theatre royal drury lane

The best afternoon teas in London

04 Aug 2023 | By Annie Lewis

From The Langham to Lyaness, discover the best (and most photogenic) afternoon teas in London

Henry James may have been an American but he hit the nail on the head when he said, “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” There’s something so utterly decadent about this completely unnecessary meal – especially when paired with a glass of mid-afternoon champagne. Finding its origins in the British capital, London remains home to some of the world’s very best and most inventive pastry chefs, creating mouth-wateringly pretty miniatures sandwiches, scones and pastries for your delectation. We’ve scoured the capital to find the best afternoon teas in London to book now.

The Ivy Asia, across London

The famed Asian restaurant in Mayfair, Chelsea and St Paul’s, which is part of The Ivy Collection, has launched its Sakura afternoon tea just in time for the celebratory week. Coupled with a glass of Perrier Jouet champagne, sample some of the brand’s delectable small dishes and popular sweet bites – think aromatic duck spring rolls, vegetable dumplings and spicy avocado maki roll, and finish off with our warm passionfruit and coconut doughnuts and mochi – while taking in the signature green marble flooring and oriental furnishings. 

From £32.95 per person, visit

Tozi Grand Cafe, Battersea

Tozi Grand Cafe, in Battersea Power Station’s new Art’otel, is launching a new Italian afternoon tea in partnership with Good and Proper Tea, giving the English teatime tradition a continental twist. Served on classic bone china from 3-5pm every day in the impressive double-height restaurant – designed by award-winning Spanish artist and designer, Jaime Hayon – the afternoon tea offering will feature three layers of Italian delicacies from across the country. The top tier will feature house-baked pasticcini, such as Morello cherry and hibiscus crostata, chocolate and Earl Grey torta and strawberry and green tea infused macarons. The second tier is a selection of Maritozzi: delicious buns filled with fluffy whipped cream and jam. Good and Proper tea infusions, such as green tea and hibiscus as well as traditional blends of Earl Grey and English breakfast are available, as well as champagne, Franciacorta, and prosecco to add sparkle to the occasion. 

From £28 per person, visit

Balthazar, Covent Garden

Covent Garden brasserie Balthazar is now offering Londoners a taste of Paris thanks to its A Taste of Balthazar afternoon tea. Available Monday to Friday from 2pm-4pm, diners can enjoy a refreshing French 75 cocktail incorporating gin, champagne, lemon juice and sugar, before indulging in an elegant array of French favourites: dressed crab with zesty herb mayonnaise, the Balthazar mini hamburger, a tarragon-poached chicken sandwich with truffle mayonnaise, and a Comté cheese and ham croissant.

Of course, no afternoon tea is complete without a selection of sweet delights. Here they include Paris Brest – a delicious choux pastry filled with luscious praline cream – as well as the Gateau Opera, a blend of coffee-soaked sponge layered with ganache and French buttercream. For those with a penchant for classics, we’re sure you’ll love the crème brûlée with its smooth, creamy custard base, and a timeless apple tart. 

From £80 for two people, visit

The Kensington, South Kensington

the kensington afternoon tea

The charming Kensington hotel is calling on all mini trailblazers and companions as it’s time to embark on the new 80 Days Around the World afternoon tea. Children will be gifted bespoke colouring sets, Kensington teddy bears and an Around The World In 80 Days book, so they’re ready to travel the globe from the heart of The Kensington. Take in the sights and savour the flavours as you travel from Blighty to far-flung climes, starting in Yemen with a baked flatbread topped with three cheeses, tomato and cumin, before stopping off in India for an elegantly spiced green chutney and cucumber sandwich. Then, if the mood takes you, why not travel south to Singapore for a pandan and mango delice? This afternoon tea of adventures is £45 per child including a choice of traditional British bites, such as a sandwich selection, sweet treats, homemade freshly baked scones, and hot chocolate. 

