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Afternoon tea in London, Sketch Gallery
Photograph: Sketch

London’s best afternoon teas

Tiny sandwiches are back. These London cafes, restaurants and hotels have reopened bookings for their luxurious afternoon teas

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Time Out London Food & Drink
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August 2021: We’ve updated the latest prices, menus and opening times on all venues. Experience high tea as high art with Hotel Café Royal's immersive Van Gogh afternoon tea and the Yayoi Kusama-themed art afternoon tea at the Rosewood Hotel. For something a little more traditional, dress for the occasion and head to The Ritz to dine in the Palm Court or savour treats in the Thames Foyer of The Savoy for scones with lashings of jam and cream, dainty finger sandwiches, trays of pastries and cakes and unlimited pots of tea.

Afternoon tea. Yes, it's twee. But there is something quite fun about working your way through what's essentially dessert tapas, especially when you’re at one of London’s top hotels, restaurants or cafés. Our city’s renowned for putting on some of the world’s best spreads – even better than your mum’s Boxing Day buffet. 

We’ve checked out 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!

The best afternoon teas in London

Afternoon tea at The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Piccadilly
  • price 3 of 4

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 smoked salmon sandwiches with tartare dressing. The outdoor terrace has recently been expanded and there's now the option to enjoy afternoon and high tea selection outside in the sunshine for the very first time. 

Price? From £62.50 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-Thu noon-6.30pm, Fri 11.30am-7pm, Sat 11.30am-7.30pm, Sun 11.30am-6pm.

Afternoon tea bus tour at B Bakery
  • Restaurants
  • Bakeries
  • Covent Garden

What’s the vibe? If you’re ‘doing’ 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, mini pastrami burgers, assortment of mini homemade cakes, tarts and cupcakes as lively staff flit about with drinks. An unobtrusive voiceover gives an accessible overview of historic London as it passes by outside. For kids, there’s a Peppa Pig afternoon tea bus to jump aboard and for adults, a Gin Lover's tour with, you guessed it, gin. 

Price? From £45 per person.

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

Times? Daily noon-5pm departing from Victoria and Trafalgar Square.

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Afternoon tea at The Gallery at Sketch
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary European
  • Mayfair
  • price 4 of 4

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 scalloped 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 £59 per person, £73 with champagne

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? Daily, 11.30am-4pm.

  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Piccadilly
  • price 3 of 4

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.

Price? From £55 per person and £35 per child. Celebration tea from £65 per person, including cake and champagne.

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

Times? Daily, sittings 11.30am-7.30pm.

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  • Hotels
  • Luxury hotels
  • Piccadilly

What’s the vibe? The hotel’s head pastry chef, Michael Kwan has meticulously crafted each item on the menu drawing inspiration from Van Gogh’s iconic paintings. Expect ‘Two Crab’-style crab and dill sumptuous sandwiches alongside light-as-air scones, sweet delicacies such as ‘Vase with Twelve Sunflowers’ sunflower-seed praline and salted caramel and ‘The Starry Night’ pink grapefruit compote and orange marmalade and a Van Gogh self portrait served on its own teeny-tiny pecan coffee mousse and taro sponge easel. Don’t wait, let’s Gogh.

Price? From £65 per person, £75 with champagne.

Dietary needs? All dietary requests can be accommodated. 24 hours’ notice is preferred, but not mandatory.

Times? Daily, 12.30pm-4pm.

Indian High Chai at Lalit London
  • Restaurants
  • Tea rooms
  • London Bridge

What’s the vibe? The jaw-dropping splendour of huge hand-crafted cobalt-blue chandeliers gives this former grammar-school Great Hall a real impact – so bag a table on the wraparound mezzanine gallery to truly appreciate the vibe. There’s artistry – and fun – in the Indian High Chai too, which is based on the subcontinent’s street food and includes such delicacies as kathi rolls, feather-light samosas with tamarind chutney and bowls of bhel puri studded with pomegranate seeds. Portions are manageable, so you should have room to sample the halwa, barfi and other gorgeous Indian sweets – assuming you haven’t knocked back too much of the milky masala chai. Enthusiastic waiters are only too eager to top up your painted glass.

Price? £47 per person.

Dietary needs? All dietary requests can be accommodated. 24 hours’ notice is preferred, but not mandatory.

Times? Daily, 12.30pm-4pm.

