It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and what better way to celebrate than with some tea and cake? Many of London’s finest restaurants and hotels have given their afternoon teas a festive shake-up, with seasonal sandwiches, mince pies and mulled wine being thrown into the mix. So toast your teacups and enjoy some festive feasting at one of the city’s best Christmas afternoon teas.
London is one of the world’s best cities for afternoon tea. The long-standing British tradition dates back to the mid-19th century, when Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, would enjoy a mid-afternoon tray of tea, bread, butter and cake to see her through from lunch to dinner. This grew into a social event, and the ritual gained popularity over the years. Nowadays, you can enjoy afternoon tea across many hotel restaurants in London, with the offering usually featuring a spread of sweet and savoury treats including finger sandwiches, scones and cakes, typically paired with tea and champagne.
Around this time of year, chefs and pastry makers give their afternoon teas a festive twist, adding seasonal flavours and fun specials. Think turkey sandwiches, truffle tarts, mini yule logs, plus alternative twists on the tradition inspired by Italy and America. Feeling hungry yet? Read on to discover where to find the best Christmas afternoon teas in London for 2023.
Best Christmas Afternoon Teas in London 2023
The Stage at The Londoner
If pre-theatre festive dining is more you’re speed, then you’ll want to book a table at The Stage, Leicester Square hotel The Londoner’s swanky champagne bar. The Stage’s festive menu combines the best of classic afternoon tea staples with a selection of seasonal sweet treats designed to get you into the swing of celebration season. All the sweets on the menu have been crafted by Executive Pastry Chef Sarah Mountain, who brings to the table culinary treats like ‘Festive Forest’, a patisserie made with Valrhona Guanaja mousse, passion fruit and ginger jam, popping candy, chocolate glaze and gold leaf speckle, and ‘Igloo’, Bourbon apple compote and cinnamon sponge hidden under a white chocolate dome dusted in coconut snow. Festive Afternoon Tea comes with champagne, luxury tea from The East India Tea Company, a selection of sandwiches, artisanal cakes and freshly baked scones – as well as live music performed on The Stage’s grand piano.
Dates: From 13 November 2023
Address: 38 Leicester Square, London WC2H 7DX
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Catching a Christmas show in the West End? Beforehand, pop into Theatre Royal Drury Lane for a Christmas afternoon tea to remember. Taking place in The Lane’s Grand Saloon, the offering is running in partnership with esteemed London baker Lily Vanilli – which means you can guarantee exceptional sweet treats. But it’s not all about the sweet stuff: begin with a delicious spread of warm turkey and cranberry pie, plus English crumpets with smoked salmon. Follow with an array of showstopping treats such as a vanilla cake filled with passionfruit and buttercream, a spiced chocolate pudding with salted caramel sauce, and a golden syrup ice cream sandwich with treacle tart.
Dates: Until 7 January 2024
Address: Catherine St, London WC2B 5JF
Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square
Sucker for a sweetie? You’ll love the Sweetmas Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square. Inspired by classic British confectionary, the offering will see festive sweet treats brought to life in patisserie form: The Gingerbread Man is a soft gingerbread biscuit with pear confit, while the Ode to Terry is an orange delight made with cookie and chocolate mousse. It’s not all about the sweet stuff though: there are also savoury finger sandwiches and warm scones with seasonal jams, lemon curd and Devonshire clotted cream. Enjoy all this in the hotel’s Rotunda Bar and Lounge, a beautiful space with a domed roof which has been decked out in candy canes and Christmas decor for the festive season.
Dates: Every Sunday to Thursday from 23 November 2023
Address: 10 Trinity Square, London EC3N 4AJ
Bulgari Hotel London
For the most stylish festive afternoon tea in town, head to the glitzy Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge. Settle in beside the fire to enjoy an Italian twist on the British tradition: the savoury menu includes Scottish salmon mille foglie (a type of pastry), salt beef, burrata and pumpkin bocconcini, and egg and chive sandwiches with Umbrian truffle. This is followed by a glorious spread of sweet treats crafted by award-winning pastry chef Gianluca Fusto, including an Amalfi lemon tart, an almond financier with pistachio cream, and a hazelnut bigne with cherries. Located just round the corner from Harrods, this is an ideal spot for a bite to eat after a morning of Christmas shopping.
