London's best luxury afternoon teas

Dalloway Terrace

Best for inner-city escapism
Credit: Rebecca Hope

If you want to feel like you’ve stepped into a country garden during a stay in the city, head to Dalloway Terrace at the Bloomsbury Hotel. The floral displays and themed décor are changed to suit each season, shrouding guests in a lush and totally instagrammable environment upon entry. Whether seated amidst fir branches on fur-lined seats for winter, or dining beneath blooming cherry blossoms and whimsical wisteria in the spring, stepping onto the terrace for afternoon tea will instantly transport guests into a floral fantasy. The food is naturally seasonal as well; the ever-changing menu offers a creative variety of treats and drinks with rich, dark flavours during the winter months contrasted with fresh and floral delights to be enjoyed al fresco in warmer weather. Situated in London’s historical academic hub, the hotel’s atmosphere is inspired by the artistic ambience of Bloomsbury’s famous 20th century creatives and is the perfect stop-off during a tour of the borough’s best museums.

Prices start from £35 per person.

The Tiffany Blue Box Cafe at Harrods

Best for the instagram factor

The latest addition to London’s afternoon tea scene, The Tiffany Blue Box Café is ideal for those looking to add a little bit of sparkle to their experience. The Blue Box Café concept, which went down a treat in New York and Hong Kong, has now crossed the pond with its first European location in Harrods. Situated on the lower ground floor its design is inspired by the iconic blue box and mimics the Blue Box Café at the brand’s flagship Fifth Avenue store. Featuring the brand’s epochal shade of Tiffany Blue® additional touches include amazonite stone features and hand painted Tiffany’s flora and fauna motifs. There is of course also a bevy of Tiffany jewellery on display for you to ogle over while you dine.

The Tiffany Afternoon Tea is equally as bedazzling as the surrounding jewels. Starting with an amuse-bouche on arrival, it is then followed by a selection of sandwiches, including egg and black truffle and warm parmesan madeleine. The delights continue with a selection of scones, served with clotted cream and preserves (you can decide whether you chose the Devon or Cornwall way). The finale of sweets is the real pièce de résistance with highlights including a Tiffany’s Blue Egg (made from lemon curd and mascarpone) and a Big Apple, an apple pie recreated to look like a normal apple. All of this is served up on Tiffany tablewear in perfect keeping with the surroundings. If afternoon tea doesn’t fit with your schedule then you can also pop in for a real life breakfast at Tiffany, with all butter croissants, Cornish crab muffins and Faroe-Islands smoked salmon all on the menu.

Prices for the Tiffany Afternoon Tea start from £69 with hand-picked loose-leaf tea and £84 with a glass of Harrods, Brut NV.

The Ritz, Mayfair

Best for Traditional Afternoon Tea

The Ritz has been serving afternoon tea since it opened its doors in 1906, and that sense of heritage is just one of the reasons the Mayfair hotel has continued to attract guests from far and wide – and remains the best of the best. Served in the hotel’s ornate Palm Court, complete with glittering chandeliers and elegant mirrors, the tea includes a selection of finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve, and a mouthwatering range of exquisitely presented pastries and teacakes that are constantly replenished. What’s more, The Ritz London is the only hotel in the UK to have a certified tea sommelier, Giandomenico Scanu, who travels around the world to various tea plantations to source their selection of teas. As well as 18 different types of loose-leaf tea to choose from, guests can also sip a glass of champagne to add some extra sparkle to the occasion. The last seating of the day, commencing at 7.30pm, feels particularly elegant and romantic as the tea is accompanied by an opera singer and pianist or live band, which makes for a perfect alternative to an evening dinner. The service is sublime as is the overall ambience.

Prices start from £60 for adults and £40 for children.

Fortnum and Mason, Piccadilly

Best for Tea Selection

Fortnum & Mason’s Tea Salon, opened by HM The Queen herself to mark her Diamond Jubilee, represents delicious proof of the department store’s endless obsession with extraordinary tea. Epitomising the sophistication of Afternoon and High Tea in all its splendour, Fortnum’s Tea Salon is finger sandwich, cake and scone heaven, with trademark eau de nil china and the biggest selection of fine teas you will ever see. They sell over 100 rare and exotic teas from India, China, Nepal, Japan, Ceylon, along with their own traditional blends and a new range of green teas. Tea experts are also on hand to help you choose your perfect blend – and be sure to pick up some tea to take home, too. A children’s afternoon tea is also available featuring light finger sandwiches, plain and fruit scones and a selection of cakes including jammy dodgers served with your choice of hot chocolate, classic blend tea, fruit juice or a glass of milk.

