The best afternoon tea in London: Our favourites to book now
Read Time:25 Minute, 33 Second

The best afternoon tea in London: Our favourites to book now

0 0

It was in 1840 that the Duchess of Bedford shared her guilty secret of enjoying tea and snacks a few hours before dinner, setting a trend that would evolve to become a national tradition (more of which in our afternoon tea etiquette guide). Today, afternoon tea in London enjoys celebratory status. Flutes of Champagne and pretty pastries are a given, while exotic nibbles and potent cocktails mean that what now constitutes this most genteel of refreshments might well shock the Duchess of Bedford. We¡¯ve sat down to countless cups of tea, finger sandwiches, scones and macarons to bring you our editors¡¯ reviews of the best afternoon tea in London ¨C from the traditional spreads to the modern interpretations that roll on into evening drinks.

The best Afternoon tea in Central London

Afternoon tea at The Ritz London

Best for: old-school glitz

Tea at The Ritz. Is there a more archetypally English institution? The Ritz London sets the standard for afternoon tea. Tea is served in the many-mirrored Palm Court salon, deliciously grand and swimming in gold. The salon is set between two palm trees, a good few steps higher than the rest of the hotel’s ground floor, like a stage, with everyone performing to the tinkling of the live pianist, and soprano Miranda Heldt some weekday afternoons.

Tea-takers select from a list of 18 types, and can learn as much or as little about the teas as they wish from the friendly but reassuringly formal staff, who not only know the correct way to make tea (milk first, obviously), but have spent many months in Sri Lanka, tasting and experimenting to bring back the perfect blend.

On to the food itself, which, as you might expect, is proudly traditional. Sandwiches are fresh, crustless, finger-sized and not shy of a cucumber slice or two; and the scones are warm, gigantic and accompanied by strawberry jam and lashings of Cornish clotted cream. The top of your three-tiered stand is reserved for pastries, chocolate cake and fruit tarts, and whatever your party can’t manage is boxed up for you to take home ¨C along with a personalised cake, if your tea is in honour of a birthday.

There is a dress code (we would be disappointed if there wasn’t): men must wear a jacket and tie, women have to appear at least smart-casual. Jeans and trainers will be confiscated on sight. With five sittings a day, from 11.30am to 7.30pm, The Ritz tea operation is extremely well-oiled, whilst managing not to rush diners ¨C helped by the fact that the time you need to vacate your table is made clear when you book it. Becky Lucas?

Address: The Ritz London, 150 Piccadilly, London W1
Price: From ¡ê58 for adults and from ¡ê35 for children

Afternoon tea at Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel

Best for: seasonally themed menus

Every couple of months, the terrace at The Bloomsbury Hotel gets a revamp to fit in with the changing seasons, switching from a cosy space in autumn and winter to a light and elegant spot in the warmer months. The secret garden is currently in its spring dress in partnership with The Botanist Islay Dry Gin. Its floral get-up is inspired by the English countryside in full bloom, with full-bodied green foliage teeming with wildflowers, blossom, tulips and ranunculus designed by floral designers Early Hours, transporting you straight to a rustic garden, dappled with those delicious early-season rays of sunshine.

The menu has been re-imagined by Bloomsbury Hotel head pastry chef and Afternoon Tea of the Year Finalist Chris Dodd to include local, foraged and handmade produce, resulting in a special new herbal afternoon tea. Finely sliced sandwiches of spinach bread are stuffed with marinated cucumber and cream cheese; or malted cocoa bread with poached salmon and cr¨¨me fra?che; a brioche bun with devilled egg mayonnaise and pastrami.

Perfectly baked scones ¨C a vanilla and lemon variety and a golden raisin option ¨C are slathered with Devonshire clotted cream and a dollop of Scottish raspberry jam. Beautifully decorated and delicate sweets, that you are advised to eat in a certain order, sit pretty at the top of the tea stand: first the saffron custard tart with Campari poached rhubarb, followed by the lighter carrot cake with tarragon and cream cheese mousse; on to the scene-stealing bunnies: white chocolate, lemon and thyme cream cakes perched on pistachio (or nibbling grass), concluded by the intensely rich, dark chocolate, cherry and sage chocolate brownie.

