Where to go for the finest afternoon high tea in London

We are asked where to go for the finest afternoon high tea in London more often than not so thought we’d save time creating our one-stop-shop for our recommended go-to-tea locations. It’s a welcome relief to settle for an afternoon of dainty sandwiches rather than being swept up in the crazy trends now faced when booking a meal. Chancing a seat with the ‘no reservations’ policy that has spread as standard throughout London, speedy sittings and sharing plates we’ve decided to take back a mealtime just for rest and relaxation. We hope you’ll find time to book into one of the below recommendations and step away from the Blackberry. Take your Mum, Granny or just a great mate and always, ALWAYS order the champagne version. It goes extremely well with a very British cup of tea.

KNIGHTSBRIDGE
Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley, Wilton Place SW1X 7RL
Afternoon Tea £45 per person (Champagne Afternoon Tea £52 per person) plus discretionary 12.5% service charge
Service is from 13:00 – 17:30 7 days a week

Pret a Portea

Photo courtesy of The Berkeley Hotel

We love the Berkeley to the extent that we have designs on moving in (rooftop pool dip in the morning, spa treatments, the Blue Bar and Koffman’s for supper) adding their exceptional high tea as another string to their accomplished bow. Here you will find the prettiest tea in all the land inspired by the colours and trends of high-end fashion. Their Spring/Summer 2015 collection features the late, great Alexander McQueen via the V&A’s Savage Beauty exhibition, the handbags of Anya Hindmarch and Elie Saab’s red dress masterpiece with every bite taking you one taste closer to becoming a fully-fledged fashionista. Shortbread in the shape of McQueen’s ‘Armadillo’ shoe are paired with savoury skewers and the inevitable dainty sandwich. With gluten and nut-free requests catered for they’ve really thought of everything.

MAYFAIR
Claridge’s, Brook Street W1K 4HR
Afternoon Tea £55 per person (Champagne Afternoon Tea £65 per person) plus discretionary 12.5% service charge
Sittings 14:45, 15:00, 15:15, 15:30, 16.45, 17:00, 17:15 & 17:30 7 days a week

Claridge's

Photo courtesy of Claridge’s

For the quintessential British high tea experience one must head to Claridge’s where their famed mint green chinaware is worth an ogle alone. They’ve been hosting their afternoons for over 150 years so they really do have this nailed. Expect the very best what with a tea menu compiled by their very own tea expert and the daintiest sandwiches (cucumber and cream cheese on trusty white bread with crusts rightfully off), freshly baked scones and delectable pastries created by pastry chefs extraordinaire featuring strawberry, peach and ginger eclairs amongst others good enough to sell your own Mother for. When you can order a white tea that is only ‘picked in the spring in the warmest sunshine’ you’d think they might be a bit snooty but the service here is exceptional. This is the place to dress up and focus on giving their tea the attention it deserves.

Sketch, 9 Conduit Street W1S 2XG
Afternoon Tea £39 per person (Champagne Afternoon Tea from £51)
Service is from 12:30 – 16:30 7 days a week

Sketch

Photo courtesy of Sketch

An afternoon sitting amidst blancmange pink booths and you’d be forgiven for thinking you’ve fallen into the land of Polly Pocket. Fear not. Sketch makes their afternoon tea infinitely cooler having turned their converted Georgian mansion home into a homage of all things David Shrigley. This is a tea where you savour the art as much as the food with the walls and chinaware adorned with Shrigley’s mordant artwork proving a perfect talking point amongst the diners. The sandwiches are rather splendid (quails egg and caviar finger sandwiches sit aside the classic scone and clotted cream combination) but it’s the pastries that have our tastebuds working overtime; Malabar marshmallows, pineapple and coconut sponges and Earl Grey macaroons meet the poshest teas (Phoenix Honey Orchid Oolong? No, us neither). Be sure to head there between 18 May – 7 June 2015 for a special ‘Into the Woods’ menu takeover to celebrate all things Disney.