Prices start from £49 per person

The Goring, Westminster

Best for Quintessential Britishness

Afternoon tea at The Goring is a world-renowned affair which celebrates the much-loved English tradition in all its quintessential splendour. The Goring has been perfecting the art of afternoon tea since it opened its doors over a century ago. Complete with delicate pastries, scones and sandwiches, served with the finest blended and first-flush teas from around the world, and topped off with a glass of Bollinger champagne, the afternoon tea service is reason alone to visit The Goring. Afternoon tea is served in the luxurious, five-star surroundings of the Bar & Lounge every day and also in The Dining Room on Saturdays. The Goring Bar and Lounge feature designer décor inspired by Chateau de Mal Maison, Napoleon’s wife Empress Josephine’s home, and an impressive list of Champagnes, wines, spirits and cocktails. The inviting ambience and comfortable furnishings make it the perfect location for enjoying a working lunch, an indulgent afternoon tea or a relaxed evening drink. And designed by David Linley, The Dining Room is bathed in natural light by day and sumptuously aglow with Swarovski chandeliers at night. Served since 1910, afternoon tea at The Goring is particularly special. As the only hotel to hold a Royal Warrant from HM The Queen for hospitality services, you can be absolutely certain that everything upon your visit will be impeccable.

Prices start from £49 per person

St Ermin's, Westminster

Best for Children

The St. Ermin’s Tea Lounge and library offers guests the perfect environment to relax and indulge in the delights of afternoon tea whether it’s the afternoon tea with unlimited prosecco, the gluten-free offering or the ‘Mini Gardener’ afternoon tea selection, created especially for children.Inspired by the St. Ermin’s rooftop kitchen garden, the Mini Gardener tea was introduced to encourage little fingers to become green fingers. The younger members of the family can enjoy their very own summer tea and go on an adventure to the see the Hotel’s 350,000 Buckfast Honey bees hard at work on the third floor Bee Terrace! Beelicious treats from the kid’s menu include Nutella sandwiches, an apple mousse and chocolate and caramel pot, as well as a vanilla sponge. Each child also receives a special gardening pack from Mud & Bloom including organic seeds to take home. Summer afternoon tea is served daily in the pretty and intimate Tea Lounge, with children’s tea available during the school holidays and at weekends.

Prices from £15 per child

The Cavendish, St James

Best for Bottomless Bubbly

The Cavendish Hotel was once owned by Rosa Lewis, the so called “Duchess of Jermyn Street”. She was not, in fact, a duchess, but a chef, favoured by Edward VII. Today, The Cavendish draws on this pedigree to create an exquisite afternoon tea experience in the heart of Mayfair. Taking inspiration from the tailors native to its Jermyn Street locale, the tea is elegant, measured and quintessentially British. One can indulge in a selection of delicacies, including dainty finger sandwiches, delectable desserts and delightfully fluffy scones with clotted cream and jam. The Cavendish’s carefully curated selection of Newby loose leaf teas are undeniably a wonderful accompaniment, but we are of the opinion that afternoon tea is best served with champagne (of the bottomless variety). Opt for the free-flowing champagne or prosecco for ninety minutes of pure decadence.

Prices start from £29 per person

The Stafford, St James

Best for Tourists

At The Stafford, one plays the role of gastronomic flaneur, allowing the palette to wander St James’s historic streets. Conceived at the fin de siecle as a gentlemen’s club, the hotel boasts a rich history inextricable from its West End location. Their classic finger fare and dainty bon bouche are made in the image of the wares of St James’s oldest boutiques - think James J. Fox chocolate cigars and Henry Poole & Co almond shortbread “tuxedos”. This reverence for local esoterica could feel gimmicky but top-notch execution ground the endeavour - the tin of Chantilly cream is to die for! The novel aspect is bound to entice tourists while the spectacle of the Tea Ceremony, featuring signature teas from Camellia’s Tea House, ought to whet the appetites of discerning Londoners.  The stately Game Bird restaurant, with its black marble Ionic columns and luxe velvet seating, provides the perfect backdrop to this culinary amble.

Prices start from £45 per person

The Savoy, Strand

Best for a Celebration

The Savoy regularly tops “best of” lists, and for good reason; with over one hundred and thirty years of experience, they have refined and perfected the art of afternoon refreshment. Afternoon tea was originally conceived by the Duchess of Bedford as a light and convivial repast, during which society ladies could convene and chatter about the affairs of the day. The waitstaff, always attentive, never overbearing, expertly honour this tradition, allowing tearoom conversation to flourish. The sound of tinkling ivories and silver clinking against bone china whisks one back to the days when ladies would dance the thé dansant beneath the stained glass cupola. The old world gentility of the Thames Foyer is a splendid setting, ideal for special occasions. Foodwise, all the usual suspects are present, complete with classic finger sandwiches, cakes and scones. If The Savoy errs on the side of tradition, it does so impeccably. After all, why change something already perfected?

Traditional Afternoon Tea starts at £75 per person

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