Best afternoon tea London: 29 of the most luxurious ways to enjoy cake and a cuppa

Pinkies at the ready, it’s time to try some of the very best afternoon tea in London...

Updated on • Written By Pete Dreyer

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Best afternoon tea London: 29 of the most luxurious ways to enjoy cake and a cuppa

The single best afternoon tea in London is a hard thing to define, so we’ve had to make our selection against varying critera. Forgive us for being greedy (it’s in our nature) but the thing is, people are looking for different things when they weigh up the merits of what’s on offer. Are you looking for the best afternoon tea setting or the best afternoon tea scones? Do you like your sandwiches to come in finger form, or do you prefer something a little more robust? You see the conundrum.

We’ve reviewed each entry and included information on their highlights – whether that’s the food, drinks or ambience. And there’s no saying you just have to stick to one, if you're a big afternoon tea fan we think that it is only right that you would begin to work your way through the below and make it your mission to try the entire list.


When it comes to the history of this refined pastime, we have got the lovely Duchess of Bedford to thank for the tradition of afternoon tea, who decided in 1840 that she simply could not last between lunch and dinner without another meal. The Duchess sounds like our kind of woman. Since then, the idea of grazing on sandwiches and scones in the late afternoon has seriously caught on, with nearly everyone agreeing it’s a pretty solid idea. The only controversy that can flare up on the subject of the best afternoon teas comes when we get to the scones. Do you put jam or cream first? People from Devon are passionate that cream should go on their scones first, before being topped with jam; while the crowds in Cornwall insist it’s easier to go with jam first and then top with cream. While we won't wade in on the debate, we know one thing, whichever way the toppings go on a scone they always taste delicious.


Anyway, enough of the talking. If you are on the hunt for the best afternoon tea in London, you’ve come to the right place. Afternoon tea can mean many things, whether that’s your traditional offering, something a little quirkier, scones paired with bottomless fizz, or a bargain afternoon tea in London. Check out our picks of the best places for afternoon tea in London below, and don’t forget to stick your pinky finger out before taking a sip.

The best traditional afternoon teas in London

Sticking to tradition isn’t always a good thing, but it’s generally acknowledged that in the case of afternoon tea, the traditional ones are the best. Check out some of our favourite traditional afternoon teas below that span spreads at London's top hotels and in some of the capital's most refined lounges. Yes, the prices might be punchy, but you do get a LOT of food at each of these fancy afternoon teas, and if you aren't able to finish all your treats, the team will generally box up any leftovers for you to take home for supper.

The Gatsby Room at The Beaumont, Mayfair

What: Afternoon tea at The Beaumont is for the most part a traditional affair, albeit sprinkled with a subtle American flourish. This transatlantic-inspired afternoon tea is served in the hotel's glamorous Gatsby Room, complete with studded burgundy bookcases and 20s-style touches. Once you've taken in your surroundings, allow the friendly and attentive yet relaxed staff to pour you a glass of fizz while you peruse the tea offering (the Jasmine Silver Needle white tea is very good). To start, a perfectly-portioned plate of finger sandwiches, including egg and watercress, smoked salmon with horseradish, and beef pastrami with sauerkraut, before a tiered cake stand loaded with warm scones and beautiful patisseries arrives at your table. From classy interiors to well executed patisserie, The Beaumont certainly boasts one of London's more luxurious afternoon teas, making it perfect for a special occasion.
Where: 8 Balderton Street, W1K 6TF
How much: £66 per person, £86 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Gatsby's Room at The Beaumont

The Kensington, South Kensington

What: The Kensington's High Fashion High Tea takes inspiration from the inimitable fashion icon Coco Chanel, recreating Chanel's stylish sophistication on the plate and inside this classy bountique hotel. Tea itself is fairly traditional but there are interesting twists throughout. Sandwiches include apple and cumin, with mint sauce and pickled cucumber, and an egg mayo with tangy grapefruit, before elegant patisserie treats like Opera cake, and dark chocolate and vanilla macarons. The setting is lovely too, and its in a perfect spot for anyone shopping or museum jumping in west London.
Where: 109-113 Queen's Gate, SW7 5LP 
How much: £58 per person, £70 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: The Kensington 

