Afternoon tea

The 12 most delightful afternoon teas in London to book this spring

From Royal Park-inspired treats at The Lanesborough to a Coronation offering fit for a King, these are the city's finest afternoon teas

The concept of afternoon tea first originated in 1840 as a way to bridge the long gap between an early lunch and a late supper, and has gone on to become one of Britain’s most beloved institutions. The city’s top hotels are home to the country’s most inventive offerings, where inspiration ranges from the flora and fauna in the city’s Royal Parks, in the case of The Lanesborough’s new meadow-themed tea, and fashion collections to renowned artists. We’ve rounded up the best afternoon teas in London to book into now.

The Lanesborough Meadow Afternoon Tea
The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

When it comes to the best afternoon tea in London, The Lanesborough often takes top billing thanks to its inventive, ever-evolving offering. Following on from their hugely popular Bridgerton afternoon tea last year, their latest takes its inspiration from the flora and fauna found in the Royal Parks that surround the hotel – which include Hyde Park across the road, St James’s Park and Green Park. It’s a true taste of spring, featuring a delicate Chamomile Daisy cake (delicious bavarois with an almond crunch biscuit base), lemon and lime Meadow Slice cheesecake and cute-as-a-button white chocolate and honey bees, presented on a silver tiered stand adorned with flowers.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

As for the savoury delights, the finger sandwiches are all elevated takes on the classics, with poached Cotswold chicken, mustard mayonnaise and parmesan; organic cucumber, cream cheese and chive; and Clarence Court egg mayonnaise and Dijon mustard cress. Plus, of course, there are scones. The tea menu is comprehensive – the Meadow Afternoon Tea, fragrant with rose petal and fruit, is recommended; or opt for the Elderflower & Jasmine Daisy Cocktail for additional floral vibes. Served in the hotel’s richly decorated dining room, with a pianist playing in the background, it’s a delightful way to welcome in the new season.

The Meadow Afternoon Tea is £68 per person at The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, Belgravia, London SW1X 7TA

Coronation Afternoon Tea at The Goring

As the only hotel with a Royal Warrant for hospitality services, it seems only fitting that The Goring should be hosting a special Coronation-themed afternoon tea this spring. Served on the hotel’s sun-kissed Veranda, guests will overlook the Goring’s garden and The Royal Border, which is planted with a selection of The Royal Family’s favourite plants and flowers, including the late Queen Elizabeth II’s adored Lily of The Valley.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

The menu has been designed to feature King Charles’ favourite treats, from his much-loved Cream of Lemon to sandwiches filled with produce from other Royal Warrant suppliers, such as Dukeshill Ham. For an extra regal flourish, sweet treats are adorned with the CRIII insignia, carriages and crowns, while the freshly-baked scones are served with a limited-edition Coronation strawberry and elderflower jam.

The Coronation Afternoon Tea is available from 3 April 2023 for £75 per person at The Goring Hotel, 15 Beeston Place, Westminster, London SW1W 0JW

Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley
The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

For their latest collection, the Berkeley’s much-loved Prêt-à-Portea will be served with a bold new twist. Expect couture cakes showing a striking Christopher Kane floral gown, one of Ralph Lauren’s hero coats transformed into a Black Forest gateau and Jean Paul Gaultier’s denim couture gown reimagined in Cassis bavarois with a blackcurrant filling.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now
The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

There’s also an intricately iced biscuit of Prada’s camel coat, painstakingly piped with royal icing to include statement pink fur sleeves, and this season’s centrepiece: a showstopping Harris Reed gown crafted out of yogurt and honey mousse with Granny Smith apple compote, and topped off with a huge sugar bow and a white chocolate headpiece. The epitome of fashionable decadence.

Prêt-à-Portea is £75 per person at The Berkeley, Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL

The Ritz
The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

No list featuring the best afternoon teas in London would be complete without The Ritz. Held in the spectacular surroundings of the Palm Court, their Traditional Afternoon Tea here is the undisputed grande dame of the capital, where your savoury delights and sweet treats are served alongside a musical ensemble from the hotel’s resident pianist.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

First, choose your tea – there are 18 different types on offer, all selected by the hotel’s Tea Master, Giandomenico Scanu, who travels around the world to various tea plantations to source the varieties. Then it’s time to move on to the elegant sandwiches and pastries, all made from the finest ingredients and changed to reflect the seasons. Finish off with a glass of champagne or two, as you’re swept away by the gentle tinkling of the ivories. 

Afternoon tea is available from £70 per person at The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 9BR

Crown Jewels Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square
The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

For their latest afternoon tea offering, the Four Seasons has taken inspiration from the treasures of their neighbours at the Tower of London, dedicating the indulgent ritual to the Crown Jewels, which have been stored at the historic landmark for more than 600 years. 

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

Each of the elegant pastries has been modelled on a different piece in the collection, from The Ruby (inspired by the ‘Black Prince’s Ruby’ in the Imperial State Crown), which is made with chocolate infused timut berry and grapefruit confit, to The Pearl (inspired by the Sovereign’s Orb), a combination of coconut mousse, mango and passion fruit confit. 

The Crown Jewels Afternoon Tea is £65 per person at The Four Seasons, 10 Trinity Square, Tower Hill, London EC3N 4AJ

Champagne Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s
The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

When it comes to celebratory meals, nowhere does it quite like Claridge’s. The team at this Art Deco jewel have been honouring the ritual of afternoon tea for the best part of 150 years now and often release new seasonal menus to enjoy. If you’re in the market for something more traditional, though, you can’t go wrong with their Champagne Afternoon Tea, which is one of the most elegant offerings in the capital.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

All the ingredients used in their sandwiches, scones and hand-made pastries are painstakingly sourced, skilfully prepared and served fresh each day, while their loose leaf tea has been carefully chosen from around the world by their skilled tea connoisseur, Henrietta Lovell (and is served in the finest bone china, naturally). Highlights include their chocolate and brazil nut religieuse and their pineapple and kaffir lime pavlova. 