From £58 per person, visit

The Coral Room at The Bloomsbury, Bloomsbury

the bloomsbury afternoon tea

The Coral Room at The Bloomsbury will be launching a new summer afternoon tea menu from 7 August. Let your creative juices flow as you spend the afternoon sketching and savouring an ar-tea-stic afternoon tea in the vibrant and bold surroundings of The Coral Room, inspired by the 1920s and designed by Martin Brudnizki. You’ll be welcomed with a complimentary spritz and a painter’s sketching set from local art store, L Cornelissen, so you can sit back, feel inspired and sample culinary delights. The menu will include delicious treats, from traditional cucumber and crème fraiche finger sandwiches to sour cherry and pistachio tart and spiced pumpkin cake. 

From £45 per person, visit 

The Stafford, St James’

The Stafford London, renowned for its timeless elegance and exceptional hospitality, has just relaunched its new sophisticated afternoon tea offered daily from 12-5.30pm. Served from a bespoke cake trolley for an added sense of theatre and occasion, and to allow guests to choose their preferred cakes and pastries, the new recipes have been created collaboratively by Magdalena Velczenbach, The Stafford’s head pastry chef, and executive chef Lisa Goodwin-Allen. To accompany the sweets and savouries – expect finger sandwiches such as honey-roasted ham with mustard mayonnaise and truffled egg brioche bun with Earl Grey alongside honey layer cake and coffee choux bun – choose from an array of infusions by Camellia’s Tea House. For those wishing to celebrate in style, enjoy a chilled glass of champagnes from the extensive wine list.

From £70 per person, visit

Masala Zone, Piccadilly

Bringing fire and spice to the traditional teatime concept, the Masala High Chai at Piccadilly’s Masala Zone is inspired by the sacred tradition of afternoon tea in India. Drawing inspiration from several Indian regions, the menu includes authentic savoury bites, such as bhajias, pakoras and mini baroda batata vadas, alongside traditional sandwich fillings reimagined with punchy flavours. Think chicken tikka and cheese with a spiced Bombay green herb chutney alongside the restaurant’s famous mini lamb sliders. Moving onto the sweet treats, tuck into mango srikhand and nankhatai biscuit perfectly paired with the restaurant’s signature masala chai, poured from colourful, hand-painted Indian teapots.

From £32 per person, visit

The Prince Akatoki, Marylebone

the prince akatoki afternoon tea

The Prince Akatoki, the five-star Japanese-inspired hotel situated in the heart of Marylebone, is providing a fresh take on the beloved British concept in time for Afternoon Tea Week. Experience a menu full of fusion blends and authentic Japanese flavours with the Koko afternoon tea, served in The Malt Lounge, which includes savoury delights such as brioche of seared tuna, avocado, wasabi dressing, and chicken katsu sando, as well as pastries including matcha and pistachio cake and yuzu crème brûlée. The event is often accompanied by live music from Japanese musician, Keiko Kitamura, and also features a selection of premium teas as well as an optional sake pairing by Akashi-Tai for an additional £13.

From £62, visit

The Athenaeum, Green Park

the athenaeum

Indulge your sweet tooth with this quintessential afternoon tea, served alongside an extensive range of artisan teas and infusions. We recommend the house-blend infusions, especially the antioxidant Blue-tea-ful and naturally immune-boosting Rosy Glow, which combines rose, marigold and hibiscus to create a sweet hot beverage. Food-wise, choose from a selection of traditional sandwiches, such as cucumber and cream cheese and coronation chicken, before enjoying innovative sweet treats including mint and dark chocolate brownie, rose and lychee mousse, and cherry blossom macarons alongside plain and raisin scones.

Sugar not your thing? The Athenaeum has recently launched a savoury afternoon tea. Enjoy an array of homemade sandwiches and Lincolnshire Poacher Cheddar scones before tucking into a selection of savoury pastries and cakes including venison sausage roll, Welsh rarebit, and quail egg and mushroom tartlet.

From £45 per person, visit

Shangri-La The Shard, Southwark

shangri la afternoon tea

Create unforgettable memories in the clouds at London’s tallest building with a Pink Afternoon Tea served at the Ting Lounge at Shangri-La The Shard. The restaurant's latest menu is in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and coincides with The Shard turning pink for the duration of October, in partnership with leading charity Breast Cancer Now.

