High tea in London is one of the most fun, not to mention poshest, things you can do.
For me, the perfect day in London starts with shopping till you’ve literally dropped under the weight of your purchases, then being revived over a quintessential afternoon tea in one of London’s finest establishments. But make sure you’re hungry!
If you want to start early with your imbibing, you might love the best bottomless brunches in London to fortify you for the big shopping day ahead!
You’ll find high teas in all the posh London hotels as well as some department stores and even places serving vegan afternoon tea in London, but choosing just where to stick your pinky out and sip your Earl Grey is difficult.
This post is my round up of some of the best hotels in London to get a decadent afternoon tea including my favourite of all…… the Goring Hotel. (Read on to see why I love it!)
Or for an afternoon tea that kills two birds with one stone and is especially great if you’re short on time is an afternoon tea bus tour. Yes, you read that right, a decadent high tea served on a double-decker London bus as you are driven around the city!
For a quirky afternoon tea with a twist, the Berkeley’s Pret-a-Portea is all about fashion. Imagine savoring a Manolo Blahnik pink polka dot pump, a miniature Yves Saint Laurent sponge handbag or a Fendi maple and ginger ankle boot biscuit.
The waiter will talk you through the menu which includes catwalk photos that have inspired each exquisitely decorated cake. A must for the girls, although I honestly found it too overpriced when compared to my favourite… the Goring Hotel (below).
Cost: £60 per person. Add champagne for £70 per person (plus a 12.5% discretionary service charge. Read: tip!)
Berkeley afternoon tea times: 1pm-5pm daily
The Athenaeum Hotel, Green Park
This small family-run 5-star London hotel has taken out the Oscars of the Afternoon Tea world by winning The Tea Guild award for ‘Top London Afternoon Tea 2012’. Their suppliers are mostly Royal Warrant Holders, which means they also officially supply the Queen.
Expect delicious finger sandwiches, macarons, fresh scones and crumpets with homemade jam and clotted cream and cakes including bird cookies, fairy cakes with sugar flowers and regular or herbal tea in the garden room.
Costs: from £39 per person
Athenaeum afternoon tea times: 12.30pm to 4.30pm Monday to Saturday, and until 5.30pm Sunday.
Brown’s Hotel is London’s very first hotel, opening in 1837. Apparently Queen Victoria used to take afternoon tea at Brown’s and the award-winning English Tea Room is still one of the most iconic in London to sip on your choice of 17 teas, including their own blend.
You’ll be entertained by the baby grand piano as you bite into your tiny treats of sandwiches, pastries and scones with clotted cream. (By the way, we can’t get clotted cream in NZ – go figure since dairy is our biggest export – so I wrote this blog post on how to make clotted cream). Your table reservation is for two hours and you won’t leave hungry as they replenish your food.
Brown’s afternoon tea times: noon till 6pm.
Cost: From £55 per person (plus 12.5% service charge)
The Goring Hotel
For my money (and you need plenty of it!), you can’t go past the Goring Hotel’s afternoon tea.
Not only is the Goring Hotel frequented by royalty (the Middleton’s took over the whole hotel before Kate and Wills’ wedding), but it’s almost always dotted with the rich and famous enjoying the high life in some nook or other.
The Goring Hotel was the first in London to install ensuite bathrooms (back in 1910) and was recently stamped with a Royal Warrant by the Queen for being the hotel she prefers to send her guests to when the palace is full.
The highlight for me was crayfish mousse in a shot glass, coronation chicken finger sandwiches and a teeny warm scone with jam and clotted cream.
You can read more about my amazing afternoon tea at the Goring here >>
Goring afternoon tea times: 3pm-4.30pm daily, 1pm – 4pm Saturday.
Cost: £50 per person or £62 with Bollinger
The Ampersand Hotel, South Kensington
I stayed at the Ampersand and LOVE the lobby of this stylish and chic hotel inhabiting an old Victorian townhouse in South Ken. It has quite possibly the most beautiful décor I’ve ever sat amongst. It’s quirky but not ridiculous, colourful but not garish and above all, sumptuous – which is what you need in a fancy hotel.
Their Science Afternoon Tea has won them the best Themed Afternoon Tea at the Afternoon Tea Awards 2018.
Expect dry ice steaming from macarons and test tubes with fillings to be injected into sweet treats. It’s so popular you’ll need to pay £15 on your credit card when you book for security.
Costs: £39.50 per person. £49.50 with champagne. (Or just a plain cream tea is £16)
Ampersand tea times: 12.30pm-9pm Monday to Saturday. Until 7pm Sunday.
Harvey Nichols afternoon high tea
If you’re shopping in Knightsbridge (yes I’m mostly meaning Harrods) then you can take a break at Harvey Nicks after perusing their racks on their 5th floor cafe or rooftop terrace for a tipple and something sweet and look out over the rooftops pretending you’re in a scene from Ab Fab.
They don’t do a traditional London high tea, but you can get scones, jam and cream for £13 and add a glass of prosecco for £5.
Harvey Nichols tea time: all day.
The Ritz, Piccadilly
You hum it while I write it: puttin on the ritz….. Probably the most famous high tea is the Ritz London afternoon tea, and clearly a lot of people agree with me because it can take months to get in, so email ahead.
You’ll glide into the ground floor Palm Court in your finery (gentlemen are required to wear jacket and tie) and enjoy live music as you sip from the extensive tea menu on your bone china and enjoy the traditional fare of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam as well as cakes and pastries.
Costs: From £53.50 per person (£35 for children). They have several types of afternoon tea from traditional to celebration, so you can choose when you book.
Ritz tea times: Five sittings daily: 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm, 5.30pm, 7.30pm
The world-famous Savoy London afternoon tea takes place in the Thames Foyer, with a glass-domed atrium where a pianist accompanies your choice of over 30 teas to sip.
Guests have been taking high tea here at the Savoy for over a century and it really is a must for true afternoon tea fans who want all the decadence. Enjoy twists on the classic fare of sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and pastries that look like works of art.
Savoy tea times: Monday – Tuesday 12noon – 4pm; Wednesday – Sunday 12noon – 6pm.
If you’d like to move on to rooftop bar hopping, you’ll love my list of 12 amazing (and quirky) London bars with stunning views all over the city. Featuring Sabine at St Pauls, Duck & Waffle at Liverpool Street and even a bar in Hackney!
Monday 8th of July 2019
Once again Ihave to educate tourists on the difference between Afternoon tea & High tea .Afternoon tea was served in the afternoon for the Gentry between lunch at 1 pm & dinner at 8 or 9 pm.This is what is served nowadays with Dainty sandwiches, with ,jam & .clotted cream & cakes .High tea is what miners & factory workers etc had when they returned from work at 5 . It was bread & butter,some protein dish,& homemade cakes, Victoria sponge or Madeira cake for example. For some reason some places serving Afternoon tea have been calling it “ High “ tea to impress American tourists who think it sounds posher. I am British & have lived in the Boston U.S.A.
Sunday 20th of January 2019
I missed afternoon teas in London Megan. Hoping to be back this summer.