‘Tis the season for giving, but it’s nice to treat yourself too! What better way than heading out for a Christmas-themed afternoon tea with family or friends? The Resident picks out the best Christmas afternoon tea experiences at some of London’s top hotels…
Lead image: Christmas Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea at The Chesterfield Mayfair
1 Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Ritz
An absolute classic, Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Ritz is hard to beat. In fact, it’s nearly booked out for Xmas 2019 already – so move quickly! The Ritz’s festive makeover launched on Saturday 24 November last year, and it looks like this year it’ll be Saturday 23 November, when you can start enjoying The Ritz’s famed Christmas afternoon tea served in The Palm Court, which will be transformed into an Edwardian winter wonderland with a lavishly decorated Christmas tree in the centre of the room. In addition to the finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve, and an assortment of teas, there will be mince pies and festive pastries and cakes, plus carols from The Ritz choir. The afternoon tea includes a glass of Ritz Champagne for adults and a Ritz teddy bear for children. From £80 per adult and £50 per child (up to 15 years old). Available from 23 November-30 December 2018 at 1.30pm, 3.30pm, 5.30pm and 7.30pm sittings, excluding Christmas Day, when Father Christmas will make a special visit to The Ritz with presents for the kids at their 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm and 5.30pm sittings.
150 Piccadilly W1J 9BR; theritzlondon.com
2 Sugar Plum Fairy Afternoon Tea at The Waldorf Hilton Hotel
The iconic Waldorf Hilton Hotel is giving its traditional afternoon tea a Nutcracker-inspired make-over this Christmas. As an homage to Tchaikovsky’s classical ballet and its beloved character, the ruler of the Land of the Sweets, the Sugar Plum Fairy Afternoon Tea offers a magical twist on the Waldorf’s signature offering. Running from Monday 25 November in the Waldorf’s grand dining room, The Homage Restaurant, the festive afternoon tea will include an assortment of finger sandwiches and savouries including smoked salmon blinis, house smoked beef on pumpernickel rye bread paired with an array of floral spreads. Complete with freshly baked scones accompanied by clotted cream and specially created sugar plum jam, the sweet treats on offer include vanilla choux crown cakes, decorated biscuits, and bags of lemon and raspberry bonbons. The Nutcracker will be performed at the London Coliseum this Christmas, which is just a 10-minute walk from The Waldorf Hilton Hotel on Aldwych, making the Sugar Plum Fairy afternoon tea the perfect pre-theatre treat for ballet fans. The Sugar Plum Fairy Afternoon Tea, priced from £39pp, is available to book for a limited time only.
Aldwych, London WC2B 4DD; waldorf.hilton.com
3 Festive Afternoon Tea at The Savoy
The Thames Foyer at The Savoy is serving an opulent Festive Afternoon Tea featuring sandwiches of Coronation turkey on cranberry bread and Morecambe Bay shrimp with champagne Mary Rose sauce on charcoal bread, as well as a smoked venison open sandwich with chestnut cream on brioche bread. You can also add a high tea supplement of seared scallops and Avruga caviar with fennel cream for £6. The elegant selection of pastries include a Savoy Christmas Cake, traditional mince pie with spiced streusel topping, and chocolate Christmas tree with peppermint pine ganache. Available from mid-November, Monday to Thursday from £78pp, Friday to Sunday from £85pp, and on Christmas Day itself with the addition of an intermediate course and a glass of champagne for £180pp. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are also available.
The Strand WC2R 0EZ; savoychristmas.com
4 Festive Afternoon Tea at The Langham
The Langham serves a quintessentially British Festive Afternoon Tea options in the glorious Palm Court. Feather-light scones and seasonally themed savouries feature, alongside exquisite patisserie that use spices in surprising and inventive ways. You can even enjoy a Christmas Eve Afternoon Tea for £70pp or Christmas Day Afternoon Tea for £84pp. Otherwise, the Festive Afternoon Tea served during the Christmas season starts at £70, rising to £84 with champagne, and £120 with Dom Pérignon. There’s also a Children’s Festive Afternoon Tea priced £35 for ages 3-12. Available from mid November.
