With the United Kingdom ranking among the top five tea drinking countries in the world, it’s clear that the British love their brew. Maybe it’s the frequent grey weather that makes them reach for a cuppa so often. Grab your own mug and settle in as Ker & Downey shares our top picks for an afternoon spot of tea in London.
Learn about the Victorian history of traditional afternoon tea and select from a variety of international brews. Afternoon tea became popular around 1840 during the reign of Queen Victoria, who was also an avid tea-drinker. Enjoy the Tipsy Cake—soaked in sherry served with custard—and sip on a fine loose tea blend from the East India Company.
After a private shopping trip to this iconic department store, rest your feet in the Georgian for afternoon tea. Nibble on crust-less finger sandwiches with a vegetarian option of hummus and roasted red peppers. Servers cover your table with dainty deserts and a variety of teas; the crowning glory is undoubtedly the scones smothered with clotted cream and sweet strawberry jam.
The British empire once stretched across the globe, and this afternoon tea is reminiscent of that time period. The Jasmine Indian Afternoon Tea is inspired by the roadside tea stalls of India and the regal palaces of the Maharajas. Wash down the spiced cream cheese, crispy chicken tikka spring rolls, and syrupy sweets with a warm cup of tea. Opt for something more whimsical at the hotel’s Alice in Wonderland-themed tea party. Colorful cakes and pastries named “Queen of Hearts” and “Caterpillar’s Mushroom” bring the pages of the children’s story to life, made grown-up with a glass of prosecco.
Fortnum & Mason Tea Salon
Browsing the shops on Regent Street can be tiring, and we recommend this local favorite for an afternoon pick-me-up. This quintessential British tradition has been a standard at this salon for over 100 years. Powder blue cups and pots filled with tea complement the pretty cakes. You’re surrounded by a blissfully blue space that makes you feel like you are floating on a fluffy cloud.
Take a trip into the regal past at this Victorian Gothic hotel which opened in 1873. Snack on raspberry and dark chocolate scones while admiring this restored building, a place rich with rail history in London. Guests will want to savor every delicious bite and imagine the days when the aristocratic ladies of the past met to sip tea and chat.
Nestled in an elegant corner of London, the Knightsbridge Hotel serves up Rosie Lee in style in their drawing room. Indulge your appetite with scones, clotted cream, preserves, and savory sandwiches. Warm and welcoming, tea at the Knightsbridge allows you to enjoy afternoon tea as it was meant to be enjoyed — at your leisure.
Experience a British tradition in a very English institution. The Palm Court is a feast for the eyes with glittering chandeliers, glistening mirrors, and a live pianist and harpist. This venue provides the perfect backdrop for cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and teacakes. Eighteen varieties of tea are on the menu, along with champagne. This is the only hotel in London certified with a Tea Sommelier, who travels the world’s plantations to source the leaves. It is therefore a lavish affair with waiters dressed in formal wear and guests in smart suit and tie.
Feel like royalty in the blue tea room, topped with a domed glass roof that fills the room with light. The natural brightness makes crystal chandeliers and gold accents sparkle. Dainty cakes and macarons add to the elegant pops of color and lavish appeal of this iconic afternoon tea.