the kensington afternoon tea

The best afternoon teas in London

29 Feb 2024 | Updated on: 08 Mar 2024 |By Annie Lewis

From The Langham to The Kensington, 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 Cadogan, Chelsea

Created by acclaimed pastry chef Benoit Blin, the new afternoon tea at The Cadogan serves the best of the quintessential British concept – think plenty of fluffy scones and piping-hot tea – with a unique French twist. Having spent the past 25 years at Raymond Blanc‘s Michelin-starred Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, Blin has replaced the traditional sandwiches with salmon gravlax on toasted croissant with quail egg and cream cheese, and Cornish crab brioche with pink grapefruit and trout roe. This is followed by coffee and cardamom religieuse pastries, and a Yorkshire rhubarb and timur pepper pebble, as well as freshly-baked scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream. Save room for the sweet trolley too, where thick and rich slices of pistachio rose and raspberry tea cake and hazelnut and chocolate marble cake are served tableside to create the ultimate foodie finale.

From £75 per person, visit

Cellarium at Westminster Abbey, Westminster

To coincide with hosting the world-touring immersive exhibition, Notre Dame de Paris, The Augmented Exhibition, from 7 February until June 2024, Westminster Abbey has devised an authentically French afternoon tea menu to pay tribute to the iconic Parisian cathedral. As the exhibition explores the history and spectacle of the French gothic masterpiece the Cellarium – set within the Abbey’s stunning medieval cloisters – will serve a selection of elegant sweet and savoury treats featuring quiche Lorraine and crab and crayfish brioche alongside classic crème patisserie tart with fresh fruit and a mini opera cake. 

From £35.50 per person, visit

Café Lapérouse, Whitehall

Café Lapérouse, the Parisian eatery nestled within The OWO, has recently unveiled its afternoon tea menu, blending a cherished English tradition with French sophistication. Served in an opulent indoor pavilion and offered from 2-5pm daily, menu highlights include the devilled truffle egg finger sandwich with mustard cress on charcoal bread, alongside the classic coronation chicken finger sandwich adorned with golden raisins and crispy shallots on turmeric bread. Complementing these savoury delights is a selection of French pastries, each paying homage to renowned French artisans, including the banoffee and caramel mousse pastry, named after Honoré de Balzac, or a luscious black forest cake named after the writer and activist, Marquis de Sade.

From £68 per person, visit

Bōkan, Canary Wharf

bokan 37 afternoon tea

In time for Mother’s Day, Bōkan has launched a new afternoon tea offering, best enjoyed alongside the bar’s breath-taking views of the capital’s skyline 38 floors up. Highlight bites includes a range of sandwiches with classic fillings, such as roast beef and horseradish cream and egg mayo with mustard cress and cucumber, alongside mini burgers with a ginger glaze, and banana cake and scones with Isigny cream, berries and jam. 

From £50 per person, visit

The Ivy Asia, across London

The famed Asian restaurant in Mayfair, Chelsea and St Paul’s, which is part of The Ivy Collection, launched its afternoon tea last year to put an eastern twist on the classic offering. 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 – while taking in the signature green marble flooring and oriental furnishings. 

From £29.95 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 £35 per person, visit

The Kensington, South Kensington

The Kensington has elevated afternoon tea into a true art form with a new expressionist experience like no other. Inspired by some of the most renowned artists in the world, The Art of Afternoon Tea will indulge your inner aesthete with a collection of carefully curated cultural confections and innovative libations such as the Girl with the Balloon cocktail, inspired by the evocative work of Banksy.

A mix of the contemporary and the abstract, The Kensington’s culinary creatives have sculpted a gallery of sensational sweets paying homage to influential artists Jackson Pollock, Yayoi Kusama and Alicja Kwade. Marvel at the abstract expressionism of Pollock’s famed ‘drip technique’ adorning the dark chocolate mousse tart with passion fruit parfait, and delight in Japanese artist Kusama’s playful polka-dot pumpkin made up of mango mousse surrounding coconut yoghurt cream. Elsewhere, tuck into delicate finger sandwiches filled with smoked salmon with lemon cream cheese, cucumber with mint cream, and pastrami with gherkin and horseradish. Warm, fresh plain and fruit scones are ready to be generously slathered with Scottish strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, perfectly accompanied with a selection of teas from The Rare Tea Company. 

