My favourite afternoon teas in London

Afternoon teas (or high teas) are a great British tradition. With a good cup of perfectly brewed tea with a fanfare of sandwiches (which will almost always include Coronation chicken sandwich, smoked salmon and dill sandwich as well as cucumber sandwiches) layered with scones and beautifully presented cakes and pastries – there is something very regal about an afternoon tea experience!

Some of the best and most elegantly presented afternoon teas can be found in London, and here’s where you can indulge in this experience.

The Royal Horseguards Hotel

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The afternoon tea at Royal Horseguards is elegant and seasonal. Serving the traditional sandwiches and scones, the top layer – the sweet layer – is often decorated with cakes made in the shapes/characters of a season.

Visit in Summer you’ll get bumble bees on your macarons, and in winter you might get a snow man. Its their way to have a bit of fun in what’s considered a rather formal dining room!

Ting, Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard

Photograph copyright of Ting, Shangri La at The Shard London
Photograph copyright: Ting, Shangri La at The Shard London

Shangri-La Hotel boasts London’s best viewing point and an afternoon tea enjoyed at Ting is all about that view.

Being an Asian brand, Ting naturally gives diners a choice of having something with an oriental twist. The Asian Inspired Afternoon Tea serves up delicate dumplings alongside the traditional sandwiches, as well as the sweet items made with ingredients such as Ube, palm sugar, tapioca and lemongrass. It simply jazzes up the taste buds!

The Tea at The Ritz

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Photograph courtesy of The Ritz

The Ritz is somewhat an institution in London and the afternoon tea experience is considered ‘World Famous’. The dining room is rich in decor and glamorously old school, and and the use of china and silverware are of course, truly world class.

You can’t help but think you’ve step into some sort of fairy tale.

The adventurous few should check out The Ritz’s Epicurean Afternoon Tea, where the diners are treated to a three hour tasting of exotic teas from around the world.

Just to add to that bit of elegance and the feeling of entitlement, diners are treated to light instrumental music by the resident pianist/harpist/string quartet, as if, the experience isn’t perfect enough already!

Royal Afternoon Tea at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate

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A stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Hotel is classy and beautiful, with a touch of the exotic east to it. The hotel is well known for its theme afternoon teas, including Tea Party in Wonderland and the Jungle Book afternoon teas to coincide movie releases.

A themed afternoon tea experience is always fun, and the menu can come with delightful surprises. Alternatively, for the traditionalists, the Royal Afternoon Tea, available all year round, is also a great choice.

The Ivy Kensington Brasserie

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You could imagine yourself somewhere in Paris, in the middle of social circle here at The Ivy. It is quite an establishment here in Kensington and the afternoon tea here is equally appealing.

Only opened late 2015, it is already popular with locals and visitors to London. The afternoon tea has all the usual trimmings, and tastefully presented.

It isn’t glamorous here like some of the top notch hotel offerings, but if you want old world charm, this is it.

Kensington Palace Orangery Afternoon Tea

Photograph copyright: Historic Royal Palaces
Photograph copyright: Historic Royal Palaces

It’s probably the closest an average person can get to being with Kate and Wills but the afternoon tea at Kensington Palace can be described as ‘just lovely’.

The menu is simple and sticks to the traditional salmon/cucumber/ham combinations of sandwiches. But the main point of being here is to be able to enjoy the imposing colonnades, vaulted ceilings and a spacious terrace of a palace, and the view of the park and gardens outside.

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