There are so many Christmas traditions these days that it can be a tall order keeping count of them all. From Stir Up Sunday and Secret Santa to London's best igloo dining experiences (this is one of the weirder ones, granted), there’s no end to the ways in which people choose to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. One particular festive activity that we’re more than happy to add to the list, though, is Christmas afternoon teas.
Come November time, some of the best afternoon teas in London receive a festive makeover, which sees the tradition's miniature cakes and finger sandwiches dressed up with new and exciting Christmassy alternatives. Egg and cress are replaced with turkey and cranberry, while cucumber and cream cheese get chucked for Stilton and festive chutney. On the sweet front, you can expect gingerbread biscuits, bauble-shaped cakes and patisserie treats spiced with cinnamon to be in abundance.
Much like a traditional afternoon tea, its festive cousin is a really lovely way to celebrate the most joyous of seasons and, if you’re the type of person that struggles to feel Christmassy every year, is bound to fill you with at least a twinkle of festive spirit. Other than the joy of being waited on like royalty, there’s nothing quite like a tiered cake stand laden with Christmassy treats to make you feel giddy.
If this sounds like your perfect winter afternoon (and hey, why wouldn’t it?), then keep on scrolling for some of the best festive afternoon teas in London. Our tip? Keep an eye out for afternoon teas served in hotels for some of the most beautiful and bizarre spreads in the city plus a peek at some seriously impressive Christmas trees. 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?
Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Ritz, Mayfair
What: The Palm Court will be transformed into an Edwardian winter wonderland for 2023, complete with classic red and gold trimmings and a beautiful Christmas tree taking centre stage! Naturally, the iconic London hotel is serving up the works, with 18 different types of loose leaf tea, delicate finger sandwiches, pastries, mince pies, Christmas cakes, scones with jam and cream, as well as a glass of Champagne. Indulge in all of the above while being serenaded by The Ritz choir who will be singing all your favourite Christmas carols. Plus, if you have little ones in tow, each child will receive a Ritz teddy bear to take home! Have you ever heard of anything more magical?
Where: 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR
Book now: The Ritz
Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Langham, Marylebone
What:From 8 November to 31 December, The Langham is putting on a festive spread inspired by Liberty’s legendary fabrics and designs. The menu has been overseen by Michel Roux Jr and created by in-house pastry chef Andrew Gravett, with savouries including a Liberty jewelled egg bauble with turkey, heritage potato, bacon, and cranberries. As for treats and pastries, offerings include a charcoal sponge with black truffle and opalys inspired by the founder of Liberty - Arthur Lasenby Liberty. Of course, the entire experience is served in its elegant Palm Court for the ultimate backdrop to this luxurious affair.
Where: 1C Portland Place, W1B 1JA
Book now: Palm Court at The Langham
Festive Afternoon Tea Experience at The Carlton Tower Jumeirah, Knightsbridge
What: This festive season, afternoon tea at the Jumeirah takes inspiration from English flora with a Christmassy twist. Described as a tribute to nature, executive pastry chef Jessica Prealpato (named the World’s Best Pastry Chef in 2020) has designed a grand selection of sandwiches, scones, and pastries to enjoy in the warmth of the tearoom on a cold day - think, chestnut tarts, cranberry scones, and chocolate logs. The festive pop-up is available from 13 November to 5 January.
Where: Cadogan Place, SW1X 9PY
Book now: The Carlton Tower Jumeirah
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Orchid Lounge at Pan Pacific London, City of London
What: The Pan Pacific pastry team has carefully crafted a festive afternoon tea selection inspired by festive magic, lights, and reflections – the Kaleidoscope Collection. Heavily influenced by the hotel’s Singaporean roots, Francesco Mannino has designed a kopi tiam menu – named for the coffee shops of the region – which features a selection of siu bao buns and dumplings. To follow up is a selection of pastries including the signature kaleidoscope pastry with matcha, pistachio, and raspberry. A more traditional afternoon tea menu is also available.
Where: 80 Houndsditch, EC3A 7AB
Book now: The Orchid Lounge
Thames Foyer Festive Afternoon Tea at The Savoy, Covent Garden
What: Perhaps the ultimate destination for afternoon tea - The Savoy is putting on a proper spread this season to be savoured in the domed atrium of the Thames Foyer while being serenaded by a pianist. The sandwich selection includes classics with a Christmassy twist - expect fillings like British honey-roasted ham with cranberry jam, and coronation Turkey. The patisserie selection includes an intriguing Santa’s belt sable as well as a snow tree candied fruit cake with lemon shortbread and treacle cream. It’s one for the bucket list for sure.
Where: The Strand, WC2R 0EZ
Book now: The Savoy Thames Foyer
Ice Palace Afternoon Tea at Haxells at Strand Palace, Covent Garden
What: Haxells is an opulent art-deco tearoom located within the Strand Palace hotel - a beautiful place to while away the afternoon with its festive afternoon tea. This year, Haxells has taken the form of an ice palace hosting live weekend entertainment from an Ice Princess Ballerina and a Crystal Ball Juggling act. A kid's menu is also available. It has everything necessary for a magical family day out. The menu at Haxells features a delectable variety of small bites including a sage tartlet with Ashgrove goats' cheese and caramelised onion alongside a variety of chocolate treats and scones sure to satisfy any cravings.
