There’s something utterly wonderful about afternoon tea, isn’t there? To some, it might be “just” a cup of tea, a few triangular sandwiches and tiny cakes piled high. For us though, afternoon tea feels like the perfect way to spoil someone on a special occasion and it seems more indulgent than going out for dinner. It’s the glamour of silverware and a bone china tea service. Formal waiting staff offering just the right amount of sweet and savoury nibbles. The opulent surroundings that speak of a bygone era. In short, if we could eat afternoon tea every day, then we most definitely would.
Wondering what is it that makes eating afternoon tea so magical? Well, it’s those tiny sandwiches filled with smoked salmon (yes, and the cucumber ones, too). The bite-size cakes crafted from lemon mousse or topped with spun sugar, that buttery sponge with lashings of cream oozing from within. And it’s the gleaming silver teapot that fills the most exquisite china cups we’ve ever seen, with piping hot, aromatic Assam.
If you’ve yet to sample the wonders of afternoon tea in London, read on for some of our favourite places. Whether you’re in London on a whistle-stop tour en route to faraway shores or exploring the capital for a long weekend, we think there’s always time for tea and cake. After all, what could be better than sitting with your favourite people, sipping piping hot tea, and nibbling one sumptuous buttery, sugary treat after another?
Traditional Afternoon Tea at The Ritz London
There’s really nothing quite like afternoon tea at this wonderful hotel. The food is absolutely delicious, the service is impeccable, and there’s even a menu describing the 18 loose leaf teas on offer. It’s the setting and atmosphere, though, that steal the show here. Beautifully presented tables are nestled in The Palm Court, an opulent, golden delight of a room. It’s hard not to stare at the spectacular ceiling with its gilded pattern or the stunning chandeliers. The icing on the cake? Music provided by a pianist, harpist or soprano. It’s a truly magical experience.
Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at The Sanderson
Looking for afternoon tea that’s a little out of the ordinary? Head to The Sanderson. Not only is the afternoon tea held in their lovely Japanese-inspired courtyard garden, the menu is themed around Alice in Wonderland. Green sandwiches? Bottles labelled with ‘drink me’? Sugary delights that aren’t what they seem? They’re all there, waiting to be discovered!
We don’t want to give too much away but prepare to be utterly delighted by the selection of weird and wonderful sweet treats on the cake stand! (Hint: our favourite treat involved popping candy!)
Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason
There’s no missing the exquisite eau de nil building that houses Fortnum & Mason. And the afternoon tea at the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is just as charming and magical as their iconic décor.
Wander through the tempting Food Hall and head upstairs to the elegant, bright and airy Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon (the Salon was refurbished and opened by HM The Queen in 2012) The plush velvet chairs and beautiful bone china come in Fortnum & Mason’s signature eau de nil hue, and the room feels a world away from bustling Piccadilly and Regent Street. The afternoon tea is marvellous – make sure you try the mouthwatering scones, they’re delightful. All in all, you probably won’t want to leave!
Searching for a tea and cake pit-stop? If you’re on a whirlwind tour of London, try a cake from one of these bakeries. They’re perfect for refueling when you’re heading from sight to sight!
The Hummingbird Bakery
This bakery is home to some of the most decadent cupcakes we’ve ever tasted. Bringing a little slice of American baking to London, The Hummingbird Bakery is perhaps best known for its Red Velvet cake. Until you’ve tasted the deliciously light, moist, deep red sponge and sumptuous cream cheese frosting, it’s hard to understand the cult status of this cake. But it remains one of our go-to London cake spots and flavours!
We recommend visiting the branch tucked around the corner from South Kensington tube station (it’s walking distance from the museums). Another tip? Buy an extra cupcake “for the road”. You probably won’t get far before gobbling it in a couple of bites!
Bea’s of Bloomsbury
It’s extremely difficult to walk past the giant meringues and marshmallows piled high in the window of Bea’s of Bloomsbury, and not pop inside to gorge on the moreish pastel confections!
You can book afternoon tea here but we think it’s a perfect pit-stop before heading off to explore The British Museum. The brownies, loaf cakes and cupcakes are all delicious but it’s the colourful meringues that delight us every time.
Did you know that your Travel Counsellor can book afternoon tea packages, train travel and excursions in London, too? Get in touch to start planning your London city break!