The best places for afternoon tea in London

The delicious English afternoon tea became a widespread tradition in the 19th century, but who do we have to thank and where should you have it?

Coming to London means you cannot miss out on the fantastic English afternoon tea. The fine selection of teas with milk or lemon, the fluffy scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and the divine treys with pastries and delicious sandwiches just make me smile when I think about them!

english afternoon tea

But as we’re all sipping our tea (and our champagne) and savouring these delicious food assortments, do we ever stop to think where this tradition comes from? My friends, we have to thank our beloved Anna Maria Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. It is said that one day, in the midst of an afternoon in the 19th century, she complained of “having that sinking feeling”. At that time, it was customary to eat twice a day, for breakfast and dinner, so by the time you reached dinner, I guess you would have “that sinking feeling”. But the Duchess of Bedford found a quick solution to her feeling: she scheduled a tea time accompanied by a snack around 4pm – 6pm.

At the beginning, she would have tea alone in her bedroom, but later, she invited friends to join her at Woburn Abbey. She loved this ritual so much that she continued having afternoon teas when she returned to London. This time, she made formal invitations to friends for tea and a walk along the fields. Eventually, all of London’s high society picked up this delicious ritual, and today it is known as the traditional English afternoon tea. Thank you Anna!

But now, where should you have your English afternoon tea? Here are London’s most prestigious English drawing rooms. And don’t forget to make a reservation!

Claridge’s – Mayfair district

english afternoon tea at claridge's

Located in the heart of Mayfair, Claridge’s offers a one-of-a-kind setting with delicious food assortments and teas. Tea and pastries are served on beautiful fine china in bold jade and white stripes in the splendid Foyer of Thierry Despot, inspired by 1930s Art Deco. You will be served a selection of 24 fine teas from England, including rare blends and herbal infusions, accompanied by warm homemade raisin and apple scones with clotted cream, Marco Polo jelly, strawberry jam, sweet pastries and delicious sandwich assortments. And why not have a glass of champagne with that?

Egerton House Hotel – Knightsbridge district

where to have english afternoon tea in London

Situated in the elegant Knightsbridge area, Egerton House is a townhouse home that serves a delicious afternoon tea is a lovely drawing room. At Egerton House Hotel the finger sandwiches are delicious, the pastries are yummy and the scones are freshly backed and come with thick devon clotted cream and delicious fruit preserves.

The Goring – Belgravia district

english afternoon tea

A footstep away from Buckingham Palace in the Belgravia district is The Goring – London’s last remaining luxury family-run hotel – which serves a fantastic English afternoon tea. You may choose to take your tea in the lovely Terrace overlooking the gardens, in the cozy Lounge or the charming Veranda during the summer. The scones at The Goring are exceptional, and of course, a scone is not a scone if it isn’t covered in delicious clotted cream!

The Wolseley – St. James’s district

english afternoon tea

Situated on the famous Piccadilly street in the central St. James’s district,The Wolseley is a buzzing restaurant open from breakfast all the way to dinner. Although the Wolseley is always a buzzing spot, its most crowded time of the day is during the traditional afternoon tea! A fine tea selection, scones, clotted devon cream, strawberry jams, sandwiches, pastries and so much more awaits you at the Wolseley’s yummy afternoon ritual! And of course, you may also have your afternoon tea with a champagne to kick off you evening!

Fortnum & Mason – St. Jame’s district

english afternoon tea at fortnum and mason

In the heart of London on Piccadilly Street, Fortnum and Mason is an English tea institution where you will experience a lovely afternoon tea. When you enter the huge tea shop, take the elevator and head to fourth floor where you will find the relaxing Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, opened by HM The Queen. Before ordering your tea, have your individual tea-tasting experience with the expert “Tearistas”.

Brown’s Hotel – Mayfair district

english afternoon tea

Get ready to experience one of London’s most renowned afternoon tea experiences at the lovely English Tea Room at Rocco Forte’s luxury five-star Brown’s Hotel. Every day, from midday to 6pm, accommodate yourself in the classy room and take your pick from more than 17 tea blends and infusions, including Brown’s own blend. To accompany your tea, a delicious assortment of freshly cut sandwiches and pastries, homemade plain and fruit scones, Devon clotted cream, strawberry preserve and your selection of cakes from the cake trolley awaits you.

Author

I'm the daughter of an Italian family of diplomats, the second of three children, and a global citizen. I've lived in 7 cities around the world, I have a gigantic crush on Italy and my name has been mispronounced more times than I can remember.

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