Palm Court at The Langham, Marylebone

What: Claiming to be the spot where afternoon tea was invented over 150 years ago, it's no surprise that The Langham's offering is, without doubt, one the very best in London. The peerless Michel Roux Jr, has overseen Palm Court's afternoon tea offering, which combines some classic elements with other more playful reinventions. Warm savoury cheese scones are followed by a series of spectacular takes on traditional sandwiches; the highlight being a smoked trout creation topped with sundried tomato and sour cream. However, the real genius of this afternoon tea comes in the form of of the sweet treats, which have all been inspired by classic British biscuits. A stunning tempered custard cream-shaped chocolate comes filled with vanilla cream and wafer biscuit, while a fig roll arrives as confit fig in golden puff pastry. Add to this the impressive selection of JING teas being served from the trolley, and the live piano music being played in the background, and you'll struggle to find many places quite as pleasant.
Where: 1C Portland Place, W1B 1JA
How much: £80 per person, or £95 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Palm Court at The Langham

Rotunda at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square, City of London

What: Sitting under the domed ceiling of the Rotunda lounge at the Four Seasons near Tower Bridge, it's hard not to think that this must be one of the most impressive places to have afternoon tea in London. Staff are attentive and gracious, and the space is very much traditional, with its offering being labelled as The Crown Jewels afternoon tea, inspired by the treasures of the Tower of London. Whatever day of the week you visit, there will be layers of sandwiches, scones and cakes to demolish, as well as a wide selection of teas and Champagnes.
Where: 10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ
How much:
£65 per person, or £75 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Rotunda at Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square

The Petersham, Covent Garden

What: The Petersham in Covent Garden (along with Petersham Nurseries in Richmond) is founded on sustainable principles that ripple throughout everything it does, including its afternoon tea. Currently on the menu at this secluded Covent Garden oasis of calm is a Nutcracker-themed afternoon tea, with a series of treats inspired by Tchaikovsky's famous ballet. The sandwiches lean towards Petersham's Mediterranean side, with a series of Italian tramezzini (essentially the same as a finger sandwich) arriving before scones and, finally, Nutcracker-inspired sweets like the Sugar Plum Fairy (a vanilla sponge cake with blueberry icing) and Major Mint (a mint and lemon choux bun with mint Chantilly).
Where: 27-31 King Street, WC2E 8JB
How much:
£55 per person
Book now: The Petersham

The Savoy Thames Foyer, Covent Garden

What: There’s a reason the afternoon tea at The Savoy is world famous – it’s in quite the setting. You’ll be seated under a large glass dome in the hotel’s Thames Foyer, where a pianist will play music as you drink and dine. The menu features a spread of sandwiches, as well as other savoury bites, like a parsnip and Parmesan savoury cake with pesto. Scones are served warm, and there are both plain and raisin included, and the cakes are a signature selection of The Savoy pastry teams’ favourites, including pistachio and red plum cake, and citrus choux. This isn’t one to miss.
Where: Strand, WC2R 0EU
How much:
£80 per person, or £100 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: The Savoy

Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason, Mayfair

What: Thousands come to the capital every year hoping to have afternoon tea in London at Fortnum & Mason. The elegant Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason started off life as an apartment to the Fortnum family themselves, so you know it’s in a prime spot within the Piccadilly department store. Decorated in soft duck egg hues and lit with individual table lamps, this lovely traditional spot will make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. Fortnum & Mason is famous for its homemade still-warm scones, but there will also be finger sandwiches and cakes galore to satisfy both your sweet and savoury tooth. 
 Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, W1A 1ER
How much:
£80 per person, or £97.50 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon

Palm Court at The Ritz, Mayfair

What: Possibly the most famous afternoon tea in the world, and certainly the poshest afternoon tea London has to offer, the Palm Court at The Ritz is nothing short of luxurious. Expect to be serenaded by a live pianist while being surrounded by gilded mirrors, marble pillars and palm trees. During your time dining in the Palm Court you’ll be treated to unlimited cakes, scones and sandwiches – all you have to do is ask if you’d like more. Although we challenge anyone to get through the first serve alone. The cakes change regularly with the seasons but the scones remain consistent – both raisin and plain are included – and the sandwiches are filled with things like tarragon chicken and mayonnaise or egg with chopped shallots and watercress.
 The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR
How much:
£75 per person, or £98 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Palm Court at The Ritz

The Promenade at The Dorchester, Mayfair

What: Filled with palms and pink marble, The Promenade at The Dorchester is over the top in the very best kind of way. While you feast on your afternoon tea, you’ll be treated to a performance by one of the daily pianists, setting a relaxed tone to the whole affair. The afternoon tea menu changes seasonally but you can expect things like a lemon choux bun or a peach and pistachio slice along with the expected scones and sandwiches.
Where: The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA
How much: £95 per person, or £105 with a glass of Champagne
Book now:
 The Promenade at The Dorchester