Add a glass of Champagne or one of the bespoke and rather decadent-for-daytime spring-fresh cocktails such as the Islay Martini, a mix of The Botanist Islay Dry Gin, citrus Oleo-Saccharum and rosemary oil, and you might just convince yourself your next stop is a tea party in a dreamy, butterfly-bedecked English country garden somewhere. Cordelia Aspinall and Becky Lucas

Address: Dalloway Terrace, The Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN
Price: Afternoon tea, ¡ê35; Champagne afternoon tea from ¡ê53

Traditional afternoon tea at The Savoy

Best for: stretching out for a long afternoon beside the Thames

London today is as blessed with as many fine hotels, restaurants and tea houses in which to take afternoon tea as at any point in its history. Possibly even more of them. Nominating the best of the lot would be an impossible and unrealistic task, since so much depends on mood and whim and the exigencies of the moment. But in any case and under any circumstances The Savoy would have to be very, very, very near the top of such a list.

Service is lively, liveried and brisk, respectful but not fawning, attentive without being obtrusive, resolutely on the right side of stuffy. In short, it’s spot-on. The tableware is pleasingly crisp of linen, silvery of pot and spoon, and floral of cup and saucer. Nor is there any faulting the foodstuffs. The obligatory finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and cakes are impeccable; the teas, from the house blend to the splendidly named Iron Buddha Oolong and Flowering Osmanthus, likewise.

The Savoy all but invented the th¨¦ dansant in its Thames Foyer, as it has become known. Despite its name, it’s not actually very easy to see the Thames from here. (It’s a different story from the suites above, which have river views to stagger the gods.) Yet there’s a curiously riparian feel to the space, with its palette of pale greens, the light filtered softly through a splendid stained-glass dome, the staff eddying and flowing around the central gazebo, which itself seems to float on a bed of hydrangeas.

Address: The Savoy, The Strand, London WC2R 0EU
Price: Traditional afternoon tea, ¡ê65. Add a glass of Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV for ¡ê10 extra

Afternoon tea at Claridge’s, Mayfair

Best for: smart tea connoisseurs

There is a very skilled art in creating such an iconic experience as afternoon tea at Claridge’s without the event becoming a parody of itself. As one of the best hotels in London, this could become a tourist sideshow, something to ‘tick off’ the list. The skill in keeping its authenticity lies, as ever, with the staff who create this experience, keeping it a treat while keeping it real.

There are two sittings of early and late afternoon tea at Claridge’s, set in the hotel’s sensational Foyer (our recommendation – if you can get a table), or the more tucked-away Reading Room. Claridge’s is known for its warm welcome to all, and we were instantly made to feel like part of the family. Tunes from the 1920s played by a pianist and cellist create the perfect backdrop, while the incredible Dale Chihuly chandelier hovered above our heads as a modern-day talking point.

From the extensive menu we chose a Tregothnan Earl Grey, blended with a blend from an ancient Cornish estate that has been around since 1335; and Darjeeling, the ‘Champagne of teas’. This is a great place to try something new – go with a recommendation from the knowledgeable staff.

Four types of bladed sandwiches arrived (our favourites were samphire and smoked salmon, and cucumber, chamomile and buttermilk); once we’d polished those off, more appeared. But onto the good stuff: the highlight was the freshly-baked scones, plain, and raisin, with stick-to-your-spoon clotted cream and Marco Polo jam. Finally, cakes – and the passion fruit chocolate tart nearly finished us off.

There is an art to feeling looked after, and at Claridge’s that art has been perfected. A long early-evening walk across Hyde Park is recommended to walk off the cake.

Address: Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair, London[/link] W1
Price: From ¡ê70 per person

Afternoon tea at The Wolseley

Best for: a taste of classic Mayfair

There is something deliciously opulent about going to The Wolseley in the middle of the day. This Mayfair stalwart, swathed in gold with imposing chandeliers and arching pillars and black-and-cream tiles, is best-known for its lavish breakfasts, topping our edit of the best brunch in London. Head through the velvet curtain at the door on an afternoon, though, to find groups of smartly dressed people being served tea from silver pots by suited waiters in the grande-dame dining room.

