St Pancras Renaissance Hotel’s afternoon tea. Credit: Ewan Munro
Afternoon tea is a quintessential English tradition and it’s a wonderful way to stop and relax, enjoy a moment with friends and family and treat yourself to some top-notch tea and gourmet eats. London has dozens of afternoon tea experiences available, however if you want to go beyond the typical cucumber sandwiches with no crusts you could try one of these alternatives to afternoon tea at the Ritz. You can enjoy a creative twist on the traditional afternoon tea with a different theme or food selection, offered at some of the finest hotels and cafés around the city.
Here are some of the best alternative takes on afternoon tea in London:
Mad Hatter’s Tea at Sanderson Hotel on 50 Berners Street
With bespoke crockery, vintage books for menus and napkins wrapped in riddles, you will feel like you are having tea in Wonderland at this luxury hotel. The menu is inspired by Alice in Wonderland and includes sweet and savoury scones and other seasonal treats as well as traditional Victorian sponge cake shaped like a clock, strawberries and cream, homemade marshmallow mushrooms and a “Jelly Wonderland” of fruit jellies in Victorian moulds. Playful and imaginative, yet wonderfully luxurious, this afternoon tea will leave you grinning like a Cheshire Cat.
A Taste of French Elegance at Ladurée in Covent Garden
This world famous patisserie is known for its soft and delicate macarons, tartes and millefeuilles and there is nothing more divine than spending an afternoon sipping tea and letting these elegant baked treats melt in your mouth. Ladurée is one of the leading luxury patisseries in the world and it has been synonymous with pastry innovation for 100 years.
TRULY do an Afternoon Tea for Two package that includes tea, coffee, hot chocolate, the famous macarons, finger sandwiches and even some signature champagne. Savour these superb flavours and pretend you are in a café in the heart of Paris.
Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea at Sanctum Hotel in Soho
Afternoon tea is a usually a very feminine affair, but now Sanctum Soho Hotel is offering a masculine twist on this tradition. Rather than pink cakes and floral teacups, you will be treated to an array of oysters, smoked salmon, lamb hotpot, seared steak, mini-burgers, Jack Daniels and even a cigar. This is an afternoon tea designed with a group of hungry blokes in mind, while still offering the high quality of luxury cuisine that you would associate with the more traditional dainty afternoon tea.
Chinese Inspired Afternoon Tea at the Grand Imperial on Buckingham Palace Road
Recently voted one of the top ten best afternoon teas in London by the Telegraph, The Grand Imperial offers an Asian inspired tea that includes crab meat dumplings with saffron, crispy aromatic duck salad, deep fried sweet and sour wantons and even a special treat of chocolate dim sum!
Sip one of the soothing Oriental teas from their selection, such as the Jasmine King Tea loose leaf blend, or opt for a glass of House Champagne. It’s a wonderful Cantonese twist on a very English tradition and it is served within the sumptuous restaurant amidst calligraphy and traditional Asian artefacts.
Lanesborough’s offering. Credit: Ewan Munro
Roaring 20s Afternoon Tea at Betty Blythe on Blythe Road
This charming luxury tea room will make you feel like you have been whisked back in time to the elegance of the 1920s. Servers are dressed in vintage clothing, hats, beads and ruby red lipstick and the afternoon tea menu is very traditional, including finger sandwiches, homemade cakes and scones with jam and clotted cream. There are even options for pre-dining activities, including learning how to dance the Charleston or a vintage photo shoot.
Artsy Afternoon Tea at Gallery Mess on King’s Road in Chelsea
In the fashionable area of Chelsea you can enjoy afternoon tea with a side of art at Gallery Mess. The menu for this sophisticated event changes throughout the season, as they always focus on using fresh, local ingredients.
All of the cakes are homemade and they offer unique daily specials along with the classic afternoon tea favourites including warm scones with clotted cream, strawberry cream cupcakes and a selection of fine teas such as Darjeeling, Assam, Jasmine and Earl Grey. After you have enjoyed your treats, you can walk off the calories by strolling around the Saatchi Gallery and pondering the thought-provoking artworks on a full stomach – exhibitions are free for those who have attended afternoon tea.