Afternoon tea is a British institution, and who are we to turn our noses up at tradition (especially when there’s cake involved)? Covent Garden is the hub of afternoon tea action in the capital, not least because scones and finger sandwiches make the perfect pre-theatre supper. If you can’t get enough of clotted cream, then you need to check out our pick of the best afternoon teas in Covent Garden.
What: The High Five Afternoon Tea at this French brasserie might well lead you to high five your companion. Naturally, buttermilk scones served with jam and clotted cream feature, as do finger sandwiches including classic cucumber and smoked salmon alongside more up-to-date lobster prawn roll served in a brioche bun. Sweet treats meanwhile include a chocolate and hazelnut ‘golden bombe’, and a roulade of choux sponge infused with elderflower and gooseberry compote.
When: Served Mon-Sun 3-5.30pm (Sat -5pm) (Sun -6.30pm)
Where: 4-6 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ
Brasserie Max at The Covent Garden Hotel
What: Brasserie Max takes its afternoon tea seriously, offering four different varieties. Guests can opt for a traditional affair with sandwiches and scones, or they can add a selection of sweets including a white chocolate, lime and coconut pastry, and a glass of Pommery Champagne. The brasserie also offers a tea for gents featuring Scotch eggs and steak sandwiches, and caters to special diets with reduced sugar, gluten-free or vegan alternatives available.
When: Served Mon-Sun 12-4.30pm (Sat 1.30-3.30pm)
Where: Covent Garden Hotel, 10 Monmouth Street, WC2H 9HB
What: Part of Vivek Singh’s Cinnamon Collection, this Covent Garden site boasts a colourful interior and laid-back atmosphere. Cinnamon Bazaar’s daily afternoon tea swaps out cucumber sandwiches for authentic Indian alternatives. Alongside a range of teas, including ginger and cardamom masala chai, a selection of snacks is on offer – we particularly like the aloo tikka chaat (spiced potato cake with curried white peas) and the carrot halwa rolls, a novel twist on the traditional carrot cake.
When: Served Mon-Sun 3-5.30pm
Where: 28 Maiden Lane, SE11 5RD
What: A more casual sibling to The Wolseley, the Viennese-inspired afternoon tea at The Delaunay swaps out traditional fruit scones with poppy seed gugelhupfs topped with apricot jam and whipped cream. Accompanying them is a selection of classic Viennese cakes, including a pear and blackcurrant millefeuille, and a choice of teas or coffees. You can also choose to add a glass of Champagne for a supplement, while vegan and sugar-free options are available for those following alternative diets.
When: Served Mon-Sun 3-6.30pm
Where: 55 Aldwych, WC2B 4BB
What: This classically British, oak-panelled snug within St Martin’s Lane Hotel is an ideal meeting place, with its comfortable leather sofas and warm lighting. Majoring in afternoon tea, the selection includes savoury bites such as poppy seed and pumpkin choux, sundried tomato focaccia, and honey-roast ham and Somerset cheddar in baked brioche buns. Sweets-wise, nibble on mixed berry tarts with vanilla mousseline and warm, clotted cream-slathered scones. In summer, the terrace is the place to try out the excellent G&T selection.
When: Served Mon-Sun 12N-6pm
Where: St Martins Lane Hotel, 45 St Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4HX
The Ivy Market Grill
What: It doesn’t get much more British than The Ivy, and its Covent Garden offshoot serves up a traditional offering for a mid-afternoon reprieve. On the savoury side of things, you can enjoy the likes of a truffled chicken brioche roll or a marinated cucumber and dill finger sandwich, while sweet-toothed tea lovers can indulge in options including a raspberry cheesecake, chocolate and salted-caramel mousse, and a crème brûlée doughnut. Looking to upgrade your afternoon? Add a glass of Champagne for a small supplement.
