Where to enjoy afternoon tea in London
17th July 2018
Afternoon tea is a quintessential British dining experience. This comforting, relaxing, and elegant affair is a favourite of countless people up and down the country and is also something that visitors from abroad look forward to trying when they arrive. Good tea, a variety of sandwiches, scones, and a tasty slice of cake – it doesn’t get much better than that. The good news is that there are myriad fine establishments one can visit and London might be home to the largest number of them. From hotels to restaurants, patisseries to dedicated team rooms, there’s a lot on offer. This guide to where to enjoy afternoon tea in London highlights some of the absolute standouts in the city, letting you know about the locations and menus, so that you can get busy planning your next afternoon tea excursion.
Fortnum & Mason
The classy Piccadilly department store Fortnum & Mason has a wealth of history when it comes to producing and selling incredible tea and for those looking for the best of London’s afternoon tea spots, Fortnum & Mason has to be in the conversation. Served up in their elegant tea salon, an afternoon with them is not to be missed.
Fortnum & Mason describe what visitors can expect from their wonderful afternoon tea experience: “The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is on the fourth floor of Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly. It serves 52 types of tea including rare varieties. The afternoon tea consists of delicate patisserie, plain and fruit scones with Somerset Clotted Cream and Fortnum & Mason preserves, and finger sandwiches. There is also a cake trolley which is bottomless so guests can indulge!
“Savoury afternoon tea is also a highlight – with bacon and egg scones served with Fortnum’s English Mustard and cheese and tomato scones with herb butter. Instead of patisserie, the top plate boasts delicious savouries including Smoked Salmon Macaroon, Cashew Nut Cheesecake and Portland Crab Salad. There is also a vegetarian option and with a little notice, the Salon can accommodate dietary requirements such as vegan or gluten-free. Priced at £49 per person, with the option to add Rare Tea being £53 per person.”
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is a classic British story and at One Aldwych they have used Roald Dahl’s beloved tale as a theme for their spectacular afternoon tea. Featuring golden chocolate eggs, chocolate caramel milk, and chocolate tea, this unique take on afternoon tea is a true highlight. One Aldwych spoke about what makes them such a wonderful location for afternoon tea:
“The ‘Afternoon Tea Inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ uses the freshest seasonal ingredients along with surprising elements that capture the imagination. Executive chef Dominic Teague’s sweet and savoury items are a delicate and scrumdiddlyumptious treat for all, including fans of Charlie Bucket and the curious confectioner Willy Wonka.”
Available every day of the week, the menu is certain to pique your interest, truly separating itself from the competition. The savoury options are more of the classic variety with sandwiches like free-range egg mayonnaise and watercress but once you reach the sweets, diners start to see goodies like bubble-gum panna cotta and home-made candy floss. If you really want to treat yourself, the aptly named whiskey-based Cocktail Charlie is a must, as the team at One Aldwych describe:
“The award-winning Lobby Bar team has created a special Cocktail Charlie for the occasion. Presented in a spectacular smoking teapot, Cocktail Charlie is a sensational mix of Dalmore Whisky, Cherry Marnier, Chocolate bitters and Champagne.”
COMO The Halkin
Afternoon tea at COMO The Halkin isn’t your typical British affair but it’s still a must-try experience when in the city. This afternoon tea comes with a distinct Spanish twist and is served up by the Halkin hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant. This fun and unique take on the classic British tradition of afternoon tea is presented with a great deal of flair and its menu draws influence from Basque cuisine. Instead of sandwiches, diners can look forward to a wonderful selection of savoury tapas (Iberico ham croquettes and tomato and raspberry soup for example), which is then followed by desserts such as passion fruit cake, Catalan cream and ametsa cheesecake. This is all complimented by a tantalising choice of Jing Teas – including white, green, and black – and served up in the Halkin bar and lounge between 2.30 pm and 5 pm Monday to Sunday.
Balthazar, an incredibly popular and respected restaurant in Covent Garden, is well known for its artisan bread and patisseries that are all made in-house. Balthazar is also highly regarded when it comes to afternoon tea, with the restaurant even forming a special partnership with online flower delivery service FLOWERBX. Francesco Cappucci, Restaurant Director at Caprice Holdings, went into detail about all that visitors can look forward to:
“Located in the heart of London's Covent Garden, Balthazar provides a well-earned break to those exploring the local area or indulging in some retail therapy. Originating from the New York brasserie of the same name, Balthazar offers an elegant all-day dining experience, with a beautiful afternoon tea nodding to its British surroundings.
“Balthazar's latest afternoon tea collaboration with floral delivery experts FLOWERBX, sees Chef Régis Beauregard create a selection of cakes that represent the season’s most exquisite flowers. To start, guests can enjoy a selection of traditional sandwiches, followed by buttermilk scones with Devonshire clotted cream and home-made strawberry preserve.
“This is followed by a selection of beautiful cakes resembling seasonal blooms in beautiful FLOWERBX hues: Sky Blue Hydrangea, Violaceous Tulips, Petal White Anemone, Sunburst Dahlia, and the deep red Balthazar Rose, specially created for the collaboration.
“Each FLOWERBX-inspired cake has been expertly paired with flavours to complement both the flower and the hue. These include Apple and Blackberry Tulip, Coconut and Yuzu Hydrangea, Salted Caramel Anemone, Lemon & Blueberry Dahlia and Balthazar Raspberry Rose.”
Image credit: 108 Pantry
108 Pantry is located in the Marylebone Hotel’s Edwardian townhouse and will prove itself to be an exquisite choice for afternoon tea in England’s capital city. This bright and modern space offers breakfast and light lunch options, but nowhere does it excel better than with its English Country Garden afternoon tea, designed to capture the essence of an idyllic countryside setting with ever-changing seasonal ingredients. 108 Pantry’s menu includes a selection of gorgeous rare teas, a glass of English sparkling wine, savoury items such as Dorset crab and coronation chicken tartlet, as well as must-try sweets like lavender pannacotta and rhubarb profiterole. Oh, and the classic British favourite, strawberries and cream, is also on the menu, the perfect treat to finish off what will surely be a splendid afternoon. Prices and menu are available on their website.
Situated inside an 18th-century building in luxurious Mayfair, Sketch is a bright and vibrant destination where food and art come together as one. Set out over two floors, Sketch’s team of chefs have been wowing diners with inspired menus but it’s their afternoon tea that truly stands out. At Sketch there are three different options to be enjoyed: there’s the classic afternoon tea which offers an assortment of finger sandwiches, sultana or plain scones, traditional Victoria sponge served from the trolley, and other mouth-watering desserts like Mara de Bois strawberry cheesecake and caramel and chocolate eclairs, all, of course, served with the finest selection of teas. Sketch also offer a champagne afternoon tea and an alcohol-free bubbly afternoon tea, therefore covering all bases and able to delight each and every guest. For full details, make sure to visit their website.
The best of London’s afternoon tea
As you can see, there’s a lot to be excited by. The above locations are true experts in the world of afternoon tea, taking the experience to incredibly impressive places. Afternoon tea is something that can truly be enjoyed by the whole family and is an especially great idea for those looking to treat their parents/grandparents to a nice outing away from the house. Those who require the use of helpful mobility aids like walk in accessible baths and showers and indoor stairlifts can become ostracised if those around them don’t encourage them to enjoy days out and family get-to-togethers. And what better way to bring the family together or to treat your loved one to a special afternoon than by visiting one of the fine establishments listed above. Enjoy!
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