Tea. It’s a British institution. From Earl Grey and English Breakfast to Yorkshire and Tetley, there are so many varieties to choose from. And pretty much every Brit has an opinion on what’s best – just ask a local.
For the best tea time experience, you’ve got to enjoy the full afternoon tea. Alongside your choice of brew, you’ll get a three-tiered platter of mini sandwiches, cakes, scones and pastries, which you can tuck into at your hearts content. Pair with a glass of bubbly and you’re in for a real treat.
Here are our top picks of places to enjoy Afternoon Tea in London…
The closest you’ll probably get to tea with the Queen is afternoon tea at The Ritz. This opulent British hotel pulls out all the stops, and tea is most definitely a lavish affair – so don’t forget to wear your Sunday best. Think chandeliers, gold gilt mirrors, and doormen in top hats to welcome you in. You’ll be presented with an 18-strong tea menu from which to pick your brew, carefully curated from the resident tea sommelier. And, you’ll get an endless supply of traditional finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and delicate pastries. If that’s not enough, there’s a cake cart filled with sweet treats for you to take your pick from too.
Red Tour, Stop: Green Park Underground
CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY
This chocolate-y treat at the One Aldwych hotel is based on Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and makes a truly scrumdiddlyumptious feast. Forget the sandwiches, it’s all about the sweet stuff here. There’s golden chocolate eggs, bubble gum panna cotta, cake pops and homemade spun candy floss, to name a few. You can pair all of this with some special chocolate tea, made with Peruvian cocoa nibs and Madagascan vanilla pods, or opt for the Cocktail Charlie – a whisky, cherry liqueur and chocolate bitters concoction topped with Champagne for a touch of fizz.
Red Tour, Stop: Covent Garden
THE CINNAMON BAZAAR
Prefer high chai to high tea? Head to The Cinnamon Bazaar, sister restaurant to The Cinnamon Club. The afternoon tea offering here has a distinct Indian twist, with the likes of tandoori chicken sandwiches, Bhangra lamb sliders and aloo tikki chaat on the menu. You can tuck into carrot halwa roll and a dark chocolate and walnut cake for dessert. And wash it all down with their signature drink - the cinnamon bellini.
Blue Tour, Stop: Houses of Parliament
Sketch offers a unique art gallery-style decor and pink theming with an opulent twist on its afternoon tea. The building that Sketch is housed in was formerly the London Atelier of Christian Dior – so, as you can imagine, the setting is super stylish. Rather than the traditional run-of-the-mill sandwich options, you’ll be treated to fillings like caviar and quail egg, and cauliflower pearls as the veggie option. And, just to make choosing that tea more difficult, there are over 40 varieties to pick from.
Red Tour, Stop: Covent Garden
Tea not your cup of tea? Don’t panic – there are plenty of alternative options, including the Burgerlicious afternoon tea at BRGR.CO in Covent Garden. This American answer to afternoon tea is all about the mini burgers and fries rather than the classic British sandwiches and scones. If you’re all afternoon tea-d out or just not a finger sandwich fan, this is probably the one for you. As well as a selection of mini sliders with various fillings, you’ll get prosecco, ice cream and tiny brownies to tuck into. Yum.
Blue Tour, Stop: Oxford Street
Ready to do afternoon tea like a Brit? We challenge you to work your way through the whole list. And, for more ideas on how to fill your city break itinerary, check out our top London bus tours.