“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea,” wrote Henry James in The Portrait of a Lady. From quintessential scones with jam and cream, accompanied by the perfect English Breakfast, at Claridge’s to modern art-inspired pastries at the Rosewood, follow Vogue‘s definitive guide to the best afternoon tea in London for a nice treat.
From the elegant backdrop and pretty place settings to the fine china in the hotel’s signature stripes presenting a delicate array of sweet and savoury delights, Claridge’s has perfected the art of afternoon tea in the 150 years since it started serving it. Ideal for a special occasion – or just an afternoon treat – this is the place to while away many an indulgent hour.
Claridge’s, W1K 4HR
Surprisingly, the five-star setting in the Rosewood’s elegant Mirror Room is not the most extraordinary aspect of its Art Afternoon Tea. Inspired by London’s vibrant art scene, executive pastry chef Mark Perkins has created a menu themed around five famous modern artists – Yayoi Kusama, Damien Hirst, Alexander Calder, Banksy and Mark Rothko. From a Banksy chocolate cube with vanilla cream choux to Calder’s pistachio bavarois with cherry jelly, satisfy your sweet and cultural cravings at the same time.
Rosewood Hotel, 252 High Holborn, WC1V 7EN
For such an occasion as afternoon tea, sometimes only the most opulent setting will do and the grand and gilded Oscar Wilde Bar at Café Royal is just that. The sweet and savoury treats are accompanied by a live pianist.
Hotel Café Royal, W1B 4DY
Named after the slang term for a cup of tea in 19th-century London society, The Edition’s paradoxical Scandal Water tea is a little more risqué than the classic scones and English Breakfast. Tantalising small plates are paired with exotic teas and – for the slightly more scandalous – a custom-created punch.
The Edition, W1T 3NP
When only a classic option will do then The Ritz – where afternoon tea has been served since it opened in 1906 – is the dream. Served in the hotel’s show-stopping Palm Court, the ornate surroundings complement the traditional menu (if it ain’t broke, as the saying goes), which attracts guests from far and wide.
The Ritz, W1J 9BR
Undoubtedly the chicest tea in town, Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley Hotel serves fashion-themed delicacies – changing the menu every six months to reflect the new season’s trends. From Dolce & Gabbana patisserie accessories to a Victoria Sponge Valentino bag – fashionable foodies, this is the place to get your fix of both.
The Berkeley, SW1X 7RL
A firm favourite of Queen Victoria’s, taking tea in Browns’s award-winning, wood-panelled English Tea Room is a regal affair. Try to nab a table by the fire to enjoy your cucumber and celery salt sandwiches and baked apple cheesecake, among other tantalising morsels.
Browns, Albemarle Street, W1S 4BP
With plush scalloped chairs matching the dusty pink hue on the walls – punctuated by humourous illustrations – the eccentric interior of David Shrigley’s Gallery restaurant at Sketch makes for a unique afternoon-tea experience. The menu is quintessentially British, with a twist or two – from Comté cheese paninis (a sophisticated take on the traditional toastie) to hot chocolate and caramel fondants.
Sketch, W1S 2XG
source: British Vogue
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