Nothing beats a classic afternoon tea – and these iconic restaurants and hotels are definitely worth trying this year.

Afternoon tea is, quite literally, the food of queens. The now quintessentially British tradition is said to have first been inaugurated by Queen Victoria, after one of her ladies in waiting pointed out that the long afternoons could do with a tasty little something to pick up the women of nobility.

It’s a pastime that oozes indulgence, created simply as an excuse to scoff and socialise in style. And in our humble opinion, if you’re going to do it, you need to do it right. Enter: our divine collection of the most gorgeously luxurious and iconic afternoon teas in London. 

A delightful way to celebrate a special occasion (like Mother’s Day which is coming up very soon), or just enjoy feeling like a lady of leisure with your best friend, some of these venues simply must be ticked off your London bucket list. From The Ritz to The Savoy, these are the most iconic and luxurious afternoon teas in London. 

Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences

Luxury afternoon teas in London: The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea

Take a journey through Queen Elizabeth II’s reign this jubilee year with The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea at Kona, at luxury 5* hotel Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences.

The Platinum Jubilee Afternoon Tea features intrinsically designed pastries and scrumptious savoury treats, all inspired by 70 years of service from one of Britain’s most loved and longest-standing monarchs. From miniature royal carriages encasing delicate pastries, to beautiful handmade table dressings in the rich royal colour of purple laying down the carpet for this tea, this beautiful and delicious afternoon tea is fit for royalty.

When: Wednesday – Friday: 12pm – 2pm; Saturday and Sunday 12pm, 2pm and 4pm 

The Kensington Hotel

Taking inspiration from London’s most recognisable and historic landmarks, The Kensington Hotel’s London Landmarks Afternoon Tea leads diners on a tour of the capital’s architectural feats and culinary traditions, with tributes to London’s most famed structures.

Enjoy the hotel’s skyline of scones, sandwiches, and sweets, which pay homage to the capital’s iconic buildings and will be presented on a London Eye-inspired tea stand.

When: Afternoon Tea is served 12pm – 6pm every day

The Strand Palace

Luxury afternoon teas in London: The Strand Palace

The newly renovated Strand Palace is one of London’s most iconic hotels – and it’s helpfully located in the heart of the West End. 

The quintessentially British afternoon tea offers a host of seasonal sandwiches, including salmon and dill sour cream on rye bread, egg and watercress, cucumber cream cheese on beetroot bread, and grilled ham and cheese on brioche. (FYI, the latter is absolutely delicious…) 

Executive chef Alfonso Salvaggio didn’t just put hard work into sandwiches: the sweets are just as good. The classic Victoria sponge is perfectly light and fluffy, the lemon meringue has a brilliant tart twist and the chocolate champagne bomb needs no explanation. 

And no afternoon tea is complete without freshly baked scones served with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry conserve.

When: Served daily from 12pm – 7pm

The Ritz

Luxury afternoon teas in London: The Ritz

Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without the one, the only, The Ritz Hotel. This iconic venue has frequented some of our favourite films (we’re looking at you, Notting Hill) and acts as an automatic reference for describing luxury, so it’s no surprise the hotel’s afternoon tea is famed for being one of the best in town.

Held in the Palm Court, guests are treated to the usual fare of finger sandwiches, scones and mini-desserts, all of which are served in high-class style and fulfil all of your flavour expectations.

You can try one of the 18 different types of tea blends with your meal or indulge in a glass of champagne. 

When: Daily at 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm, 5.30pm, and 7.30pm

The Savoy 

If you look up the word ‘sophistication’ in the dictionary, we’re pretty sure you’ll spot a picture of The Savoy alongside it. OK, maybe not literally, but this famous hotel is known the world over for its class and elegance. 

Indulging in afternoon tea here is a must for anyone looking for a true London experience, and if you’re hoping for off-the-wall opulence, you won’t be disappointed.

The afternoon tea is plentiful (being replenished as many times as you wish) and is served with the most attentive service you could imagine. Choose from a range of teas served with finger sandwiches, homemade scones with clotted cream and jam and a mouth-watering selection of seasonal cakes and pastries. 

When: Monday to Tuesday, 12pm –4pm; Wednesday to Sunday, 12pm – 6pm 

The Goring 

Luxury afternoon teas in London: The Goring

The Goring has been wowing guests with its prestigious service for over a century and prides itself on being “the original article”. Nestled in Belgravia, it’s the perfect spot for tea after a day of seeing the sights and there’s no doubt that the refreshments will be more than up to scratch. 

Enjoy the lavish surroundings while you tuck into scones and sandwiches served with the finest blended and first-flush teas from around the world – topped off with a glass of Bollinger champagne if you so wish.

When: Monday to Friday, 3.30pm – 4.30pm; Saturday 1pm – 4pm; Sunday 1pm – 4pm


Luxury afternoon teas in London: Claridge’s

Since opening in 1856, Claridge’s has attracted attention from some of London’s most notable socialites, movie stars and even royalty. The hotel cites itself as an English institution and therefore, of course, takes serving one of the most well-loved English traditions very seriously indeed.

The afternoon tea is prepared and served fresh each day, with a menu that faithfully follows the traditional combination of sweet and savoury. The hotel has chosen to feature ingredients that they deem British specialities, such as poached Scottish salmon, and change their pastries throughout the year to reflect the fruits of the season. 

If you’re celebrating a special occasion (or not), you can raise a glass of Laurent-Perrier Brut or Rosé to give the afternoon some extra sparkle.

When: Daily at 2.45pm – 5.30pm

Fortnum and Mason 

Luxury afternoon teas in London: Fortnum and Mason

Prestigious store Fortnum and Mason has been selling its famous blends of teas for over 300 years, so it’s no surprise that it considers this loose leafed beverage its “greatest love of all”.

There’s a tale behind every detail of the afternoon tea experience; from the scones baked fresh in their thousands every day in Piccadilly, to the Battenberg cake that’s become a staple since it was first served in 1926.

The afternoon tea menu ticks all the traditional boxes, serving finger sandwiches with fillings such as coronation chicken and Fortnum’s smoked salmon, and warm scones with an array of mouth-watering fillings including lemon curd and a variety of fruit jams.

When: Monday to Saturday 11.30am – 7pm; Sunday 11.30am– 7.30pm

Images: Getty, Sheri Silver, Courtesy of the venues

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