Not that any of us need an excuse for a mid-afternoon sweet treat with a cup of tea (or a glass of something stronger on the weekend), but now we now have one – National Afternoon Tea Week is here, running August 9 to 15. So frock up and treat yourself to something really special with our pick of London’s best afternoon teas held in some of the city’s most opulant rooms…
Photo: Petersham Nurseries Richmond
1 Van Gogh Hotel Cafe Royal
In partnership with Van Gogh The Immersive Experience, this van Gogh inspired afternoon tea is taken in the exquisite Oscar Wilde Lounge which is still in its original 1800s glory (including wine stains on the ceiling’s paintings from raucous nights back in the day). The tea is appropriately indulgent and decadent, and hefty as well. Menu items relate to aspects of the exhibition or van Gogh’s work, most visibly in the pastries and chocolates to finish with – The Starry Night, a cheesecake with pink grapefruit compote and orange marmalade, a rich pecan and coffee mousse with a self portrait of the artist on top, and a sunflower made with white chocolate petals, sunflower seed praline and salted caramel with a dark chocolate button base. Set all of this off with a pianist on a baby grand tapping out modern classics like Toto’s Africa, and soundtrack classics.
Van Gogh Afternoon Tea at Hotel Cafe Royal, from £65 per person, dietary requirements can be accommodated including halal and vegan; available until January 5, 2022; hotelcaferoyal.com
2 Alice in Wonderland Afternoon Tea at The Ivy Kensington Brasserie
To celebrate the V&A’s exhibition Alice: Curiouser and Curiouser, The Ivy Kensington Brassiere is hosting magical afternoon teas that come with technicolour cocktails named Queen of Heats, Down the Rabbit Hole and the Pool of Tears if you fancy trying one. The tea is a mix of sweet and savoury treats, from smoked salmon and cream cheese on beetroot bread, to salted caramel chocolate cups and passion fruit macaroons.
On until Thursday September 2; served daily between 3pm-5pm; from £27.95; 96 Kensington High Street, W8 4SG; theivykensingtonbrasserie.com
3 Afternoon Tea at Searcys at The Gherkin
Putting the ‘high’ in high tea with its stunning 360-degree views across the City of London, afternoon tea at Searcys at The Gherkin is as feast for the stomach and eye. Enjoy a selection of mini savouries, indulgent pastries and sweet treats such as Searcy’s signature Victoria or passionfruit éclair, which you can pair with a Moët & Chandon – either a glass or go bottomless.
On until Tuesday, November 30; served Monday to Friday 2pm-4pm, Saturday 2.30pm-4pm; from £49; 30 St Mary Axe, EC3A 8BF; searcysatthegherkin.co.uk
4 The Petersham Elephant Family Afternoon Tea, Covent Garden
This afternoon tea donates a portion (£10 from each afternoon tea) of the proceeds to charity Elephant Family, which works to protect Asian wildlife (mainly elephants, obvs) and their habitat. It’s also held in Petersham’s delightful floral-filled Covent Garden location and has been created to reflect Elephant Family’s new Co-Existence campaign. It incorporates the heady spices of the Indian sub-continent and the fresh flavours of spring with dishes such as spring pea and potato samosas, banana and turmeric macaron and coconut eclairs. Also, scones are served with Petersham’s own jams.
Thursday to Saturday; 3pm-5pm; £55 which includes a hibiscus cocktail or mocktail; Floral Court, 27 King Street, WC2E 9DS; petershamnurseries.com
A quintessential London afternoon tea held in the Landmark London’s eighth floor glass atrium. Guests munch on smoked Scottish salmon, egg mayonnaise and mustard cress filled finger sandwiches followed by raisin and apple scones with Cornish clotted cream, English strawberry and mint tartlets, peach and lemon verbena choux with Chantilly cream and black cherry and vanilla bakewell tarts.
Friday 3pm-5:30pm; Saturday to Sunday 1pm-5:30pm, and every day between Monday, August 9 and Sunday, August 15 for National Afternoon Tea Week; from £58 pp; 222 Marylebone Road, NW1 6JQ; landmarklondon.co.uk
6 Traditional, Vegan or Halal Afternoon Tea at The Rubens’
It must be said that the traditional afternoon tea is not particularly dietary requirement friendly. Well, The Rubens’ has addressed that with additional vegetarian, vegan, halal and gluten free menus. So now whatever you can or can’t eat, you can still try out one of London’s most long-standing and finest afternoon teas, taken in the hotel’s Palace Lounge which overlooks Buckingham Palace’s Royal Mews. Afternoon teas here are a fresh twist on a traditional take, and you have the option to chose bottomless Champagne as well. To accommodate vegetarian, vegan, halal and gluten-free requests, please let the hotel know at least 24 hours in advance.
