V&A Cafe

Restaurants Brompton
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V&A Cafe

Don’t be disappointed as you head past the few tables in the antiseptic white corridor that leads into the V&A Café. Only the bustling serving area is wipe-clean modern, to the left the fabled trio of tea rooms remain, Morris, Gamble and Poynter, just a spangly modern chandelier or two different from how they were back in the mid-nineteenth century. Morris is serious-minded – almost sacral, with its Burne-Jones windows – in dark green and subdued golds. Gamble is lofty and light in Classical Revival style, with ceramic pillars and ‘Amity’ and ‘Truth’ written above the wall mirrors. But the cosy Poynter Room is our favourite, with its blue and white tiles and stained-glass fox. The food is freshly made daily. There’s the usual run of hot and cold snacks and a great array of cakes. Expect to queue – we did for a 3pm lunch.



Venue name: V&A Cafe
Address: V&A Museum
Cromwell Rd
Opening hours: Open 10am-5.15pm Mon-Thur, Sat, Sun; 10am-9.30pm Fri
Transport: Tube: South Kensington tube
Price: Lunch for two: around £30
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Average User Rating

4.3 / 5

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Home made food, excellent coffee and in the most idyllic surroundings.


One of the most beautiful museum cafes in London, the V&A ‘refreshment room’ is extravagant and opulent, a testament to the miscellaneous style of the Victorian era. In keeping with the historical flavour, it is also the first museum cafe in the world.

To get there, you need to make your way past a few plain white tables and food counters. It would not be surprising if you at first thought there was nothing special too see after all. But give it some time, carry on walking and you will soon be struck by three grand dining rooms connected to one another, beautiful decorative tiles lining the walls and columns, along with three grand light balls (a twist on traditional chandeliers) dangling from the ceiling, casting a dim light over this hidden gem. 

Great for an afternoon coffee and even better for a Sunday lunch, the cafe will spoil you with choice. You can pick from a range of delicious salads, including roast sweet potato with bean and pumpkin seeds or baby gem, radicchio and toasted walnut, nicely complementing your main dish of choice (poached salmon fillet, pickled fennel and dill or artichoke, smoked aubergine & piquillo peppers bruschetta, to name a few). 

The cafe does tend to get quite busy at weekends but there are many tables and the turnover is quite high. With a bit of patience and a good eye for spots about to be vacated, you’ll manage to grab a seat with a view fairly quickly.

Fancy a time travel culinary experience? You need to try the Victorian afternoon tea, a genuine attempt by the V&A to recreate Queen Victoria’s very own selection of choice. 

This tasty experience comes together with a little history lesson. You might be surprised to hear that one of the most traditional British customs is actually quite recent. The V&A tells us that back in 1840, Anna Maria Stanhope, 7th Duchess of Bedford, was feeling peckish between lunch and dinner (which was served fashionably late), and asked for a selection of snacks to be brought to her dressing room in the afternoon. This one-off experience soon turned into a habit and it wasn’t long before it became a social occasion, much loved not just by the Duchess but also by her friends.

This new custom, so the story goes, inspired Queen Victoria, who also grew fond of the pre-dinner treat. The royal household soon embraced it under the heading of ‘afternoon tea.’ Now you can sample it too at the V&A, Sunday afternoons between 3 and 5.


V and a

As an art student this is definitely my home away from home. If you're in search of a place for varied research and to make connections through objects you never thought you would see them this is the place for you.

Sadly, the board of directors has decided to disallow sketching in the major exhibitions, but the collection itself is free to sketch, photograph and spend hours looking at!

When feeling particularly minted, I do like to go to the cafe as the food is absolutely incredible and you are sitting in the most gorgeously decorated rooms- each one slightly different! But beware of high prices here.

The rest is absolutely free to enjoy all day!

Take note of events towards the end of the week- another of the "Lates" series we can see in other establishments and these are a great place to network and satisfy your 'sneaking into a museum at night' cravings!


A little bit hidden in the museum, this café offers a good choice of fresh options for lunch (hot and cold dishes, sandwiches, salads) or afternoon tea (cakes, teas, coffees). On a warm summer day, ask for plastic plates and glasses and head outside: the little tables, the children playing with the fountain, just being in the middle of the amazing V&A... It is just great! On a colder weather, sit in the almost kitsch tearooms and enjoy the mid-nineteenth century vibe.


The V&A has one of the most extravagant and breath-taking museum cafés I have ever seen. The 3 original halls are beautiful, great places to have lunch or a cream tea. There is even live piano playing if you are lucky.

The food is good, but it can be ridiculously busy at times and stressful to find a seat. Definitely go during the week if you can.