Few things are as quintessentially English as afternoon tea. While those of us across the pond have tried our darndest to emulate this lasting tradition, there’s no denying that London has truly perfected the art of steeping, sipping and scone sampling. The city boasts some of the finest tea spots anywhere, including upscale locales approved by celebrities and royalty alike. Below, our picks for the best of them.
Dior Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley
The chic Knightsbridge hotel is making Britain’s favorite beverage very #fashion, with a new afternoon spread in the Collins Room inspired by the “Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams” exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. This sartorial twist means you’ll get a Lady Dior purse made of red velvet cake, a vanilla biscuit shaped like a J’Adior shoe with an edible sugar ribbon bow, and some Miss Dior Eau de Parfum in the form of a lychee and raspberry cake. The rosé champagne is a must—oh, and there’s tea. From $76, The Berkeley.
The Stafford Afternoon Tea
The Stafford’s newly renovated restaurant, The Game Bird, recently added a classic afternoon tea, complete with a cake stand filled with pastries, biscuits, Cornish clotted cream and jam. Spin by the Preferred Hotel for a ceremony that includes special drinks from Camellia’s Tea House and the Stafford’s own exclusive blend, all served on the fanciest of china. If you want to go all out (for, say, a birthday fete or a hen do), you can book one of the private dining rooms. From $53, The Stafford.
The Milestone Hotel & Residences Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea at this Leading Hotel of the World in Kensington is served in Cheneston’s Restaurant, the Park Lounge or the Conservatory. You can also adjust your menu according to food restrictions—vegetarian and gluten-free teas are available, and there’s a special under-12 choice for kids. Adults can enjoy smoked salmon sandwiches, strawberry preserves, and watercress and tartlets. A glass of champagne is highly recommended. From $68, The Milestone Hotel.
Rosewood London Art Afternoon Tea
The Rosewood London took inspiration from the Pop and Cubist movements for their latest afternoon tea in the Mirror Room. Aside from traditional British cucumber sandwiches and a selection of Mariage Frères teas, this special offering includes six pastries inspired by artists like Picasso, Warhol and Lichtenstein. Opt for an edible “Weeping Woman” (raspberry choux), a “Campbell Soup Cans” (flourless chocolate sponge cake filled with cherry jelly and mousse) or “Brushstroke” (banana cheesecake with blue chocolate). From $76, Rosewood London.
Hotel Café Royal Oscar Wilde Lounge Tea
Filled with gold accents and a plethora of mirrors, the historic Oscar Wilde Lounge at the Hotel Café Royal is one of the most beautiful spots you could choose for tea in London. Wilde is just one of the hotel’s famous former patrons—Princess Diana also loved having tea here—and the glamorous locale, part of Leading Hotels of the World, does him proud with an indulgent afternoon filled with English cucumber sandwiches, buttery scones, clotted cream and sponge cakes. From $72, Hotel Café Royal.
The Connaught Afternoon Tea at Jean-Georges
The Jean-Georges at the Connaught has combined classic British dishes with the chef’s love of Southeast Asian cuisine—think ham and cheese with miso mustard on walnut bread. The meal at the Mayfair hotel is set among curated art and stained glass windows. Make sure you don’t fill up too much on the seasonal green apple tarts, chocolate fondue and scones, because you’re going to want to try the cotton candy. From $72, The Connaught.
11 Cadogan Gardens Champagne Tea
Located in a cozy nook just off Sloane Street, 11 Cadogan Gardens relaunched its afternoon tea this year, so now you can sip your champagne and savor your scones in the hotel’s Drawing Room or in its more casual restaurant, Hans’ Bar & Grill. Traditional sandwiches are coupled with dishes like crayfish and chili and avocado rolls, plus cheese and fig tartlets and a banana and chocolate pavlova. And, as the name suggests, there’s plenty of bubbly. From $50, 11 Cadogan Gardens.