Since the late nineteenth century, pausing for a spot of afternoon tea has become a popular pastime and fashionable social event. This centuries-old tradition has been revived lately and weve scoured the capital for the best hotels, cafes and restaurants in London to indulge yourself in scrumptious scones, delectable sandwiches and a good old cup of tea. Whether you like your tea served in fancy, classic china or paired with free-flowing champagne, the options are simply endless, take a look for yourself:
Bea's of Bloomsbury
A rather more modern, relaxed affair than the smart hotel afternoon tea, this American-style bakery-cum-tea shop's offering is still made for the sweet-toothed. Alongside mini brioche buns and the requisite scones, you'll find meringues, marshmallows, brownies and Bea's signature cupcakes. Sign us up.
Where: Bea's of Bloomsbury, Watling St, EC4M 9BX. beasofbloomsbury.com.
Based on literatures most famous tea party, the Mad Hatter's Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson is a gastronomic adventure. Menus are hidden in vintage books and napkins are wrapped in riddles. A Tick Tock traditional Victoria sponge clock, 'strawberries and cream' marshmallow mushrooms and the clever Drink Me potion, a medley of passion fruit jelly, coconut panna cotta and tropical foam are particular highlights of this quaint affair. Bonkers.
Served with silver service and an old-fashioned grandeur, afternoon tea at the Ritz is about as quintessentially British as you can get. Their signature tea for £45 per person (champagne for an extra £12) includes all the classics: cucumber sandwiches and freshly baked scones, as well as an assortment of cakes and pastries. Dress code and reservations are a must. Downton-esque.
Where: The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR. theritzlondon.com.
Dean St Townhouse
This handsome Georgian townhouse is a Soho haven for afternoon tea, with plush velvet armchairs, heavy curtains and sultry lighting. Highly recommended is the full-on three-tier experience, the Townhouse Tea.
Where: Dean St Townhouse, 69-71 Dean St, W1D 3SE. deansttownhouse.com.
Aqua Shard Afternoon Tea
A modern take on afternoon tea with unrivalled views of London. There is an array of sandwich options, freshly baked scones as well as lemon meringue tart, chocolate truffle, and cassis and yoghurt panna cotta. There is also the option to accompany your tea with a glass of champagne.
Where: Level 31, The Shard, Bankside, London, SE1 9RL aquashard.co.uk
Quite literally, the Oscars of the tea world. Begravia-based five-star hotel The Goring came top of the pots in the Tea Guild's 2013 awards. This family-run establishment offers a traditional afternoon tea menu as well as terraces and gardens to enjoy. Splendid.
Where: The Goring, Beeston Place, SW1W 0JW. Served daily from 3pm-4:30pm. thegoring.com.
Claridge's Afternoon Tea
Utterly English award-winning afternoon tea. Served in the Foyer and Reading Room, Claridges has an impressive track record when it comes to sweeping the awards. There are three delectable options: the traditional Afternoon Tea, the Champagne Tea and, for really pushing the boat out, the Rose Champagne Afternoon Tea. Seasonal options for the Chelsea Flower Show, Lawn Tennis and Christmas are also available, as well as a Children's Afternoon Tea.