Sofitel London St James

What: Sofitel London St James’s classy afternoon tea is very fitting for this chic, sophisticated hotel, which sits right in the heart of St James’s with black cabs and red buses rolling by. The food blends Italian and French sensibilities, with some cracking patisserie work sitting alongside classic English sandwich options. There’s a hefty Champagne selection too.
Where: 6 Waterloo Place, SW1Y 4AN
How much: £70 per person, or £80 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Sofitel London St James

Dalloway Terrace, Bloomsbury

What: You can’t go wrong with a seat at Dalloway Terrace, where the interiors are so beautiful you won’t be able to stop yourself from snapping a picture. It’s the prettiest backdrop to the daintiest of British traditions, and you can bet its offering is definitely a looker. Look out for stunning treats like the pistachio opera cake, blood orange tart, and salted caramel choux bun, as well as fantastic scones and savouries. Dalloway Terrace changes up the beautiful design four times a year, so it's worth returning each season to see what they've done with the space.
Where: The Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street, WC1B 3NN 
How much: £55 per person, or £70 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Dalloway Terrace 

Jean-Georges at The Connaught, Mayfair

What: Right in the heart of Mayfair, this high-end hotel is a fitting backdrop to the very loveliest of celebrations. Stepping things up a little from the usual fare, Jean-Georges at The Connaught offers an amuse-bouche before your sandwiches (which come with fillings like roast chicken and mushroom, or cheddar and spiced peach chutney), which are then followed by a plate of pretty desserts, a chocolate fondue, and a final flurry of scones. And just when you think it’s all over, your waiter will spin you a parting gift of candy floss to take with you on your way, a real delight if you have little ones with you.
 The Connaught, Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
How much:
£80 per person, or £90 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Jean-Georges at The Connaught

Boozy afternoon tea London

If you want something a little stronger than tea to accompany your afternoon delight, why not try out a boozy afternoon tea instead? Whether it’s cocktails, gin or fizz, our pick of boozy afternoon teas should have something for you. Many offer bottomless cocktails or fizz - similar to the best bottomless brunch deals - while others give you the choice of a set number of drinks to enjoy alongside your afternoon tea. 

The Zetter Clerkenwell

What: Afternoon tea at The Zetter Clerkenwell is an all-day affair that celebrates classic combis with a twist – egg, cheese and onion, ox cheek croquettes, brie, chestnuts and apricot. We could go on, but we’re getting hungry. While it may all seem very traditional (and to some extent it is), Zetter’s interiors are completely distinctive, with just the right amount of kitsch to have a good time. The cocktails are also excellent - we love the Breakfast at Tiffany's, made with croissant liqueur and Champagne.
Where: 49-50 St John's Square, EC1V 4JJ
How much:
£45 per person, or £55 with a glass of Champagne or a cocktail
Book now: The Zetter Clerkenwell

116 The Athenaeum, Mayfair

What: 116 at The Athenaeum bills its afternoon tea as ‘fit for royalty’. While we can’t promise you’ll bump into and royals scoffing miniature cakes, we can guarantee that you’ll get to enjoy a whole host of afternoon tea treats. The selection of sandwiches to start include classic fillings such as egg mayo with chive and caraway, while homemade sweets change often with the seasons, but are always on point. You can also add 90 minutes of free-flowing Prosecco for just £20 extra.
116 Piccadilly, W1J 7BJ
How much:
£65 per person with free-flowing fizz
Book now: 116 at The Athenaeum

Quirky afternoon tea London

If you’ve had your fill of classic afternoon teas and want to try something a little different, there’s a quirky afternoon tea in London for you. Check out some of the weird and wonderful options to try below. From themed teas through to fully immersive experiences, we can't get enough of a quirky afternoon tea. If you want to go all in, don't miss the Harry Potter afternoon teas which run both across the UK in London each week. 

The Chinoiserie at The Carlton Tower Jumeirah, Knightsbridge

What: Inspired by the botanics and flora of iconic Kew Gardens, this unique afternoon tea is described as 'a tribute to nature'. The affair begins with bespoke savouries - think a buckwheat cannolo filled with duck egg and black truffle, and lamb samosa with chervil and lemon. After a sorbet palate cleanser, guests are invited to tuck into a selection of scones and sweets, including an orange tartlet with almond cream, lemon tuille with almond poppy seeds, and cashew nut tart with apple and tamarind. It's pretty epic stuff, and the extensive tea offering is no less impressive. 
The Carlton Tower Jumeirah, Cadogan Place, SW1X 9PY
How much:
£75 per person, or £90 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: The Chinoiserie at The Carlton Tower Jumeirah

