Where is the best place for afternoon tea in London? Well, it’s one of my favourite questions! Here are some of my most favourite teas that I’ve enjoyed in my favourite city over the last few years. I’ve loved going back and doing a little trip down memory lane updating this. Would I take a child to any of these though? I mean, I have (see the Fortnum and Mason’s post, when Little Man was around 4 months old), and I’ve seen children in many of the below settings. Though personally, I wouldn’t if I could help it. It’s just lovely to relax and take in every moment, without having to watch your little one.
As usual, please find all links at the end of this post. I won’t include prices, as these tend to change and fluctuate a lot. As a guide, the high end establishments tend to be over £60, plus service charge, per person.
Claridges, Bond St Visited: a very warm July 2019. Best bits: wonderfully attentive staff (staff here quite clearly love their jobs and they really had time for us, and my poor mum who had arrived in a bit of a fluster after bad delays en-route. Mum got very lovely, Claridges gifts from the wonderful manager on shift that day whom she had a rapport with, both being Irish natives), gorgeous and unusual home made jams made for sensational tasting, comfortable surroundings. Cons: we were sat in a rather dark tucked out of the way area which was a little disappointing, and the afternoon tea was not served on a typical tiered stand, which I prefer, as it just didn’t feel as fancy! Perhaps a little bit pricey I felt for the overall tea, in comparison to others. Overall summary: In spite of any negatives mentioned, Claridges feels like a very glorious London institution and I’d be very happy to return to try it again. The staff made it.
Town House Kensington, South Kensington Visited: 2018 (Beauty and the Beast) and 2019 (London Landmarks), Best bits: I think the teas here are tremendous value for money, as the quality of the produce really does rival the higher end tea market. The staff were wonderful, and I felt so cosy and comfortable here. I also think whoever comes up with the themes here is an innovative god! They are wonderful and almost too pretty to eat! Cons: The only possible downside (though it wasn’t really, it’s just quite hard to think of one for here!) is that I think they asked us re drink refills but weren’t quite as open as other places regarding more sandwiches or cakes of any kind. We didn’t leave hungry in any case. Overall summary: I want to stay here, let alone go back for another tea! It’s a wonderful building and atmosphere, and definitely a contender for a best London afternoon tea.
The Ritz, Green Park Visited: 2013 for the standard afternoon tea, and 2022 for their Christmas afternoon tea Best bits: We got the most cake out of any of the places I have been to, and to be served and waited on so wonderfully was such a treat. It felt like the Ritz was super generous and tremendous value for money. The décor and the crockery is exquisite: I haven’t been anywhere else like it. It’s refined, elegant, a wonderful treat. Cons: Really can’t think of any! Overall summary: for excellent quality food, the best in crockery, décor and atmosphere, the Ritz is a London no 1 for best London afternoon teas.
Candella, High St Kensington Visited: 2018 Best bits: really lovely home made produce, felt very English tea rooms style, cosy, comforting and great value. Cons: Cant think of any really, even though much less informal than the others here would still advise you to book ahead to avoid disappointment, as the tea room area is quite small with a limited number of tables. Overall summary: Really lovely! It was great for the birthday I had there, fantastic price and food and I’d recommend in an instant.
The Savoy, The Strand Visited: 2016 Best bits: Lovely staff, beautiful pastries and scones. A very elegant foyer and I loved the art deco toilets! Cons: the main seating area felt a bit worn and dated when I visited 2016, more comfy than elegant, or a bit of luxury (the latter being what I was expecting) Overall summary: We had a very lovely time and the experience is all that matters, however I think what we paid for at the time was too steep for the atmosphere/décor, in compaison to other instituations such as the Ritz, and even though the cakes were lovely, for the food. I probably wouldn’t return here.
Fortnum and Masons, Green Park Visited: September 2020 Best bits: I love the Fortnums building, how old it is, how beautiful it is, and the table area for our visit was just as elegant and lovely, there were generally very friendly staff, lovely pianist playing on arrival Cons: It was made clear our table was needed back 30 minutes before we were due to leave which was a real shame and spoiled the ending of our visit. Fortnums had a special buy one, get one free during August and September after lockdown in the UK was lifted from Corona (1st wave) which may have made it extremely busy, but this was certainly disappointing. Also, they didn’t have gluten free scones and rang us on the day of the visit to tell us that- a bit late! As scones are an integral part of a tea, this was also a real pity. Overall summary: I’d definitely say visit as we had a very special time with Little Man and his first afternoon tea. Regarding the pressure we experienced to return our table, I am quite sure it isn’t general practice here as have visited other Fortnum restaurants, but simply stand your ground (here or anywhere) if you are nudged to leave half an hour before your table is due to be returned!
The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner. Visited: 2021. Best bits: beautiful building, setting, staff! Lovely themed afternoon tea when we visited (an Alice in Wonderland inspired one) Cons: really can’t think of any. Everything was so nice. Overall summary: lovely one to try- and currently doing a Bridgerton themed afternoon tea!! (January 2023)
The Berkeley, Mayfair. Visited: 2022. Best bits: great Mayfair location, lovely seating area, fantastic themed tea of “Pret a Portea” and if you’re lucky enough to get the beautiful hostess at your table called Adriana, you have hit gold. We were waited on with genuine friendly and attentiveness. This was a special catch up with my oldest friend of 35 years, we had an amazing 40th birthday celebration Cons: absolutely zero. An absolute best London afternoon tea winner! Overall Summary: I’d return here in a flash! You need to book if you haven’t already been.
The Connaught, Mayfair. Visited: 2022. Best bits: loved being sat by the windows, lovely atmosphere, really lovely food. Cons: not a huge negative, but some of the waiting staff seemed very nervous, unsure and perhaps in need of more training at the time. We’ve all got to start somewhere, I was just surprised they were so nervous. Overall summary: sophisticated and lovely place to do tea
The Corinthia, Charing Cross. Visited: 2023 for my 41st birthday! Best bits: so much food! We felt stuffed. The nicest waiting staff ever! And the most glorious setting: look at the below picture, to be sat right by their floral display was just lovely. It felt like the loveliest place for a birthday catch up with a special friend. I had the gluten free menu, and I didn’t feel like I had been short changed. I also tried their hot chocolate, and it was divine to have as a nice change from tea, really rich and creamy, and we loved their posh crockery colours Cons: can’t think of any! Overall summary: would love to get back!
If I had to give you my top 3 high end, best afternoon teas in London, it would be without question The Ritz, The Berkeley and The Corinthia. If I had to choose a middle range, I would of course choose the Town House Kensington, and cheaper range, the lovely Candella Tea rooms. Let me know what you think of these, and where you would add! It is honestly my favourite past-time with my favourite people!
Fortnum and Mason: https://www.fortnumandmason.com/afternoon-tea