Five great places in London for afternoon tea

There really is nothing more authentically British, than taking afternoon tea. It’s a tradition that dates to when breakfast was a vast meal, and the next time you ate was a gargantuan evening feast. So, a mid-afternoon sampler of food kept English aristocracy satisfied in between.

If you’re not familiar with this long-standing custom, then the first thing you need to know is that we are not simply talking about the drink “tea”, though that features on the menu.

 What’s in an English afternoon tea? 

Afternoon Tea in the UK involves dainty sandwiches, slices of delicious cakes and fancies and often a scone with jam and clotted cream. At one time, cucumber sandwiches (with no crusts on the bread) took centre stage but now sandwich fillings can be just about anything.

The idea is that you are served this delicious choice of finger food in an attractive way, often on decorative cake stands.  You should also preferably eat off china plates, and sip tea or coffee from delicate cups and saucers.  In more recent times, mini picnic benches have also become popular for displaying luscious afternoon teas in England.

So, where can you go in London for the best Afternoon Teas?

Well the good news is there are plenty of options, as this traditional feast of bite-sized delights has enjoyed a massive resurgence in recent times.  Here are the ones that the Merino Hospitality team recommend, as you will get the best, freshest ingredients and as well as the true afternoon tea experience.

 Fortnum & Mason 

This quintessential British store is on many London “to do” lists anyway. But while there, it’s a great spot to enjoy some excellent quality finger sandwiches and highly attraction cakes. The range is unlimited, so you can happily try a bit of everything. You may also want to opt to sample a range of tea blends, and learn how to brew, smell and sip tea for maximum understanding and enjoyment.

Afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason also comes with appropriately relaxing live music as a backdrop, and highly attentive waiting staff. It is essential to book ahead, and you need to add the tea tasting as an optional extra.

Sketch

For an Afternoon Tea venue in London that combines British traditions with a more contemporary feel, then Sketch is a tempting choice.  This highly quirky, 18th-century townhouse has a fabulous bright tea room, that later in the day becomes a popular cocktail lounge. From colourful tea trolleys displaying an artistic array of delicious food and fine tea choices, to discrete but super-polite waiting staff, this is a memorable and enjoyable experience.

However, to really set it apart, Sketch offers the choice of a Caviar Afternoon Tea. With this you have an explosion of creamy flavour from caviar, alongside a range of other mouth-watering menu choices.

Ring ahead to book, especially during high season and Bank holiday visits to London.

Beas of Bloomsbury

Apart from how delicious the food is with a Beas of Bloomsbury Afternoon tea, we wanted to include this venue as you will also be delighted by how little it will cost.  This is also a more casual and laid-back option, in a truly lovely setting – the company has premises at both Bloomsbury and St Paul’s.   This particular Afternoon Tea has been highly commended by TimeOut London, Louis Vuitton City Guide, and the Financial Times, and it also appeared in the Independent newspaper’s listing for the top tea rooms for the whole of the UK.

Reservations are essential but will provide you with a fabulous range of both savoury and sweet delights at a highly affordable price. You could also upgrade to either the Champagne Afternoon tea, or an option that includes a glass of iconic Bottega Gold Prosecco.

Mr Fogg’s

This prestigious London restaurant group is another great choice if you want a “Tipsy tea”. Mr Fogg’s provides a selection of exquisite champagne and gin teas, “for an indulgent afternoon of delectation and pleasure”.

Mr Fogg’s has establishments at various popular London locations, all within easy reach of public transport.  Reservations are essential. You are also advised to leave plenty of time for your visit, to imbibe the “bottomless pot” of spirit or champagne infused tea that comes with your selection of delicacies and afternoon tea favourites.

London afternoon tea bus tour

This slightly eclectic option, perfect for the (super sonic) short stay; enables you to combine the wonderful, unmissable experience of an English Afternoon tea, with sightseeing the country’s truly awe-inspiring capital city.  Everyone loves a twofer!

It really is a slice of history on the move, as you will enjoy your finger food in a beautifully laid out vintage red London bus.  The B Afternoon Tea takes you around sights that include The London Eye, Big Ben and The Houses of Parliament, Hyde Park, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and The Royal Albert Hall.  Mini-quiches, freshly made finger sandwiches, mini cupcakes and delicate pasties are all on the menu for the afternoon tea bus tour in London. The B Bakery company also offers the options of Gluten free, vegetarian and halal Afternoon Teas on its iconic red double decker bus.

As you won’t be doing the driving, there are options for alcoholic additions, including a Gin Afternoon Tea on board.  Most afternoon teas involve more food than you could eat in one sitting.  But these are some of the best “leftovers” for you to enjoy later when you return to ‘Your home in central London’.

 

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