On the afternoon-tea menu, classic finger sandwiches include smoked salmon and smoked chicken. The vegetarian selection is just as varied and delicious: no endless egg-and-cress here. Instead, there¡¯s avocado, cucumber with mint, and celery with cream cheese, served on a variety of breads (sundried tomato, seeded and, our favourite, traditional, pillowy white). Second helpings are encouraged. Scones are of the fruity variety, kept warm under a cloche, to be topped with lashings of clotted cream and jam.

Pastries are surprisingly up-to-the-minute for a restaurant that trades so heavily (and so well) on old-school charm, and include a pistachio friand, baked cheesecake and a salted-caramel ¨¦clair. Be sure to share so you can try them all ¨C there¡¯s not a dud among them.

The Wolseley¡¯s afternoon tea is delicious, and you will, undoubtedly, leave feeling uncomfortably full, as with all of the teas on this list. But something about being in the humming, clinking, tinkling dining room with its high ceilings and attentive ¨C never over-bearing ¨C staff makes it extra special. Sarah James

Address: The Wolseley, 160 Piccadilly, St. James’s, London W1J 9EB
Price: Afternoon tea, ¡ê29.75; Champagne afternoon tea, ¡ê40

Afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason

Best for: a classic afternoon tea ¨C and still one of the best

Dressed in trademark eau-de-nil, right down to the tea plates, Fortnum & Mason’s Tea Salon is a peaceful oasis (accessed in a lovely wood-panelled lift) off Piccadilly. An oasis of tea and cake! It seems as if it hasn’t changed in decades, in a wonderfully old-world way, but in fact was refurbished and subsequently reopened by the Queen in 2012. It remains a traditional affair and, located on the fourth floor of the iconic Fortnum & Mason shop (where London afternoon teas have been served for almost 100 years), it’s a delightful place to while away an afternoon.

And who knew there were so many different types of tea? If Willy Wonka ever swapped chocolate for tea, the menu might resemble that at the Tea Salon, listing around 45 fantastically-named infusions like Jasmine Dragon Pearls, Tippy Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe, and Hattialli, which takes its name from the Assamese words ‘Hathi Alli’, meaning ‘Elephant Road’. Terrifically knowledgeable ‘Tearistas’ are on hand to help narrow down the choice.

Soft, warm scones are served with lashings of Somerset clotted cream and the most delicious raspberry, strawberry and wild blueberry jams which left us scraping the bottom of the jar. (Luckily, these can be bought in the shop downstairs.) The cake carriage is a feast for the eyes, with mini chocolate-mousse tarts and melt-in-your-mouth salted-caramel choux pastries. Finger sandwiches make a welcome savoury intervention from the sweet treats.

Address: Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1
Price: Fortnum’s Afternoon Tea ¡ê52.50 (¡ê56.50 with Rare Tea)

Afternoon tea at The Lanesborough

Best for: understated elegance

It can feel a shame to waste a rare sunny day staying indoors for afternoon tea, but if you do have to go inside, The Lanesborough is probably the best hotel in London to choose. Firstly, its notable position across from Hyde Park means it¡¯s the perfect pitstop for a London walk. Once you¡¯re inside, the tea itself is served in the light-filled Michelin-starred restaurant C¨¦leste, where three substantial chandeliers hang from the domed glass roof and fluted columns, powder-blue walls and 23-carat gilding all set the ornate scene. A pianist plays classic tunes, which means the conversation isn¡¯t limited to a whisper, and the relaxed vibe and welcoming staff make it easy to lose an afternoon here, regardless of the food.

