Last updated on January 12, 2024
Our guide to the best afternoon teas in London…
As you know, tea and cake are two of my favourite things, so can you imagine how excited I was when tasked with finding the best afternoon teas in London? It has to go down as one of the best jobs I’ve ever had, and trying some of London’s best afternoon teas was one of the highlights of my year.
From classic teas to servings with fantastical themes where every detail is designed, I had no idea how much variety was on offer. There’s something to suit every taste, and although they’re all pretty pricey, there are some that won’t break the bank quite so much. Also, these afternoon teas are a seriously special treat so, if you can afford it, it’s worth splashing out at least once.
In the guide below, I’ve detailed the price, what’s included and the dress code for each one, but first, here’s the video, episode four of Victoria’s Insider Guide to London…
Video: Best afternoon teas in London
The best afternoon teas in London
1. The Ritz
The royally-approved Ritz Hotel is the most classic afternoon tea destination in London. Tea is served in the magnificent Palm Court, with immaculate hospitality, a live pianist, and one of the most lavish settings you’ll find in the capital. There are 16 different types of loose leaf teas, finger cut sandwiches, warm baked scones, and a beautiful selection of fine pastries and cakes. It’s a quintessential British experience.
Dress code: There is a strict dress code: men must wear a jacket and tie, and jeans or sportswear aren’t permitted for men or women.
Lots of the capital’s afternoon teas have themes, and one of the best is the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the trendy Sanderson Hotel. There are fun thematic touches, including a music box holding sugar, cakes in the shape of ladybirds, and cute little bottles saying ‘drink me’. Everything is served in pretty Mad-Hatter-themed crockery by Luna & Curious.
Dress code: Smart casual. Fancy dress is not permitted.
Price: £55-80 for adults
The Prêt-à-Portea at the fabulous Berkeley Hotel is one of the most impressive teas in London. Every six months, the chef is tasked with re-interpreting some of the latest catwalk fashions into exquisite pastries and desserts. The attention to detail is incredible, right down to the little take-away boxes in the shape of handbags. This is certainly the most stylish tea you’ll find in London.
Dress code: Elegant smart casual. No shorts, vests, sportswear, flip-flops, ripped jeans, or baseball caps are allowed.
Another fun option can be found at The Ampersand Hotel opposite the Science Museum. As well as a classic tea, you can also opt for the Science-themed tea where cakes come shaped as planets, there’s a spaceman made of chocolate, and you can uncover your own cocoa fossils. It’s one of the most unusual teas in London, and an ideal complement to a trip to the Science Museum.
New in 2023, the Ampersand is also offering a unique Jurassic afternoon tea.
Dress code: The dress code is relaxed, but it’s a stylish hotel so smart-casual dress is recommended.
Price: from £54.50
A great afternoon tea to enjoy with children is the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed tea at One Aldwych. There are little puffs of candy floss, cheesecake in a golden egg, and delicious cake pops. The Charlie Cocktail, served in a tea pot with steaming dry ice, is a great crowd pleaser, and comes in a non-alcoholic version for children. Both kids and adults will love it.
Dress code: Like at The Ampersand, the dress code is relaxed, but it’s a stylish hotel so smart-casual dress is recommended.
Price: £70 for adults (or £85 champagne); £50 for children under 12.
6. B Bakery Bus
For another family option, the B Bakery Bus is brilliant fun. Starting at Victoria or Trafalgar Square, the bus takes you on a tour of some the major sights while you enjoy your tea and cakes in the specially adapted booths. It’s a good one for pleasing teenagers, or for your first visit to London. The price varies depending on whether you sit on the top or lower deck.
Dress code: None
Price: £45-50 for adults; £35-40 for children
Britain isn’t the only place famous for tea. For an Asian-inspired afternoon tea, you can head to the elegant Ting at the Shangri-La at the Shard. The high-end tea with a view comes with special touches like spring rolls and tapioca pudding. They also serve a classic afternoon tea with a gorgeous selection of desserts.
Dress code: Smart casual
Price: £75 per person (or £90 with champagne)
The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon officially opened in 2012 (in a ceremony visited by Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth) but before that it was a restaurant, an antique store, an interior decorating department, and the home of the Fortnum Family.
The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon offers three different tea menus – sweet, savoury, and high tea. They can also cater to vegans, vegetarian, gluten-free, and nut-free diets.
Dress code: Non-specific but smart dress encouraged
Price: £78-82 per person
Theatre Royal Drury Lane is one of the most well-known theatres in all of London, so it’s no surprise that their afternoon tea is nothing short of spectacular. Taking inspiration from the Regency era, the Grand Saloon offers sweet and savoury bites served on fine bone china, as you dine under elegant chandeliers.
Sweets are designed by the “Queen of Cakes”, Lili Vanilli and the menu changes seasonally.
Dress code: None specific but smart dress encouraged
Price: £59 for adults, £35 for children
For an elegant and sophisticated London afternoon tea, head to the Art Afternoon Tea in the Mirror Room at Rosewood London. Voted as the “Best Contemporary Afternoon Tea in the UK”, this tea is a fully immersive experience led by pastry chef Mark Perkins.
Dress code: Smart casual
Price: from £75 per person
For a whimsical afternoon tea inspired by J.M. Barrie’s novel, head to the Peter Pan Afternoon tea at Aqua Shard. Treats are served on a pirate ship and feature finger sandwiches with motifs from the novel and pastries hidden inside a treasure chest.
Additionally, £2 from each tea is donated to a charity to help children.
Dress code: Not specified but smart casual recommended
Price: from £53 per person
2024 Update: A previous version of this post recommended Bea’s has since closed and Glam Rock at K West, which is no longer available.
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These videos are part of our series for Expedia called Victoria’s Insider Guide to London. The other episodes in the six-part series are: