Best Places In London To Experience Afternoon Tea

The custom of enjoying afternoon tea feels like it's always been woven into the fabric of English culture. Historically, tea was only popularized in England in the 1660s during the reign of King Charles II. It wasn't until the 19th century that afternoon tea made its way onto the scene.

Afternoon tea is often credited back to Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. It's said she found herself hungry each day, long before dinner was served. In 1840, she began to request a tray of tea paired with bread, butter, and cake be brought to her room each afternoon. She soon invited friends to enjoy the experience along with her and from this, the fashionable afternoon tea was born.

These days, afternoon tea still consists of serving tea alongside small sandwiches, scones, cakes, and pastries. It's associated with ornate tea sets and remains a social experience. Travel to London and you'll find a city brimming with elegant venues to enjoy afternoon tea.

If you're looking to pair your West End ventures with afternoon tea, The Stage at The Londoner on Leicester Square is a must. A show-stopping aesthetic awaits and the champagne afternoon tea, known as Act Two, is nestled between the Act One breakfast and the Grande Finale meal. The highlights of this afternoon tea include handcrafted patisserie artworks, savory sandwiches, and loose-leaf tea sourced from The East India Company. Champagne, scones, and sorbet are all a part of this inviting experience too.

Enjoy vegan fare and whimsical surroundings

Travelers excited to experience an elegant afternoon tea with vegan options included will find what they're looking for at The Dorchester. Situated on Park Lane, this afternoon tea stop is meticulously crafted by renowned chef Michael Kwan and hosted in The Promenade. Guests can settle into lavender-covered and gold-trimmed chairs at tea time or opt for a place on an elegant sofa. This ornate tea time space is adorned with lavish artwork as well.

Some of the popular afternoon tea delights include Kwan's zesty lemon drizzle and mouthwatering tea-infused ice cream. The exquisitely handcrafted pastries served with tea are as eye-catching as they are tasty. Creative cakes and scones grace both the adult and children's menus at this location.

For those who know they'll enjoy their afternoon tea in London immersed in pretty pink hues, the experience at Sketch is not to be missed. This whimsical Conduit Street locale serves up afternoon tea in The Gallery where powder-pink walls are accompanied by overstuffed pink velvet chairs and a pink-painted ceiling overhead as well. The afternoon tea menu features assorted sandwiches, scones, and cakes from the trolley in addition to freshly brewed Earl Grey. Champagne is readily available at Sketch afternoon tea and the pear and lavender cheesecake is an especially popular choice. After tea, feel free to admire the many original works of art on the wall.

Outdoor options and artistic stops to savor

London has long had a reputation for rainy weather, but compared to the rest of England, it receives surprisingly and significantly less annual precipitation. According to Climate Data, the city only receives around 27.2 inches of rainfall each year. To that end, travelers looking to take advantage of afternoon tea in the open air on those rain-free days in London will want to begin at Dalloway Terrace.

Located within the sophisticated Bloomsbury Hotel, Dalloway Terrace hosts afternoon tea on the patio. The experience comes complete with heaters and blankets for guests to use during mild-temperature visits making tea time inviting year-round. The terrace awning is topped with lush greenery and florals while the afternoon tea menu features everything from violet cupcakes to sandwiches, scones, and apricot mousse, to name a few of many.

Looking for a creative space to settle in and make the most of an afternoon tea in London? One of Oscar Wilde's old haunts, the Grill Room at Hotel Café Royal checks every inspired and artistic box. The aesthetic is sure to please while the menu is beautifully crafted to reflect iconic works of art. Whether you enjoy the cheesecake that resembles Vincent Van Gogh's "Starry Night" or sip a white apricot tea paired with a crab and dill mix on lemon bread inspired by the artist's "Two Crabs," you're in for a palate-pleasing adventure. The live piano music in the tea room paired with the luxurious gold-finished interior always sets an elegant and memorable scene.