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Best afternoon tea hotels in London for 2024

Simon Calder’s Travel

The afternoon tea is a sophisticated staple at most of the major players on London’s hotel scene, but where some shine with scones, others fall as flat as a limp cucumber sandwich.

Planning a visit to England’s capital? Don your glad rags for a taste of tradition with tiers of finger sandwiches, pastries and brilliant brews.

Gone are the days when afternoon tea constituted a “light meal”, nowadays the ritual can be as experimental in cuisine as it can with theme, with everything from Asian-fusion feasts to sci-fi confectionery on the menu.

From high tea heavyweight The Ritz to The Shard’s city panoramas and the regal offerings of Park Lane, there’s something for everyone to relish in style.

Here are the best London drawing rooms to indulge in stacks of sweet and savoury treats with trusty teapots or flutes of champagne to sip on the side – it’s always five o’clock somewhere after all.

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Afternoon Tea at Hotel Café Royal

Neighbourhood: Soho

The Café Royal’s golden Grill Room (Hotel Café Royal)

Best for: Elegance

For a timeless afternoon tea in Oscar Wilde style, pastry chef Loic Carbonnet puts on a decadent display of sandwiches, scones and desserts in the Hotel Café Royal’s Grade II-listed Grill Room. Over 20 blends of white, green, black, tisane and oolong tea flow into fine china as egg and truffle, roast beef and curried chicken savouries are brought out for sampling. Delicate sweet treats are what Carbonnet does best, with apple tartlets, coconut éclair’s and a citrus cheesecake rivalling in elegance even the gold leaf details and intricate ceilings of the surrounding room.

Traditional Afternoon Tea at Hotel Café Royal costs £75pp.

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The Drawing Room at Brown’s Hotel

Neighbourhood: Mayfair

Brown’s has been excelling at afternoon tea since 1837 (Brown’s Hotel)

Best for: Plant-based

It may be London’s oldest hotel, but if you’re looking for vegan treats at tea time then Brown’s has caught up with the times. Aside from traditional flavours such as smoked salmon and horseradish on a malted loaf, and cucumber and goat cheese on white bread, Queen Victoria’s favourite haunt also offers a plant-based menu with coronation vegetables, pumpkin seed pesto, and chocolate and clementine cake stacked onto the tiers. This is the quintessential English experience with original wood…

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