LONDON LIFE • August 2019
There are few things more English than a proper afternoon tea, and where better to experience it than in the capital? If it’s cucumber sandwiches, scones and a selection of teas that you’re after, London is the place to be. Local writer, Camilla Swift, takes a look at some of the capital’s most brilliantly British afternoon teas
Opened by HM The Queen in 2012, Fortnum and Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon is one of the most famous, and distinguished, places to experience afternoon tea. Tea was one of the first products that the world-famous food hall sold when it opened back in 1720, and they still take their tea very seriously. There are over 50 different blends of tea on their menu, and their ‘Tearistas’ are on hand to guide you through your afternoon tea experience.
From £55 per person
Take in afternoon tea and the sights of London at the same time on B Bakery’s vintage Routemaster. Starting from either Victoria or Trafalgar Square, the classic red bus will take you on a tour of London’s most famous landmarks while you enjoy tasty sandwiches, scones, tarts and a selection of teas.
From £45 per person
If you like your tea with a splash of something a bit stronger, then Mr Fogg’s is the place for you. Every weekend the quirky wood-panelled Mayfair speakeasy offers up a selection of sandwiches and cakes alongside a ‘tipsy teapot’ of spirited or Champagne tea. There are six teapots to choose from, including a Lapsang souchong and vermouth concoction (Ladies That Lapsang), and The Drunken Duchess – a blend of vodka, crème de mûre and Veuve Clicquot Champagne.
From £44 per person
Afternoon tea is believed to have originated in 1840 when the Duchess of Bedford, a close friend of Queen Victoria, began getting peckish between luncheon and dinner. The trend soon caught on and, in keeping with the historical theme, St James’s Hotel in Mayfair has designed a traditional Victorian afternoon tea. The hotel’s Michelin-starred executive chef William Drabble’s menu includes ox tongue sandwiches and Cheshire cheese scones as well as tipsy cake, which is soaked in sherry and served with custard.
From £40 per person
For the fashionistas among us, there’s only one option: The Berkeley Hotel’s Prêt-à-Portea. Something of an icon among the chic set, this tea is inspired by the world of fashion, with the theme changing regularly. Since it launched ten years ago, some of fashion’s most famous items have been recreated in pastry, from Manolo Blahnik stiletto biscuits to a Mulberry-inspired meringue. This season, Christian Dior’s designs have translated themselves onto the tea tray, with treats that include a chocolate biscuit version of the classic Dior Bar jacket, and a Lady Dior handbag with strawberry ganache and red chocolate miroir.
From £60 per person
For something completely different, this immersive experience combines afternoon tea with a comedy performance. Every Sunday at 2.30pm, the Amba Hotel in Charing Cross goes back to the 1920s and turns into the home of the fictitious Lord and Lady Right as they and their staff serve you afternoon tea whilst trying to come up with a plan to save their crumbling castle. The two-hour comedy dining experience includes scones, sandwiches, cake, tea and coffee.
From £69.95 per person