Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, is my hero. A lady of class, etiquette and style, she is considered to be the brilliant genius who invented my favourite meal – afternoon tea. The best place for afternoon tea in London is a close call as thanks to the Great British Bake Off and our sudden increased interest in all things cake, afternoon tea in London is big business. Scones with jam and cream, victoria sponge or a big slice of brownie, add a pot of tea with a wedge of lemon and your afternoon is set.
With so many options for afternoon tea in the city, we have put together a guide to our top ten places for afternoon tea in London to get you started. So grab your cake fork and loosen your belt – let’s eat cake!
1. The Goring
Let’s start with a favourite of the UK Tea Guild. You can’t get a more reliable review than from the ladies of this guild – they really know their clotted from their whipped cream.
While sipping slowly on a pot of the Goring’s own Afternoon tea blend, you will enjoy perfectly crustless finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and a fine selection of delicate cakes and pastries. Everything is served on a tiered silver stand and you can choose to dine on the terrace overlooking the gardens, in the lounge or on the verandah during summer months.
If you’re going to splurge on afternoon tea at The Goring, then why not do it well and treat yourself to a glass of Bollinger Champagne. Just start saving now – a Bollinger afternoon tea starts from £52.50 per person.
Address: 15 Beeston Place, London, SW1W 0JW
Phone: 0207 396 9000
While most of us get to happily tuck in to cakes, sandwiches and slices, our gluten intolerant friends have to sit and watch us gorge our faces, silent tears falling down their cheeks. Not anymore! The afternoon tea menus at 108 Brasserie offer gluten free (and low-sugar) options for those who just want to eat cake.
What’s even better is that afternoon tea is served daily from 12noon to 6pm – that’s six whole hours of sponge cake. Afternoon tea starts from £28 or add an extra £10 for champagne and strawberries.
Address: 108 Marylebone Lane, London, W1U 2QE
Phone: 0207 969 3900
If anyone knows how to throw an afternoon tea party, it's the Mad Hatter. Sanderson Hotel takes you down the rabbit hole and into a world of riddles, decorative teapots and ticking clocks. The tearoom design by Luna & Curious design collective works perfectly with the dainty sandwiches, home made marshmallows, and delightful ‘Jelly Wonderland’ fruit jellies.
There is a special price for children and on certain weekends, the adults can indulge in a mocktail or glass of champagne.
Address: 50 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NG
Phone: 0207 300 5588
Leave your shorts, vests, sportswear, flip flops, ripped jeans and baseball caps at home – there’ll be none of that at this luxury hotel, thank you very much. Serving classic, champagne and seasonal afternoon teas, you will dine in art-deco style in the Foyer and Reading room at Claridges.
For £55, you can choose from over 24 different loose leaf teas while nibbling daintily on freshly prepared finger sandwiches, raisin and apple scones, and a wonderful array of sweet pastries. Add an extra £10 for the champagne option.
Address: Brook Street, Mayfair, London, W1K 4HR
Phone: 0207 629 8860
5. The Ritz
You can’t look past The Ritz hotel for the ultimate high tea experience. Seated in the Palm Court, you will be surrounded by elegant chandeliers, glamorous guests and devoted wait staff. Every detail is perfect and theatrical – you will feel like you’ve stepped into a film set as you eat your scones.
If you come for the 7.30pm sitting, you will be treated to live music. And gentlemen, don’t forget your jacket and tie otherwise you’ll be going without afternoon tea. There’s a strict dresscode in the Palm Court.
Address: 150 Piccadilly, London. W1J 9BR
Phone: 0207 300 2345
6. Orange Pekoe
While a fancy high tea is a nice treat every now and then, something a little less… uptight, is just as enjoyable. Orange Pekoe is a delightful little café that serves one of the best homemade afternoon teas in London. The staff here know a lot about teas and can offer advice and suggestions on what tea you might like to try.
And the best part is that there is no dress code at Orange Pekoe but if you feel like wearing your favourite dress then feel free!
Address: 3 White Hart Lane, London, SW13 0PX
Phone: 0208 876 6070
Ok, fine. I’m not mentioning this place based purely on the quality of the scones (although they are seriously good). But how frequently do you get to drink tea while surrounded by twelve cats?
Who knows what could happen? By the time you take your last sip, you may have a cute kitten sleeping on your lap, or perhaps all of the feline folk will have completely ignored you. Come and meet Mue, Donnie, Petra and Wookie. And try the cream tea while you’re at it.
Address: 152-154 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London, E26DG
Phone: 0207 729 0953
8. One Aldwych
Oompa, loompa, doobadidoo, do I have another afternoon tea for you. Inspired by Willy Wonka and his amazing chocolate factory, you will think you have won the golden ticket when you have afternoon tea at One Aldwych. There’s blue berry brioche, golden eggs and wispy fairyfloss, all served with a selection of Covent Garden’s Tea Palace loose leaf teas.
Just don’t get too greedy or you might have the oompa loompas taking you away to return to you to your original shape!
Address: 1 Aldwych, London, WC2B 4BZ
Phone: 0207 300 1000
If you’re looking for a location for a special afternoon tea, book a table at Bake-a-Boo in West Hampstead. This adorable café serves afternoon tea on Friday to Sunday but you have to book your table in advance. And it is definitely worth it – you will be drooling over their home made delights such as fresh scones, mini brownies, chocolate dipped strawberries and Boo’s vanilla cupcakes.
Dietary requirements normally get in your way of decent cake? Get excited! Bake-a-Boo has gluten free, sugar free and vegan afternoon tea menus. Everyone can have their cake and you can even order a takeaway afternoon to eat in the comfort of your own home.
We really love their almond tea – it goes particularly well with those delicious vanilla cupcakes!
Address: 86 Mill Lane, West Hampstead, NW6 1NL
Phone: 0207 435 1666
There are so many things to love about this gem of a teahouse. Not only are the scones big balls of buttery goodness and the sandwiches fresh and tasty, you get to wind your way up a narrow staircase at the back of the Coach & Horses pub in order to get there.
For a remarkably great value of just £17.50, this city centre afternoon tea option is a must-try. The tearoom is decorated with vintage furnishings and the mood is set with some 40s jazz and swing playing on a gramophone in the corner. This is great place to escape the madness of the West End and enjoy a soothing brew and a nice slice of cake.
Address: Upstairs at the Coach & Horses, 29 Greek Street, London, W1D 5DH
Phone: 0207 437 5920