London and afternoon tea go together like, well, tea and crumpets. The days when the British would down their tools and gather around a hot china tea pot and a plate of cucumber sandwiches may well be over but that’s not to say the tradition doesn’t live on. London’s finest hotels and restaurants continue to serve afternoon tea just as the ladies of old upper sets would have liked it. These days it’s more likely to come with the options of Champagne and enough sweet treats to keep you hyper until supper but hey, afternoon tea probably needed shaking up a little anyway. A regular to London’s afternoon tea establishments, Marie Teather talks you through her best.
1 The Langham Hotel: Afternoon Tea
It was here in the mid-nineteenth century, that the cream of Victorian society gathered to enjoy indulgent splendors from The Langham Hotel leading the hotel to claim it gave birth to London's indulgent afternoon tea proceedings.
Little has changed today. Service is calm and unhurried, mellow notes of the live piano fill the room with classical music, while perhaps the chatter of Russian ladies partaking in delicate cakes the only notable difference. Oh and our waiter was from Australia.
English tradition continues at the Langham with a selection of finger sandwiches, warm home-baked scones, and enough intricate treats to need a least two pots of tea to wash it all down.
The Langham Hotel, 1c Portland Place, Regent Street, W1B 1JA
2 The Ritz: Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea at The Ritz is an institution in itself. The hotel follows a formal dress code and so if you were looking to bling up to the nines for your afternoon outing, The Ritz is the place to head. Served in the spectacular Palm Court, over 17 different types of loose-leaf tea are offered with the most delicate of finger sandwiches, scones, teacakes, and pastries.
150 Piccadilly, London W1J 9BR
020 7493 818
3 The Landmark: Chocolate Afternoon Tea
The set up doesn't come any more opulent than at The Landmark's Winter Garden.The hotel first opened in 1899 and was the last of the great Victorian Railway Hotels constructed during the golden age of steam. Reserve a table in the palm tree lined courtyard under the stunning 8-storey glass-roofed atrium and sit back as the sunlight streams past each level of the piazza onto the quiet buzz of the hotel's dining room below.
The Chocolate Afternoon Tea is not only a nod to the elegance of days gone by, it’s a chance to indulge in all those things your healthier self spends most of the time avoiding. It’s an afternoon retreat of extravagance and food naughtiness. Flutes of Tattinger Champagne, the finest selected teas and delicate chocolate treats that look more like artwork follow sandwiches, warm scones, and amazing service. Simple brilliant.
The Landmark London, 222 Marylebone Road, NW1 6JQ,
4 The Lancaster: Peter Pan Tea
Inspired by the hotel’s close location to Kensington Gardens and the famous Peter Pan statue, this is a tea party for the unashamedly young at heart. Enjoy nostalgically sweet treats such as Mrs. Darling’s scones and Peter Pan and Wendy’s favorite strawberry tarts. Fairy tale meets tradition; just go with it.
Lancaster Terrace, W2 2TY
5 The Gore Hotel: Rock and Roll Tea
Rock and Roll is not normally something you would associate with
afternoon tea. Still, as The Gore Hotel was used as the location of The
Rolling Stones’ Beggars Banquet, this does not seem wholly unusual.
Here the tipple of choice is Jack Daniels and coke and although traditional tea is on
the menu but it might seem a little out of place once you've tried the guitar-shaped cookies and Jack Daniels muffins.