But, of course, there is food ¨C an abundance of it. A traditional selection of sandwiches is served first (as is often the case, the egg and cress mayonnaise was the winner), followed by a tiered tree of fluffy scones and pastries. The sheer mass of sweet stuff could be intimidating, but thankfully the pastries are not too sickly ¨C the pleasantly sharp passionfruit cheesecake is a standout, while the muscovado tart tastes as good as it looks. To drink, the tea menu ranges from the more out-there chocolate brownie to classic jasmine. For the traditionally inclined, the signature Lanesborough Afternoon Tea is a fresh and fruity black blend, or you can always just upgrade to Champagne. Whatever you choose, just be sure to take your time. You¡¯ll want to make the most of that remarkable room. Lauren Burvill

Address: The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, London SW1X 7TA
Price: ¡ê53 per person

Afternoon tea at The Dorchester

Best for: losing track of time

Everything at The Dorchester is scaled up. There are bouquets the size of hot-air balloons in the lobby, quilted-brocade sofas dwarf the loftiest of guests and marble-effect pillars tower over tables in the Promenade, where afternoon tea is served. While the surroundings can make you feel rather small and insignificant, the discreetly charming staff have the opposite effect ¨C you are treated like the server¡¯s most important (and better yet, favourite) guests.

Inevitably, there is an element of performance that accompanies the service at a hotel like The Dorchester. Between the savoury and sweet courses you are presented with a palate-cleansing green tea, with lily and jasmine wrapped in silver needles and infused with mango. As the ma?tre d’ explained with a smile and a sweep of his arm, ¡®There is a theatre to it! This is the stage’. In the first act, sandwiches with fillings such as chicken with ginger, lime, garlic, mayonnaise and shallots or poached wild salmon with heritage tomatoes tread the boards on meticulously cut rectangles of white, multigrain and wholemeal bread. Creative vegetarian understudies include an indulgent truffle tofu with vegan mayonnaise, but the salt-crusted golden-beetroot sandwich was the surprising scene-stealer, and the volume of food matched the oversized decor.

In all its grandeur, the Promenade is sink-into-the-cushions comfortable too; those Chesterfields are ever so inviting, and the high-ceilinged ballroom-sized space is designed so that every table is positioned to prioritise privacy. If afternoon tea is the matin¨¦e performance, you might find yourself tempted to stick around for the late show too; as the pianist rolls out a gentle medley on the Steinway grand piano by the bar, it¡¯s all too easy to let tea turn into evening drinks. Anna Prendergast

Address: The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA
Price: Afternoon tea, ¡ê65. With Laurent-Perrier Champagne, from ¡ê75

Afternoon tea at The Coral Room

Best for: interior enthusiasts

There¡¯s no need to guess where The Bloomsury Hotel’s Coral Room gets its name from, with the space painted the colour from head to toe. Bevelled mirrors and gold-framed illustrations hang on the tall walls; huge chandeliers cascade above the seating area and marble-topped bar. Choose to sit by the roaring fire or under one of the bay windows that flood nearby tables with light.

Are you sitting comfortably on your blue-velvet or patterned-fabric chair? Begin by selecting your drink. There are unlimited refills on dozens of brews ¨C including iced coffee, matcha and turmeric lattes, jasmine silver tip and lemon verbena tea ¨C all served in sturdy silverware and poured into gold-rimmed (obviously), grey- and white-striped fine china. You¡¯ll soon notice that the crockery¡¯s colour scheme precisely matches the Art Deco interiors.

Dive into the savoury sandwiches on the stand¡¯s bottom tier; the Guinness bread variety is a standout, filled with smoked salmon and lemon cr¨¨me fra?che. Next up are four warm vanilla scones ¨C it wouldn¡¯t be afternoon tea without them. Cut each one in half and lather on the clotted cream before ¨C always before ¨C the fresh raspberry jam. At the top of the stand are miniature creations so elegant you¡¯ll feel guilty for demolishing them so quickly. The bright yellow mango-and-coriander tart with pink peppercorn meringue instantly catches the eye, while the rich chocolate mousse sprinkled with cashew praline and prune compote lingers on the tongue. And, if you¡¯re feeling particularly bold, the Coral Room will replenish your tier of choice for free. Still thirsty? As one of the best bars in London, there’s no need to move to a second location ¨C the cocktails here are a knockout. Sophie Knight