Surrounded by a blossoming pink floral display and vibrant magenta orchids, this year’s Pink Afternoon Tea – where £1 from every booking will be donated to Breast Cancer Now – will feature a selection of finger sandwiches made with freshly-baked pink bread filled with Coronation chicken, smoked salmon and cucumber, classic Reuben and truffle egg and cress. Rose-pink sweet and savoury scones accompanied by strawberry jam and clotted cream lead into an array of pastel-hued treats, including a blush sphere filled with shiso mousse, grapefruit and black pepper, a layered cake with pistachio and sour cherries and ’Shang Mont Rose’ with blackcurrant and mousse. To finish, a miniature pink Shard building filled with white chocolate, apple compote and cinnamon sponge will be served over billowing clouds of dry ice.

From £75 per person, visit

The Lane, Covent Garden

theatre royal drury lane

Having emerged from a thorough refurbishment just a couple of years ago, Theatre Royal Drury Lane — the oldest continuously-used theatre site in the world — restyled itself as The Lane, with a host of new eating, drinking and entertainment options available alongside the famed theatre. As well as The Garden restaurant, Cecil Beaton bar and Rotunda champagne bar, the venue has pressed its Grand Saloon into service to offer an exquisite afternoon tea: the only one served in a West End theatre

Inspired by the stunning surrounds of the saloon, the Regency afternoon tea menu has been created in collaboration with A-list London baker Lily Vanilli and features savoury treats, including a bitesize English crumpet topped with Earl Grey infused cream cheese and smoked salmon; a savoury madeleine with whipped English feta and pickled heritage carrot; and seasonal mini pies in traditional British flavours. The mini pies will change seasonally throughout the year, and the current flavour is coronation chicken with caramelised onion chutney.  Warm scones are paired with salted whipped butter, homemade jam and cream, alongside a decadent sweet selection, which includes Lily Vanilli’s fluffy vanilla cake filled with passionfruit and buttercream, topped by a handmade chocolate cupid; a mini sticky toffee pudding filled with a custard centre and a delicious strawberry ice cream sandwich layered with marshmallow, brown sugar biscuit and dark chocolate. 

From £59 per person, visit

Aqua Shard, London Bridge

aqua shard peter pan afternoon tea

Served high above the city skyline in the venue’s triple-height atrium, Aqua Shard invites you to whisk the kids off to Neverland with its Peter Pan afternoon tea, in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Inspired by the magical characters of J.M Barrie’s beloved story, with confections including Tinker Bell cookies, Tick-Tock the Crocodile desserts and Peter Pan’s Secret Never Tree Entrance, this nostalgic offering is served on tea stands inspired by Captain Hook’s ship, the Jolly Roger, floating atop a mystical sea of dry ice.

Drinks are just as spectacular, with a special Fairy Dust cocktail on offer (mint and cucumber Ketel One botanical, apple liqueur, ginger switchel, Kaffir lime, absinthe and gold dust), and, for the kids, a non-alcoholic Never Grow Up punch with pineapple and pear puree, elderflower tonic and grenadine. Those who like their afternoon tea a little more traditional can enjoy two specials created for the occasion: the Darling Tea and the Adventure Tea. So, that’s the second star to the right, then straight on ‘til morning. See you there.

From £61 per person, visit

The Londoner, Leicester Square

the londoner

Hosted in the Londoner hotel’s opulent champagne bar, The Stage, this decadent champagne afternoon tea offering comprises the best of British tea traditions, with fine loose-leaf tea from the East India Company and an impressive spread of treats curated by Executive Pastry Chef Dale DeSimone. Guests of Afternoon Tea at The Stage are invited to indulge in a selection of delectable delights, with sandwiches including smoked salmon and Devon crab with yuzu kosho crème fraîche, and lemon-roasted Norfolk chicken with truffle mayonnaise. Elsewhere, freshly baked artisanal cakes and patisserie creations include hazelnut dacquoise finished with milk chocolate glaze, banoffee pie sandwich, Yuzu yoghurt gâteaux and vegan black forest with chocolate soya namelaka accompanied by a cherry compôte. Enjoy washed down with tea, or one of The Stage’s 35 bottles of bubbles, as you are serenaded by live pianists, harpists and vocalists.