COVENT GARDEN
Balthazar, 4-6 Russell Street WC2B 5HZ
Afternoon Tea £25 per person (Champagne Afternoon Tea £35 per person)
Service is from 15:00- 17:00 7 days a week

Summer Afternoon Tea Balthazar

Photo courtesy of Balthazar

Balthazar won us over with its sheer sex appeal bringing their New York hustle and bustle to the streets of Covent Garden. They know a thing or two about keeping us Londoners happy namely the  ‘All Day’ menu where brunch rolls into lunch rolls into supper. Oh and did we mention you can pick up a cake or loaf in their adjoining bakery? They’re feeders this lot. Their afternoon tea was, for a time, crafted by none other than the fashionable hand of Matthew Williamson and although he no longer is at the helm all their teatime treats certainly have that little touch of je ne sais quoi. No ordinary sandwiches to be found here instead delivering pea, mint and cucumber or a juicy ham hock rolled up in a smoked paprika fougasse. Those looking for the traditional need not apply. Instead they show off their artisan baking skills and don’t bat an eyelid when the cocktails are ordered in. Balthazar is all en-pointe with all things fun.

Royal Opera House, Bow Street WC2E 9DD
Afternoon Tea for two £75 (Champagne Afternoon Tea for two £95)
Sittings from June – August 2015 14:00, 14:15, 14:30, 14.45, 15:00

Royal Opera House Afternoon Tea

Photo courtesy of Lia Vittone

High tea at the Royal Opera House has to be one of the finest locations to enjoy a sumptuous afternoon. Sitting in the magnificent surroundings of their glass barrelled roof it’s all very Gatsby. This Spring they have teamed up with perfumer L’Occitane to create a Floral Tea menu (all very apt – the Paul Hamlyn Hall venue was originally known as the Floral Hall) with afternoon fancies all inspired by the top notes of their Grasse collection. The menu starts off with Native lobster, citrus and dill crème fraîche in lemon thyme brioche, free-range egg and salt beef sandwiches followed by reliably delicious scones with Dorset clotted cream. The cakes take you to the great outdoors; champagne baba with rose petals and Ruinart rosé, Green tea and peach macarons and elderflower amadines alongside floral loose leaf teas and tea-themed cocktails for those who prefer sprucing up their step. They won’t bat an eyelid at working to dairy-free, gluten-free or vegan options either. The cherry on top? Each guest will be gifted a complimentary bottle of their chosen scent from La Collection de Grasse by L’Occitane en Provence.

RICHMOND
Petersham Nurseries Café, Church Lane, Off Petersham Road TW10 7AB
Afternoon Tea Cakes from £3.50
Service is from 12:00 – 16:30 7 days a week (No reservations)

Petersham Nurseries

Photos courtesy of Michelle Marshall / Keiko Oiwaka

This is the no-brainer when it comes to impressing the rentals. The brainchild of Gael and Francesco Boglione, Petersham Nurseries is not quite the garden nursery you’re led to believe in name instead found in Time Out’s Top 100 London Restaurants adding culinary mastermind to their green-fingered CV’s. Having cleverly opened the restaurant with Skye Gyngell in the kitchen back in 2004 (she’s since gone onto head up her own restaurant Spring at Somerset House to much aplomb) they’ve since installed head chef Damian Clisby from HIX at the helm who works alongside Culinary Director, Lucy Boyd, gardener, food writer and cook. They’ve created an oasis of greenery for a memorable meal under the twinkling canopy. This is where you bring anyone you need to convince quite how stylish us Brits have become. The teas are simple but delicious. Served on mismatched antique china in the Italian Teahouse, the menu is still inspired by the British classics (Lemon Poppy Seed, Carrot & Walnut, the classic Scone) all handmade on-site alongside ethically sourced whole leaf teas. Rustic never looked so chic.

Please contact Mensos Concierge directly for afternoon tea recommendations and bookings. We’d also love to hear from you if you have any hidden gems for teatime that we’ve missed off. We’re always open to trying more cake…

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hours dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea
Henry James