Where: 372 Strand, WC2R 0JJ
Book now: Haxells
Festive Skyline Afternoon Tea at TING at Shangri-La The Shard, London Bridge
What: Everyone knows that cake and sandwiches taste better when enjoyed 35 floors in the air - right? TING Restaurant is serving a fabulous festive afternoon tea in its sky-high dining room this year, including a selection of classic and inventive treats. Finger sandwiches include truffle egg and cress and roast beef with horseradish, while additional savouries include chicken and duck liver with cherry gel. On the sweet front, look out for the white chocolate Christmas tree and ‘the red bauble’ - a glistening sphere filled with green shiso mousse, grapefruit, and black pepper. A vegan alternative is available if you prefer, and you can opt to make it boozy with festive cocktails or sparkling, too!
Where: 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9QU
Book now: TING
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, Sofitel is dishing up an immersive afternoon tea experience in collaboration with SMEG. The festive menu is influenced by Sofitel and SMEG’s French and Italian roots. Expect Milanese rum panettone with a Chantilly cream served tableside from a SMEG stand mixer. The theatrics don’t stop there, The Rose Lounge’s famous rose tea is infused by your waiter with bergamot and hibiscus. Saving the best till last, inside the chocolate course a golden ticket is concealed just waiting to be discovered by two lucky diners who will win a stay at the Sofitel hotel and their own SMEG stand mixer.
Where: 6 Waterloo Place, SW1Y 4AN
Book now: The Rose Lounge
Festive Afternoon Tea at TOZI Grand Cafe, Battersea
What: The usual selection of English finger sandwiches isn’t for everyone. With those people in mind, TOZI presents an alternative – a selection of Italian meats, cheese, and pickles with traditional breads. The festive selection is presented in 3 tiers; quality prosciutto, ciabatta, and a selection of cheeses occupy the third tier; Maritozzi brioche buns stuffed to the brim with spiced apple and Chantilly cream on the second; while the first tier hosts a range of festive patisseries. The sweet course includes an exquisite caramel and cinnamon mousse, a classic chocolate yule log, and pistachio macaroons. At £35 it’s an experience that shouldn't be missed.
Where: 3a Electric Boulevard, SW11 8BJ
Book now: TOZI Grand Cafe
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Landmark London, Marylebone
What: The Landmark’s festive afternoon tea runs between 30 November and 3 January, with guests able to tuck into a range of sandwiches, warm classic and mandarin scones, Christmassy cakes and a glass of Taittinger Brut Reserve. It’s pretty pricey at £88 per person, but part of the experience is being able to dine in the hotel's stunning Winter Garden room, a vast space that’s home to towering palm trees, marble staircases, and sky-high columns. Once you’ve picked your jaw off the floor, you can use it to tuck into the likes of Lapsang Souchong smoked Scottish salmon sandwiches, vanilla poached pears, and a Christmas pudding mousse.
Where: 222 Marylebone Road, NW1 6JQ
Book now: Winter Garden at The Landmark
Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea at The Ruben's Hotel, Victoria
What: To be taken in either The English Grill or The Palace Lounge at The Rubens Hotel, guests can enjoy a festive twist on an award-winning afternoon tea created by Bake Off: The Professionals 2021 finalist Sarah Houghting. There are vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free versions available, but the signature menu features the likes of Norfolk roast turkey, cranberry and sage and onion stuffing; Scottish smoked salmon and chive cream cheese; hazelnut and chocolate delice with a Nyangbo cremeux; and a caramelised apple and cinnamon tart with pecan frangipane and lemon marmalade. There's also the option to add a Christmas cocktail to your tea, from a brandy-based Santa’s Sipper to an Espresso Martini, while 11 different loose-leaf teas are available for traditionalists.
Where: 39 Buckingham Palace Road, SW1W 0PS
Book now: The Rubens at the Palace
Queen Charlotte Festive Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough, Belgravia
What: Served inside The Lanesborough Grill - undoubtedly one of the most Instagrammable dining rooms in London - festive afternoon tea at the Knightsbridge hotel is sure to be an affair worthy of royalty. Seated beneath the huge skylight and a dramatic chandelier, guests are invited to indulge in a festive menu created by executive pastry chef Salvatore Mungiovino in partnership with the hit Netflix series Queen Charlotte. Start with a classic selection of sandwiches including tea-cured salmon, lemon, and caper cream before moving on to a variety of inspired pastries and signature cocktails. Look out for the ‘King George dreams of Venus’ which is a nod to his love of astronomy, and the 'Danbury Delight' which draws inspiration from the character’s love of hats and jewellery.
