Afternoon tea has catapulted to the top of the list of things to do in London over the last couple of years. Everywhere you turn there is a different restaurant offering their take on afternoon tea and clamoring for you to try their menu. Read on to find out what five of London’s afternoon teas have to offer…
Afternoon tea is a quintessentially English pastime and one that has been a traditional part of living in England since Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, introduced it to the country in 1840. Following a dramatic rise in tea consumption and the introduction of late dinners becoming fashionable in the early 19th Century, there was a long gap between lunch and dinner. Duchess Anna would complain of a sinking feeling about 4pm, which led to her taking a cup of tea and a light snack into her room mid-afternoon. It wasn’t long until friends were invited to join her and the afternoon tea tradition was born.
In 2016 afternoon tea has never been so popular with restaurants, hotels and even historic palaces offering the best of the best when it comes to an afternoon of indulgence with an assortment of hand selected cakes and sandwiches.
The Charlotte Street Hotel – Fitzrovia, West End
Situated in one of the West End’s most notorious foodie streets the Charlotte Street Hotel is charmingly English with a very traditional take on the afternoon tea. Featuring cushioned booths, beers on tap and grand piano at the entrance this beautiful hotel is the perfect location for an upmarket treat.
There is a fantastic range on offer when it comes to the food, from smoked haddock croquettes to roast chicken remoulade, they don’t scrimp on their menu. With the variety of savoury specials on offer you then move to a selection of sweets, including a raspberry and coconut cupcake and red velvet roulade. To top it all off the scones come with mountains of clotted cream and jam to make sure you won’t be leaving hungry.
At £26.00 per person all of this luxury does come at a price, but for a special occasion this afternoon tea is worth the extra spend. If you’re feeling really fancy why not upgrade to include a glass of Pommery NV for an extra £9.00 per person.
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Aqua at The Shard – The City
Aqua is the contemporary British restaurant set at the staggering height of the 31st floor of The Shard, London. Offering panoramic views of the capital this is a venue to splash out on for a special occasion. Located near London Bridge with easy access to transport links in and out of the city, The Shard has it all when it comes to Afternoon Tea.
Aqua raises the bar, serving extravagant finger sandwiches including fillings such as Earl Gray tea smoked Loch Duart salmon and cucumber or Staffordshire leg of ham with grain mustard and Bermondsey Hard cheese. This is followed by a variety of homemade cakes including passion fruit cheesecake and red velvet and dark chocolate cake. All accompanied by your choice of tea from the Rare Tea Company. There’s no better way to experience these spectacular views of London.
The Aqua Shard afternoon tea comes at an eye-watering price of £45.00 per person with the option to upgrade to a Champagne Afternoon Tea for £58.00 per person that includes a glass of Verve Clicquot ‘Yellow Label’ Brut Champagne. Of course for one of life’s special occasions this afternoon tea is well worth its price with unrivaled views set in the heart of London and a spectacular menu, you really do get what you pay for.
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Bluebird Café – Chelsea
If you’re looking for a venue that’s as on trend as its menu, look no further than the Bluebird Café. Located on the King’s Road this fashionable venue is a hot spot for the Kensington elite. Often featured on programmes such as Made in Chelsea, the café has a laid back vibe with a stripped back décor and a large feature bar up on the second floor, overlooking the outside courtyard.
The afternoon tea includes a lovely selection of finger sandwiches, homemade cakes and fruit scones served with jam and cream. A great choice of teas is on offer. From the comforting breakfast classic Assam to a delicate Jasmine, there is bound to be an option to please even the fussiest of tea drinkers. Everything you would expect from an afternoon tea in Kensington.
The bluebird café offers its standard afternoon tea for £18.50 per person. There is the chance to upgrade to the Chelsea Champagne afternoon tea for £25.50 per person, which includes a glass of Piper Heidsieck Brut champagne.
If it’s a really special occasion and you feel like splashing out, why not try the SW3 Afternoon Tea which includes a signature cocktail made from rose petal vodka, muddled and shaken with fresh strawberries, lime, sugar cane syrup topped with Moet & Chandon Rose champagne.
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The Delaunay – The Strand, West End
If you’re on a bit of a budget, but looking for a beautiful West End location to enjoy a leisurely afternoon don’t hesitate to step inside the delightful Delaunay and sample their Viennese Afternoon Tea. With rich brass finishes adorning the surfaces throughout the restaurant you can’t help but feel in the height of luxury, not to mention the fantastic service you’ll receive during your meal.
The Delaunay offers a vast range of teas from your typical English Breakfast tea to the light and refreshing Ceylon and for the more elevated tea connoisseur even Darjeeling can be found on this menu. Their food menu includes some fantastic individual Viennese savouries such as their famous poppy seed Gugelhupfs served with apricot jam and whipped cream. All of their pastries are made in the restaurant with a constantly changing variety that may include treats such as their Coffee and Stroh Rum Cake or a Lemon and Pistachio Millefeuille.
You can dine at The Delaunay for an extremely reasonable £19.95 per person for their classic Viennese afternoon tea, with the option to add a glass of Champagne Pommery Brut Royale NV for an extra £10. This afternoon tea is a bargain in anyone’s books, for a great menu in such a sort after location.
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Altitude 360 at Millbank Tower – Vauxhall
If you’re looking for tea overlooking the Thames, look no further than Altitude 360. Situated down the river, on the banks of Vauxhall with fantastic views of the London Eye, Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, this location offers a brilliant retreat for a bite to eat and break from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Great for a couple’s afternoon out or a family celebration Altitude 360 delivers a range of rolls and finger sandwiches to share, not to mention the sweet bites including a passion fruit dome and cream filled buns. With a selection of teas and coffee to choose from, the option of additional Champagne to accompany your afternoon tea really makes the meal. Whether it is a bottle to share or the ambitious unlimited offer, this afternoon tea is sure to send you home satisfied.
The experience at the Millbank Tower can be bought using a Groupon voucher, which really helps keep the budget down. For afternoon tea for two and a bottle of champagne the price comes in at £68.00. Although maybe not one of the most gastronomic afternoon teas, the views really do make the occasion one to be remembered.
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