This Little Lady’s Top 10 Places for Afternoon Tea in London…
One of the questions I get asked a lot these days, is
“What’s the best place in London for Afternoon Tea?”
Oooh. With so many to choose from, and so many different variables to consider, this is never going to be a simple question to answer. Do you want vintage, mismatched teacups, or high-end, luxury bone china? Do you want traditional scones and clotted cream, or a modern take on the classics?
What will make one person gasp with joy may leave another wanting a little more.
So, because I love you so much, I’ve spent months undertaking extensive and painful research in this area (I’m joking, of course, I can think of no nicer way to spend an afternoon, catching up with a friend), and have compiled a list of what I believe to be some of the best spots in town to treat yourself to high tea, whatever your tastes.
Cute and Cosy
bake-a-boo (86 Mill Lane, West Hampstead, NW6 1NL)
“A Colleague with coeliac disease pronounced the gluten-free and vegan cupcakes the best she had ever enjoyed.” The Times
bake-a-boo, nestled away in the depths of West Hampstead, is an absolute treasure, yet the kind of place you’d never discover unless you were looking for it. Raved about by The Times, Time Out and Cosmo Bride (among many others), this vintage inspired tea shop is as pretty as a picture…that is backed up by seriously scrumptious treats. The daily bake includes a light, fluffy and dangerously moreish Victoria Sponge, a seasonal selection of cupcake flavours, plus a whole host of gluten-free cakes, dairy free cakes and even cakes suitable for vegans. Of course, you can also order a delicious afternoon tea, packed full of finger sandwiches, home-made, freshly baked cakes, old-fashioned sweets and beautiful chocolate dipped strawberries (there is of a gluten-free afternoon tea option too) for just £16. Anyone who visits bake-a-boo seems to fall in love with the place thanks to the beautiful decor, friendly service and range of teas and cakes available. Find the bake-a-boo menu here.
(Open Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Private bookings available for the rest of the week)
Drink, Shop, Do (9 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London, N1 9DX)
Drink, Shop, Do was one of the best kept secret’s in London for a while…but now, the secret is out. Not a dedicated tea room, but more a creative space which turns into a party palace later on. They have various different options available if you’re looking for an afternoon tea in Islington (weekends only), including a Champagne Afternoon Tea (£35), the Man’s Afternoon Tea (£28) and the Night Flight (£38). The full menu can be found here.
Beas of Bloomsbury (83 Watling St London EC4M 9BX)
Beas have 4 branches across London, in Bloomsbury, Farringdon, St Pauls and Maltby Street. Headed up by the ex-pastry chef of Nobu, they pride themselves on using the highest quality ingredients, but keeping the prices reasonable. Afternoon Tea here is a casual yet beautiful affair, with all the traditional favourites, including cakes, meringues, brownies for just £19. There is a gluten-free option available, but no vegan afternoon tea’s yet, I’m afraid. Check out the full menu here.
One Aldwych (London WC2B 4BZ)
Taken in the lobby at One Aldwych, Afternoon Tea here is a total treat. They theme their afternoon tea’s to fit in with seasonal ingredients or current pop-culture trends, and the pastry chefs work tirelessly to ensure each morsel is of the highest quality. The current offering is “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” to tie in with the release of the West End show. This is a decadent smorgasbord of bite size treats to tantalise any tastebuds, including a Golden Egg with vanilla cheesecake and mango, Chocolate caramel milk and homemade candyfloss. Definitely not just for kids! Available for £29.50 per person, or £38.00 including a glass of Lallier Champagne or a Cocktail Charlie. Find out more here
Fish Market (16B, New Street, London, EC2M 4TR)
And now for something completely different, for those of you looking for a bit of a twist on the classic ideals of afternoon tea! Fish Market have come up with their “No Nonsense Summer Afternoon Tea” for those looking for a quintessentially British, yes less fancy option to the norm. Expect a mug of builder’s tea, pink lemonade and FLT (fish-finger butty, lettuce and tomato), followed by a Tetley Tea Sundae (a glorious ice cream Sundae with tea ice cream, milk ice cream and rich tea-dunkers). Available from 2-6pm, the Fish Market afternoon tea is priced at just £12.00. Bargain.
Paramount (Centre Point, 101-103 New Oxford Street, London WC1A 1DD)
To combat the recent heatwave, Paramount launched their impressive “Iced Tea”, London’s first frozen afternoon tea. Set high above town (32 floors, up, to be exact), super-hot Londoners can enjoy tier after tier of sweet and savoury favourites – with the addition of fabulously frozen fare such as a Frozen Coffee Cream, Strawberry Parfait and Mango Chiboust in a cone. Plus, there’s liquid sustenance in the form of cool cocktail Paramount Colada, served over pineapple-and-roasted coconut ice block. There’s a non-frozen High Tea also available, but while the sun is shining, we suggest you chill out! The Paramount Afternoon Tea is available for £28 (or £42 with a frozen cocktail).
The Berkeley (Wilton Place, Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RL)
If you’re a lady who loves to shop, the Prêt-à-Portea Fashionista’s Afternoon Tea at The Berkeley is the only option for you. With cakes and pastries that take inspiration from 2013′s hottest catwalk designs from legends such as Oscar de la Renta, Alexander McQueen and Prada, this is a treat suitable for only the most stylish among us! Prices start at £39 per person, and delicacies include the Balenciaga modern monochrome dark and white chocolate mousse dress set on a pecan nut brownie topped with flamenco ruffles, and the Alexander McQueen whimsical yellow honeycomb cream oversized dress topped with marzipan bee. See how many of the catwalk trends you can recognise. Amazing.
The Goring Hotel (Beeston Place, Grosvenor Gardens, London, SW1W 0JW)
The Goring Hotel was recently awarded a near perfect score for it’s Afternoon Tea by the Tea Guild Judges, meaning it was their top recommendation in London and earning the Hotel a place in the Tea Guild Awards Of Excellence 2013. Expect a charming, traditional spread, presented to the highest standards. The hotel is currently offering a “Coronation Afternoon Tea”, which includes Eton Mess, Royal Red Velvet Slice and an Earl Grey Macaroon. While the weather is good, enjoy your tea on the beautiful terrace. Available from £39 per person.
Dorchester Hotel (Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 1QA)
I tend to head to the Dorchester if I want to treat myself to something a little more upmarket with my girlfriends, as afternoon tea here really is a pleasure. It’s never been anything less than perfection, and for perfection? I don’t even mind the price tag (£51 per person, including Champagne). The food is plentiful and delicious; including delights such as smoked salmon bridge rolls, finger sandwiches, a platter of cakes and pastries and scrumptious scones, packed with plump raisins and served with lashings of cream and jam, of course.
Brown’s Hotel (33 Albemarle St London W1S 4BP)
Brown’s is one of my favourite hotels in London – and their Afternoon Tea is as high a quality as everything else they do. You could opt for the traditional or champagne tea, of course, but if you’re looking for a healthy afternoon tea option, try the Tea-Tox. This low fat, low carb, sugar-free offering is much more exciting than you may suspect! Open sandwiches are created with chicory and lettuce leaves as a base, fruit and honey skewers stand in for heavier fruit scones and beautiful patisseries are created using healthier sweeteners, rather than sugar. It’s tasty and it’s a delight…and definitely one to investigate if you’re trying to be a little bit healthy.
So there you go…that’s my top ten places for afternoon tea in London. If you have any additional suggestions, please do add them in the comment box below. We’re always MORE than happy to try out new places!
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London Launch: All Bar One, VictoriaJune 16th, 2014