The beloved British tradition gets a makeover
The capital is brimming with high-end hangouts serving sumptuous sandwiches and scones in abundance, but we took up the challenge to find the most adventurous afternoon spreads. So, whether you prefer to sip green tea with sushi or Lapsang Souchong with Yorkshire puddings – or good old Earl Grey with scones – we can suggest the perfect place for you.
For floral thrills
11 Cadogan Gardens, Chelsea, SW3 2RJ
Anyone heading to the Chelsea Flower Show or simply looking for a relaxed springtime afternoon tea should contact us to book a table in the drawing room at this wonderful boutique hotel. The head chef, Alexis Gauthier, has created a high tea that incorporates the colours, petals and scents of seasonal flowers, resulting in some of the most inspired and delicious cakes and sandwiches in London. It costs £117 for two with a glass of Champagne each.
For Arabian comforts
Momo, 25 Heddon Street, W1B 4BH
Sister to Mayfair’s two-Michelin-starred Sketch, this restaurant transports diners to northern Africa with its warm, rich colours and bright, decorative fabrics. Take a seat in the adjoining Mo Café to enjoy Moroccan treats including sweet pastries with cheese, zaalouk and mechouia – typical salads – on toast, and pistachio macaroons with fresh mint tea.
For dinky dumplings
Ting, The Shard, 32 London Bridge Street, SE1 9SG
A traditional English afternoon tea is available at the Shangri-La hotel’s signature lounge but it’s the Asian-inspired version that really catches our members’ attention. A savoury course of steamed dumplings and gyoza, roasted duck, and wasabi- and ginger-cured Scottish salmon is followed by jasmine tea panna cotta, raspberry, lychee and rose macaroons, and yuzu-infused cheesecake.
For a taste of the Far East
Ichi Sushi and Sashimi Bar at the Park Plaza, 200 Westminster Bridge Road, SE1 7UT
Set on the South Bank, this intimate Japanese restaurant likes to keep things ‘fresh, simple and delicious’. The afternoon tea menu fulfils this mantra with a variety of nigiri and rolls, which can be
paired with teas ranging from chocolate to cherry blossom. Dessert options are light, such as passion fruit delice and green tea opera cake.
For gentlemanly lounging
Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street, W1B 5NF
Afternoon tea doesn’t come much more British than the ‘Gents’ version at this Soho bolthole. In a leather-clad booth you can enjoy oysters, seared steak, lamb hotpot and a Yorkshire pudding stuffed with roast beef and horseradish. Round it off with some chocolate fudge cake, before heading to the roof terrace to enjoy a tankard of Jack Daniels and a Villiger Export cigar. The lighter, ‘High Heels’ version includes Scotch-style quail eggs and Perrier-Jouët Champagne.
For a sugar high
Oxo Tower, Bargehouse Street, SE1 9PH
There isn’t a sandwich in sight among the four Not Afternoon Tea options at the Oxo Tower restaurant, which are solely focused on sugary delights and paired with bespoke cocktails. The pudding selection features treacle tart and apple crumble, while the Tea Total Plate is brimming with English tea Victoria sponge, chamomile and lemon meringue pie and redbush panna cotta. There are also options for chocoholics and rhubarb fanatics.
For Mad Hatters
The Sanderson hotel, 50 Berners Street, W1T 3NG
The playful Alice in Wonderland-themed afternoon tea in the covered courtyard of this Philippe Starck-designed hotel has distinctive savouries of caviar Scotch egg and Cornish crab éclairs, but the sweet treats are the star of the show. The marshmallow mushrooms and Oreo cookie soldiers are accompanied by a non-alcoholic ‘drink me’ potion – or a cocktail for adults in the group.
For guilt-free indulgence
InterContinental Park Lane, 1 Hamilton Place, W1J 7QY
Afternoon tea can be a guilty pleasure – with plenty of carbs and sugar – but the team at this prestigious Mayfair hotel has solved the dilemma for the health-conscious. The all-vegetarian menu
has a variety of gluten-free sandwiches with butternut squash, aubergine and paneer cheese, while there are also wholewheat buttermilk scones with crème fraiche, a light yet satisfying beetroot and apple cake and a fluffy tea mousse.
For a touch of spice
Cinnamon Soho, 5 Kingly Street, W1B 5PF
High Chai tea at Vivek Singh’s third Indian restaurant begins with Bombay potato bonda, Bangla Scotch egg with spicy tomato relish, tandoori chicken and a Bhangra lamb slider. Afterwards, there’s ginger and garam masala cake and a spiced scone with chutney. We recommend washing it all down with the traditional Indian masala chai.
For late-night glamour
K West Hotel and Spa, Richmond Way, W14 0AX
Served between 10pm and 12am, the Glam Rock ‘n’ Cocktails Midnight Tea at this quirky hotel gives night owls the chance to round off their evening with cheeseburger and halloumi sliders and grilled Mediterranean vegetable wraps. A sugar fix comes in the form of a rich Nutella Melt Burger, a banoffee cheesecake or scones with clotted cream and strawberry compote. (pictured)