One of the most enjoyable ways to spend an afternoon in London is indulging in Afternoon Tea somewhere fabulous, as slowly as possible.
Frankly, High Tea in London is a necessary indulgence every time I visit.
A visit to London simply isn’t complete without an afternoon invested in at least one of the venues below.
These are a handful of my favourite places for afternoon tea in 2020 – but do book ahead.
Best if you are looking for: Absolutely luxury and British indulgence
Sitting in the sweeping, glitz-filled, glossy lobby known as The Promenade of this spectacular hotel is one of London’s most affluent places to indulge and enjoy life.
It stretches back almost endlessly, with elegant white tablecloths, fresh flowers and staff who are as friendly as they are elegant.
This is British luxury and tradition at its finest, and it starts with a glass of Veuve Cliquot Champagne, of course, and a pot of tea of your choice, all accompanied by live piano music.
Then out come the sandwiches – elegantly cut, delicately stuffed with various fillings including chicken and cucumber, and a second round is offered.
You can’t help but reflect, chat and sit back as life slows down in this beautiful setting. The people watching is a bonus too – you are guaranteed to see some fabulous fashion from a range of global destinations, so do join in and dress up.
There is no rush as the delicious and perfectly baked scones with jam and cream then slowly arrive, followed by decadent mini cakes which are neatly packed into designer boxes to take home if you can’t finish them.
The cakes change with the seasons, so there’s always a reason to return.
This traditional but indulgent five star hotel is frequented by some of the world’s most affluent as well as most famous people, so keep your eyes out as the passing parade of people can be a highlight.
From £65 per person
Best if you are looking for: English Intimacy
This is a venue steeped in history, and tradition, and located right in the heart of bustling Mayfair. The menu in the English Tea room changes regularly, and you can select from traditional afternoon tea, or tea-to afternoon tea and at certain times of the year such as Christmas, there are updated festive offerings as well.
The traditional afternoon tea menu includes a glass of Moet & Chandon, and a 3-tiered tower of sandwiches on various gourmet breads, puff pastries and cakes.
Queen Victoria was a fan, along with many other high profile English names. In winter the open fire is gorgeous, especially if you can sit right in front of it (you can request this when you book).
The tea-tox version is similar but completely gluten-free, and just as much fun. Check out the gorgeous crockery which can include floral plates and bold coloured dishes.
There is live piano music, and staff who are well dressed and well informed.
From £65 per person
Best if you want: to be as fashionable as possible, and perfect for a girls’ high tea
The prêt-a-portea in this trendy Knightsbridge hotel has become something of an institution amongst fashion lovers and design aficionados visiting London. This is art at its best.
The whole high tea is fashion-themed, and the themes and designs change regularly, as do the fashions on the London catwalks at London fashion week – of course darling.
Staff introduce each collection, sorry, serve of cakes, with detailed explanations of the fashion inspiration and brand names.
And a plethora of high-end brand names also appear including Dolce & Gabanna, Valentino and Hermes. Often the very items from these brands on the recent catwalks are on your plate.
There are multiple Instagram opportunities, and young girls love it, as do, well girls of all ages really, and, of course, fashion types.
The hotel is gorgeously elegant and a bit trendy, as the five star establishment itself, The Berkley Hotel also attracts fashion types.
Best if you are looking for: Instagrammable moments
Sketch is one of the most photographed and most fabulously designed venues in London. It is a designer’s dream, with every room, even the bathrooms making their very own designer statement. The high tea is served in the restaurant with pastel pink velvet scalloped chairs. These alone are an Instagrammer’s dream. The walls are also painted the same pastel pink with framed black and white sketches with anecdotes on each one, and the floors are a unique herringbone black, white and brown pattern.
The food is also unique and modern – and very photographable and changes regularly. Too many tantalising morsels to mention.
Best if you want: Healthy, vegan high tea
This plant-based vegan high tea in Notting Hill is free from dairy, refined sugar, additives and chemicals. Scones and treats still appear in triple-layered stands, including smoked carrot and chickpea blinis with dill, and raw quiche.
The sweets feature strawberry and cashew mousse, and even lemon meringue pie but there are no bad guys. This is all clean eating.
There is even a CBD infused cocktail, a blend of raspberry, lemon, rose and vodka, and a pot of hemp loose leaf tea on offer.
There are also CBD infused chocolate truffles,
Best if you want: Absolute English tradition
High tea has been served here since The Ritz opened in 1706, so this is as traditional as you can get.
Served in Palm Court, the space itself is a luxury to sit in – and photograph.
The traditional menu of finger sandwiches and scones never changes, and that’s part of the appeal. The tea list is long and creative.
The crowd is a mix of tourists and Brits looking to step back in time. It gets booked out way in advance, so get in early.
Best if you are looking for: High tea with children
The diamond jubilee tea salon is located on the top floor of the decadently upmarket department store Fortnum and Mason. The two unique things about this high tea are firstly it is in a luxurious department store full of fancy, indulgent gifts wrapped beautifully which you can peruse before and after. Secondly, the food endlessly refilled.
For this reason, my children, and I suspect all children absolutely love it.
Cakes are fresh and delicious as are the sandwiches and scones. The list of teas is global and exotic.
The high tea room is pale blue in colour with friendly, warm service.
From £60 per person
Best if you want: a jaw-dropping view
Oblix on the 32nd floor of The Shard has the best views in London for High Tea along with spectacularly modern takes on traditional high tea fare.
Occasionally they do high tea specials focussing on a local event or anniversary and they do offer gluten-free.
Duck egg and truffle mayonnaise sandwiches play a starring role, as do the scones with spectacular gourmet condiments including fresh, natural honeycomb. But don’t go here for the food, go for the view.
This is all about the views of London, from every angle possible, and what a pretty town she is.
Best of you want: A gorgeous London themed high tea
This high tea is fabulous for the London focussed tourist (or local) who wants to indulge in all things London. The creativity within the presentation is incredible, and more like art than food.
The Gherkin (white and dark chocolate delight), The Shard (carrot cake and milk chocolate), Big Ben (lemon curd tart) and all major landmarks are featured amongst the indulgent cakes and treats.
This really is creativity at its very best, and the crockery and setting complements the detailed designs on offer. The room is lovely and bright and filled with natural light.
If coffee is what you are looking for in London, check out this guide here.