It seems like there is a day, week, or month for just about everything these days: but here’s one we can really get on board with. Afternoon Tea Week, started by no-one knows, but they seem like a great person anyway, honours one of our tastiest and most celebrated traditions.
The concept of afternoon tea came from the 7th Duchess of Bedford Anna Russell, a woman clearly after our own hearts, who decided the gap between lunch and dinner was an unreasonable amount of time to go without food. As you do, she began ordering snacks and tea to her boudoir in the mid afternoon, then began inviting friends over to join her until all of the upper echelons of society got wind of her genius idea. And here we are, some 175 years later still revelling at her genius. Here are our top picks of London’s best afternoon teas.
Momo’s Moroccan afternoon tea adds a wonderful African twist to the incredibly twee British teas of other establishments. No cucumber sandwiches here; Momo’s afternoon tea offers a selection of moroccan cakes and pastries, miniature falafel wraps, washed down with moroccan mint tea. Also very affordable. Prices start at £25 per head. 25 Heddon St, W1B 4BH.
Without a doubt the best value for money afternoon tea in London, The Orangery is a well kept secret as is its many different afternoon teas. Located within the Kensington Gardens with a view of Kensington Palace to boot, there are several different types of sittings on offer fit for those who fancy themselves as King or Queen but don’t have the bank balance to show for it. Prices start at £28.50. Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, W8 4PX.
It would be foolish not to include one of London’s most famous spots for Afternoon Tea out of such a list. The Ritz retains its status as the grandaddy of upper middle class snacking pursuits, giving you a selection of 16 different teas to choose from, including chocolate mint and dragon pearls, all whilst being serenaded by The Ritz’s resident piano player. If you haven’t already booked for afternoon tea week then you’re probably out of luck as spots tend to book up well in advance, and they turn tables around very quickly to fulfil demand. But just to say you’ve had tea at The Ritz would make it worth it in some eyes. Prices start at £54 per head. 150 Piccadilly,W1J 9BR.
Perhaps well considered because of the instagramability of it all, Sketch is an sight for sore eyes as well as a delicious afternoon treat. The tea itself is treated like an exhibition space, the whole affair is pretty avant-garde with all the millenial pink you could shake an iPhone at. Prices start at £58. 9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG.
An award-winning afternoon tea at one of London’s top restaurants, The Goring have been perfecting the art of snacking luxuriously since they opened their doors over 100 years ago. Served overlooking the private garden, the afternoon tea at The Goring boasts champagne with handpicked strawberries as an appetiser, it’s no wonder they have been awarded British Tea Guild Council’s Top London Afternoon Tea Award. Prices start at £49. Beeston Place, Grosvenor Gardens, SW1W OJW.
What’s not to love about being ferried around and stuffing your face simultaneously? This incredibly niche set up has taken afternoon tea lovers of the capital by storm, taking you on a tour of London’s sightseeing hotspots without having to put in any effort. Particularly good if you have elderly relatives coming to visit anytime soon; banish the walking and get dinner over with in one foul swoop. Prices start at £45 per head.
Truly one of a kind, Rosewood’s ‘Art Afternoon Tea’ is a contemporary take on the traditional inspired by the likes of Damian Hirst, Mark Rothko, and Banksy, all created by Executive Pastry Chef Mark Perkins. Each cake pays homage to its inspiration, with Banksy’s Balloon Girl even being etched into the side of one. The decadency doesn’t stop at the food; the Mirror Room that hosts it is just as impressive as the cakes, with floor to ceiling decorative mirrors and Chesterfield sofas all round. Prices start at £50 per head. 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN.
Like most things, an afternoon tea can be improved with cocktails, and St Martins Lane have curated several bespoke tea-infused cocktails to go with their finger sandwich offerings. The Speakeasy Cocktail Tea at St Martins Lane in Covent Garden is perhaps more girls night out than it is visiting aunts and grandparents, which will either entice you or put you off, but nonetheless the passionfruit macaroons are delicious. Prices start at £29.50 per head. 45 St. Martin’s Lane, WC2N 4HX.
Dominique Ansel Bakery has become something of a storm (in a teacup!) in the West End, with the ‘cronut’ (a croissant/donut hybrid) now only being made to preorder; you have to queue up with your receipt to get one, and they’re so in demand they are being sold on the ‘black market’ for 20x the price. Awarded as the best pastry chef in the world 2017 and honoured with the Ordre du Mérite Agricole, one of the highest culinary honours in France, Dominque Ansel’s afternoon tea looks like it will become one of the biggest arrivals on London’s foodie scene this year.
17-21 Elizabeth Street, SW1W 9RP.