From £55 per person, visit

Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square, Clerkenwell

four seasons hotel

Inspired by its neighbouring national treasures at the Tower of London, the Four Seasons serves its Crown Jewels afternoon tea in its opulent Rotunda Lounge — the perfect treat for busy tourists and seasoned Londoners. Kick off your royal celebration by tucking into a range of delicate finger sandwiches, filled with coronation chicken, beef pastrami and smoked salmon. The real star of the show is the selection of dainty pastries, including The Crown, inspired by King Edward’s crown, featuring Yorkshire rhubarb compote, Madagascar vanilla crémeux, yuzu sponge and The Ruby, comprising chocolate-infused Timut berry, cranberry and grapefruit confit washed down with a number of fine teas. 

From £65 per person, visit

The Guardsman, Buckingham Gate

the guardsman

Inspired by the native flora of our Royal Parks, this brilliantly British afternoon tea from The Guardsman looks just as delightful as it tastes. Begin with a selection of sandwiches, from Burford brown egg mimosa and rocket mayonnaise to Golstein Scottish salmon, cream cheese and lemon butter, followed by irresistible pastries including a raspberry, pistachio and Chantilly cream tart, and the Toadstool – a light strawberry and cream sponge – alongside freshly baked scones with Dorset clotted cream and jams. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free afternoon teas are all available, and the price includes a glass of champagne for good measure.

From £65 per person, visit

Searcys at the Gherkin, City of London

searcys at the gherkin

Boasting 360-degree panoramic views of London’s dramatic skyline, you’d be hard-pressed to find an afternoon tea offering with a better backdrop than that of Searcys at the Gherkin, and with 175 years of afternoon tea experience, you can rest assured Searcys knows what it’s doing. Paired with a glass of English sparkling wine, or Whispering Angel rosé, this delectable high tea offering includes a range of savouries and sweet treats, including Jersey fruit and plain scones, served with Cornish clotted cream and jams, followed by indulgent pastries of Florentine chocolate tart, blackberry macaron and caramel choux.

From £55 per person, visit

The Savoy, The Strand

savoy afternoon tea

Served under the elegant glass-domed atrium of the Thames Foyer restaurant, guests have been coming to The Savoy for afternoon tea for more than a century. Led by Simona Spennati, The Savoy’s expert pastry team has devised a menu of signature cakes and pastries including Graceburn feta and Scottish smoked salmon open sandwiches, an apple delice with Nottinghamshire Bramley apple mousse and a signature Savoy sandwich with honey sponge and clementine marmalade. Vegan and vegetarian options are also available and don't forget to add a glass of Nyetimber English Sparkling Wine or Laurent-Perrier Champagne to make the event that much more special.

From £75 per person, visit

Palm Court at The Langham, Fitzrovia

palm court at the langham afternoon tea

One of London’s true grande dame hotels, The Langham is the undisputed birthplace of afternoon tea. Still served in the glamorously serene Palm Court, where the very first afternoon tea was served in 1865, its modern offering draws on this extraordinary legacy and the generations of exceptional chefs who have helmed the kitchen. Now overseen by Michel Roux Jr and executive pastry chef Andrew Gravett, The Langham afternoon tea is a celebration of all things British. 

A vast list of Jing teas are served in delicate Wedgwood teacups (or Gusbourne sparkling wine in champagne flutes, if you wish) while pastries take their cues from classic British biscuits, with a particularly memorable take on a Custard Cream with a chocolate shell, intense Madagascan vanilla cream, caramel cake, and éclat. Chocolate enthusiasts will delight in the Chocolate + Fudge = Cake inspired by a classic chocolate cake made up of double chocolate sponge topped with ultra creamy chocolate and fudge. There are also seasonal finger sandwiches, including Devon white chicken on garam masala bread, smoked salmon and pesto, and cucumber and cream cheese, a miniature Ploughman’s cheese scone and, of course, some of the best sweet scones you’ll find in the city.

From £75 per person, visit

The Beaumont, Mayfair

the beaumont afternoon tea

Fresh from an extensive refurbishment, The Beaumont hotel's afternoon tea offering is quintessentially English — with just a hint of American modernity. Vegan, gluten-free and children's menus are all available, to be enjoyed among the richly panelled surrounds and world-class art collection of the hotel's Gatsby Room. The trans-Atlantic menu promises treats including oak smoked lox, devilled eggs, and a saltwater taffy, accompanied by fine Jing teas, Gusbourne English Sparkling Wine or an innovative non-alcoholic sparkling tea.