When: Served Mon-Sun 3-5pm
Where: 1 Henrietta Street, WC2E 8PS
Ladurée Covent Garden
What: Afternoon tea at this branch of macaron emporium Ladurée is as pretty as a picture: dainty finger sandwiches arrive on a silver tiered stand, along with delicious mini viennoiseries and absolutely lovely cakes – St Honoré rose framboise, with layers of choux pastry, rose-petal cream and raspberries for instance. Ladurée’s signature macarons are also in demand, alongside savoury takes such as rabbit medallions with truffle sauce or seared scallops with caramelised chicory. Alfresco seating on the terrace or piazza is a further plus.
When: Served Mon-Sun 11.30am-5.30pm
Where: Unit 1, Covent Garden Market, WC2E 8RF
The Mirror Room at Rosewood London
What: For a twist on the traditional, try out the Mirror Room’s Art-ernoon tea. The tea includes a selection of finger sandwiches, scones and art-inspired pastries. This includes a Banksy-based chocolate cube filled with vanilla cream choux, salted caramel and chocolate cremeux, and a Jackson Pollock-inspired cherry brownie served with vanilla cream, macaron, cherry insert and flick art chocolate. Served alongside loose-leaf teas, the mirrored-ceilings and walls here make for a glam setting that’s sure to perk up your afternoon.
When: Served Mon-Fri 2-6pm, Sat-Sun 12N-4pm (Sun -5pm)
Where: 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
What: The Charlie and The Chocolate Factory tea at One Aldwych is certainly no ordinary affair. For a start, the tea selection swaps out your standard English Breakfast for more exotic blends, such as ‘Mango Noir’. Even more impressive though, is the bubbling, smoking Cocktail Charlie: a sharp-but-sweet blend of whisky, cherry liqueur, chocolate bitters, grapefruit juice and Champagne. Unsurprisingly, the sweet offering shines too, featuring golden chocolate eggs filled with vanilla cheesecake and mango – one for chocolate lovers.
When: Mon-Sun 12.30-3.30pm (Sun -5.30pm)
Where: 1 Aldwych, WC2B 4BZ
Portrait Restaurant at The National Portrait Gallery
What: Boasting an enviable view, Portrait is the place to go for a (literally) elevated afternoon tea. While you take in the views of Big Ben and the London Eye, you can scoff on a selection of sweet and savoury snacks. Start with the likes of a rare roast beef, horseradish, watercress mini bagel, before moving on to sweet fancies including an upside down rhubarb cake. A wide selection of teas is on hand, but you can also pair your treats with seasonal Bellinis or sparkling wine.
When: Served Mon-Sun 3.30-4.30pm
Where: National Portrait Gallery, St Martin's Place, WC2H 0HE
The Thames Foyer at The Savoy
What: Afternoon Tea at world-famous The Savoy is an enduring custom, and is about as traditional as it gets (yet that’s no bad thing). A selection of finger sandwiches encompasses smoked salmon and crème fraiche, coronation chicken, and egg salad varieties, while the selection of pastries is just as enticing. Choose from a passion fruit meringue tart, Battenberg cake, or pink rhubarb shortbread with vanilla crémeux. Of course, you could also go ahead and try all three options…we certainly won’t judge.
When: Served Mon-Sun 1-5.45pm
Where: The Savoy, Strand, WC2R 0EU
The Yacht London
What: Not just for naval enthusiasts, this permanently-moored ship along the river makes for a romantic and unique setting for afternoon tea. While making the most of the excellent view of some of the capital’s most famous landmarks, you can tuck into selection of tea sandwiches, with fillings including goats cheese and red onion chutney, and mushroom with chicken and red Leicester. On the sweet end of the spectrum, there’s a chocolate brownie, a pecan tart, and the omnipresent freshly-baked scones, served with clotted cream and jam.
When: Served Thur-Sun 12.30-3.30pm
Where: Temple Pier, Victoria Embankment, WC2R 2PN
If you love finger sandwiches wherever you are in the capital, scoff away at our pick of the best afternoon teas in London.