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  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Strand

What’s the vibe? Under a lofty glass dome, the sumptuously traditional Thames Foyer plays host to sedate celebrating couples and excited groups having a grand day out in an unstuffy but top-drawer setting. A piano tinkles in the background as punters scarf down a classic selection of delicate finger and open sandwiches, homemade scones with clotted cream, jam, and lemon curd, and a fine selection of pastries that looks like a tempting work of art.

Price? From £65 per person.

Dietary needs? Vegan and vegetarian menus are always available, but all dietary requests can be accommodated. 24 hours’ notice preferred, but not mandatory.

Times? Mon-Tues, noon-4pm, Weds-Sun, noon-6pm

Tipsy Tea at Mr Fogg’s Residence
  • Bars and pubs
  • Cocktail bars
  • Mayfair
  • price 3 of 4

What’s the vibe? The original of six Mr Fogg’s drinking establishments, his Residence is a classy, gentlemen’s club-style haunt filled with emerald green banquettes and mahogany tables. Despite being in the posher part of town, the atmosphere is fun and not stuffy – except for the odd piece of taxidermy on show. The three-tiered tea begins with a hearty selection of sarnies, perhaps tandoori chicken in a spinach wrap or a doorstop-sized salted butter and cucumber bloomer sandwich. Above that, there are sweet delights, with warm fruity scones and jam perching on top. Best of all? You can wash it all down with pots of spirited tea.

Price? From £44 per person including one pot of spirited tea

Dietary needs? Allergy-specific menus available on request.

Times? Sat 2pm-6.45pm, Sun 3pm-5pm.

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Afternoon tea in the Palm Court at The Langham
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Marylebone
  • price 2 of 4

What’s the vibe? Chef Michel Roux Jr and Executive Pastry Chef Andrew Gravett have come together to create a brand- new menu inspired by the nation's favourite biscuits and baked tarts. The spread is based on the best seasonal produce, so expect a calendar-tuned line-up of speciality sandwiches, home-baked scones, cakes and pastries, all served on Wedgwood china. All paired with a selection of JING teas and English sparkling wine from Gusbourne.

Price? Afternoon tea with Wedgwood £62 per person, £75 with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut champagne. High tea with Wedgwood £68. 

Dietary needs? All dietary requests can be accommodated. Notice on booking preferred.

Times? Thurs-Sun, 12.30pm-5pm.

Afternoon tea at The Bar & Lounge at The Goring
  • Bars and pubs
  • Hotel bars
  • Victoria
  • price 4 of 4

What’s the vibe? Served in the gilded lounge of the regal Goring hotel, this is the Grace Kelly of afternoon teas. Smart casual is the official line outfit-wise, but this is a spread you’ll want to get dressed up for. The sandwiches, in particular, are faultless: perfect little crustless soldiers made fresh to order. Scones (plain or fruity) come tucked up in a napkin nest to keep them toasty warm. The best bit? You’ll be offered refills without having to ask for them.

Price? £50 per person, £62 with a glass of Bollinger Special Cuvée, £72 with a glass of Bollinger Rosé.

Dietary needs? Vegetarian and pescatarian requests can be accommodated on the day, but notice on booking is preferred for gluten-free or dairy-free menus.

Times? Mon-Fri 3.30pm-4.30pm, Sat 1pm-4.30pm, Sun 1pm-4pm

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Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough
  • Restaurants
  • French
  • Hyde Park Corner

What’s the vibe? Tea at The Lanesborough ticks all the boxes. Soft, fluffy sandwiches are in the ultra-traditional mould of coronation chicken, smoked salmon with cream cheese or even cheddar and pickle, while the patisserie selection spans everything from battenberg cake to lingonberry religieuse served in the elegant Céleste restaurant or the hotel’s sumptuous Withdrawing Room. On weekends, a pianist plays away during the Céleste service while you tuck into delectable bites. Catch the brand-new pretty-in-pastels afternoon tea while you can from August 5 until November 11, it's created in collaboration with world-famous Belgravia bakery Peggy Porschen. 

Price? From £54 per person, £73 per person with a glass of champagne.

Dietary needs? Vegetarian menus available on the day. Other requirements can be accommodated with 24 hours’ notice. 

Times? Mon-Thu 2.30pm-4.30pm, Fri-Sun 12.30pm-4.30pm.

