13 elegant afternoon teas in London

Pastries come in gilded cages at The Orchid Lounge Pan Pacific. Credit: The Orchid Pan Pacific

Afternoon tea is a rite of passage in London. The elegant national tradition began in 1840, when Anna Maria, the Seventh Duchess of Bedford, filled the lull between lunch and dinner with a soothing refreshment ritual. Today, London’s renowned afternoon tea landscape includes homages to the traditional spread, edgier takes, and everything in between.

A Knightsbridge institution celebrates the best names in fashion with a design-focused tea menu. Expect the MICHELIN-star treatment at a China-inspired Mayfair service featuring cake stands piled high with bao, among other exquisite treats. Add a glass of Champagne to your tea lineup at a stunning neoclassical place in a West End hotel.

Pinky up in style at these elegant British escapes. Read on for a guide to London’s best afternoon tea spots to book now. 

 

Thames Foyer at The Savoy (The Strand)

A gazebo stands under a glass dome in the Thames Foyer at The Savoy, a hotel in London.

Enjoy afternoon tea in the stunning light-filled Thames Foyer. Credit: Thames Foyer at The Savoy Hotel

The Savoy Hotel’s opulent glass-domed atrium has hosted its iconic afternoon tea honouring the traditional version of the service for more than a century. The storied room pulses with natural light, while a theatrical gazebo takes centre stage, graced by musicians who add to the buzzy atmosphere. More than 30 teas complement an array of sandwiches and a selection of pastries such as the signature Savoy Sandwich (sweet honey sponge prepared with clementine marmalade and chamomile). Bonus points for the thoughtful children’s menu, filled with imaginative snacks including a chocolate pot topped with cereal “pearls.”

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Afternoon Tea at The Beaumont (Mayfair)

Champagne is poured at a table which is set with tea and cakes at The Beaumont, a hotel in London.

Pair your tea with Champagne in the Gatsby Room. Credit: Ola O. Smit, The Beaumont

Afternoon tea has a slight American accent at this elegant, award-winning venue, thanks to themed cocktails and transatlantic dishes. Unwind in the luxurious Gatsby Room and enjoy drinks with names such as Airmail (rum, honey, lime, and Champagne) and Platinum punch (gin) before tucking into oak-smoked lox and salt beef Reuben sandwiches. Round things out with fresh scones, salt water taffy, and a zesty yuzu cream pie.

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FAIT MAISON Salon de thé (Kensington)

Afternoon tea at chef Om Waleed’s restaurants is an Instagrammer’s dream with its flower-covered frontage and delicate porcelain tableware. Teas such as lavender Earl Grey and Spring Blossom, infused with orange, roses, and mint, echo the floral theme. The menu is a sweet affair, focused on cakes and various photogenic desserts. Go for the classic cream tea or, if you’re flying solo, try the delicious afternoon tea for one. Both options offer scones, finger sandwiches, and sweet treats. Splurge by adding on desserts including the Fougie, a sumptuous chocolate brownie blanketed by Turkish cotton candy and topped with gelato, hazelnut sauce, and crushed pistachios. 

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The Chinese Whispers Afternoon Tea at Kai (Mayfair)

Pastries for the Chinese Whispers afternoon tea at Kai, a restaurant in Mayfair

The Chinese Whispers Afternoon Tea at Kai in Mayfair. Credit: Kai Mayfair

Expect the MICHELIN-star treatment at Kai, where afternoon tea is inspired by Chinese flavours. The theme is “whispers and secrets,” which explains beverage names such as the Truth Potion, a flight of three drinks including sparkling ginger ale, hibiscus green tea, and slightly boozy lemongrass white tea to whet the appetite. The trio sets the stage for specialty teas and cake stands piled high with bao, gilded cages filled with clotted cream macarons, and jars of tea and vanilla sablé Breton sweets. 

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Mad Hatter’s Tea at Sanderson London (Soho)

A woman pours tea from a pot at The Sanderson, a hotel in London.

Indulge in sweet treats like the queen of hearts at the Mad Hatter afternoon tea. Credit: Sanderson London

Channel the legendary party from Alice in Wonderland at the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. Diners can gaze at the green lawns of the Sanderson and imagine they’re in the beloved Lewis Carroll story. Bespoke tea flavours include the Mad Hatter, green tea infused with passion fruit, guava, and mango, and the Queen Of Hearts, a rose tea with hints of vanilla and chocolate. Whimsical snacks—such as the Caterpillar Swirl, or brown shrimp, cheese, and herbs on dark bread, and the White Rabbit Carrot and Plant Pot, made of chocolate “soil,” carrot cake, and a gin tear sphere—are highlights. A vegan menu is also available. 

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Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough (Hyde Park Corner)

Sofas and chairs at The Lanesborough, a hotel in London

The blue and gold interior of the Lanesborough is an opulent setting to enjoy afternoon tea. Credit:The Lanesborough

The stunning blue and gold neoclassical rooms at The Lanesborough provide an ideal backdrop for a stylish afternoon tea. Sip on Champagne as you consider which black, green, white, or herbal teas to order. Accompanying sandwiches include poached Cotswolds chicken with mustard mayonnaise and Parmesan and the iconic cucumber and cream cheese combo, perked up here with chives. For those with a sweet tooth, there are delectable cakes and pastries shaped like flowers and honey bees, best paired with a pot of Lanesborough Meadow Afternoon black tea, rich with fruit and rose petals. 

