranging from a truffle croque, finger sandwiches and still-warm scones to Victoria sponge from the trolley and assorted ‘petits’ gateaux’ (think mandarin battenberg, malabar marshmallow, lemon cheesecake or a pistachio choux bun). Don’t miss a trip to the cluster of egg-shaped toilets, where birdsong is piped into each pod.

Price? From £49 per person.

Dietary needs? Sketch has devised a tailored allergen-free patisserie menu which is suitable for nut, dairy and gluten allergies as well as vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian and gelatine-free dietary requirements.

Times? Fri-Sun, 11.30am-6pm.

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