L'oscar, Holborn

What: Housed inside a stunning old Grade-II listed building (which was once the London headquarters of the Baptist Church), L’oscar is a sight to behold. Afternoon tea keeps things simple, with a small selection of sandwiches and sweets. Start off with savouries like pastrami, Cheddar, rocket and mustard on tomato and basil bread, and egg mimosa and black truffle, before you tuck into a blackberry Victoria Sponge cake, and the L’oscar Banoffee Pie.
Where: 2-6 Southampton Row, WC1B 4AA
How much: £59 per person, or £69 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: L'oscar

Park Corner Brasserie, Mayfair

What: Light, bright and airy Park Corner Brasserie caters for all afternoon tea revellers, including kids and vegans. The signature afternoon tea is nicely curated, kicking off with savoury nibbles, then serving up some pretty classic finger sandwiches (egg and truffle mayo is our pick of the bunch), a botanical palate cleanser, then a handful of sweet treats and plenty of scones. As if that wasn’t enough, you get a last slice of cake to finish you off, before you roll out onto the pavement.
Where: 22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE
How much: £65 per person
Book now: Park Corner Brasserie

Mirror Room at Rosewood London, Holborn

Afternoon tea at Rosewood London

What: Rosewood London isn’t known for doing things by halves, and the afternoon tea it offers certainly goes all the way to impress. With an ever-changing menu that reflects the seasons, you can expect your afternoon tea treats to be themed to within an inch of their life. The latest tea celebrates the work of great artists, including Yayoi Kusama, Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, and Banksy, with pastries designed around some of their most famous works, as well as traditional finger sandwiches and fresh scones. 
Where: 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
How much:
£68 per person, or £78 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Rosewood London

TING Restaurant & Lounge, London Bridge

What: It's probably useful to know that TING is located on the 35th floor of the Shard, which means you can drink in sky-high views of nearly the whole of London while you dine. Afternoon tea changes through the seasons but you can expect pretty traditional savouries and scones, followed by neat sweets like a mini Sachertorte and Black Forest Gâteaux. Frankly, it's worth it alone just to enjoy the view with a glass of Champagne.
Where: 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9QU
How much:
£79 per person, or £89 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: TING

Sketch: The Gallery, Mayfair

What: The quirky setting for afternoon tea at Sketch is nearly more renowned than the tea itself. The interiors are all gold, with banquette seating and soft frosted glass globe lighting that will make you feel like you’re on the set of a Wes Anderson film. Once you’ve had enough of drinking in the scene before you, you can get started on the eating part. Assorted finger sandwiches have fillings like coronation chicken and salmon with ricotta and there are alternative unorthodox flavours too, like truffle brioche buns – this is a spot for embracing pure indulgence. Little cakes are included along with scones, and there's a homemade traditional Victoria sponge served from a trolley at your table, for a touch of theatre. Not the cheapest, but definitely among the coolest afternoon teas in London.
Where: 9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG
How much:
£80 per person, or £94 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Sketch

Aqua Shard, London Bridge

peter pan afternoon tea

What: At Aqua Shard you'll find a charming afternoon tea experience inspired by everyone’s favourite childhood tale, Peter Pan. Served in the swanky surrounds of this London Bridge restaurant – a dizzying 31 floors up – the menu includes an array of creative savouries, such as mysteriously named baked pigs and a musroom chimney, as well as freshly-baked scones with homemade jam and clotted cream, and a selection of cakes and pastries.
31 St. Thomas Street, SE1 9RY
How much: £68 per person, or £88 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Aqua Shard

Ginza St James’s, St James’s

Japanese afternoon tea ginza st james

What: For something a bit different to the usual offering, Ginza St James's has put a Japanese twist on afternoon tea. Instead of finger sandwiches you’ll find sushi, while the tea on offer comes from renowned Japanese tea house Tsujiri. There’s a slant towards more savoury fare on Ginza’s menu but there are a couple of sweets too. Chocolate brownies with coconut biscuit are rich and sweet while the passionfruit curd with lychee sorbet is the perfect finisher. Everything is served on a sculptural wooden stand for added theatre.
15 Bury Street, SW1Y 6AL
How much:
£49 per person, or £68.50 with a glass of Champagne 
Book now: Ginza St James's

The best affordable afternoon teas in London

This entire guide is dedicated to the best afternoon teas in London, which means that even though this lot are a smidge more affordable, they're still the very best in the business. We just like to cater for every budget here at SquareMeal. Luckily, all of these afternoon teas come in at £45 or under.