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Bbar and Restaurant (Westminster)

A selection of South African food sits on top of a table at Bbar, a restaurant in London.

A South African feast awaits at Bbar in Westminster. Credit: Bbar and Restaurant

Explore South African flavours with Buckingham Palace views at this Westminster stunner. Mini bunny chows (hollowed-out loaves of white bread filled with curry), Amarula-infused scones, and flavoured rooibos tea pay homage to South Africa’s multicultural roots. Savour it all in a playful setting of giraffe-print sofas, colourful botanical paintings, and black-and-white wildlife shots. For a more traditional British take, book the Chip Shop Fish and Chips experience via OpenTable, featuring classic battered fish served with mushy peas and pickled egg, plus cakes and scones. 

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Afternoon Tea at Rosewood London (Holborn)

 A selection of sweets inspired by the paintings of David Hockney available at Rosewood, a hotel in London.

The afternoon tea at Rosewood London is inspired by David Hockney. Credit: Patricia Niven, Rosewood London

Creatives and art lovers will swoon over the colourful afternoon tea by executive pastry chef Mark Perkins. His latest menu is inspired by iconic British artist David Hockney and his exhibition at Lightroom. Tea is served in the hotel’s ambient and light-filled Mirror Room, where diners can sample rare brews recommended by tea sommelier and restaurant manager Shane Cox. Pastries including The Splash (Earl Grey chocolate bavarois with chocolate sponge and passionfruit) complement Hockney’s paintings. A dedicated children’s menu means tea can be a family affair. 

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The Library at County Hall (Southbank)

Escape London’s hustle and bustle at this relaxing Southbank tea spot with sweeping views over the River Thames, London Eye, and Houses of Parliament. The restaurant was once the members’ library of London’s County Council, which explains the original oak bookcases and a statement fireplace. Taste a variety of teas while grazing on sandwiches filled with devilled egg and mayonnaise or cucumber and cured salmon on beetroot bread. 

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Afternoon Tea at The Orchid Lounge (Spitalfields)

Steamed dumplings in banana leaves at the Orchid Lounge, a hotel in London

Dumplings at the Orchid Lounge. Credit: The Orchid Lounge

Award-winning creations get top billing at The Orchid Lounge’s afternoon tea spread. There’s a choice of two menus: traditional sandwiches and scones or a Singaporean kopitiam (coffeehouse) version, which includes matcha scones and steamed pandan buns with kaya, a Southeast Asian coconut jam. The lounge’s most recent theme, Floral Fantasy, pays homage to the renowned Singaporean landmark Gardens by the Bay and presents four new pastries, including a lavender ganache and a choux with pistachio mousseline and raspberry compote. If the drink options seem overwhelming, enlist a tea sommelier to guide you through. Night owls can try the Orchid’s Twilight Tea service, which unfolds from 6 pm to 8 pm every Monday. 

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MAP Maison (Hackney)

Red velvet cakes and slides sit atop a stacked cake stand at MAP Maison, a venue in London.

Try the Spanish tapas style afternoon tea at MAP Maison. Credit: MAP Maison

A tapas-style afternoon tea in Hackney puts the spotlight on Spanish flavours. Settle into plush couches and velvet chairs while browsing the tea menu, where highlights include a high-end oolong and a chocolatey blend of vanilla pods and Peruvian cocoa nibs. Then feast on mini sourdough baguettes with Ibérico ham, mozzarella, avocado mash, and black olive tapenade. There are Ibérico burgers for heftier appetites, plus desserts such as the mini banoffee pie, cheesecake shots, and red velvet cake. MAP Maison’s trendy location and dynamic atmosphere make it well-suited for groups—and there’s the option to make it a livelier party with unlimited cocktails for 90 minutes.

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Afternoon Tea at The Parlour (Westminster)

Elegant, green-filled interiors of at Great Scotland Yard Hotel in Westminster

A memorable champagne afternoon tea awaits at The Parlour. Credit: The Parlour

Bamboo furniture, plump cushions and wallpaper featuring Indian landscapes make for a relaxed yet distinctive setting in which to enjoy a light lunch, dinner or afternoon tea at The Parlour at Great Scotland Yard Hotel in Westminster. The afternoon tea is particularly special, having been designed in collaboration with royally appointed perfumery, Floris London. Enjoy delicate dishes from the seasonal afternoon tea menu, including savoury sandwiches, assorted cakes and freshly baked warm scones, all complimented with a cup of tea or glass of champagne.

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The Cardamom Club (Stanmore)

The Cardamom Club’s design-forward space, with bright pops of pink, yellow, and blue, is a cool and contemporary spot to experience afternoon tea. India-inspired small plates get the spotlight at this “high chai.” Spread fruity strawberry jam on cardamom and chai scones and relish the mango chile cheesecake. For savoury accompaniments, get the vada pav, a deep-fried potato dumpling inside a soft bun, or the Bombay sandwich, toasted white bread topped with a vibrant herb chutney, chaat masala, and layers of cucumber, onion, and tomato. Don’t miss the signature cardamom masala chai to cap off the meal.       

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Shekha Vyas is a London-based reporter, writing about business, lifestyle, and food. Follow her on Instagram at @shekhav or on TikTok at @tastingbritain.