Address: The Coral Room, The Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3NN
Price: ¡ê40 per person; ¡ê48 with a glass of sparkling wine

Afternoon tea at the Corinthia

Best for: a relaxed Sunday afternoon followed by a walk along the river

The Corinthia¡¯s light-flooded Crystal Moon Lounge is a grand setting for the hotel¡¯s recently relaunched afternoon tea, which is all about choice. Huge displays of treats are wheeled around on silver gilded trolleys so that guests can make their own selection, or indeed, choose to indulge in them all. The tea has its own dedicated station manned by a sommelier who will weigh and infuse your selected brew to achieve the best possible flavour. The No.2 Mellow bespoke blend is a medium-strength, fruity refreshment. For something lighter, the China Milky Oolong is delicate and one of those rare finds that tastes as fragrant as it smells.

The experience doesn¡¯t fall short when it comes to the food either. Sandwiches are served with flavour twists such as egg mayo and truffle, more of which you¡¯ll seriously consider forgoing the cakes for, and a tandoori take on coronation chicken. Scones arrive like prized possessions in their own wooden box, with clotted cream and a surprisingly savoury rhubarb and tonka bean jam. Just be sure to save room for the French canel¨¦ ¨C a celebration of soft doughy cake with a chewy, caramel crust originating from the pastry chef¡¯s home town of Bordeaux.

This isn¡¯t a place to come in a hurry. Service is relaxed with a measured pace. Sit back in among the fashionable young things taking a break from sightseeing, and then cross the river and walk it off with a stroll along the South Bank. Olivia Holborow

Address: Corinthia Hotel London, Whitehall Place, Westminster, London SW1A 2BD
Price: ¡ê60 per person, from ¡ê70 with champagne

St James¡¯s Afternoon Tea at The Stafford

Best for: a quiet retreat

The Stafford London¡¯s afternoon tea follows an edible journey through the streets surrounding this classic hotel, built in 1912. Served in The Game Bird, a room that marries duck-egg walls with shiny, plush velvet sofas and where gilded columns complement the grand bouquets of yellow flowers. The tea kicks off with the classics: three sandwiches ¨C fresh cucumber and cream cheese, honey-roast Wiltshire ham and mustard, and smoked salmon ¨C all finger-sized and joyously resembling those of your childhood. Next up are wedges of flaky, buttery sausage rolls and a creamy truffled-egg and watercress brioche bun ¨C not for the faint hearted, but worth every bite. For the sweet offering, the scones are anything but simple. They¡¯re fluffy, powdery and squishy, served with classic clotted cream and strawberry jam. But there¡¯s also a cheddar version that comes with airy, whipped soft cheese and chives for spreading.

It¡¯s on the final tier, though, that the nod to the surrounding institutions comes into play. Almond shortbread, dressed in a Henry Poole and Co tuxedo, and a top hat made with white chocolate and lime jelly, inspired by Lock and Co Hatters ¨C the world¡¯s oldest hat shop, are both fun and quirky eats. Shoemakers Foster and Son get a white-chocolate shoe horn and polish tin filled with a seasonal fruit trifle topped with Chantilly cream, while cigar aficionados James J Fox have a chocolate-and-hazelnut cigar tribute that comes in a smoky case. If a Savile Row suit is a little out of your budget, how about an edible version at this afternoon tea?? Katharine Sohn

Address: The Stafford London, 16-18 St James’s Place, London SW1A 1NJ
Price: ¡ê45 per person (¡ê58 with a glass of Champagne)

Best Afternoon tea with a twist

Afternoon tea at at The Goring Hotel

Best for: royalists and traditionalists

The Royal Family make no secret of their affection for The Goring Hotel. It¡¯s where the Duchess of Cambridge spent the night before her wedding; where the Queen holds her annual staff Christmas lunch, and the only hotel in the world to hold a royal warrant. Tucked away on an unassuming side street in Belgravia, there are even rumours of a secret tunnel linking the hotel to Buckingham Palace, so the Queen and co can slip in unnoticed. And what makes the place extra special is its private garden out back ¨C almost unheard of in central London ¨C where you can enjoy your tea in good weather before working it off with a game of croquet. It¡¯s an institution about as British as it gets.

