As quintessentially English as the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, taking afternoon tea is a treat loved by tourists and Londoners alike. We've rounded up the best classic and contemporary afternoon teas to enjoy, from super traditional at Browns to crazy cocktail teas at Lyaness.
Where: Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4BP
Well if it was good enough for Queen Victoria... yes Her Majesty used to enjoy taking tea in the English Tea Room at this classic London hotel. This is a place to enjoy cucumber sandwiches and you can even try Cornish tea grown in the gardens at Tregothnan.
How much: Traditional tea starts at £55.
Where: Brook Street, Mayfair, London W1K 4HR
Take tea in the art deco foyer of Claridge's and you could easily be a player in any Agatha Christie novel - it's so glamorous. The teas themselves are picked out by the Rare Tea Company's Henrietta Lovell.
How much: Starts at £70 and there's a children's afternoon tea for £40.
Where: 150 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9BR
The Palm Court at The Ritz is probably the best-known place to take afternoon tea in the world. It's now so popular you can have it all day long. They're also the only place to have a certified Tea Sommelier whose job it is to source their 18 different types of tea. Don't forget there's a dress code too - jacket and tie for blokes.
How much: Starts at £55 per person.
Where: 160 Piccadilly, London W1J 9EB
Aside from the odds-on chance of a celeb-spotting, The Wolseley lives for its viennoiserie so you can expect the pastries that come with your full afternoon tea to be particularly good. FYI - you can now buy that tea tiered stand (complete with cloche to keep your scones warm) to use at home.
How much: Starts at a very reasonable £12.75 for scones and tea.
- Parisian tea experts Mariage Freres have a five-storey tea emporium in Covent Garden. The tea salon here is lovely and afternoon tea starts at £49. You can book it here.
- Enjoy a jaw-dropping view over London when you take tea at Ting at the Shangri-La London right at the top of The Shard.
- Celeste at The Lanesborough regularly change their tea offerings - we tried it recently and it was very good indeed.
- Coming somewhere between classic and contemporary is the famous Pret a Portea at The Berkeley where the cakes change as often as the fashion seasons.
Where: The Dorchester, 53 Park Ln, London W1K 1QA
Created in honour of the late owner Sir David Tang, this Cantonese dim sum afternoon tea serves up single-origin teas with Hong Kong custard tarts and Gai Lan Cheung Fun as well as a basket of dim sum.
How much: Starts at £46.
Where: 28 Maiden Ln, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7JS
Afternoon tea here is a partnership between chef-patron Vivek Singh and Bake Off star Tamal Ray "bringing fire and spice to the traditional tea-time spread". So there's Kolkata fish finger sandwiches and pistachio cake with rose meringue and bhaapa doi to enjoy.
How much: Starts at £25.
Where: 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD
The Spirited Tea at Lyaness, one of the best bars in London, has a contemporary twist on the usual afternoon tea. There are finger sandwiches like pickled cucumber, cream cheese and chives but also caramelised banana & chocolate éclairs and coconut panna cotta. Best of all it comes with their amazing paired cocktails.
How much: It's £55 for the cocktail tea (£35 for the booze-free option).
Where: 48 Newman St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 1QQ
Why have tea at all, when you can swap that out for something boozy pouring out of your teapot instead? Here you have five cocktails to choose from, and they all come with a selection of "sweet and savoury Victorian delectables".
How much: Starts at £44 per person with one teapot (or bottomless for an extra £20).
Where: 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
The afternoon tea offering at this luxury Holborn hotel has been voted Best Contemporary tea two years in a row now. Pastries are inspired by art, with the current tea specifically inspired by Yayoi Kusama's Infinity Mirror Rooms at Tate Modern.
How much: The adult tea starts at £65
- The Rosebery in the Mandarin Oriental lets you choose from a wine, beer or even sake afternoon tea.
If you're after the thrill of the new - here are all the latest and limited edition additions to London's afternoon tea scene...
At The Corinthia London, they've gone all bouji with a Caviar Afternoon Tea (from £120) in their Crystal Moon Lounge. The tea includes 20g of King’s Golden Oscietra Caviar, with a mother of pearl spoon, and homemade blinis with sour cream alongside crab and poached lobster finger sandwiches.
The Limited-edition Lyaness x Hoppers Afternoon Tea (£55 per person) runs throughout July and celebrates Sri Lankan teas, spirits and flavours in a high tea paired with amazing cocktails.
Great Scotland Yard have a new floral-inspired Afternoon Tea menu Bouquet de la Reine in collaboration with Floris London. It's served in their Victorian parlour and costs £60 with a glass of Ruinart.
Covent Garden tea emporium Mariage Frères have two new summer menu options - a Parisian afternoon tea (£33) with tea-infused smoked salmon sandwiches and a Covent Garden tea (£39) with matcha rice balls and an assortment of five tea-infused patisseries.
Selfridges' HIVE restaurant has a cheese and honey themed afternoon tea with honey made from their own hives. It features a range of teas, sparkling wines, pastries and cheeses. It's £30 or £40 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot.
At the two Peggy Porschen parlours in Chelsea and Belgravia there's now a brand new afternoon tea menu in collaboration with accessories brand Olivia Burton. It's on all summer and costs £38.
Subscribe to hear the latest from Hot Dinners