Price: From £105pp
Dates: From 20 November 2023
Address: 171 Knightsbridge, London SW7 1DW
Oblix at The Shard
For Christmas afternoon tea with a view, whizz up 32 floors to Oblix at The Shard. The sky-high restaurant has given its renowned tea offering a festive twist, to be enjoyed alongside champagne and cocktails. Begin with sandwiches of wye smoked salmon, Coronation chicken, and prawn and lobster rolls, followed by freshly baked scones with whipped clotted cream and fresh honeycomb. Special sweet treats include a Christmas tree-topped gingerbread spiced canelé and a crunchy tartlet with a caramel, coffee and creme fraiche filling encased in a marshmallow Santa hat. Nab a window table to get the best views of the Gherkin, the Walkie-Talkie and the city beyond.
Price: From £58pp
Dates: 27 November 2023 – 7 January 2024
Address: The Shard, 31 St Thomas St, London SE1 9RY
The Beaumont Hotel
For an American twist on the British tradition, head to The Beaumont in Mayfair, which has launched a transatlantic-inspired festive afternoon tea. Head chef Ben Boeynaems has curated a seasonal feast with a US edge: think maple glazed gammon and sage sandwiches, cranberry and buttermilk scones (served with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam), plus an array of sweet treats including pear and mulled wine mousse, and a chestnut, blackberry and vanilla tart. Pair with a glass of Gusbourne fizz, or a glass of JING jasmine sparkling tea. A children’s edition is also on offer. Be sure to save room, however, because the indulgence doesn’t stop there. The five-star hotel is also inviting guests to toast their own s’mores on the wintry terrace, overlooking Mayfair’s Brown Hart Gardens. Blankets and heaters are provided, but we’re certain that the table-top fire will be enough to keep you feeling warm and cosy.
Price: From £75pp
Dates: Until 8 January 2024
Address: 8 Balderton St, Brown Hart Gardens, London W1K 6TF
London stalwart The Langham has hundreds of years experience in the art of afternoon tea, having served it at the hotel since it opened in 1865. This Christmas, there’s a special festive version on offer created in partnership with Liberty. Tuck into savoury treats including the Liberty Jewelled Egg Bauble, made with turkey, bacon, potato and cranberries, ahead of pastries such as Shine Like a Bauble, a concoction of vanilla cream, blackcurrant compote and almond sable. That’s not all though: diners will also be treated to a 15 percent discount card to redeem at Liberty. Christmas shopping, sorted.
Price: From £95pp or £50pp for children aged 3 – 12
Dates: 8 November 2023 – 31 December 2023
Address: 1C Portland Pl, London W1B 1JA
The Carlton Tower Jumeirah
Knightsbridge hotel The Carlton Tower Jumeirah is being transformed into a winter utopia, inspired by the snowy villages of fairytales – the perfect setting to enjoy a festive afternoon tea. The menu here includes a chestnut, truffle and cranberry tart, brioche with creme fraiche, mini turkey and berry jam sandwiches, and some smoked salmon and caviar for an extra dose of luxury. This is followed by pastries featuring seasonal flavours: there’s an orange and cinnamon butter powder tart, and an apple, clove and cajou tart.
Dates: 13 November 2023 – 5 January 2024
Address: 1 Cadogan Pl, London SW1X 9PY
The Dorchester really comes alive come Christmas time, with its majestic trees lining The Promenade – and it’s set to look better than ever this year thanks to a recent revamp. The hotel’s afternoon tea is world-famous: expect an impressive spread of perfectly crafted sweet and savoury fare. Begin with finger sandwiches on artisan bread: fillings include classics like smoked salmon and lemon, and turkey and cranberry, alongside interesting combinations such as a mulled pear and spiced beetroot brie tart. Scones, meanwhile, are served with lemon curd, strawberry jam and clotted cream. And finally: the exquisite festive pastries – creations this year include a pistachio choux with red fruit confit, and a spiced fruit tart with lemon curd. Pair with one of the specially selected grand and rare teas, plus a glass of fizz. If you visit on a weekend, you’ll also be treated to a choir singing Christmas carols.