From £66 per person, visit

Pan Pacific London, Liverpool Street 

pan pacific afternoon tea

Having opened its doors in 2021, the Pan Pacific London has been impressing guests with its delectable afternoon tea offering ever since. Served in the gorgeous surrounds of the Orchid Lounge restaurant, the Singaporean-inspired Kopi Tiam (named for the country’s traditional coffee shops) eschews sandwiches in favour of south east Asian savoury delicacies including steamed lotus buns stuffed with salted egg yolk and custard sauce, sweet potato buns topped with coconut flakes and a siu mai basket of prawn, beef, spinach and mushroom dumplings. These are served alongside a range of unusual pastries, including the Lemon Drop with raspberry and peach and Basil Smash with strawberry. A more classic afternoon tea menu is available for traditionalists, while tea is sourced from the Rare Tea Company, with a Tea Connoisseur on hand to suggest perfect pairings, and a range of champagnes and English sparkling wines are also on offer.

From £62 per person, visit

The Great Scotland Yard Hotel, Westminster

Housed, as you may have guessed, in the former Great Scotland Yard building, located between the Houses of Parliament and Trafalgar Square, this is a brilliant option for anyone entertaining guests also interested in seeing the London sights. Served in the Parlour, a sumptuously decorated space that takes its cues from Britain’s colonial past and the introduction of tea from China and India, the hotel’s Mulberry Fig afternoon tea has been created in collaboration with royal perfumer Floris.

The multi-sensory afternoon tea has been inspired by the notes of the historical British fragrance Mulberry Fig, which inspired head pastry chef, Verónica Garrido Martínez, to explore this exclusive perfume. The scent evokes a floral oriental fragrance combining the soft powdery character of orris with hints of fruit and spice, reflected through an assortment of delicious cakes and patisserie. Indulge in savoury finger sandwiches such as smoked salmon, horseradish, dill on malted bread and egg truffle mayo on briochette. With freshly baked warm scones accompanied with Cornish clotted rhubarb and elderflower jam, dine on an assortment of delicate pastries and cakes including raspberry and violet tartlet, coconut and cardamom layered slice and fig, hazelnut and yogurt mousse.

From £59 per person, visit

The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner

lanesborough afternoon tea

If you're after traditional pastries with an Instagrammable twist this is the afternoon tea for you. Settle down in five-star comfort in the hotel’s pretty powder-blue dining room, The Lanesborough Grill, before sampling the Queen Charlotte afternoon tea inspired by the latest Bridgerton story released on Netflix in May. Expertly crafted by head pastry chef, Salvatore Mungiovino, the menu pays tribute to the key characters in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story with Your Majesty, an exquisite sharing cake, King George Dreams of Venus inspired by the monarch's passion for astronomy and the Danbury Delight, a nod to Lady Danbury's love of hats and jewels.

From £75 per person, visit

Rosewood London, Bloomsbury

Inspired by David Hockney, executive pastry chef Mark Perkins looked to his eagerly-awaited exhibition at Lightroom: Bigger & Closer for the Rosewood London’s latest Art Afternoon Tea offering. Served in the hotel's elegant Mirror Room, the eye-catching pastries feature key moments throughout Hockney’s life, from his time in Yorkshire and Los Angeles while combining classic British flavours with iconic US desserts. To further immerse guests into Hockney’s world, Rosewood London partnered with stylist and set designer, Camilla Wordie to ‘Hockneyfy’ the Mirror Room’s interiors. Wordie has taken Hockney’s everyday essentials and turned them into sophisticated sets with a highly detailed approach playing with colour, props, and whimsical nods to Hockney’s personal style including his statement yellow Crocs, flat cap, and glasses.

From £75 per person, visit

The Rosebery at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London

the rosebery afternoon tea

The Rosebery, named after Lord Rosebery, was a stylish tea room in the 1920s and it reopened in 2014 as a contemporary tea salon, making the most of its Victorian features, high ceilings and the natural light that floods in. Here, it's easy to forget that bustling Knightsbridge traffic streams by outside. Also exceptional and worthy of note are the staff – without exception impeccably polite and informative, with a relaxed charm.

