There is nothing as glamorously indulgent as the English tradition of afternoon tea, and that is doubly true when it comes to festive afternoon tea, when the capital’s finest hotels and restaurants pull out all the stops for their Christmas offerings. Whether you’re in the mood for a traditional tea or looking for something a little more inventive, there are spectacular seasonal menus to suit every taste. Here is our edit of the best Christmas afternoon teas in the capital to book now.
Until 7 January 2024
This Christmas, The Savoy is going back to its roots and celebrating all things London for their festive afternoon tea, which is entitled ‘Coming Home for Christmas’. Served within the hotel’s glass-domed atrium, which is decked out with twinkling lights, snow dusted branches and old-fashioned street lamps, it comes with featherlight scones, sandwiches made from seasonal ingredients and the finest teas. For something extra special add a glass of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, which comes with a ‘Christmas Promise’ – a Christmas-scented bubble blown onto the top of a coupe of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, curated by the bar team at The Savoy. By popping the bubble, guests send their positive promise out to the universe in a mist of the seasonal scents of spices and berries.
From £90 per person at The Savoy, Strand, Covent Garden, London WC2R 0EZ
Until 2 January 2024
Claridge’s has been observing the ritual of afternoon tea for more than 150 years, so you know you’re in good hands at this Art Deco gem. Taken in the Thierry Despont-designed foyer, the festive afternoon tea menu kicks off proceedings with a glass of Laurent-Perrier “La Cuvée” Brut NV, before moving onto sandwiches: Dorrington ham with orange and wholegrain mustard mayonnaise and Severn and Wye smoked salmon, lemon, clove and dill crème fraiche. Finish with Claridge’s Christmas pudding with brandy sauce, Black Forest Christmas tree and ginger bread and walnut praline tart for a truly decadent treat.
From £105 per person at Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR
Until 7 January 2024
Set majestically at Hyde Park Corner, the Lanesborough is one of London’s most splendid hotels – and just the spot for afternoon tea after some Christmas shopping on nearby Sloane Street. Their Bridgerton-inspired Queen Charlotte Festive Afternoon Tea has been created by the hotel’s Executive Pastry Chef Salvatore Mungiovino and pays tribute to the festive Regency era. Highlights include Your Majesty, an exquisite sharing cake, King George Dreams of Venus inspired by The King’s love of astronomy, Queen Charlotte’s Christmas Tree and the Danbury Delight, a nod to Lady Danbury’s love of hats and jewels. For children, meanwhile, on 2 and 3 December the Belgravia ballroom will be transformed int a land of snow for a separate festive afternoon tea experience, accompanied by music from The Nutcracker from a string quartet.
From £90 per person at The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7TA
Until 31 December 2023
At the Langham, the Christmas afternoon tea menu is overseen by none other than Michel Roux Jr, as well as its pastry chef extraordinaire, Andrew Gravett. This year, their festive offering has been created in partnership with famed department store Liberty. Savouries include the Liberty Jewelled Egg Bauble with turkey, potato, bacon and cranberries, followed by sweet treats such as Shine Like a Bauble, made with vanilla cream, blackcurrant compote and almond sable, and Golden Slice, with caramelised puff pastry, caramel and cinnamon cream. What’s more, everyone who books in for the afternoon tea will receive a 15% discount card to redeem at Liberty – the perfect way to kickstart a Christmas shopping spree.
From £95 per person at The Langham at 1c Portland Place, Marylebone, London W1B 1JA
Until 1 January 2024
There are few places ritzier than the Ritz, and afternoon tea in the hotel’s grand former ballroom is a London must-do. For Christmas, the iconic Piccadilly hotel has jazzed up its menu to include a mouth-watering selection of festive goodies. Start by choosing which of the 18 loose-leaf teas you would like a pot of, before tucking into delicate finger sandwiches, mince pies, freshly made scones and Christmas cakes – all sound tracked by some glorious carols, sung by The Ritz choir. Come to see the Palm Court transformed into an Edwardian winter wonderland, all centred around a lavishly decorated Christmas tree. In true Ritz style, adults will be greeted with a glass of Champagne, while children will be presented with their own Ritz teddy bear.