Prêt-à-Portea at the Collins Room The Berkeley
  • Restaurants
  • Knightsbridge
  • price 3 of 4

What’s the vibe? The Berkeley’s Prêt-à-Portea has been a stalwart of the high-tea scene for a decade. A selection of beautiful fashion-themed biscuits, sponges and sweets changes with the catwalk, so expect seasonal creations ranging from a Donatella Versace’s ocean-themed cocktail dress, reimagined as a coconut darquoise and mango confit to an intricately iced vanilla biscuit that looks like Anna Wintour. Tasty savouries include upmarket ‘tea sandwiches’, assorted canapés and treats such as miso-scented madeleines with whipped chive cream, trout roe and gold leaf – although scones and jam don’t feature in any season’s collection here.

Price? £60 per person, £70 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne, £76 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier rosé or Blancs de Blancs Brut Nature.

Dietary needs? Gluten and nut-free menus available with 24 hours’ notice.

Times? Daily, 1pm-5.30pm.

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Afternoon tea at the Foyer and Reading Room, Claridge’s
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Mayfair

What’s the vibe? Flattering lighting, the scent of fresh roses, classical musicians in the corner: The Foyer at Claridge’s is a class act. This elegant art deco space is where chic A-listers and other ‘people with taste’ come to take tea. The pastries are decent, the just-baked scones even better (look out for the sensational Marco Polo ‘tea jelly’), but at Claridge’s, it’s the savouries that are the stars. Not only are the finger sandwiches moist, full-flavoured and unlimited, but there’s an ever-changing ‘special’ – perhaps peppered goat’s cheese with pumpkin and sage jalousie. Gracious, discreet service is a bonus.

Price? From £70 per person (children £40), £80 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne, £90 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier rosé champagne, £75 with a glass of non-alcoholic jus de raisin pétillant.

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

Times? Daily, 2.45pm-5.30pm.

Afternoon tea at The Promenade, The Dorchester
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • Park Lane
  • price 3 of 4

What’s the vibe? Afternoon tea at The Dorchester is a dark horse. The Promenade looks every bit the foyer of a Park Lane hotel: sumptuous, with heavy drapes, plush carpets and marble columns. Dig deeper and you’ll see it’s a breath of fresh air: staff wear tailcoats but are charming and approachable; the crowd comprises sartorially slick Londoners; and best of all, the piano player’s tinkle-list covers all bases. Scones are pedestrian but the unlimited finger sandwiches are terrific elevated by interesting breads, such as caraway seed or walnut, as are pitch-perfect pastries: the moist battenberg, wrapped in homemade marzipan, is not one we will easily forget. 

Price? £58 per person, £68 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne, £75 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier rosé champagne, £90 with a glass of Dom Pérignon vintage champagne.

Dietary needs? All dietary requests can be accommodated. Notice on booking is preferred.

Times? Daily, 11.30am-5.30pm. 

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London Landmarks Afternoon Tea at Town House, The Kensington Hotel
  • Restaurants
  • British
  • South Kensington

What’s the vibe? A stylish boutique hotel amid the grand stucco avenues of SW7, The Kensington serves a London-themed afternoon tea in its all-day restaurant, Town House. Here, in a bay-windowed, multiple-roomed space with plush sofas and well-manicured staff, you can nibble on cute versions of The Shard, The Gherkin and Big Ben (The Elizabeth Tower, for purists). Start with a cup of floral earl grey before horsing into sweets and savouries: our favourites were the lightly curried coronation chicken sandwich and a white chocolate Gherkin filled with dark chocolate ganache. 

Price? From £42 per person, £54.50 with a glass of champagne.

Dietary needs? Gluten-free menu available.

Times? Daily, noon-6pm (last sitting at 4pm).

  • Restaurants
  • Holborn

What’s the vibe? Icons of the art scene, past and present, now find themselves celebrated in this novel take on afternoon tea – the brainchild of Rosewood’s executive pastry chef, Mark Perkins. This sensory extravaganza is a cute fit for the hotel’s high-spec Mirror Room, where visitors are currently treated to creations inspired by Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Mirror Rooms’ that's currently on at Tate Modern. The menu fuses Japanese flavours with traditional French pastry and patisserie such as tonka caramel, a chocolate cup filled with tonka cream, salted caramel and a caramel chocolate crumb, topped with chocolate Kusama-style polka dots.

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

Dietary needs? All dietary requests can be accommodated. Notice on booking preferred.

Times? Thu-Sun, noon-6pm.

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