Where: Hyde Park Corner, SW1X 7TA
Book now: The Lanesborough
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Biltmore, Mayfair
What: Always served in the sophisticated surroundings of the tea lounge, The Biltmore's festive afternoon tea is a simple but elegant affair, with classic finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and preserves, and an array of gorgeous little patisseries. Savouries are filled with the likes of turkey and stuffing, mulled wine cured salmon, and honey roast ham, while cakes take the form of a Christmas ornament cherry sponge cake with pistachio cream, Christmas wreath with milk chocolate mousse, and confit orange. Available from 20 November until 24 December.
Where: 44 Grosvenor Square, W1K 2HP
Book now: The Biltmore
Traditional Festive Afternoon Tea at The Capital, Knightsbridge
What: Running from 25 November to 31 December, London’s award-winning Capital Hotel is presenting an outstanding array of festive-themed cakes and accompanying teas. Along with the traditional offering of fresh finger sandwiches and scones will be a range of delicate seasonal cakes. Expect to see raspberry and pistachio trees, gingerbread macaroons, and a Christmas wild berry chocolate dome – simply mouthwatering. Just a stone's throw from Harrods department store, this is the ideal spot for a post shopping pick-me-up.
Where: 22-24 Basil Street, SW3 1AT
Book now: The Capital
Festive Afternoon Tea at Rotunda at Four Seasons, Tower Bridge
What: Festive afternoon tea at Rotunda Bar & Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel starts with classic finger sandwiches with an elegant flourish - think minted cucumber and truffled egg mayonnaise. This year, however, the emphasis is on the sweet course which has been billed as a celebration of British confectionary. Executive pastry chef Sylvain Goujon’s lineup of magical patisseries includes ‘the gingerbread man’ and an ‘ode to Terry’ filled with chocolate whipped cream, orange marmalade, and cookie dough. There is also an intriguing sparkling tea on offer. Available from 23 November.
Where: 10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ
Book now: Rotunda
Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Lane, Covent Garden
What: Indulge in treats whipped up by London-based baker Lily Vanilli at The Lane in Covent Garden. You and your loved ones will be hosted in its glittering Grand Saloon, overlooked by crystal chandeliers and curved ceilings, while you chomp down on the likes of turkey and cranberry pies, gingerbread-spiced chocolate cake, warm scones, and festive vanilla passionfruit cake. This one is best for those who prefer the sweet part of afternoon tea!
Where: Theatre Royal Drury Lane, WC2B 5JF
Book now: The Lane
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Hansom at St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel, King’s Cross
What: The Hansom makes the most of its location within King’s Cross by retaining several of the landmark’s original features - think red brick walls and soaring ceilings. It’s a beautiful place in which to enjoy the annual Christmas afternoon tea which usually includes a selection of themed finger sandwiches, scones, and cakes. This season’s menu features truffled duck egg, roast Norfolk turkey with cranberry relish, and sirloin with watercress and horseradish. Highlights from the sweet selection include a dark chocolate and mandarin mousse, and a cranberry and faisselle bauble – the perfect cosy festive treat.
Where: Euston Road, NW1 2AR
Book now: The Hansom
Festive Afternoon Tea at Royal Lancaster, Bayswater
What: There’s only one thing that beats a Winter walk in Hyde Park, and that's a post-amble afternoon tea at Hyde Cafe accompanied by a glass of Laurent-Perrier to make it extra special. The sandwich selection offers traditional fillings such as John Ross salmon with cream cheese and cucumber, sirloin beef with mustard mayonnaise and rocket, and free-range egg with tarragon and red onion. The sweet selection highlights the artistry of the pastry team. The Christmas selection includes a stunning candied fruit cake disguised as a blazing candle and a recreation of our favourite snowman Frosty constructed from almond macaroons with an Opalys and morello cherry ganache.
Where: Lancaster Terrace, W2 2TY
Book now: Royal Lancaster
Festive Afternoon Tea at Jean-Georges at The Connaught, Mayfair
What: As soon as 14 November hits, diners can book a festive afternoon tea like no other at Mayfair hotel The Connaught. Served in a stylish but relaxed dining room, things kick off with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne (or a festive mocktail) alongside an amuse-bouche of winter black truffle with comte cheese profiteroles. If you think that sounds good, there’s plenty more to come! Sandwiches include the likes of Norfolk turkey with a smoked chestnut emulsion on onion bread, while desserts are just as elegant. Look out for the Mont Blanc tart served with candied chestnut and Chantilly Swiss meringue, and the chocolate fondue with a gingerbread Christmas tree. There is also a children's afternoon tea menu available if you’d like to bring the whole family along.
Where: Carlos Place, W1K 2AL
Book now: Jean-Georges at The Connaught
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 presents a choice of two festive afternoon teas: traditional or caviar! While the savouries differ slightly for each, the sweet section includes the likes of an orange and vanilla snowball, speculoos and pear Christmas tree, and a hazelnut and caramel buche de noel. A selection of bespoke teas is also at your disposal. If you’re feeling boujie, the caviar afternoon tea is not to be missed, which includes 20g of King's Golden Oscietra Caviar and a pearl spoon.
Where: Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD
Book now: The Crystal Moon Lounge
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