Monday to Friday and Sunday 12pm – 5pm, Saturday 12pm-6pm; prices start from £45 and currently The Rubens’ is offering 25 per cent off the Halal Afternoon Tea, making it £46.50 pp; 39 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 0PS; rubenshotel.com
7 Garden Afternoon Tea at Petersham Nurseries Richmond
For an afternoon tea that is rich in rustic beauty, head to Petersham Nurseries in Richmond for the Garden Afternoon Tea which is taken with a backdrop of the nurseries’ wild gardens. The menu offers wholesome and nourishing treats that complement Petersham Nurseries’ wild, natural charm. Presented on a Florentine-style hand-blown glass cake stand, dishes including hot smoked mackerel pate with horseradish, dill and pickled carosello cucumber on rye, green and purple asparagus and ricotta tartlet, brown sugar meringue with walnuts and buttermilk scones.
Friday to Sunday, and bank holiday Monday; 12pm, 12.30pm, 2pm, 2.30pm; from £45 with tea; Richmond, TW10 7AQ; petershamnurseries.com
8 The Crown Jewels Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons Hotel London
Dine on a Crown Jewels inspired afternoon tea served under the domed ceiling of the luxe Rotunda Lounge. Traditional finger sandwiches are loaded with classic fillings – egg mayonnaise with truffle oil, coronation chicken and minted cucumber. The selection of pastries include The Ruby, made with chocolate, red cherry and green cardamom and inspired by the imperial state crown. There’s also The Coin, made with orange and black sesame, and inspired by the Tower of London’s series of commemorative coins. For an experience that is even more extra, book a private roof terrace so you can take your afternoon tea with a view of the Tower of London and the Thames.
Served Friday to Sunday; 2pm-5pm; from £40; 10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ; fourseasons.com
9 Bouquet De La Reine Afternoon Tea at Great Scotland Yard Hotel
A new tea for the hotel, this one is in collaboration with perfumers Floris London and is a multi-sensory tea based on the Queen’s fragrance hosted in the hotel’s Victorian parlour. Pastries and cakes include rose and pistachio drizzle cake, and delicate violet leaf madeleines. Probably less inspired by the Queen’s perfume, the decadent sandwich fillings include cheddar, gougere and Exmoor Caviar, and chicken breast with tarragon mayonnaise. Rare Tea Company teas will be on the brew and you have the option of sipping on Ruinart Champange too.
Served Saturday and Sunday 1pm-5pm and everyday for the duration of Afternoon Tea Week; from £50;3-5 Great Scotland Yard, SW1A 2HN; hyatt.com
10 Ultimate Bottomless Afternoon Tea at The Montague on the Gardens
The Montague’s Ultimate Bottomless Afternoon Tea, a refined Afternoon Tea experience with a twist. For 90 minutes, enjoy an endless supply of Lanson Champagne and food – cucumber and cream cheese, and smoked salmon with lemon mayonnaise finger sandwiches, scones and seasonal pastries. With a guaranteed table on the outdoor terrace, you can enjoy views of the stunning private Bedford Estate while you dine.
Served Fridays and Sundays; 1pm – 5pm, £85; vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options are available;15 Montague St, WC1B 5BJ; montaguehotel.com
11 The Hatter’s Tea Party at The Egerton House Hotel
Inspired by the timeless classic Alice in Wonderland, and the unforgettable Mad Hatter, comes this fun, frivolous tea party featuring treats like the Queen of Hearts (a homemade raspberry jam tart with almond crumble), Pearl of Oysters (a white chocolate Lanson Champagne truffle), Plum Pudding (vanilla posset with stewed plums), and Eat Me (a chocolate cake with a rich buttercream icing). Sandwiches include H Forman’s smoked salmon, free-range egg mayonnaise, Blythburgh roast ham and English mustard, cucumber and cream cheese, and coronation chicken.
Served Monday to Sunday 12pm-6pm; from £52; vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and kids options are available and there’s also a dog-friendly afternoon tea too; 17-19 Egerton Terrace, Kensington, SW3 2BX; egertonhousehotel.com
12 Traditional Afternoon Tea at The Milestone Hotel
For a regal experience, this traditional afternoon tea is inspired by the latest season of The Crown at The Milestone Hotel which sits across from Kensington Palace and Gardens. Served in Cheneston’s Restaurant, the Park Lounge or the Conservatory, on offer are delicate finger sandwiches, homemade preserves, éclairs, tartlets, cupcakes and macarons. As its crowning glory (pun intended) is an edible gold tiara, placed atop a raspberry, strawberry and Valhrona chocolate mousse cube, sprayed with royal purple and with a pistachio biscuit core.
Served Monday to Sunday; 1pm to 5pm; from £55; 1 Kensington Court, W8 5DL; milestonehotel.com