I am a massive fan of afternoon tea – probably because it’s not something I grew up with in the states and who doesn’t love sitting around eating delicious food and drinking delicious tea! Since moving to the UK, I have had my fair share of afternoon teas, most of them good, some not so good and some that really hit it out of the park. Now that I’m more seasoned, I am pickier – usually basing my decision on a tea’s theme, a restaurant’s views, or some other unique aspect to make the most of the experience and the money spent. I can’t wait for the day I own enough tea cups to host my own afternoon tea, but until then, I here to share my top picks of London afternoon teas with you. Enjoy!
London Landmarks Afternoon Tea at The Kensington Hotel
I visited the Kensington Hotel with my parents for afternoon tea while they were in town for my graduation. I had read good reviews and I like a fun-themed tea, so this seemed perfect. The restaurant was relatively quiet – only three other tables full. It has beautiful decor with colorful velvet couches and chairs – it screams trendy millennial but classy. The entire experience was top notch – the menu had a map detailing different London landmarks and each dish corresponded to one of these landmarks. The waitress described each dish as it came out and what it represented. It was a fun way of getting to know London better as well. The food was delicious, the scones were warm and each dessert was mouth-watering. Truly this is one of the best afternoon teas I have ever experienced (which is why it sits at number one!). Located in South Kensington, it is also close to a couple big museums – the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, making it an accessible afternoon activity.
Best For: Theme
Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson
The Mad Hatter’s Tea is a close second to the best afternoon tea in London. Located at the Sanderson Hotel in Soho, it is as funky as you think it will be, but with a trendy feel. The tea is held on the outdoor terrace in a wonderfully calming garden. When I heard my best friend from university would be visiting London for the first time, I wanted to take her to a fun and memorable afternoon tea – this one did not disappoint. Every aspect of the tea is themed – from the plates to the food to the tea itself. The staff were attentive and brought as many pots of tea and however many types of tea we wanted. We were there for three hours! The food was just a delicious as it looks too. This tea is very popular so definitely book ahead – every table was filled with parties of two to ten.
Best For: Theme
OXO Tower Restaurant
As you probably know by now, I love a good afternoon tea, but Conor hasn’t been to any in London before (shocking I know!). I decided it was time and went on a search for an afternoon tea that was highly rated, had good views, wasn’t too expensive, and would be good for someone who was new to the idea of drinking tea for two hours and eating small portions of food items. I landed on OXO Tower on the south bank near Waterloo, overlooking the river with great views of St. Paul’s. I am a big fan of afternoon teas with a few extra savoury options like a mini Yorkshire pudding and a Scotch quail’s egg to give it something special. The desserts were delicious and the scones were warm. What made this tea stand out for me was the view overlooking the river, especially as the sun set over the London skyline.
Best For: Views
Thames River Cruise – City Cruises
This was the first afternoon tea I did in London with my parents in 2018 – and it’s still one of my favourite experiences. We cruised the length of the Thames, starting near the Tower of London. The boat is encased in glass, allowing you to see all of the sights while also not having to worry about the weather. If you book early enough in advance, you will be able to secure a window seat (it’s not worth it unless you do). It is a simpler afternoon tea, but the food was great quality nonetheless. I enjoyed the array of little desserts, enough variety that there is something for everyone. We had wine with our tea as well, but it’s not necessary. One thing to note – if you get seasick, this is not for you. While I didn’t notice the movement of the boat, it wouldn’t be enjoyable for anyone who is sensitive to the sea (or river in this case). As you can tell from the picture, it was a bit packed as its a popular option for afternoon tea, so if you’re looking for something quiet or intimate, move along. But overall, I really enjoyed experiencing London sightseeing from the water.
Best For: Views
- Book in advance!
- Look for something unique to make the most of the experience.
- A great afternoon tea doesn’t have to be expensive, shop around.