Where To Go For The Best Afternoon Tea In London

Don’t miss out on this time honored tradition during your travels.

The Duchess of Bedford established the concept of afternoon tea in 1840 when she found herself getting hungry in the hours between lunch and dinner. It soon became quite popular among high society, but was not normalized among common folk until The Langham Hotel added it as a meal on their menu in 1865.

Today, afternoon tea typically takes place around 4 p.m. with a variety of teas to choose from, including Earl Grey, chamomile, and English breakfast. The standard menu includes small sandwiches (without crusts, of course), scones with jam and clotted cream, and teacakes, but petit-fours are not uncommon to see as well. If you’ve ever been interested in experiencing traditional afternoon tea in London, here are the best places to sip in style.

The Dorchester

53 Park Ln, London W1K 1QA, United Kingdom

The Dorchester is a 5-star hotel known for its world-class celebrity guestlist and award-winning afternoon tea service. The meal takes place in The Promenade dining room, splendidly decorated with each table set to perfection. There’s always a pianist playing well-loved classics to set the tone while you peruse the extensive tea menu. After your fill of finger sandwiches, fresh scones are served warm with clotted cream and a selection of homemade jams. Delicately iced pastries round out the spread, with a well-timed palate cleanser and countless opportunities to try a different tea blend if you so wish. Tea at the Dorchester is traditional and elegant without feeling snobbish – an experience you won’t likely forget.

Tea in the Dorchester Promenade
Tea in the Dorchester Promenade. Photo by thedorchester on Instagram

The Beaumont

8 Balderton St, Brown Hart Gardens, London W1K 6TF, United Kingdom

Built as an Art Deco style parking garage for Selfridge’s in 1926, The Beaumont was refurbished and turned into a hotel in 2014 and is now the most recent winner of the Award of Excellence at the 2023 Afternoon Tea Awards. Tea is held in Gatsby’s Room, with fully stocked antique bookcases and soft jazz music filtering throughout. The space emits a comfortable, intimate charm without taking away from the sophistication of a traditional afternoon tea service. Start off with a glass of sparking English wine before tucking into the carefully curated menu, full of nods to the American-inspired room theme, such as a Boston cream pie pastry and Texas-smoked brisket tea sandwiches. Vegan and gluten-free options are available as well, so everyone is welcome for tea at The Beaumont.

Full English afternoon tea
Full English afternoon tea. Photo by thebeaumontldn on Instagram

Clardige’s

Brook St, London W1K 4HR, United Kingdom

Claridge’s is very well known for the ultra-traditional afternoon tea they’ve been serving for over 150 years. You’ll be seated in either the Reading Room, or the Foyer, both featuring beautiful flower arrangements surrounding the pristinely set tables. A pianist and cellist play while you sip your way through the over 24 Rare Tea Company brews on offer. Pastries are always made with fresh, seasonal fruit, and scones are served with some of the best clotted cream in England, as well as Marco Polo gelée (only available at Claridge’s) which is infused with vanilla and bergamot – a match made in heaven.

Wimbledon themed tea
Wimbledon themed tea. Photo by claridgeshotel on Instagram

The Goring

15 Beeston Pl, London SW1W 0JW, United Kingdom

Known as Kate Middleton’s favorite hotel (she stayed here the night before her wedding), The Goring is the only 5-star family-owned hotel in the city and the winner of The Tea Guild’s “Top London Afternoon Tea” award – talk about prestige. It’s no wonder then, that you have to make reservations far in advance if you want to dine here, but rest assured it’s well worth the wait. Service is held with a breathtaking view of the garden, where you can choose to wander around or hold a game of croquet once you’re done with tea. Traditional finger sandwiches and the obligatory scones and pastries are perfection on a 3-tiered tray, and gluten-free options are available upon request.

Tea by the garden
Tea by the garden. Photo by thegoring on Instagram

The Ritz London

150 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9BR, United Kingdom

The regal and impressive Ritz Hotel takes luxurious to a new level with gold filigree and stunning chandeliers everywhere you look. Don’t let the glitzy decor intimidate you, though –the staff is beyond friendly and accommodating even if you fear you don’t belong (but do make sure to follow the dress code). Tea is served in the ornate Palm Court dining room, where melodious sounds from the hotel’s resident pianist can be heard. Around 18 types of tea are on offer, specially sourced from the certified Tea Master. Make sure to save room for double dessert – extra teacakes are brought around on a trolley and the flavors change daily so there’s always something new to enjoy.

