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 something traditional 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 6 January 2023
This Christmas, The Savoy is going back to its roots and celebrating all things theatrical for their festive installation, which is entitled ‘It’s Showtime’. As part of that, their festive afternoon tea is getting a sparkling makeover of its own. Savoury delights include Bramble Farm bronze coronation turkey and truffled Burford Brown egg sandwiches, while for sweet patisserie treats you can expect whimsical hand-crafted cakes and pastries including Santa’s Hat -made with chestnut cream, yuzu and spiced ginger sable – and the Savoy Bauble, where dark chocolate mousse is blended with chai tea caramel, cocoa nibs and shortbread. Wash it all down with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé, which comes presented on a bespoke oak wood trolley dressed as a miniature replica of The Savoy Theatre.
From £75 per person at The Savoy, Strand, Covent Garden, London WC2R 0EZ
Until 2 January 2023
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 new 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.
£95 per person at Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR
Until 8 January 2023
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. This year, the hotel’s Executive Pastry Chef Salvatore Mungiovino is in charge of the menu, which features savoury delights in the form of roast turkey, chestnut stuffing and cranberry sauce sandwiches and truffled duck and turkey sausage rolls. But it’s the playful pastries that are the star of the show here, with pear and bergamot snowflakes, Rudolph pudding choux buns and fig and plum baubles on the menu. There’s Champagne on offer, but we’d rather wash it all down with one of their Mulled Wine Martinis, a blend of Belvedere vodka, hazelnut liqueur, Lanesborough mulled wine and chocolate brownie tea.
From £80 per person at The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7TA
1 – 24 December
The grand dining room at the Wolseley is spectacular to behold at any time of year, but there’s something even more magical about it at Christmas. No wonder, then, that their festive afternoon tea is one of the most popular in the capital. Throughout December, the restaurant’s celebrated cakes are given a Christmassy update, with mulled wine poached pear tarts, coffee, gingerbread and walnut slices and chocolate and orange truffle tortes on the menu. Meanwhile, you’ll find seasonal turkey and cranberry added to their traditional assortment of finger sandwiches, as well as the usual home baked scones with clotted cream and jam.
From £36.75 per person at The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, St James’s, London W1J 9EB
Until 1 January 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. Their new festive offering has been paired with Gusbourne English sparkling wines to really get you in the Christmas spirit. Start with smoked turkey, roast ham, Scottish smoked salmon and classic cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwiches, before moving onto Christmas scones with Stichelton and port and red onion chutney, and finishing off with a selection of festive pastries with names such as ‘Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly’ – made with fresh apple cream and caramelia mousse – and ‘It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas’, a syrupy sponge served with honey and pine mousse. The team can whip up vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options too.
From £90 per person at The Langham at 1c Portland Place, Marylebone, London W1B 1JA
Until 1 January 2023
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 Ritz Club 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 £60 per child (up to 15 years old) at The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR
Until 26 December 2022
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 delicate finger sandwiches, warm-from-the-oven homemade scones with Devonshire clotted cream and jam, and a delightful medley of cakes, fancies and tarts. There is a superlative curation of teas to choose from, too, including Oolong, Ceylon, Assam and various infusions such as Rosebud. Keep an eye out for their Christmas tree, which this year has been designed by renowned British jewellers Garrard to feature replica tiaras worn throughout the late Queen’s reign.
From £90 per person at The Goring, 15 Beeston Place, Westminster, London SW1W 0JW
Until 4 January 2023
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 stuffing, roasted beetroot with goat’s curd and truffle egg mayonnaise. Next up are scones served with organic strawberry, rhubarb and litsea cubeba jam, a brief interlude before the main event: an afternoon trolley of sweet treats inspired by the season. Expect delicacies such as yuzu Florentine tart, milk chocolate and pecan bûche de noël and white chocolate and blackcurrant Christmas baubles.
From £85 per person at The Corinthia, Whitehall Place, Whitehall, London SW1A 2BD
Until 6 January 2023
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 pays homage to the Grade II-listed building’s heritage with a Georgian-era inspired exhibit. The reception area has been transformed into an 18th century theatrical parlour by JamJar Flowers, while the Glade bas been turned into a whimsical Georgian garden courtesy of Figa & Co. 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 mini sandwiches — think coronation chicken and egg mimosa with cucumber — mini pear Battenberg cakes, lychee and redcurrant eclairs and a festive yule log. Top it all off with a decadent cocktail such as the Nut-Tini, vanilla vodka with Frangelico hazelnut liqueur, chocolate bitter and espresso.
From £85 per person at Sketch, 9 Conduit Street, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG
Until 6 January 2023
For something a little out of the box, why not try the festive afternoon tea offering at the Four Seasons at Trinity Square? Held in their Rotunda Lounge and masterminded by Executive Pastry Chef Sylvain Goujon, there are plenty of whimsical touches to delight in, like the edible candle centrepiece, which was inspired by the traditional French dessert, Nonnettes, and is crafted from French gingerbread encased in dark chocolate. The imaginatively-themed Christmas cakes and pastries, meanwhile, are served on a miniature replica of Santa’s Sleigh, which arrives weighted down by chestnut mousse baubles, vanilla rice pudding snowmen and pear marmalade and peanut biscuit reindeer. Magnifique!
From £65 per person at the Rotunda Lounge, 10 Trinity Square, The City, London EC3N 4AJ
28 November – 27 December
Set in the Grand Banking Hall at The Ned, Millie’s is dishing up a Christmas afternoon tea for its guests this December, all served on suitably festive bespoke Burleigh china tea sets. Among the festive menu’s offerings will be gingerbread Christmas trees, bauble-shaped pastries and a white and dark chocolate yule log, as well as an array of delicious finger sandwiches (including veggie options) with a scattering of peppermint chocolate love hearts for good measure. It’s worth popping in to see the exquisitely decorated 21ft Grandirosa-designed Christmas tree alone.
£55 per person at The Ned, 27 Poultry, The City, London EC2R 8AJ