1c Portland Place, Regent Street W1B 1JA; langhamhotels.com
5 Festive Afternoon Tea (& Doggy Tea) at The Egerton House Hotel, Knightsbridge
The entrance to Egerton House will be transformed into a Victorian shopfront with two Christmas trees, garlands and lights. Inside, discover a selection of Victorian sweets and homemade gingerbread, as well as delicate finger sandwiches, festive-themed pastries and freshly baked scones with thick clotted cream and fruit preserves. On 5 December, Chelsea Flower Show’s official florist, Jane Wadham, will be offering visitors the chance to enjoy a festive afternoon tea at 2pm followed by a 45-minute Christmas wreath-making workshop when you’ll learn how to make a Christmas wreath arrangement to take home (£90, book via designmynight.com). The Festive Afternoon Tea runs from 1 December-1 January, and the hotel’s doggy afternoon tea has also been given a festive makeover.
17-19 Egerton Terrace, Knightsbridge SW3 2BX. To book see designmynight.com
6 Christmas Afternoon Tea at London Hilton
Designed by Pastry Chefs Emmanuel Bonneau and Sam Leatherby, crowned the winners of Bake Off: The Professionals 2018 – the Christmas Afternoon Tea at London Hilton on Park Lane’s Podium Restaurant is not one to be missed, especially if you’re heading to Winter Wonderland just across the road in Hyde Park. The Christmas Afternoon Tea at the hotel’s Podium Restaurant . The festive treat offers three tiers of seasonal delights, including festive open sandwiches and freshly baked scones layered with a filling of your choice – salted caramel, clotted cream or strawberry jam – as well as decadent festive-themed miniature fancies. You can also choose from a selection of Hope & Glory teas. Available weekdays 2pm-5pm and weekends 12.30pm-5pm from late November priced £39pp or £49 with a glass of Pommery Champagne (not served on Christmas Day).
22 Park Lane W1K 1BE; podiumrestaurant.com
7 Festive Afternoon Tea at One Aldwych
One Aldwych, a Leading Hotel of the World, is putting a festive spin on its Charlie and the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea this Christmas. Plates will be piled high with sandwiches like turkey and cranberry on charcoal bread, cinnamon glazed brioche buns and festive fruit scones with all the jams and creams. Sweet-shop inspired treats include mazipan chocolate milk, home-made candyfloss, gingerbread and white chocolate pops with violet popping candy and cocoa bean financiers. A selection of award-winning seasonal loose leaf teas from Canton Tea is also on offer and you can add a variety of champagnes or a fizzy cocktail. The hotel will also host a 25-foot Christmas tree, which last year was decorated with 130 snow domes. Served in Indigo and the Lobby Bar from 27 November until Sunday 5 January 2020 from £47pp.
1 Aldwych WC2B 4BZ; onealdwych.com
8 Christmas Afternoon Tea at TĪNG at The Shangri-La Hotel
The Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard serves what is probably the highest afternoon tea in London. This Christmas, you can enjoy a festive afternoon tea with glorious views over London at TĪNG Restaurant and Lounge on level 35 – 125 metres above the capital. This year, the team is inviting you to keep it ‘glassy’ with a high tea in the most literal sense. Start with an Atlantic prawn ‘cocktail’, followed by freshly made sandwiches of turkey with cranberry and roast beef with horseradish cream, alongside baked scones served with strawberry jam and clotted cream. Delicate Christmas treats include mulled wine and pear compote, mint chocolate ganache with blackcurrant and hibiscus mousse, and passion fruit and cardamom mousse as well as traditional Christmas cake. Available from 18 November priced £68 or £78 with a glass of Champagne. You can also enjoy Christmas afternoon tea with an overnight stay from £785 from 18 November until 5 January (excluding Christmas Day and Boxing Day).
31 St Thomas Street, London Bridge SE1 9QU; ting-shangri-la.com
9 The Milestone Hotel and Residences, Kensington
The Milestone Hotel, a 5-star boutique hotel in Kensington, is offering an afternoon tea themed with festive favourites including roast turkey with sage and apricot stuffing, brie with cranberry and watercress, and smoked salmon with dill crème fraîche. Seasonally inspired pastries include mini Christmas cake and mince pies, chestnut and white chocolate choux buns, a pear and gingerbread mousse, cranberry and orange tartlet and coconut snowball. Available from 25 November-6 January, the Festive Afternoon Tea is £65pp including a glass of champagne. Sittings take place at 1pm, 3pm & 5pm daily, except on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve when there will be only 1pm & 3pm sittings. Not available on Christmas Day.
