From the traditional to the quirky, the casual and the dressy, there are hundreds of places where you can enjoy afternoon tea in the British capital. Such is the variety of possible venues, it can be hard to pick one, but here are some of the best (and most Insta-worthy) options.
FORTNUM & MASON
For years, this upscale department store - established in 1707 - has been nicknamed the “Queen’s Grocer”, as it boasts a Royal Warrant to supply gourmet food and drink to Her Majesty. On the fourth floor of F&M's flagship Piccadilly store is the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, a light, elegant space officially opened by the Queen in 2012 to mark her 60th year on the throne. Choose from a selection of loose-leaf speciality teas and tuck into finger sandwiches, still-warm scones and freshly-baked cakes, including F&M’s famous Battenberg cake, which they’ve been serving up with their afternoon teas since 1926.
Hidden inside the revamped Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park London hotel, the Rosebery is a tempting option - especially if you’ve been shopping in the local Knightsbridge neighbourhood, home to Harrods and other enticing stores. Decked out with stylish contemporary design, the Rosemary lures afternoon-tea seekers with dainty pastries, tarts and scones, and finger sandwiches with an Anglo-Asian flavour (think: teriyaki salmon, roasted chicken shawarma and Portland crab). If you feel like you’ve over-indulged, take a walk and fresh air in neighbouring Hyde Park.
Another esteemed afternoon tea venue that’s well-located for a post-tea stroll is The Ritz Hotel, around the corner from Green Park in Mayfair. Make a beeline for the hotel’s Palm Court, which has glittering chandeliers, gleaming mirrors, vivid floral displays and a resident pianist and harpist. Savour sandwiches, scones and teacakes and choose from 18 different types of loose-leaf tea, sourced from tea plantations around the world by a certified tea sommelier. As with most afternoon teas in London, you can add some fizz to your order with champagne.
The whimsical world of Alice in Wonderland inspires the funky Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at this West End hotel near Oxford Street. Plunge down the “rabbit hole” with infusions served in teapots decorated with kings and queens, fruity “Drink Me” potions and snacks such as the Mad March Hare Vanilla Pocket Watch Macaroon. An alternative, later option (7-9pm) is the Tipsy Evening Tea, which includes cocktails, bites like White Rabbit Wild Mushrooms and Truffle, and alcohol-infused cakes.
This eclectic establishment off Regent Street in Mayfair - not far from Soho - is another unique modern setting for afternoon tea, with a lavish pink hue and walls sporting prints and drawings by contemporary British artist David Shrigley. A string ensemble performs as snazzily-dressed waiters ply Sketch guests with caviar, finger sandwiches filled with the likes of salmon, cucumber and ricotta, petits gateaux, traditional Victoria sponge and scones with Cornish clotted cream and organic jams.
Fancy your afternoon tea with amazing London views? Take the elevator up to Oblix, a swanky restaurant on the 32nd floor of The Shard, the capital’s tallest building. As you enjoy sweet and savoury treats, exotic teas and champagne (optional), cast your eye down over Tower Bridge, the Gherkin and the other eye-catching skyscrapers of the City of London across the River Thames.