Christmas afternoon tea: the most festive spreads in London

Themed afternoon teas are very much a thing and the Christmas season is a great excuse to add some festive fun to the British tradition

Updated on 13 October 2021 • Written By Eamonn Crowe

Christmas afternoon tea: the most festive spreads in London

If you’ve ever spent Christmas Day at someone else’s house other than your own, you’ll know that every family has their own traditions when it comes to the festive season. Sometimes these can be fun (like Secret Santa) and sometimes they can be sort of weird (like singing a song when the Christmas pudding arrives at the table). 

One tradition that most people are on board with though, is the age-old British pastime of afternoon tea. At Christmas, the best afternoon teas across the capital receive a festive makeover, replacing the tradition's much-loved cakes and sandwiches with new and exciting Christmassy alternatives. Think turkey and cranberry sandwiches, gingerbread biscuits and bauble-shaped cakes. If this sounds like your perfect winter afternoon (and hey, why wouldn’t it?), the good news is we’ve taken the hit and tried some of the best festive afternoon teas on offer in London. Someone had to do it... 

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For nothing less than absolutely fabulous, get yourself down to the Ritz, whose afternoon teas are always exceptional and their Christmas offering is no different. The trick is to look out for hotels across London who often put on the most bizarre but brilliant spreads. You don’t have to be staying there to make a booking! 

So, if you’re searching for a Christmas afternoon tea that will leave you feeling all warm and cosy inside, one of these fabulous options should be just right for you. 

What's included in a Christmas afternoon tea?

A Christmas afternoon tea, as you might have guessed, is a regular spread with a festive twist. Typically, Christmas afternoon teas in London include mince pies and an option to add a glass of bubbles to celebrate the season. Some of the capital's fanciest hotels go all out on their offerings come December, theming all the treats in line with the time of year and even offering entertainment in some cases - Nutcracker performers, anyone?

Festive afternoon tea at The Biltmore, Mayfair

What: Served in the tea lounge at The Biltmore, guests can dine on the festive afternoon tea designed by Michelin-starred Chef Jason Atherton throughout the month of December. Sandwiches include classic combos such as turkey and cranberry, roast beef and horseradish and cucumber and truffle cream, while sweets include a chocolate cherry mousse, spiced gingerbread and a mulled pear and clementine macaron. Scones with jam and cream are thrown in as well, of course. 
When: Available from December 2021, 12:30pm-5:30pm daily
Where: 44 Grosvenor Square, London, W1K 2HP
How much: £55 per person, £70 with Champagne.

Festive afternoon tea at The Thames Foyer at The Savoy, Covent Garden

What: You can always count on The Savoy to go the extra mile. The legendary hotel’s festive afternoon tea is served in the sumptuous surrounds of The Thames Foyer, with the offering including coronation turkey on cranberry bread and Morecambe Bay shrimp served on charcoal bread. The sweet side of things is just as tempting, with the mixture of sweets and pastries including delices, pies, spheres and caramels which are all bound to delight. Don’t miss the Christmas tea blend either, which has been specially made for the afternoon tea.
When:
Available from December 2021
Where:
Strand, London, WC2R 0EU
How much:
£78 per person Monday-Thursday and £85 per person Friday-Sunday, plus £10 for a glass of Louis Roederer NV Champagne and £15 for a glass of NV Champagne.

Christmas afternoon tea at Mariage Frères, Covent Garden

What: Kick off Christmas afternoon tea with a glass of mulled wine at French tea emporium Mariage Frères, before moving on to champagne with the food. It's already a good time! Savoury canapes include a salmon tartare and cheesecake dome and smoked salmon with matcha bread. Scones are served with tea jellies while the patisserie course includes gianduja macarons infused with Christmas pudding tea, a mini blue buche de noel and a Christmas tree-shaped mince pie. The tea is great too (as one would expect!) including blends from their Christmas collection.
When:
Available from 22 November 2021
Where:
 38 King Street, Covent Garden, London WC2E 8JS
How much:
£39 per person, £44 with a glass of mulled wine and £50 with a glass of champagne.