OXO Tower, South Bank

What: The OXO Tower Restaurant delivers that quintessential afternoon tea offering along with stunning views of St Paul’s and the Thames, quite the combo. Alongside your typical sandwiches OXO also offers savoury bites that include morsels like a savoury croissant with grain mustard, and wild mushroom and Marmite eclair. These are served with a selection of cakes and scones, as you'd expect, as well as offering some seriously good views of London. 
 OXO Tower, Barge House Street, SE1 9PH
How much:
£40 per person, or £50 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: OXO Tower

The Royal Lancaster London, Bayswater

elegant patisserie at royal lancaster afternoon tea

What: The Hyde Park-adjacent Royal Lancaster Hotel is perfectly placed for those exploring London’s largest central Park, and what better way to take a pit stop than with a blissful afternoon tea? The so-called Hyde Park Afternoon Tea is pretty classic - traditional finger sandwiches, fresh-baked scones, and elegant patisserie treats, like a pandan rice cake with coconut mousse and mango flan, or chocolate ganache cake with Earl Grey jelly. There’s a vegan afternoon tea available too, and teas come from Camellia's Tea House.
Where: Lancaster Terrace, W2 2TY
How much: £39 per person, or £55 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Royal Lancaster Hotel

The Wolseley, Mayfair

What: The Wolseley is famed for its careful and attentive service, so expect to be treated like a VIP during your afternoon in the restaurant’s care. Alongside the usual afternoon tea offering, The Wolseley also offers a cream tea (£19.50), giving you the option of just having a scone with cream and jam instead of the whole three-tiered affair. If you do go all in, you can expect assorted finger sandwiches, scones and a selection of pastries, as well as a choice of tea.
Where: 160 Piccadilly, W1J 9EB
How much:
£44.50 per person, or £56 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: The Wolseley

Ham Yard Hotel, Piccadilly Circus

What: Afternoon tea at Ham Yard Hotel in Soho is taken in The Orangery, a naturally bright and elegant room packed with leafy ferns, a sandstone fireplace and comfortable sofas. It’s here that you can munch your way through traditional sandwiches, plus a couple of savoury bites including a venison and pancetta sausage roll. Scones are, of course, part of the equation, while patisserie choices include an apple crumble and custard choux, and a blackberry cheesecake. For the quality of food, the choice of tea and the exceptional surroundings, £45 is a bargain.   
Where: One Ham Yard, W1D 7DT
How much: £45 per person, or £57 with a glass of English Sparkling
Book now: Ham Yard Hotel 

Socca, Mayfair

afternoon tea at socca mayfair

What: As well as some of the best traditional French cooking in London, Claude Bosi's delightful Mayfair bistro also offers a lovely afternoon tea, for those who fancy lounging in a quaint salon and whiling away an afternoon with patisserie and tea. At £35 Socca's afternoon tea is remarkably well priced, and the menu features a nice mix of English and French influence, from Yorkshire rhubarb and custard tarts to duck rillette finger sandwiches with grain mustard. 
Where: 41 South Audley Street, W1K 2PS
How much: £35 per person, or £57 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: Socca

The Ivy Chelsea Garden, Chelsea

What: The Ivy Chelsea is one of the most impressive and iconic offshoots of this brasserie chain, and it’s easy to see why with its stunning garden and nature-inspired interiors. At just over £30 a head, it's also in the running as the cheapest afternoon tea in London. The seasonal afternoon tea switches things up a few times a year, but currently on the menu you'll find pickled cucumber, courgette and basil double decker sandwiches, warm scones, and sticky caramel slice, with a choice of teas or infusions.
Where: 197 King's Road, SW3 5ED 
How much: £32.95 per person, or £42.95 with a glass of Champagne 
Book now: The Ivy Chelsea Garden

The Wallace, Marylebone

What: Afternoon tea at The Wallace is a traditional affair. Kick things off with classic sandwiches, filled with the likes of Coronation chicken, smoked salmon and dill cream cheese, and egg mayo and mustard. Then, enjoy plain and fruit scone served with clotted cream and strawberry jam (we’re team fruit), before finishing with a selection of miniature cakes. Pair that up with unlimited tea and coffee, and you could quite easily add a glass of fizz and still come in at a very reasonable £54 a head. Once you've had your fill, tag along for a tour of the beautiful Wallace Collection, where the restaurant is located.  
Where: Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN 
How much: £45 per person, or £54 with a glass of Champagne
Book now: The Wallace 

Prefer your afternoon exploits to be a little more unique? Check out our pick of London’s best themed afternoon teas.

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