Afternoon tea, that quintessentially British event, has never been so popular. Whether you prefer a traditional afternoon tea – a grand affair with crisp white tablecloths, bone china cups and dainty sandwiches and scones, or something themed and modern, Central London has plenty of choices.
Belgravia, Knightsbridge and nearby are particularly rich in options, with luxury hotels, department stores, cafes and even museums all offering teas with a unique flavour.
The idea of sitting down for afternoon tea was first popularised in the 1840s by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford. A mid-afternoon ‘sinking feeling’ left her in need of refreshment, and afternoon tea was born to fill the yawning gap between lunch and dinner.
So, whether you’re after a classic tea or something a bit different, here are seven exclusive venues you might like to try…
Floral Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough
Pretty much every hotel in London offers its own tea, but if you’re after the classic experience, you can’t go wrong with the Lanesborough’s floral affair. The sandwiches are light and fluffy, with an inventive twist on the regular fare – salmon with yuzu or egg mimosa with tarragon and capers, for example. The pastry chefs excel at their art and there’s a good list of signature teas. Tea is available in the majestic Celeste Room or the elegant Withdrawing Room, Monday to Thursday 2.30pm to 5.30pm, Friday to Sunday 12.30pm to 4.30pm. For more information, please click here.
Science Afternoon Tea at The Ampersand Hotel
Inspired by its neighbour, the Science Museum, the afternoon tea at luxury hotel, The Ampersand is fun and quirky. Alongside the fluffy scones, smoked salmon and avocado blinis and bottomless teapot, get ready for treats designed for boffins. There’s a planet mousse that drifts in on a cloud of dry ice or a dinosaur fossil buried beneath chocolate soil. Great if you have children, but with plenty of sophisticated touches for adults too. Monday to Saturday from 12.30pm to 9pm and Sunday from 12.30pm to 7pm. For more information, please click here.
Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley
The refurbished Collins Room, with its silver chairs and glass tables, is the scene for The Berkeley’s Prêt-à-Portea fashion high tea. It’s a decade since this iconic afternoon tea first appeared at the Knightsbridge hotel. This year, its beautiful bakes are inspired by the V&A’s sell-out Dior exhibition – think pink Miss Dior perfume-bottle-cakes with raspberry and lychee. Savoury bites include baked camembert brioche or heirloom beetroot with horseradish and feta sandwiches. There’s an extensive tea list, but no scones. Daily, 1pm to 5.30pm. For more information, please click here.
The Goring Afternoon Tea
The Goring has been perfecting the art of afternoon tea for more than a century. It must be doing something right, it’s the current holder of The British Tea Guild Council’s Top London Afternoon Tea Award. The yellow and gilded china is exquisite, the perfect partner to delicious pastries, fruity homemade jams and quality loose leaf tea blends. Tea is served in the elegant dining room from 4.00pm to 4.30pm daily, except Saturdays when it’s 1pm to 4pm. For more information, please click here.
Victorian Afternoon Tea at the V&A
The Victoria and Albert Museum worked with eminent food historian, Natasha Marks to devise a menu of authentic sweet and savoury treats. You’ll take your tea from traditional British Burleigh crockery, paired with antique cutlery from the early 1900s, in the glorious Morris Room. The menu includes sandwiches of crayfish and mayonnaise or Mrs Beeton’s cucumber along with gooseberry tart and iced orange cake. Fridays only, between 1pm and 7pm. For more information, please click here.
Harrods Afternoon Tea
Visit the elegant Harrods Tea Rooms on the store’s fourth floor during summer 2019 for a series of exclusive afternoon teas, put together by leading pastry chefs. Examples from the patisserie selection are a yuzu and pineapple pillow, chocolate millefeuille and Harrods’ Earl Grey teacake. Finger sandwiches include English cucumber, cream cheese, dill and cracked red peppercorns and there’s a vast selection of black teas, green teas and herbal infusions. Monday to Saturday from 11.30am to 8pm, and Sundays from 11.30am to 6pm. For more information, please click here.
Afternoon Tea at the Dominique Ansel Bakery
For a tea with a difference check out the first London outpost of hip New York pastry chef Dominique Ansel, inventor of the cronut (a croissant/doughnut combo). The afternoon tea’s flower-themed menu features savouries including steak tartare and creme fraiche brioche toast with red radish and sweet treats such as lavender meringue with coconut ganache, passion fruit gelee and white chocolate petals. While the interior may not offer the grandeur of the more established tearooms, the food is a magical treat. Available Thursday to Sunday from 12noon to 4pm. For more information, please click here.
Afternoon tea is certainly a speciality of Belgravia and Knightsbridge, but the areas have plenty more to discover. If you’d like to find out about buying or renting property nearby, contact us at Best Gapp today.