Festive afternoon tea at Rotunda at Four Seasons, Tower Bridge

What: Guests can enjoy this festive afternoon underneath the domed ceiling of the Rotunda Lounge at the Four Seasons. Start with a selection of classic finger sandwiches and cranberry scones with mandarin curd, before tucking into signature pastries including The Snowman (a rice pudding pastry with cocoa and cinnamon), The Bauble (a bitesize tartlet with chestnut and blackcurrant) and Rudolf the Reindeer (gingerbread and pear). 
When: Available from 26 November 2021 - 16 January 2022
Where:
10 Trinity Square, London, EC3N 4AJ
How much:
£50 per person, £54 with a glass of Delamotte Champagne, £58 with a glass of Ruinart Champagne

Festive afternoon tea at The Hansom at St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, King’s Cross

What: This elegant Christmas afternoon tea at The Hansom begins with a selection of finger sandwiches, with fillings including egg and truffle mayonnaise or roast Norfolk turkey with wild cranberry and thyme compote on walnut bread. Next up, you’ll move on to freshly-baked scones before enjoying an assortment of sweets and pastries. Highlights from the selection include dark chocolate and mandarin mousse Christmas trees, baubles concealing strawberry and coconut, and vanilla and raspberry Christmas wreaths – the perfect cosy festive treat.
When:
Available from December 2021
Where:
Euston Road, NW1 2AR
How much:
£38 per person and £50 with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Champagne

The Christmas Halfeti afternoon tea at The Curtain, Shoreditch

What: Celebrating The Curtain’s new partnership with London perfumers Penhaligon’s (they will be providing in-room toiletries), this festive afternoon tea is served in the Green Room and includes a selection of paired cocktails which are inspired by Penhaligon fragrances. When it comes to the sweets, you can also expect treats that take their cues from Penhaligon’s Halfeti scent – think blood orange drizzle cake or saffron macarons with a black cherry jam. Finger sandwiches and freshly-baked scones (plain or fruit) also come as standard.
When: Available from December 2021
Where:
45 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT
How much:
£35 per person, £40 with Penhaligon’s Halfeti cocktails, £45 with Veuve Clicquot Champagne

Festive afternoon tea at The Landmark London

What: Festive afternoon tea is relaunching in the slightly ridiculous (guests dine underneath palm trees) surrounds of The Winter Garden restaurant at The Landmark London. This pricey but probably worth it (did we mention the palm trees?) offering includes a glass of champagne, a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, as well as an assortment of Christmas cakes and pastries.
When: Available from 1 December 2021, Mon-Fri 3-5pm and Sat-Sun 1-5pm 
Where: 222 Marylebone Road London, NW1 6JQ
How much: 
£68 per person 

Festive afternoon tea at The Lanesborough, Belgravia

What: The Lanesborough’s festive afternoon tea is a revamped twist of their standard Peggy Porschen afternoon tea, inspired by the Belgravia bakery. The sandwiches keeps things classic with cucumber and cream cheese, cheddar and chutney and turkey and stuffing, while the sweets are where the festive magic really shines through. Standby for Christmas pavlova, chocolate and peppermint cupcakes and a frangipane and mince pie tartlet. 
Where: Hyde Park Corner, SW1X 7TA
When:
Available from December 2021
How much:
£75 per person with a Paradis Chocolate Martini, or £78 per person with a glass of Champagne

Festive afternoon tea at Aqua Shard, London Bridge

What: Afternoon tea is a special treat to most people, but even more so if you can enjoy it 37 floors above London’s skyline at The Shard. The headline acts of Aqua Shard’s festive take on afternoon tea are its selection of sweets, which features a pear and cinnamon Santa hat, and a Christmas tree made with gingerbread, milk chocolate and coffee. Preceding the sweets is a range of finger sandwiches, with fillings such as black truffle and egg, or turkey with cranberry and lettuce. Vegetarian and gluten-free versions are available with 48 hours’ notice.    
Where:
Level 31 The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY
When:
Available from December 2021
How much: £67 per person with a glass of Veuve Clicquot, or £72 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rosé Champagne