£102 per adult and £5 per child (up to 15 years old) at The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR
From 27 November - 2 January 2024
Served in the Goring’s smart Veranda Room, the hotel’s Christmas afternoon tea menu has been given a little bit of extra festive sparkle courtesy of Rosé Bollinger. Starting with a glass of rosé Champagne, you will be served an amuse bouche, followed by a selection of fluffy finger sandwiches, freshly-baked sultana-flecked scones, Christmas-inspired pastries and the Goring’s irresistible homemade mince pies. There are also festive takeaway treats, including clementine and almond shortbread, hazelnut praline and dark chocolate cookies, and spiced ginger snaps. Don’t miss their giant snow globe in the garden, which has been designed and scented by Jo Loves. Big enough for two people to step inside and complete with vintage polaroid cameras, it’s the place to be seen this Christmas.
£95 per person at The Goring, 15 Beeston Place, Westminster, London SW1W 0JW
Until 3 January 2024
Head to the light-drenched Crystal Moon Lounge for a festive afternoon tea that promises to be wonderfully slow-paced, delightfully traditional and more than a touch festive. A glass of Laurent Perrier starts proceedings, followed by an array of sandwiches with fillings such as roast turkey and cranberry relish, Wiltshire ham with orange and Clarence Court egg mayonnaise. Next up are scones served with spiced plum jam, a brief interlude before the main event: an afternoon trolley of sweet treats inspired by the season. Expect delicacies such as orange and vanilla snowball, hazelnut and caramel bûche de noël and speculoos and pear Christmas tree.
From £85 per person at The Corinthia, Whitehall Place, Whitehall, London SW1A 2BD
Until 8 January 2024
Sketch is known for its lavish, over-the-top decorations, and this year is no exception. The Mayfair favourite has just unveiled its Christmas installation, which features work by some of the eclectic venue’s favourite collaborators. The reception area has been transformed into a starlit tunnel adorned with wintry larch branches by Rebel Rebel, while the Glade bas been turned into a frozen storm suspended in time courtesy of JamJar Flowers. But it’s in the atmospheric Gallery restaurant that you’ll find their festive afternoon tea being served. On the menu, there are towers of delicious sandwiches and mini cakes and pastries. Make sure to visit the iconic Pod loos, where you’ll find Ricky Paul’s grandiose snow globe depicting a picture-perfect winter wonderland scene featuring snow-capped trees.
From £90 per person at Sketch, 9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG
Four Seasons Hotel at Trinity Square
Until January 2024
For something a little out of the box, why not try the new festive afternoon tea offering, Sweetsmas, at the Four Seasons at Trinity Square? Held in their Rotunda Lounge and masterminded by Executive Pastry Chef Sylvain Goujon, the tea has been inspired by classic British sweets and confectionery, with the nation’s favourite festive goodies brought to life in patisserie form. The Ode to Terry is an homage to the famous stocking stuffer, a delicate orange delight with chocolate cookie, chocolate mousse and orange confit and glaze. The Gingerbread Man, meanwhile, is a soft gingerbread biscuit with pear confit and festive spiced mousse. The menu is completed by delicate savoury finger sandwiches and warm scones accompanied by seasonal jams, lemon curd and Devonshire clotted cream.
From £75 per person at the Rotunda Lounge, 10 Trinity Square, The City, London EC3N 4AJ
Millie’s Lounge at The Ned
27 November – 23 December 2024
Set in the Grand Banking Hall at The Ned, Millie’s is dishing up a Christmas afternoon tea for its guests this season, all served on suitably festive bespoke Burleigh china tea sets. Among the festive menu’s offerings will be apple and salter caramel Christmas trees, mince pies and redcurrant and white chocolate Santa hats, as well as an array of delicious finger sandwiches, including traditional roast turkey and stuffing with cranberry sauce and veggie options. It’s worth popping in to see the exquisitely decorated 21ft Grandirosa-designed Christmas tree alone.
From £60 per person at The Ned, 27 Poultry, The City, London EC2R 8AJ