From £58 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

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 £55, 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 quail ndjua scotch egg, smoked chicken and tarragon eclair and salmon and pickled cucumber croustade.

From £45 per person, visit

Shangri-La The Shard, Southwark

bees in bloom afternoon tea shangri-la the shard

Create unforgettable memories in the clouds at London’s tallest building with a new, spring-themed Bees in Bloom Afternoon Tea served at Ting Lounge at Shangri-La The Shard. The restaurant's latest menu, Bees in Bloom, is in collaboration with local luxury handmade jewellery brand, Alex Monroe, and features a signature bee pastry made using honey from local Bermondsey Bees, with the option to donate to Bees for Development, a sustainable beekeeping charity. Featuring a selection of finger sandwiches, such as Coronation chicken, smoked salmon and cucumber, and truffle egg and cress, savouries include whipped chicken parfait with grapefruit and heritage carrot burger before freshly-baked scones. To finish, a miniature honeycomb Shard building filled with white chocolate, berry compote and lime sponge will be served over billowing clouds of dry ice. Plus, every tea comes with a gift voucher for guests to redeem at two London-based Alex Monroe boutiques. 

From £79 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 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 £70 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. 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 yuzu tart with whipped vanilla ganache, chai chocolate box, raspberry rose shortcake and vegan Kahlua tiramisu. 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 Scottish smoked salmon and lime cream sandwiches, parsnip and parmesan savoury cake with pesto and a signature Savoy William's Tart: poached pears in a madeleine sponge and butter pastry shortcrust. 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 Tiffinesque reimagined with a chocolate sponge, caramelised white chocolate cream, marshmallow and hazelnuts. There are also seasonal finger sandwiches, including smoked salmon with sour cream on tomato bread, 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 £80 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 rhubarb tarts, 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 Lunar New Year 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 latest afternoon tea menu is in collaboration with China Town’s Cantonese-style bun specialist, Bun House, especially for Lunar New Year and will be served until 25 March.

The tea kicks off with siu mai baskets featuring lobster, Keltic scallop and orange trout-filled rolls, and Sarawak pepper beef and beancurd-filled rolls, followed by an exquisite take on the classic scone, which includes four buns drawing on the experience of Bun House co-founder and chef Z He. Patisserie includes a white peach and milk Oolong lantern, a pineapple and Szechuan pepper wonton, and a crispy soy and sesame umami sandwich. 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 £68 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 2023. 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 £80 per person, visit

Rosewood London, Bloomsbury

rosewood london

Executive pastry chef Mark Perkins first launched the Rosewood's Art Afternoon Tea in 2017 and it has since become a firm favourite on the capital's foodie scene. Having taken inspiration from from internationally renowned artists and their London exhibitions, the latest iteration instead celebrates the Art Afternoon Teas most iconic cakes and pastries, bringing back some of the most recognisable artworks in food forms from contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, art icon Andy Warhol, street artist Banksy and painter David Hockney. The creations making a return include the Lobster Telephone, inspired by Salvador Dali’s 1936 artwork of the same name made and resembling a Valrhona chocolate sponge with a passionfruit jelly, and Arty: the white chocolate cube filled with a vanilla cream, salted caramel and chocolate crémeux from the 2017 afternoon tea, which was inspired by Banksy’s iconic Girl with a Balloon artwork.

From £68 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 winter 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 roasted wagyu) 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 honey and caramelised ginger cake, chestnut and redcurrant spiral and banoffee acorn with caramel mousse. Take your time, enjoy every mouthful, and go ravenous.

From £79 per person, visit

The Berkeley, Knightsbridge

the berkeley pret a portea aw23

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 AW24 trends and key pieces and reimagines them into foodie fancies, taking inspiration the collections of Versace, Nina Ricci, Prada and Missoni. 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 coconut choux and rose and pear 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 £50 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 chocolate cake, Mont Blanc and almond and pear tartlet. 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

Read more: The best restaurants in Kensington & Chelsea