1 Kensington Court, Kensington W8 5DL. To book see designmynight.com
10 Christmas Winter Wonderland at The Chesterfield Mayfair
The Chesterfield Mayfair has launched a Christmas Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea, kicking off with a warming glass of mulled wine. Guest can then choose a loose leaf tea blend with aromatic spices, before enjoying a selection of finger sandwiches and – the best bit – festive sweet treats including a chocolate yule log, gingerbread man cupcake, vanilla Bavarois with apple jelly snowball, clementine macaroon and Christmas tree chocolate and coffee pot. Vegetarian and gluten-free options available upon request. Priced £47.50pp or £56.50 with champagne (£25 per child). You can also enjoy this one on Christmas Day for £65pp, £72 with champagne (£27 per child) and on New Year’s Eve for £55pp or £64 with champagne. Do check out the Original Sweetshop Afternoon Tea too. Available 18 November-5 January daily.
35 Charles Street, Mayfair W1J 5EB. To book see designmynight.com (click here for Christmas Day bookings)
11 The Penhaligon’s Christmas Halfeti Afternoon Tea at The Curtain Hotel
To celebrate its new partnership with London’s most esteemed perfumers, Penhaligon’s, The Curtain Hotel and Member’s Club is offering a limited-edition Christmas afternoon tea. Festive-inspired finger sandwiches include fillings such as sloe gin infused cucumber and maple roasted gammon with apple chilli jam. The Curtain’s pastry team have crafted a new menu of treats to pay homage to the scent, including saffron macaroons with a deep black cherry jam; frangipane tart infused with a bergamot ganache; dark chocolate and cumin tarts topped with homemade grapefruit marmalade; and a blood orange drizzle cake. A selection of paired cocktails developed by The Curtain’s Beverage Director Federico Doldi are also available. All guests will receive a Halfeti-scented handkerchief and an invitation to experience Fragrance Profiling a Penhaligon’s store. Available from 21 November-4 January, Thurs-Sun, 1-5pm, priced from £35pp.
45 Curtain Road, Hackney EC2A 3PT; thecurtain.com
12 Bottomless Champagne Festive Afternoon Tea at The Cavendish London, Mayfair
Deluxe four-star hotel The Cavendish London in Mayfair is offering a Bottomless Champagne Festive Afternoon Tea for those looking to make the most of central London during the festive season (spot of shopping on Regents Street, anyone?). The bottomless tea features festive-themed finger sandwiches, savouries, scones and pastries, served with Newby loose leaf tea or coffee and free-flowing champagne for one and a half hours. A gluten-free afternoon tea is available on request. Served daily from 1pm-6pm from 11 November until 5 January 2020 priced from £42.50pp.
81 Jermyn Street, St James’s SW1 Y6JF; thecavendish-london.co.uk
13 Festive Afternoon Tea at aqua shard
aqua shard, located on the 31st floor of The Shard, is famous its brilliant views of London and contemporary cuisine. The 2019 festive afternoon tea offers a festive twist on afternoon tea favourites, with sandwiches such as turkey and cranberry, black truffle and egg, fig chutney and brie and a crumpet with smoked salmon. There are also freshly-baked vanilla scones, and homemade cakes and pastries such as a gingerbread, chocolate and coffee Christmas tree, sweet clementine and prosecco trifle and a pear and cinnamon Santa hat. Vegetarian and gluten free options of the menu are available upon request. Available from 18 November until 1 January from 1pm-5pm priced £67 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot or £72 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rosé.
31 St Thomas Street, London Bridge SE1 9RY; aquashard.co.uk
14 Festive Afternoon Tea at The Rose Lounge, Sofitel London St James
Surrounded by the hotel’s Christmas Couture decorations, enjoy a festive afternoon tea in The Rose Lounge at the recently refurbished Sofitel London St James. Enjoy a selection of traditional pastries that sparkle with seasonal cheer, including Christmas carrot cake and warm gingerbread cookies, fresh from the oven, with spiced chocolate sauce, as well as a Mont Blanc (sweetened chestnut purée with cream and macaron base). Delicate sandwiches like smoked turkey and cranberry brioche sit alongside ham hock piccalilli savouries, and there’s an exclusive list of fine teas to choose from too. Available from Monday 18 November, the afternoon tea is priced at £45pp or £55pp including a glass of champagne.
6 Waterloo Place, St James’s SW1Y 4AN; sofitelstjames.com
15 Festive Afternoon Tea at Sunborn London, Royal Victoria Dock
Sunborn London, the capital’s only super yacht hotel, is offering a festive afternoon tea with a selection of bespoke sweet bites. Hop on board for to enjoy the likes of warm festive mince pies, Battenberg cake and winter berry trifle. Savoury options include delightful finger sandwiches like the Norfolk bronze turkey with cranberry and stuffing, Wensleydale cheese with tomato chutney, and Wye Valley smoked salmon with cream cheese. There are also freshly baked spiced cranberry scones with Cornish clotted cream and seasonal preserve. Available from 25 November to 5 January priced £35 or £50 with an expertly chosen Laurent Perrier Champagne Tasting flight.