Pre-book your afternoon tea to guarantee seating in the hushed, old-school gilded dining room, decked out with thick gold curtains, whimsical tree-like Swarovski chandeliers and a roaring fire in the winter. The hotel has been owned by the same family since opening in 1910, and they take their roles seriously: CEO Jeremy Goring himself is the in-house master of tea, personally selecting and tasting each blend on the menu. Start with The Goring¡¯s own afternoon blend, a refreshing and subtle mix of Assam and Darjeeling, before navigating your way through some of the more ambitious-sounding options (such as dragon well or organic maojian) or herbal infusions.

Before the carbs, a plate of strawberries arrives ¨C which goes perfectly with the glass of pink Bollinger poured at the table from a huge magnum. After a dainty amuse-bouche of butternut squash and savoury granola come unfussy, crustless finger sandwiches filled with smoked salmon, pastrami or cheese and pickle. But don¡¯t fill up on these because it¡¯s the cakes that steal the show: a white-chocolate bomb cracked open to reveal a fluffy apple mousse, a dense tarte tatin piped with mini cones of pink meringue and a choux bun oozing with caramelly cr¨¨me patissi¨¨re. Then layer up your scones with The Goring¡¯s own homemade jam, filled with strawberries and raspberries foraged from their farm in Suffolk. Come hungry ¨C everything¡¯s swiftly replenished the moment there¡¯s space on the plate ¨C but staff are more than happy to pack you off with a doggy bag if you¡¯ve overdone it. And it¡¯s worth knowing that the tea can be made totally gluten-free, too.

Address: The Goring Hotel, 15 Beeston Place, London, SW1W 0JW
Price: From ¡ê50 per person; from ¡ê62 with a glass of Bollinger

Afternoon tea at Dean Street Townhouse

Best for: soaking up the buzz of Soho

There¡¯s a particularly lovely, old-world glow that whooshes around you when you enter Dean Street Townhouse. Perhaps it¡¯s the leaded windows that make the room seem like a throwback to Dickensian London, or the single candles flickering in Wee Willie Winkie-style brass holders on every table, or the clink-clink-clink of silver on china. Or perhaps, more than all this, it¡¯s the notion that you¡¯ve ducked out of the humdrum for a while; afternoon tea here feels comforting and fun, like you¡¯re joining the others living it up in Soho at 4pm on a Tuesday.

Tea is served in the lounge, with its handsome velvet arm chairs in sage green and ketchup red, jade-painted wooden panelling, jazz soundtrack and curated art ¨C the collection in Dean Street includes pieces by Tracey Emin, Peter Blake, Fiona Banner and Mat Collishaw, alongside a number of emerging artists such as illustrator Dan Hillier. The Collet Brut Champagne (if you¡¯re boozing) comes in a cut-glass coupe, the tea ¨C of which there are 10 varieties from lapsang souchong to rooibos ¨C in black-and-white floral-print Burleigh Pottery (a special commission for the Soho House group). The scones are fluffy, the Burford Brown-egg-and-mayonnaise sandwiches dainty and the cakes brilliantly retro: chocolate Swiss roll, mini Victoria sponges with strawberries and cream, Battenberg in hot pink and egg-yolk yellow, tooth-rasping lemon tart with a blueberry on top.

But most delicious of all is the laid-back atmosphere. Around you are thirtysomething couples sharing bottles of ros¨¦, media types getting creative over cappuccinos, and groups of friends pondering another round of G&Ts. Come for afternoon tea in the lounge, move on to a cocktail or two at the bar and maybe even make an evening of it by checking into the townhouse for the night. You are in Soho after all.