Festive afternoon tea at Jean-Georges at The Connaught, Mayfair

What: Jean-Georges at The Connaught is a restaurant that's known for its playful take on luxury, so you can expect a festive afternoon tea here that looks as good as it tastes. Start off with classic finger sandwiches with fillings such as egg and truffle mayonnaise or fig and goat's curd, before scoffing plain and wholemeal raisin scones slathered with homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream. In the selection of sweets, you'll find an orange mousse with cinnamon shortbread, white chocolate and coconut ganache and spiced chocolate crémeux with caramelised nuts. 
Where: Carlos Place, London W1K 2AL
When: Available 24 November - 3 January 2022
How much: £75 per person with a glass of Champagne Laurent Perrier ‘‘La Cuvée’’ Brut NV

Sugar Plum Fairy afternoon tea at The Waldorf Hilton, Covent Garden

What: The Nutcracker is a Christmas classic and serves as the unofficial inspiration for this theatrically themed afternoon tea. Guests are welcomed with a magical sugarplum mist and also get to listen to a live harpist, before sitting down to enjoy salmon blinis and finger sandwiches. There are tons of treats to satisfy any sugar cravings too, including a sandwich filled with chocolate and pistachio, and a vanilla choux bun that’s shaped to look like a crown. To round off the experience, you’ll be given a bag of bon bons to share.
Where:
Available from December 2021
When:
Aldwych, WC2B 4DD
How much:
£39 per person, or £49 including one glass of Champagne

TING Restaurant & Lounge, London Bridge

What: Found within the luxury Shangri-La hotel which stretches across the 34th to 52nd floors of London landmark The Shard, TING Restaurant & Lounge is a relaxed restaurant featuring subtle décor which really allows those stunning views to do the talking (on Level 35, it is the highest restaurant in the building). TING’s Christmas afternoon tea features all of the usual finger sandwiches and freshly-baked scones served with jam and clotted cream, but there’s also a selection of Christmas-themed treats to enjoy adding an extra festive touch.   
Where:
31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9QU
When:
Available from December 2021
How much:
£68 per person and £78 with a glass of Champagne

Christmas afternoon tea at Corinthia London, Whitehall

What: Served in The Crystal Moon Lounge (named after the giant crystal globe that hangs from the ceiling), the festive afternoon tea at Corinthia London features a whole host of Christmassy treats that have been designed by head pastry chef Loic Carbonnet. Expect to tuck into the likes of a spiced pineapple and vanilla éclair, as well as a maple syrup sponge, and pear and cranberry compote with lemon Chantilly cream. If you want to add an extra special touch, choose to pair your tea with a glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne.
Where:
Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD
When:
Available from December 2021
How much:
£60 per person or £70 per person including a glass of Laurent Perrier La Cuvée Brut Champagne

Christmas afternoon tea at The Rose Lounge in the Sofitel London, St James

What: Served in the whimsical Rose Lounge, which features gorgeous artworks and deep red accents, this Christmas afternoon tea kicks off with finger sandwiches with seasonal fillings – think slow-cooked smoked turkey breast and mini brioche topped with festive chutney. Like most afternoon teas though, the most thrilling part of the offering is the sweet treats. Expect Christmas carrot cake with vanilla mascarpone cream, and gingerbread cookies which can be dipped into a spiced hot chocolate sauce.  
Where:
6 Waterloo Place, SW1Y 4AN
When:
Available from December 2021
How much:
£45 per person or £55 including a glass of Champagne

Winter Wonderland afternoon tea at Podium at London Hilton Park Lane, Mayfair

What: Despite it being clearly hinted at in the title, the 'tea' element of afternoon tea often gets overlooked. Well, not at Podium, who's Christmas tea offering is as extensive as the food menu. Choose from classic, nurturing, delicate, signature and white teas to pair with your sweets and savouries. Tuck into coronation chicken on brioche bread to start, followed by three types of scone (one with chocolate chips) and a selection of condiments. Pastries include Christmas fruit cake in a brandy mousse and a duo chocolate log, while 'fancies' such as a chocolate reindeer macaron are the perfect final bite. 
Where:
22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE
When:
Available from 3 December 2021 until 2 January 2022
How much:
£32 per person or £42 per person with a glass of Pommery Champagne

Christmas afternoon tea at 11 Cadogan Gardens, Chelsea

What: The scones at 11 Cadogan Garden's Christmas afternoon tea are filled with festive spices and can be slathered with fig jam, as well as the traditional clotted cream. Once you’ve polished those off, you can move on to the selection of homemade pastries; start with the gingerbread man, before trying the orange and cinnamon crème brulee tart and the pistachio, white chocolate and cranberry macarons. There’s also the option to try some expensive festive fizz while you’re there, by adding a glass of Veuve Clicquot to proceedings.
Where:
11 Cadogan Gardens, SW3 2RJ
When:
Available from December 2021
How much: £35 per person or £45 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot Champagne

Winter afternoon tea at Berners Tavern, Fitzrovia

What: If pastries made to look like snowmen and Christmas trees aren’t your thing (we’re kind of judging you), try this grown up take on a winter afternoon tea from Berners Tavern instead. Start off with a toasted crumpet topped with brown shrimp and caviar, before tucking in to an English mustard and cider cured ham croissant. To help you get your sugar fix once you’ve polished off the savouries, enjoy an apple and cinnamon crumble tart, as well as hazelnut sponge topped with a chocolate and hazelnut cream or a coffee and crispy caramel macaron.
Where:
10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP
When:
Available throughout winter
How much:
£39.50 per person

Christmas afternoon tea at The Ritz, Mayfair

What: Served in the opulent surrounds of The Palm Court, the Christmas afternoon tea at The Ritz is hugely popular and is often fully booked months in advance. If you’re one of the lucky ones who manages to snag a table, you can expect to enjoy all of the traditional elements including freshly-baked scones and finger sandwiches, all while listening to the hotel’s in-house choir singing well known Christmas carols. Each child will receive a Ritz teddy bear as a parting gift, while grown ups can enjoy a glass of Champagne.
Where:
150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR
When:
Available from December 2021
How much:
£80 per person and £50 per child (up to 15 years old)

The 'Do You Like Chocolate?' afternoon tea at Kimpton Fitzroy London, Bloomsbury 

What: Christmas is a time of excess, and what could be more indulgent that tucking into an afternoon tea that is entirely focused around chocolate? This moreish medley is the brainchild of the team at the Kimpton Fitzroy London, which is headed up by Thibault Marchand, winner of Bake Off: The Professionals 2019. The spread includes savoury sandwiches, a selection of dainties which feature things like a lime and Kalingo chocolate choux bun, chocolate scones, and a whole host of paired cocktails that are also centred around everyone’s favourite flavour.
Where: 1-8 Russell square, WC1b 5BE
When: Thursday - Sunday, 12 - 3pm
How much: £45 per person, or £65 per person with paired cocktails

Festive afternoon tea at GBR, St James’

What: Afternoon tea is a British tradition, so you might as well enjoy it in one of the most pleasingly traditional dining rooms you’ll come across. At GBR (which is part of the legendary DUKES hotel), the festive tea begins with a selection of sandwiches – think the likes of smoked turkey with cranberry mayonnaise. Next up, move on to an array of festive cakes and treats that are perfect for the winter season, and if you’ve got any room left, you’ll be able to enjoy a slice of the ‘cake of the day’ which is baked by GBR’s pastry chef.
Where:
Little St James’s Street, SW1A 1NS
When:
Available from December 2021
How much:
£37 per person or £46 with a glass of Champagne

 

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