Price: From £125pp
Address: 53 Park Ln, London W1K 1QA
Dates: 18 November 2023 – 22 December 2024
Looking for a child-friendly afternoon tea to take the kids to this Christmas? Head to Strand Palace, which has launched an Ice Palace Afternoon Tea, complete with a dedicated offering for children. Little diners can enjoy turkey sandwiches and cheddar brioche buns ahead of fun sweet treats, like mini gingerbread people and a coconut and citrus snowball. Fear not: adults are not forgotten about, with a menu that includes goat’s cheese and sage tartlets, prawn cocktail crostinis and traditional scones, ahead of chocolate and orange macarons, chocolate and cherry yule log, and a white chocolate and vanilla Christmas tree ‘cakesicle’.
Price: £25pp (weekdays) or £30pp (weekends) for children, £49pp for adults (weekdays) or £59pp (weekends)
Dates: 17 November 2023 – 7 January 2024
Address: 372 Strand, London WC2R 0JJ
With its Baccarat crystal chandelier, piano melodies and Richard Brendon hand-painted china, you’ll struggle to find a prettier afternoon tea setting than Corinthia London. Cakes are appetisingly presented on a trolley which is wheeled from table to table – and these are even better come Christmas time. First up is the savoury side though: enjoy sandwiches like roast turkey and cranberry relish, smoked salmon rillette, and cucumber and goats curd, plus sage and onion sausage rolls. Follow these with seasonal desserts like ginger and orange cookies, dark chocolate tart, and fruit cake – washed down with a glass of Laurent Perrier. Feeling extra luxurious? Add the caviar course for a casual £150.
Price: £95pp or £110 with a glass of champagne
Dates: 14 November 2023 – 4 January 2024
Address: Whitehall Pl, London SW1A 2BD
Raymond Briggs’ Christmas classic The Snowman is the inspiration for the new festive afternoon tea at Grosvenor House, served in the hotel’s Park Room. As music from the film adaptation plays softly in the background from the resident pianist, diners can feast on finger sandwiches and themed pastries. Begin with sandwiches of Norfolk turkey and cucumber, and smoked salmon and Burford Brown egg, alongside freshly baked scones with Devonshire clotted cream and homemade jam. Save the best for last: five limited-edition pastries, such as The Snowman, a spiced ginger ganache encase in a chocolate shell, and The Enchanted Forest, a pastry tartlet with salted caramel and milk chocolate in Christmas tree form. The menu will also feature bespoke illustrations by Robin Shaw, who was part of the directing team on the sequel, The Snowman and The Snowdog – and you can take this home as a keepsake. A children’s version is also available, complete with miniature scones and hot chocolate.
Price: From £65pp or £83pp with a glass of champagne
Dates: 17 November 2023 – 7 January 2024
Address: 86-90 Park Ln, London W1K 7TN
It doesn’t get much fancier than The Ritz, and of course its afternoon tea is extra special. This Christmas, book yourself a table in the ultra-decadent Palm Court, which is being transformed into a winter wonderland decked out with red and gold trimmings and a twinkling tree. The festive afternoon tea begins with sandwiches of Scottish smoked salmon on sourdough, chicken tarragon on malt bread, and cucumber with cream cheese on granary bread, ahead of freshly baked plain and fruit scones, and an array of beautifully crafted festive pastries. Pair with a glass of champagne and one of the special teas, such as The Ritz Christmas, infused with orange, apple and cinnamon. All this, to the sound of a choir singing carols… a real Christmas treat.
Price: From £105pp
Dates: 18 November 2023 – 1 January 2024
Address: 150 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9BR