I simply had to draft out a round-up of the 9 best London afternoon teas I’ve enjoyed in 2018/2019, especially as someone, somewhere in the universe has designated this week national afternoon tea week. I mean it’s only the best time ever to reminisce about afternoons of luxury – who needs more excuses to book a few more!?
Not all afternoon teas are created equal. Crumbling scones, dry sandwiches and, horror of all horrors, having to share or barter around the delicate confections of cake that crown afternoon tea tiers. But. None of these have made it onto this list.
Like past years, I wanted to share a range of teas – from the best value London afternoon teas all the way through to pure luxurious celebrations – oh, and a couple of themed afternoon teas which were amazing. NB: For complete disclosure I’ve added a star to the teas where we were invited, as well as making it clear in the post itself. But, as ever, all flute tinkling, fork twirling and London skyline admiration is pure, unadulterated me.
PS. everyone of these – as far as I know – can be made gluten free or vegetarian with advance notice.
The less than £25 afternoon tea bracket
The Garden of Number 16 Hotel
Number 16 (a jewel box of a hotel in South Kensington) has a really intimate, beautiful orangery and garden which has to be enjoyed on those cool, beautiful sunny afternoons. Everything was perfect – from the quintessential white garden furniture to the lovely hotel team who couldn’t have been more perfectly attentive.
AN AFTERNOON TEA AT THE CRANLEY HOTEL
Afternoon tea is a confection straight out of a Roman myth; conversation and delicate treats wrapping around the spindle of an afternoon tea stand, essential ingredients threaded into the warp and weft of Ariadne’s loom. Or some may say enjoying a few hours of afternoon tea somewhere like Cranley Hotel is just a lovely way to while away an afternoon with a good friend – one who you’ve explored some remarkable ancient places with.
I adore the cake selection at The Delauney. You *could* just swing by its wood-panelled, Grand Café-inspired dining room and pick sandwiches and pastries à la carte, but it’s much better to settle in for the whole triple-storeyed extravaganza, piled with Viennese cakes and their famous gugelhupf – traditional poppy seed-sprinkled sponge cakes.
The £25-£55 afternoon tea bracket – the mid-luxe afternoon tea tier
THE MARY POPPINS AFTERNOON TEA AT AQUA SHARD*: ABOVE THE LONDON CHIMNEY POTS
In the words of London’s most famous Nanny herself, the Aqua Shard Mary Poppins Afternoon Tea was practically perfect in every way. With breathtaking views of the London skyline, two fabulous ladies by my side and the time-worn pages of PL Travers’ tales setting the scene, we knew from the start it was going to be a sumptuous afternoon.
Grosvenor House Hotel*
Every element of the decor and delectable tea stand are a poetic ode to the tree boughs across Park Lane – they seem so close that they’re almost touchable. As the resident Grosvenor House Hotel pianist delicately tinkled the ivories, we settled into our velvet couches (swoon) in the Park Room, ready for an afternoon of nattering and giggling over shimmering Perrier-Jouët bubbles.
The opulently £50+ afternoon tea bracket
The Grandame of London afternoon tea, Claridges Hotel
Setting the bar very, very high for every single tea I’ve ever enjoyed, the afternoon tea at Claridge’s Hotel is simply the epitome of luxurious afternoon tea in London. Every aspect is presented with grace and style that many hotels attempt to emulate but don’t quite achieve – the mark of 150 years of practice…
AFTERNOON TEA FIT FOR A NEW PRINCE AT THE SHANGRI-LA LONDON (OR IN THIS CASE, TWO PRINCESSES)*
We were lucky enough to try the limited edition Royal High Tea at the Shangri-La London. Celebrating motherhood and the eagerly anticipated birth of the baby (little Archie!) of His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex and Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Sussex, this Royal High Tea takes inspiration from people closest to the chef’s hearts – their mothers. I know with the quality of that tea, that their subsequent ones will be just as delicious…! The view over London isn’t half bad either.
The best of the quirky afternoon teas
EGERTON HOTEL: A PAWFECTLY LUXURIOUS DOGGIE AFTERNOON TEA.
My cutest afternoon tea date (ever) arrived at our Egerton Hotel rendezvous wearing a blue bow tie and his salt & pepper hair suavely combed – just right for a Kensington afternoon tea.
Christmas Afternoon Tea at the Connaught Hotel
The festive magic shows itself, dancing subtly between hung baubles, notes of laughter and the glimmer of festive dresses that we pulled out of our wardrobes with sheer glee. We met just on the cusp of the day – where daylight changes place with the velvet darkness – the perfect time to linger over a glass of Laurent Perrier Rose Champagne. It was made even sweeter by the afternoon tea that was to come, crafted by the experienced Connaught Hotel afternoon tea chefs, who look after the Jean-Georges terrace.
Isn’t afternoon tea just the best excuse to relax and indulge with lovely people?
Where have your favourite London afternoon teas been? I’d love some new places to try!
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