Address: Dean Street Townhouse, 69 ¨C 71 Dean St, Soho, London W1D 3SE
Price: Afternoon tea ¡ê31; Champagne afternoon tea with a glass of Collet Brut NV ¡ê42

The Connaught

Afternoon tea at The Connaught

Best for: tea lovers

Doormen in top hats stand sentinel by the ever-revolving doors of The Connaught, which deposit guests into the hallway of one of London¡¯s smartest hotels. With its quiet elegance, sense of timelessness and British sensibility, there are few places quite like it. That said, the arrival of French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten and his international flair has relaxed the rules a little, doing away with formalities such as dress codes and allotted time slots.

The restaurant Jean-Georges at The Connaught was refurbished last year, and the new afternoon tea summer menu was launched in June this year. Gone is the overwhelming choice of 16 jams with your scones, which are now served simply with Cornish clotted cream, homemade preserve and lemon curd. Sandwiches are classic picnic favourites (coronation chicken, cucumber) and the patisserie stand displays the handiwork of pastry chef Nicolas Rouzaud, highlights of which include an irresistible chocolate fondue with seasonal fruit and a bite-sized pavlova. At first, we were disappointed to be served tea with tea bags (rather than loose leaf), but a conspiratorial waiter let us in on a secret; the Connaught kitchen hand-fills its own tea bags. They resemble tiny pillowcases and are made from Egyptian cotton, without plastic, glue or staples, for maximum freshness, flavour and sustainability. It turns out that most (likely more sophisticated) guests prefer not to pick tea leaves out of their teeth. If you like your tea strong enough to fuel rocket ships, ask for extra leaves ¨C the staff will happily oblige. Try to get a table in the front section of the restaurant, where light filters through the stained-glass windows by Parisian artist Jean-Michel Othoniel and you get a great view of passers-by. Anna Prendergast

Address: The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, London W1K 2AL
Price: From ¡ê55 per person

Afternoon Tea at Berners Tavern

Best for: glitz and glamour

When the brains behind a restaurant are hotelier Ian Schrager (the man behind Studio 54) and chef Jason Atherton (the Michelin-starred chef behind Pollen Street Social and Social Eating House), it¡¯s obvious the Berners Tavern was never going to be a wallflower. The London Edition hotel arrived in Fitzrovia with a bang back in 2013, and its restaurant quickly became its heart. It¡¯s fed A-listers (Rita Ora, George Clooney), fashion icons (Erin O¡¯Connor, Jourdan Dunn) and royalty (Meghan Markle¡¯s known to be a fan). Shimmy past the sharp-suited doormen, across the imposing colonnaded lobby of the hotel, and you¡¯ll find yourself in a room festooned with paintings hung in gilt-edged frames and oversized, over-the-top chandeliers hanging from an 18ft-high stuccoed ceiling.

And now, they¡¯ve just shaken up the weekend routine: it¡¯s out with brunch, in with afternoon tea. You could be loading up your scones next to a group enjoying a lavish four-course lunch, or another arriving for afternoon cocktails. But whatever you¡¯re here for, first things first: Champagne. As soon as you¡¯ve sat down, over trundles a suave waiter pushing a trolley laden with chilled Ruinart.

The food itself could almost get away with playing second fiddle to the setting ¨C but it¡¯s just as impressive. Attentive waiters roam the room wielding giant silver teapots, topping up the leaves in your tea (there¡¯s a concise choice of four blends from the Rare Tea Company; two black, one green and one herbal) before the three tiers arrive. An obligatory cucumber sandwich is livened up with dill and zingy whipped goat¡¯s curd, but the real savoury highlights are a buttery croissant stuffed with smoked salmon and creamy horseradish and a wafer-thin crostini piled high with beef tartare and pickled beetroot. So good that you¡¯ll definitely agree to the offer of a second helping. As for the cakes: a pillowy soft choux bun is filled with Earl Grey-and-orange cream, next to a raspberry macaroon and wedge of bitter chocolate delice. Scones (fruity and plain) are kept warm under a silver cloche and served with dainty ramekins of clotted cream and strawberry jam.

If we needed yet another excuse to visit Berners Tavern, this is i

0 %
0 %
0 %
0 %
0 %
0 %

Average Rating

5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *