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 pastime of afternoon tea. At Christmas, afternoon teas across the capital are transformed with the addition of festive-themed treats such as cakes shaped like Santa’s hat or biscuits made to look like Christmas trees. If this sounds like your perfect winter afternoon (and hey, why wouldn’t it?) check out our roundup of some of the best festive afternoon teas you can find in London. So, if you’re looking out 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?
Twelve Days of Christmas afternoon tea at the InterContinental Park Lane, Mayfair
What: Present buying is thirsty (and hungry) work, which is why having somewhere to grab a festive treat close to the madness of London’s shopping district is essential in our eyes. The InterContinental London Park Lane has filled the gap perfectly with its Twelve Days of Christmas afternoon tea that encompasses all the joys of the season. Pastries include a ‘Maids a milking’ chocolate tart and ‘Geese a laying’ orange macarons. Alongside scones, mince pies and sandwiches you’ll also be treated to a glass of Perrier-Jouet Champagne in the hotel’s relaxing Wellington Lounge, or you can plump for unlimited bubbles – it is Christmas after all…
Where: One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, W1J 7QY
How much: Available between the 18 November – 5 January. £65 per person including a glass of Perrier-Jouet Champagne, £110 per person including a glass of Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque or £94 including unlimited Perrier-Joet Champagne for 90 minutes.
Christmas afternoon tea at The Betterment, Mayfair
What: Michelin Starred Jason Atherton’s precise food translates perfectly to a Christmas afternoon tea, where his fun, inventive twists on classics come to the fore. Served in the lounge at The Betterment, this Christmas afternoon tea includes a fairy-tale-style black forest edible bauble and an eggnog patisserie laced with nutmeg. The offering is rounded off with a selection of sandwiches, mince pies and festive fruit scones as well as a range of teas to choose from.
Where: One Hamilton Place, Park Lane, W1J 7QY
How much: Avilable from the 1 December between 12pm-6pm daily. £45 per person, £60 including a glass of Moet & Chandon Champagne, £80 per person including a glass of Krug Grande Cuvee.
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 now until 5 January 2020
Where: Strand, 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.
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 now until 5 January 2020
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 now until 4 January 2020
Where: 45 Curtain Road, EC2A 3PT
How much: £35 per person and with Penhaligon’s Halfeti cocktails for £40 or Veuve Clicquot Champagne for £45
Festive afternoon tea at The Lanesborough, Belgravia
What: The Lanesborough’s afternoon tea is among the most popular in the capital, but it will undergo a seasonal makeover this winter. You’ll start by tucking into Christmassy takes on classic finger sandwiches, such as a turkey and cranberry brioche and a smoked salmon roulade. There will be scones with jam and clotted cream next, before you finish up with a run of festive sweet treats – think a Rudolf nougat mousse, a Christmas tree of hazelnut and dark chocolate, and a spicy apple and pear mousse made to look like Santa’s belt.
Where: Hyde Park Corner, SW1X 7TA
When: Available 20 November 2019 to 7 January 2020
How much: £60 per person, or £79 per person with a glass of Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut
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 18 November 2019 to 1 January 2020
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 coronation turkey or egg and truffle mayonnaise, before scoffing plain and wholemeal raisin scones slathered with homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream. In the selection of sweets, you'll find a mini bowl of spiced chocolate fondue served with gingerbread men for dipping, alongside a Christmas chocolate log and an orange and cinnamon sponge.
Where: Carlos Place, London W1K 2AL
When: Available now until 1 January 2020
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 25 November 2019 to 15 January 2020
When: Aldwych, WC2B 4DD
How much: £39 per person of £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 18 November 2019 to 5 January 2020
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 Friday 15 November 2019 to 5 January 2020
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 18 November until 31 December 2019
How much: £45 per person or £55 including a glass of Champagne
Christmas afternoon tea at Podium at London Hilton Park Lane, Mayfair
What: To mark the most wonderful time of the year, Podium has launched a Christmas afternoon tea that features three tiers of festive fare. There are plain, fruit and chocolate scones available to pair with jam, clotted cream or salted caramel spread, while sweet bites which have been specifically designed for the festive season include a mulled wine bauble and a passionfruit and coconut yule log. The pièce de résistance though, is the iced letter to Santa which is presented to the table and breaks open to reveal a surprise.
Where: 22 Park Lane, W1K 1BE
When: Available from 23 November
How much: £39 per person or £49 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 Monday 25 November to Tuesday 24 December 2019
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 Saturday 23 November until Monday 30 December 2019
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 22 November to 31 December 2019
How much: £37 per person or £46 with a glass of Champagne
Obsessed with all things Christmas? Check out 2019’s best advent calendars for food and drink lovers.