Champagne Afternoon Tea is available from £85 per person at Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR

Afternoon Tea Collection at The Langham

The humble British biscuit has been given a luxurious update courtesy of this menu at Mayfair institution The Langham. Served in the elegant Palm Court, the menu has been overseen by Michel Roux Jr. and created by Executive Pastry Chef Andrew Gravett, and focuses on elegant interpretations of classic favourites.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

Here, the fig roll has been transformed into an elevated take on the old school favourite, complete with Leky’s sponge, fig puree and caramelised puff pastry, while the Walnut Whip has been reimagined with walnut biscuit, marshmallow and dark chocolate. Even the Custard Cream has been given a luxe spin, combining Tahitian vanilla cream with crunchy wafer and Dulcey. 

The afternoon tea collection is £70 per person at The Langham, 1c Portland Place, Mayfair, London W1B 1JA

David Hockney Afternoon Tea at the Rosewood Hotel
The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

Held in the hotel’s opulent mirror room, the Rosewood’s art-inspired afternoon teas have become some of the most sought-after in the capital, and their latest iteration is no exception. Inspired by legendary pop artist David Hockney to coincide with his immersive exhibition at Lightroom, Bigger & Closer (not smaller and further away), this is an afternoon tea with a colour-saturated twist.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

Inspired by Hockney’s life in Yorkshire and Los Angeles, each of the expertly designed cakes combines classic British flavours with iconic American desserts, and have been crafted as miniature works of art in their own right. Hockney’s world famous painting ‘The Splash’ has been reinterpreted as a chocolate sponge encased in Earl Grey chocolate bavarois with blue glaze to mimic the fluidity of the famous Californian pool. His vibrant spring colours are brought life in a delicate pistachio almond sponge sphere encased in pink cherry mousse, while ‘A Bigger Picture’ has been transformed into a vanilla cheesecake. Enrobed with purple glaze and featuring a strawberry insert that imitates the plum-coloured trunk of a tree, it makes a truly eye-catching display of Hockney’s work.

The David Hockney Afternoon Tea is available from £75 per person
The Rosewood Hotel, 252 High Holborn, Holborn, London WC1V 7EN

Afternoon Tea at Sketch
The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

Afternoon tea in the golden-hued dining room at Sketch is a feast for all the senses. Settle into one of the copper toned banquets and marvel at the artworks that line the walls – each one created specifically for the space by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare – before perusing the eclectic menu.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

Start off with Eggs Drumkilbo – well-known for being a firm favourite of the late Queen Mother – before tucking into pear and pomegranate cheesecake, quince and vanilla Battenburg and hazelnut macarons. Before you leave, make sure to explore Sketch’s other rooms, each more decadently decorated than the last, and stop off at their iconic egg-shaped loos, where birdsong and laughter is piped into each pod. 

Afternoon tea is £75 per person at Sketch, 9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG

High Tea at Fortnum & Mason

Taking High Tea in Fortnum’s historic Tea Salon is always an occasion. Open for over 300 years, the Salon has held various guises over the centuries, operating as an apartment for the Fortnum family, an interior decorating department in the 20s and 30s and a chic restaurant known as St James’s. In 2012, it was formally reopened by the late Queen Elizabeth II as the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

Fortnum’s afternoon tea is renowned the world over for its precisely-cut sandwiches, fresh-baked cakes and unsurpassable scones. Start your High Tea off with Victoria lobster omelette with truffle and beef Wellington, before moving on to scones and patisseries, which change every season. Can’t decide which pot of tea to go for? Ask for a tasting with one of their expert Tearistas, who will help you find your perfect blend. 

High Tea is £80 per person at Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, St James’s, London W1A

Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester

After months of lengthy renovations, the Dorchester has finally reopened its doors, and with it comes their new afternoon tea offering. Rather than breaking with tradition, they’ve decided to reinvent it, offering up a new twist on their classic afternoon tea. Held in the hotel’s newly transformed Promenade, redesigned with nature-inspired artworks to give the sensation of strolling through an English garden, their pastries have been given a bold new twist courtesy of multiple award-winning chef Michael Kwan.

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

Alongside a selection of finger sandwiches, start things off with a seasonal pre-dessert from the chef – which could feature his famous tea-infused ice cream or zesty lemon drizzle – before moving on to the carefully curated selection of sweet treats. Highlights include pistachio and apricot Swiss roll, raspberry Bakewell tart and chocolate caramel profiterole. 

Afternoon tea is £95 per person at The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA

Classic Afternoon Tea at L’oscar London

If you’re looking for the sort of decadently glamorous afternoon tea that Oscar Wilde would approve of, look no further. The new afternoon tea offering at Covent Garden’s L’oscar hotel – named in homage to the man himself – is serving up just that amidst its opulent Jacques Garcia-designed interiors. 

The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now
The Best Afternoon Tea in London 2023 - Where to book now

The tea itself has been inspired by the historical Grade II-listed building that was once the headquarters of the Baptist Church, and features delicately crafted cakes like the Chappelle – designed to look like a chapel – which consists of tonka sponge, mango and passionfruit cream and vanilla mousse. The ornate La Vie en Rose, meanwhile, combines strawberry confit and rose lychee mousse and is topped with a pink butterfly, in a nod to the recurring butterfly theme that appears throughout the hotel.

Classic Afternoon Tea is from £49 per person at L’oscar London, 2-6 Southampton Row, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 4AA

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