Tea lovers, rejoice. The British Summer Season afternoon tea menu has no fewer than 29 loose-leaf teas on offer and do take advice about which you might most enjoy. Savour the sandwich selection (our highlights include the famed egg with truffle and braised Hereford beef) but resist the temptation to accept more — you're going to need to save room. Scones come with rose petal jelly and summer fruit jam. Drawing on the Asian flavours synonymous with the hotel group, the handmade pastries include Match Point Delight with kefir lime mousse and mango whereas the Sweet Summer Choc combines dark chocolate ice cream with dulce de leche. Take your time, enjoy every mouthful, and go ravenous.

From £75 per person, visit

The Berkeley, Knightsbridge

berkeley pret-a-portea aw22

The Berkeley launched its now legendary fashion-themed Prêt-à-Portea back in 2006, when most hotels in London drew the line at anything more outré than sandwiches and scones. Nowadays, the vogue is for quirky, themed afternoon teas, and The Berkeley did it first. Every six months, its menu of couture cakes changes to reflect the latest catwalk trends and designs. This season’s Prêt-à-Portea takes SS23 trends and key pieces and reimagines them into foodie fancies such as Loewe’s memorable anthurium gown inspiring a Sacher sponge with espresso caramel and chcocolate mousse, and Victoria sponge and chocolate feathers defining Hermès' bucket bag. Enjoy these creative cakes with savoury canapés, sandwiches and, of course, plenty of tea.

From £80 per person, visit

The Dorchester, Hyde Park

the dorchester afternoon tea chelsea flower show

Served in the hotel's magnificent, newly-renovated Promenade Restaurant, afternoon tea at The Dorchester is about as traditional as they come and begins with a glass of Veuve Clicquot champagne, poured by an impeccably polite, tail-coated waiter. A bounty of crust-free sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream and tiers of almost-too-pretty-to-eat French pastries by pastry chef Michael Kwan follow, featuring pistachio and apricot Swiss roll and raspberry Bakewell tart. Fanciful fare is complemented by an extensive menu of teas, including The Dorchester's unique house blend. From the service to the daintily decorated chocolate sponge, everything about this afternoon tea is flawless. The hotel also offers a children's afternoon tea priced at £70 per head, featuring bite-size sandwiches, cupcakes and milkshakes.

From £95 per person, visit

Brown's Hotel, Mayfair

browns mayfair

Brown’s claim to baking fame is that Queen Victoria loved to take tea there. Its afternoon tea offering remains as classic as anything Her Majesty would have expected, with cucumber, smoked salmon and prawn cocktail sandwiches followed by scones, strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream. Pastries, too, err on the side of traditional with a vanilla mille-feuille, chocolate tart and pistachio opera cake all featuring. Pair with one of the hotel's vast selections of core and seasonal loose-leaf teas or treat yourself with a glass of Moet & Chandon Brut NV. Vegan and gluten-free options are also available.

From £75 per person, visit

Lyaness at Sea Containers London, Southbank


For those of you who feel alcohol is a key part of any good restaurant experience, this is the tea for you. Ryan ‘Mr. Lyan’ Chetiyawardana wanted his Sri Lankan High Tea to act as the quintessential pairing between the bar's mastery of craft cocktails and its playful way with food. So there are masala spiced tuna with mayonnaise and marinated aubergine sandwiches, mutton croquettes, turmeric-spiced devilled egg paired with classic scones, Pandan Swiss roll and Wattalapam tart. There are three bespoke cocktails to choose from too: Each course is paired with a bespoke cocktail: Curry Leaf Champagne with Bombay Sapphire, mango and curry leaf and champagne; Coconut Flower Daiquiri with Bacardi Carta Blanca, coconut water, lime and grapefruit; and Ceylon Milk Tea Punch featuring Grey Goose, Rare Tea Sri Lankan black tea, coconut milk and tamarind.

From £63 per person, visit

Read more: The best restaurants in Kensington & Chelsea