Experience Transat

Original, Quirky Afternoon Tea at The Barbican in London

Share the article

Table of Contents

In The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James wrote “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” Though much may have changed in London in the last century, Londoners’ love of teatime has not diminished. Emanuel, a Transat Sales and Service supervisor and our host to a series of quirky London adventures, considers tea time a must while in the city. There are all sorts of options that can be found in grand hotels, restaurants and cafes, but his favorite experience is the afternoon tea at The Barbican Conservatory.

The Barbican, a British Brutalist landmark

The conservatory is part of the Barbican Centre, the largest performing arts centre in Europe. Built in a part of central London that was destroyed by World War 2 bombing, the area was built over a decade and is now one London’s best examples of Brutalism, an imposing style of architecture that uses raw materials (like concrete) to create expressive, original shapes.

The Barbican Conservatory houses over 2000 species of plants, trees and a small group of VIP residents that include turtles and koi carps. The experience of having high tea in London is enhanced by what’s being served. A great deal of the food is grown in and around the conservatory. Dishes include salmon bagel with dill grown on the rooftop or a ganache spiked with chilies peppers, which the conservatory has been growing since it opened in 1984.

Where to drink tea in London?

The afternoon tea ceremony was invented in 1840 by Anna Russell, Duchess of Bedford. Why? To satisfy the appetites of her high society friends during the long interval between dinner and supper. She offered them small sandwiches, cakes and delicious pastries.

Tea time in London is a tradition that has stood the test of time and comes in many variations to satisfy every palate. From grand luxury hotels to neighborhood cafes, each offers its own interpretation of the ritual. What hasn’t changed? The wide selection of teas, from the traditional Earl Gray to the most enchanting green teas.

A refined and sensible custom to adopt on any trip to London!

The question many tourists ask is: where to have the best afternoon tea in London? There are plenty of options, from opulent tea rooms to small neighborhood spots frequented by locals. The Barbican is certainly not the most popular tea in the English capital, nor is it the most famous. But it’s certainly one of the most original and will leave an indelible mark on your travel memories.

How to experience afternoon tea at the Barbican Conservatory

It’s worth noting that afternoon tea at the Barbican Conservatory is not a daily or even regular event. Rather, special occasions take place a few times a year in the Garden Room.

To make the most of it, it’s important to keep up to date with current and upcoming events. That way, you can reserve your place as early as possible. You can also indicate any dietary restrictions (if you will be ordering vegan options, for example) or other preferences to ensure a smooth experience.

A little advance preparation is all that’s needed to enjoy this truly out-of-the-ordinary experience in a decidedly green setting!

The comments and contributions expressed are assumed only by the author. The recommendations, intentions or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Transat AT Inc. or its affiliates. See terms of use of the Air Transat website.

You may also like

Explore the most significant locations for LGBTQ in London, UK, from barber shops to drag clubs and queer walking tours.
Dive into the colorful and vibrant world of Brighton, a seaside resort town that’s a rainbow-striped beacon for the LGBTQ community.
London has an undeniable allure. Here’s a list of places to see the city from every angle.
Here are some options for cheap eats in London that will please both taste buds and those on a budget.

Travel with Air Transat