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The Best Afternoon Teas in London

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It would simply be sinful to visit the British capital and skip the quintessential experience that is afternoon tea, despite the regrettably frequently steep price point. The vast majority of elegant hotels offer some sort of variation of the indulgent tradition but alas, not all are created equal, even in the finest of establishments. This leaves most visitors wondering: where to get afternoon tea in London? If you can only fit a single afternoon tea during your trip to London, make it one of these. From shockingly affordable to downright lavish, this is our definitive guide to the best afternoon teas in London.

A brief history of afternoon teas in London

Did you know that afternoon tea is a British tradition dating back to the 19th century? For those of you wondering what tea time is in England or what is the best time for afternoon tea in London, know that it’s a meal served between 4:00 and 6:00 pm. It includes a variety of sweet and savory bites, as well as a generous cup of tea (or a flute of champagne on special occasions).

The tradition is largely attributed to the Duchess of Bedford, Lady Anna, who simply couldn’t tolerate hunger until 8:00 p.m., dinner time, and insisted on late afternoon bites. Her quirk quickly gained popularity and became the time of day when aristocratic women gathered to chat and, most importantly, to be seen in good company. This ritual, initially reserved for the nobility, was eventually democratized and became a moment of conviviality appreciated by all.

The tradition of afternoon tea in London has evolved to include a variety of delicacies, from scones to sandwiches to pastries, to be enjoyed with tea.

How does afternoon tea work in London?

  1. Pick your favorite teahouse and make sure you book in advance.
  2. Take a look at the menu, as you may have to choose between the meat, vegetarian or even vegan version, depending on what’s on offer. Classica range from cucumber to coronation chicken to egg mayo sandwiches.
  3. Choose your favorite tea! They’ll bring a pot so you can refill your cup throughout the meal.
  4. Enjoy! You’ll be brought a selection of sweet bits like warm scones, clotted cream, strawberry jam, and mini slices of cake as well as savory bits like sandwiches.

Some of the fanciest places even offer bottomless afternoon tea or champagne afternoon tea if you’re celebrating a special occasion.

What are the best places to have afternoon tea in London in 2023?

Sketch on Conduit Street, Mayfair, London - afternoon teas in London


If you’re on Instagram, surely you’ve swooned at the blush coloured walls and armchairs of this stunning space. Sought after by fashionistas and trendsetters, reservations at sketch are not the easiest to come by but patience is rewarded with scrumptious scones and tongue-in-cheek menu. The central location make it easy to find and to get to.

9 Conduit Street, Mayfair


Fancy having afternoon tea next to the likes of the British royalty? Then definitely fork out the eyebrow-raising £58 for the most opulent of afternoon teas in London. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mingle with potential kings and queens, along with a string of celebrities. All while munching on top-notch pastries and being impeccably served by tailcoat-clad waiters. Pamper yourself!

The Tea Room is famous for its sumptuous lobby where tea is served in luxurious surroundings. This iconic venue, steeped in history and prestige, is the ideal place to immerse yourself in the British atmosphere. But it’s not just the setting that’s impressive, it’s also the quality of the tea. With over 50 varieties of tea on offer, accompanied by delicious classic cakes, Claridge’s offers a luxury afternoon tea experience like no other.

Brook Street, Mayfair

Tea and pastries at Claridge's on Brook Street, Mayfair, London

Orange Pekoe

Often said to be the most underrated afternoon teas in London, Orange Pekoe is where local go to enjoy a toned-down version of the normally dressed up affair. Although this may be true, there are no dress codes and very little fuss, here. But that’s not to say the homely experience is sub-par by any means. Expect an impressive tea list, a traditional three-tiered cake stand and delicate finger sandwiches, just the way it should be. Definitely one of the most afforable afternoon teas and chepeast things to do in London.

Orange Pekoe
3 White Hart Lane, Barnes

Sanderson Hotel

There is a plethora of themed afternoon teas in London. But the Mad Hatters Tea Party over at the Sanderson Hotel is certainly one of the most whimsical ones. Tumble down the rabbit hole and recall childhood tales along the way with Alice-inspired tea infusions and iconic, delicate black china. Additionnally, expect a wide selection of teas!

Sanderson Hotel
50 Berners Street, Fitzrovia

The Orangery at Kensington Palace, London

The Orangery at Kensington Palace

Afternoon tea with the royals? Yes, please. Although Kate, William and the kids aren’t contractually obligated to make a daily appearance, the afternoon tea at The Orangery is as close as commoners can get to the charming family as the romantic, light-filled, 18th-century room is on palace grounds. A royal experience in the heart of Hyde Park!

The Orangery
Kensington Palace, Kensington


If you’re after a more casual affair or if you’re on a time crunch, then kill two birds with one stone with a vintage double-decker afternoon tea. Munch on delightful baked goods while zipping through some of London’s most iconic landmarks from Big Ben to the Tower of London. In other words, undoubtedly a memorable experience!

There’s even a variety of themes, from gin and Christmas lights to Paddington Bear and Peppa Pig for the little ones.

Locations vary

Barbican Conservatory

The Barbican Conservatory is a unique venue for afternoon tea. Situated in the heart of London, the Conservatory is home to over 2,000 species of plants and trees, providing a lush setting in stark contrast to the concrete architecture of the Barbican Centre. It stands in the heart of London on the ruins of monuments bombed during World War II. Rebuilt in a decade, the district is one of the finest examples of Brutalism, an architectural style that uses raw materials such as concrete to give buildings expressive, original forms.

Here, the tea menu is as varied as the sweet and savory delights that accompany it, all served in lush surroundings. Please note that afternoon tea is only served on a few Sundays each year. It is therefore advisable to book well in advance.

For tea lovers in London, the Barbican Conservatory is the ideal place for an experience not to be missed.

Barbican Conservatory
Silk St, Farringdon

Other classic and quirky afternoon tea in London

For something out of the ordinary during your trip to London, it might be worth considering an afternoon tea unlike any other. Whether it’s in a less touristy area or simply in a lesser-known landmark, there’s no shortage of options and places to create a totally memorable souvenir!

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