English afternoon tea has royal history dating back two centuries, but the growing craze for them in London sees choices than ever, where each venue tries to present its own specialities.
With Michelin-starred Ollie Dabbous at the helm of this stylish new restaurant in Piccadilly, you’d be sure that afternoon tea here is a memorable event. The two-storey restaurant (also with a cosy basement bar) overlooks busy Piccadilly and verdant Green Park, however, the venue is true to its name and you head through an unnamed door to enter. Afternoon tea is served in the light-filled ground floor, with earthy tones such as cork wall panels and wood floors, with all delectable dishes served in earthenware ceramic dishes. Start with savouries such as warm Spenwood cheese-filled choux pastry balls, head to smoked salmon with pickled cucumber sandwiches and end with crisp chocolate and hazelnut tartlet and herb-infused, flower-shaped candyfloss. Ask the waiters for their tea recommendations from an exclusive French selection from Mariage Frère in Selfridges.
The Yacht London
Board The Yacht London’s nautical-themed boat behind Somerset House and cruise the Thames in style as you enjoy a Gin Afternoon Tea Party. The boat’s Art Deco cocktail lounge is decorated with mirrors and aquamarine palette, while the dining room features brushed silver and floor-to-ceiling windows. Afternoon tea is served on a three-tier cake stand; tuck into finger sandwiches, a cheese and spring veg quiche and scones. Signature cakes include a wooden box of macarons, decorated with petals and starfruit. Enjoy the river view with a premium tea and a Hendrick's Gin cocktail.
Although this is an Edwardian townhouse in Marylebone, the new English country garden tea at 108 Pantry whisks you to the countryside. Classic British nibbles are arranged on a board decked with flowers, terracotta pots and fork and spade-shaped cutlery. After Coronation chicken tart, smoked salmon on Guinness bread and Dorset crab with watermelon and borage flower, sample poppy seed and orange blossom scones with Devonshire clotted cream, rhubarb jam and orange curd. Sweets include elderflower and strawberry Battenberg and rhubarb profiterole accompanied by The Rare Tea Company teas.
The Swan at Shakespeare’s Globe serves tea inspired by the Bard’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Savoury bites include wild mushroom and leek quiche, and Wiltshire ham and pea shoots. Scones come plain or with mulberries, with clotted cream and berry jam, while sweets include rose-infused raspberry mousse and lemon cake, and blackberry compote and lavender cream. Dine from bespoke crockery featuring Annika Wester’s Shakespeare-inspired illustrations while watching boats on the Thames and sip a love potion cocktail. After all, how often are you in London?
The Montague on the Gardens
Opt for the new safari tea at The Leopard Bar in The Montague on the Gardens, a Georgian townhouse hotel near the British Museum, in a bar featuring leopard print wallpaper and menus and pictures of African animals. Tuck into African-spiced chicken and apricot sandwiches, mango and kiwi tart, giraffe macaron and red bush tea. Leave space for an African inspired cocktail made with vodka, Amarula cream liquor and Frangelico, decorated with leopard spots and garnished with an edible paw print. Van Morrison’s saxophonist, Martin Winning, plays jazz on Wednesday and Thursdays evenings.
St Ermine's Hotel
After a stroll in St James’s Park, while away the afternoon in the Tea Lounge and library of St Ermin’s Hotel, a red-brick Victorian mansion nearby. Tuck into sandwiches, plain and fruit scones with clotted cream and jam, and sweet treats including a white chocolate and carrot choux bun, lemon macaron, chocolate and salted caramel pot, mango jelly and coconut Panna Cotta and apple and cinnamon mousse. Sip Newby teas served from hand-painted teapots, or opt for unlimited Prosecco for £35 – bargain!