Royal Victoria Dock E16 1AA; sunbornhotels.com
16 Royal Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea at The Rubens at the Palace, Westminster
The Rubens at the Palace, located opposite the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, has added a festive spin to its delicious afternoon tea, complete with unlimited mulled wine. Enjoy delicate finger sandwiches like turkey and cranberry and smoked Scottish salmon and horseradish cream cheese, as well as freshly baked plain and honey and white chocolate scones. Seasonal cakes and pastries include a Christmas tree-shaped almond financier with chestnut cream, a candy cane macaroon with tonka bean and white chocolate ganache and cranberry jelly, and Yule log with hazelnut cream, dark chocolate mousse and caramelised hazelnuts. Available from 18 November until 5 January priced £55pp (£19 for under 12s; book here). You can also enjoy the Royal Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea on Christmas Day for £75pp, served with two glasses of Lanson Champagne (£45 for ages 12-18 and £19 for under 12s; book here). Tea lovers also have the option to upgrade to the The Golden Tips Experience, served with Ceylon Golden Tips, a rare tea produced in the highlands of Sri Lanka, priced £500 (book here).
39 Buckingham Palace Road, Westminster SW1W 0PS; rubenshotel.com
17 Christmas Par-tea at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate, Westminster
Taj 51 Buckingham Gate suites and residences has launched a limited-edition Christmas Afternoon Tea that’s perfect for families and friends to enjoy in the relaxed ambience of the five-star hotel’s restaurant, Kona. Join the cheeky Santa Gnomes in a woodland wonderland for an indulgent Christmas Par-tea experience that starts with warming shot of warm cocoa and whipped cream, followed by woodland savoury treats such as a festive egg mayo and mustard cress pinwheel, Rosemary roast beef roulade with horseradish cream and sweet honey-glazed turkey on cranberry bread. Sweet treats include a Spiced Aurora (traditional rich cinnamon eggnog full of flavour), Santa’s Helpers (a sweet selection of gingerbread gnomes), An Evening in the Forest (a flavoursome seasonal dark fruit cake full forest berries) and Giggling Gobbles (festive cranberry and orange blossom scones). Available daily from 1-31 December with sittings at 12.30pm, 2.30pm & 4.30pm, priced £45pp.
Taj 51 Buckingham Gate, Westminster SW1E 6AF; taj51buckinghamgate.co.uk
18 Festive Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough Hotel, Hyde Park Corner
The Lanesborough is at its most magical during the holiday season, when it transforms into an enchanted mansion filled with beautiful displays. The hotel’s award-winning afternoon tea, served daily in the majestic surrounds of Michelin-star Céleste, or in the Withdrawing Room, has also taken a seasonally-sweet festive twist. Head Pastry Chef Fabio Bardi and his team have reimagined Christmas classics, with sandwiches swapped for smoked salmon roulade, turkey cranberry brioche and pumpkin tart. Festive sweets include a Santa belt made of spicy apple and pear mousse, a Rudolf nougat mousse and a Christmas tree of hazelnut and dark chocolate. Teas include the exotic Chocolate Brownie, White Choco Chili and Rhubarb & Vanilla. Available from 20 November until 7 January priced £60pp, or £79 per person with a glass of Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut. You can also opt for a 0% alcohol Pierre Chavin sparkling rosé.
Hyde Park Corner SW1X 7TA; oetkercollection.com
19 The London Secret Garden, South Kensington
The London Secret Garden is a winter garden in South Kensington offering igloo dining with cosy faux furs, a winter warming food and cocktail menu, and a festive afternoon tea with mulled wine and pigs in blankets. The unique space, by a beautiful church where poet T. S. Eliot was Warden for 20 years, has five igloos, each named after an iconic singer from recent times (Bowie and Freddie Mercury are among the honoured), and a memorial garden area for the victims of the 2017 Grenfell tragedy. The festive afternoon tea menu includes sandwiches and savouries such as Wiltshire smoked ham with spiced tomato chutney on rye bread, oak smoked Scottish salmon with dill cream cheese on wholegrain bread, and a caramelised red onion and Somerset brie tart. Sweet bites include pistachio and white chocolate cake, strawberry millefeulle, and a chocolate and walnut brownie. £35pp or £45pp with a glass of champagne.
100 Cromwell Road, South Kensington SW7 4ER; londonsecretgarden.co.uk