Afternoon tea at The Ritz
Afternoon tea at The Ritz. Photo by theritzlondon on Instagram

Brown’s Hotel

33 Albemarle St, London W1S 4BP, United Kingdom

Founded in 1837, Brown’s Hotel is the oldest hotel in London, and a place where Queen Victoria often took her tea. Service is held in the Drawing Room, which includes the notable “Writer’s Corner,” where Agatha Christie is said to have written some of her most celebrated works. The hotel was voted “Top London Afternoon Tea” by the Tea Guild for its sophisticated Downton Abbey vibes and world-class tea menu. A relatively small group is served at a time compared to other hotel teas, which gives the staff ample opportunity to really focus on you and your needs. A combination of traditional and experimental tea sandwiches are provided, and special cakes are carted around the room for your perusal on top of the customary pastries brought to your table. Keep an eye out for their themed teas throughout the year, including the Chelsea Flower Show tea, featuring a “bouquet” of deliciously floral flavored desserts.

Time Travel Through Tea Experience
Time Travel Through Tea Experience. Photo by browns_hotel on Instagram

The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason

4th Floor, Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1A 1ER, United Kingdom

The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason was named in honor of Queen Elizabeth, who officially opened the space in 2012. The Georgian-style salon was originally an apartment for the Fortnum family, and it still holds the refined elegance you would expect of such a place. With around 50 teas on offer and sommeliers at your beck and call, Fortnum & Mason is what you imagine when you think of afternoon tea in London. You can choose from a traditional or savory tea menu when you arrive, but both come with a slice of Battenberg cake using the special Fortnum & Mason recipe dating back to 1926.

Classic tea at Fortnum & Mason
Classic tea at Fortnum & Mason. Photo by fortnums on Instagram

Corinthia London

Whitehall Pl, London SW1A 2BD, United Kingdom

Big on traditions, afternoon tea at The Corinthia is held in the Crystal Moon Lounge underneath a spectacular chandelier made of 1,001 Baccarat crystals. Everything is served on one-of-a-kind hand-painted bone china, including the fan-favorite rhubarb jam made to accompany your scones. Don’t be afraid to ask one of the in-house tea masters about their drink recommendations, or just go with one of the blends made especially for The Corinthia – you really can’t go wrong.

Tea for Two and Two for Tea
Tea for Two and Two for Tea. Photo by corinthialondon on Instagram

Cellarium Cafe & Terrace

Westminster Abbey, Dean's Yard, The Sanctuary, London SW1P 3PA, United Kingdom

Coronation Afternoon Tea is held at Cellarium, a bright and sunny cafe inside the 14th-century wine cellars of Westminster Abbey. You have to walk through the cloisters to get there, so make sure to explore the ancient artifacts displayed throughout. Coronation tea is only served from February through June, so plan accordingly if you want to experience the classic finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries of afternoon tea at the iconic Westminster Abbey in London.

Cellarium Cafe & Terrace
French-inspired afternoon tea. Photo by Westminster Abbey’s Cellarium Cafe & Terrace 

Afternoon Tea at Pan Pacific London

80 Houndsditch, London EC3A 7AB, United Kingdom

If you’re searching for a departure from the same old traditional English afternoon tea, look no further than The Orchid Lounge at Pan Pacific London. While the hotel does offer a standard tea menu, they also specialize in Kopi Tam, Singaporean afternoon tea. The menu includes luxury teas from all across the world (ask the in-house Tea Connoisseur for descriptions of the notes and aromas of each one), as well as bao, dim sum, Singaporean-inspired summer rolls, traditional hand-made pastries, and scones to your heart’s content.

Kaleidoscope afternoon tea
Kaleidoscope afternoon tea. Photo by tonie_2034 on Instagram

Afternoon Tea at Lalit London

Potters Fields, 181 Tooley St, London SE1 2JR, United Kingdom

Housed in the former St. Olave’s Grammar School, the LaLiT London hotel now presents High Chai, an afternoon tea service featuring traditional and authentic Indian cooking. As you’re being seated, you’ll get an excellent view of the iconic Great Hall with its vaulted ceilings and electric blue chandeliers. There are about 12 teas on offer, but you can’t leave without trying the perfectly spiced masala chai. The menu has plenty of vegetarian and halal options, including vegetable samosas, refreshing mango lassi, and perfectly crunchy pistachio biscuits. Come to LaLiT for a graceful combination of Indian and English cultures your taste buds are sure to enjoy.

Dining room at LaLiT
Dining room at LaLiT. Photo by thelalitlondon on Instagram
Meghan St. Pierre

Content Editor Associate

Meghan is a native of South Florida who loves nature and landscape photography. Her favorite travel activities are getting lost in new cities and trying local desserts. She has been to 22 countries, and her favorites have been Sweden and Denmark so far.

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