London’s Best Afternoon Teas To Try Now

By CTH Editors

2 weeks ago

Because you can never have enough finger sandwiches, tea and scones...

Afternoon tea is quite possibly the most British of all institutions. But once in a while, an egg and cress sandwich and a scone need a little jazzing up. These are the current best afternoon teas in London, from the traditional to the innovative to the quirky, served across the city’s most elegant hotels and restaurants.

What Is Afternoon Tea?

Afternoon tea is an age-old tradition which dates all the way back to 1840. It all began with Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, who would ask for a mid-afternoon snack of tea, bread and butter to be delivered to her room to satisfy hunger cravings (which she would describe as a ‘sinking feeling’, and we get it) between lunch and dinner. The habit caught on – and, indeed, grew to become a fashionable social event. During the 1800s, upper-class women would don their fineries and meet for afternoon tea in the drawing room.

Nowadays, afternoon tea is a celebratory occasion typically enjoyed within elegant hotels around the UK. London is one of the best cities in the world for it: think delicate finger sandwiches, scones with the finest butter and jam, and exquisitely crafted pastries, paired with top-notch teas and glasses of fizz. Often it’s served in the most majestic of settings too – glitzy hotel lounges, pretty flower-bedecked dining rooms, rooftop restaurants and more. 

The Best Afternoon Teas In London For 2024

So where to find the very best afternoon teas in London? Read on for the C&TH team’s top picks, both traditional and alternative affairs: from Italian-inspired spreads to whimsical twists and boozy takes complete with cocktails.

BYREDO afternoon tea spread

Featured image: The Lanesborough