Perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, London is synonymous with afternoon tea. A ritual that began in the boudoir of Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, in the early 1800s, it’s an indulgence that’s taken on a culinary existence all of its own. Petite finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and an endless list of the finest teas are just the start. So polish up on those manners and indulge in a spot of high tea elegance, and style, at these exclusive London establishments.
There’s no looking past London’s legendary Claridge’s hotel for a quintessential afternoon tea that screams elegance and sophistication. The magnificent art deco foyer sets a most stunning backdrop to create an ambiance perfectly matched by the soft tinkle of a piano playing in the background. With 150 years’ experience serving classic savouries and sweets on its signature jade-and-white-striped bone china, including to VIPs, you can expect impeccable service and flawless flavours in every mouthful.
Address: Brook Street, Mayfair
For a high tea that’s truly high and so much so that it’s in the sky, there’s no looking past this the Fortnum & Mason Sky-High Tea atop The Shard. Obviously, it’s all about the views. Enjoy a picnic-style bite-size buffet on the open-air panoramic sky deck, nearly 1,000 feet above the bustle of London below. A more casual affair than most, there’s no sight of white tablecloths and bone china; instead, lie out on a picnic blanket and unpack your delicacies from a stylish hamper.
Address: 32 London Bridge Street, Southwark
Dubbed the ‘Fashionista’s Afternoon Tea’, The Berkley offers a distinct experience far from traditional, with Bright Paul Smith china plates arriving laden with eye-catching, eclectic creations inspired by the themes and colours of the latest catwalk trends. Think Vivienne Westwood chequered macaroons, vanilla shortbread modelled after an Alexander McQueen shoe, and a delicious take on Anya Hindmarch’s Big Eye Collection handbags. With a meticulous menu that changes with the fashion seasons, there’s sure to be a few surprises.
Address: Wilton Place, Knightsbridge
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An opulent and most royal affair awaits afternoon diners at the cosy and intimate Taj 51 Buckingham Gate, just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace. Their signature ‘24 Karat Gold Afternoon Tea’ is unmatched, a lavish offering of delicacies laden with edible gold. From gold-dusted macaroons to delicate mousse topped with gold leaves, it all comes accompanied by a flute of 24 karat gold-infused champagne.
Address: 51 Buckingham Gate, Westminster
A feast for more than just the stomach, this is a feast too for the eyes. With tables swathed in white linen set beneath the 19th century, glass-vaulted Paul Hamlyn Hall – otherwise described as a mini ‘crystal palace’ – it’s grand, it’s stunning and it’s lavish. Bite into exquisite morsels crafted with the finest British ingredients while sipping teas – or tea-themed cocktails – to the sound of gracious piano music. This season, a limited edition floral teas created in collaboration with L’Occitane adds an extra special touch of sweetness.
Address: Bow Street, Covent Garden
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