tea

What’s lovelier than teatime in a quality tearoom? Not much, we’ll say. If you’re taking a holiday to London and want to take a classy rest in the afternoon, you have an assortment of fine restaurants, hotels and dedicated tearooms offering high teas as well as less formal chances to sit down and have a cuppa.

Claridge’s Hotel

This five-star hotel in Mayfair is often the choice of accommodation for visiting celebrities and royalty, so after you fly in why not allow yourself some star tea treatment? It offers a top-rate cup of tea in unforgettable surroundings. Teas, selected by the hotel’s own tea connoisseur, are served in the art deco-inspired foyer on fine china.

Currently, Claridge’s offers a range of set teas and allows guests to reserve tables up to 90 days in advance. Guests can choose from a classic tea, which includes teas, sandwiches and scones; a children’s tea, which comes with a combined menu colouring book; a champagne afternoon tea, with your choice of Champagne or rose Champagne; or a seasonal offering.

The English Tea Room at Brown’s Hotel

Located in Mayfair, the Brown’s Hotel in London boasts a dedicated English Tea Room with a mix of old and new decor. In addition to a selection of 17 teas during the afternoon tea, the staff at Brown’s serves sandwiches, pastries, scones and cakes. If tea and cakes don’t seem substantial enough after exploring London, Brown’s menu also offers light meals, breakfast and a “Tea-Tox” which also offers a Champagne version.

Grand Imperial London

For a taste of the East during tea-time, the Grand Imperial London on Buckingham Palace Road offers an award-winning afternoon tea. The teas served here are Asian in style and paired with Cantonese dim sum.

Much less expensive than the teas at Claridge’s and Brown’s Hotel, afternoon tea at the Grand Imperial is served in sets for two people and has a Champagne add-on for just a few pounds more.

Fortnum and Mason

The Queen herself opened the refurbished St. James restaurant, now the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, at the Fortnum and Mason department store in Piccadilly in 2012. Now, step into the salon and get ready to enjoy your choice of afternoon tea, savoury afternoon tea or high tea. Menus are priced depending on the tea range chosen; champagne add-ons are possible.

Featuring seasonal and children’s menus in addition to the afternoon teas, the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon prides itself on offering the best teas and finest patisserie and sandwiches to its guests.

The Ritz

Hoping to truly feel pampered during your afternoon tea? The Ritz has been offering high-end teas for generations and has a well-deserved reputation to uphold. Guests take their tea in the Palm Court, a salon at the centre of the elegant hotel.

Afternoon tea here consists of a choice of 17 loose-leaf teas, sandwiches, scones and Devonshire cream. The Palm Court offers live music from the resident pianist during tea hours.

As befitting the surroundings, a dress code is requested from guests enjoying afternoon tea at the Palm Court. Men are asked to wear jackets and ties, and it’s asked neither men nor women wear trainers or other sportswear.

The Athenaeum

Another Mayfair option that shouldn’t be neglected is at The Athenaeum, whose afternoon tea menus won top honours from the Tea Guild in 2012.

The Athenaeum’s “Evergreen Tea” menu includes the usual tea, scones, finger sandwiches and pastries. Where this tearoom’s offerings differ from the other restaurants mentioned here are the several varieties of Champagne, Champagne cocktails and sparkling wine add-ons as well as the unique inclusion of a menu including Regents Park Honey Tea and Honey Fizz.

On this menu, which must be ordered 24 hours in advance, you’ll also have honey roasted ham, fresh scones with Regents Park Honey, honey-based pastries, and a complimentary pot of the Regents Park Honey, which is produced exclusively in Regents Park right there in London.

Bea’s of Bloomsbury

The other options offered here are good examples of London elegance and top-quality tea, but they aren’t easy experiences for your travel budget to absorb. For a classic London afternoon tea experience that is more affordable, more casual and just as tasty, try the St. Paul location of Bea’s of Bloomsbury.

Offering a selection of black, green, white and herbal teas alongside scones with Cornish clotted cream, meringues, cupcakes and brownies, Bea’s of Bloomsbury table reservations often fill up fast, so book ahead.  Adding to their popularity, Bea’s of Bloomsbury has gluten-free and vegetarian options for their afternoon tea sets as well as a Champagne add-on.