Afternoon tea is a quintessential British tradition and is one that has been making quite the revival in recent years. From a traditional tea at the Ritz to the unusual brews served up by Fortnum & Mason, these are some of London’s best afternoon tea spots.
The Ritz in London first opened in 1906 and has been serving up afternoon tea ever since, keeping in line with its strong traditions and heritage. Served up in the hotel’s elaborate Palm Court, the afternoon tea consists of classic finger sandwiches along with scones and cakes, all served on an iconic tiered stand. Unlike many of the other afternoon tea spots in the city, the dress code at the Ritz is formal, which is why it attracts a large number of tourists who want to experience a true British afternoon tea.
Fortnum & Mason
The Diamond Jubilee Salon located just off of Picadilly is where you will find the Fortnum & Mason afternoon tea, which has been served here for over 100 years. What helps Fortnum & Mason stand out from their competition is the astounding variety of teas that they offer, with 45 different options to choose from, and helpful ‘Tearistas’ hovering around to help guests come to a decision. The food served up consists of fresh, warm scones and a tantalizing cake carriage, as well as a selection of finger sandwiches for those who want something more savory.
The Magazine, Serpentine Sackler Gallery
Set in the lush gardens of London’s Hyde Park, the Serpentine Sackler Gallery takes a more contemporary approach to afternoon tea. The modern interior of the restaurant was designed by world-class architect Zara Hadid, and this sense of contemporary innovation is carried through into the food. Rather than traditional tiered stands, the food is here is served on large slate blocks, and consists of canapé-style bites, from the goat’s cheese with crispy shallots and grapes to the delicate pastry cones overflowing with pickled cucumbers and smoked mackerel. Those with a sweet tooth will adore the chocolate truffles and mini tarts, as well as the freshly baked scones, a staple at even the most contemporary of afternoon teas.
The historic Brown’s Hotel is where Queen Victoria used to enjoy her afternoon tea, and the hotel has made sure that they carry this tradition forward. However, they have put a unique twist on their offerings, focusing on customers who would prefer to have a healthier and lighter afternoon tea, doing away with the feeling of not being able to move for the rest of the day. From flourless cakes to apple jelly to sugar-free chocolates to fruit sorbets, the spread put out for the hotel’s Tea-Tox is actually much more indulgent than it sounds, providing guests with a delicious afternoon tea but with none of the unhealthy ingredients.
Indulging in an afternoon tea is one of those must-do activities when visiting London. Not only will you be experiencing a unique facet of British culture and lifestyle, but, if you visit one of these spots, you will also be rewarded with an unforgettable dining experience.