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.
When: Daily at 2.45pm, 3pm, 3.15pm, 3.30pm, 4.45pm, 5pm, 5.15pm and 5.30pm
Where: 181 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1A 1ER
The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at this Piccadilly institution was opened by the Queen herself, so you can't get much more of a recommendation than that. Fortnums has been trading in tea since the early 18th century so they know their stuff - their royal blend was created in 1902 for Edward VII.
How much: From £55.
When: Mon-Thurs 11.30am - 7pm; Fri/Sat 11am - 7pm and Sun 11.301m to 5.45pm.
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 £58 per person.
When: Daily at 11.30am, 1.30pm, 3.30pm, 5.30pm, and 7.30pm.
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.
When: Mon-Fri (3pm - 6.30pm); Sat/Sun (3.30pm - 6.30pm)
- 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 £39. 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 last year 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.
When: Monday-Friday between 2.30pm - 4.30pm
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.
When: 3-5pm every day.
Where: 17-21 Elizabeth St, Belgravia, London SW1W 9RP
Served out on the garden terrace, this is Ansel's first bakery to offer afternoon tea and he's chosen to follow the journey of a seed growing and blossoming into a flower as inspiration. Dishes include a squid ink choux and brown butter financier - so definitely not your trad tea.
How much: Starts at £42
When: Thursday-Sunday, at 2pm and 4.15pm.
Where: 20 Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PD
Step back in time for tea at Lyaness - well, as far back at the eighties anyway. There are devilled eggs and trifle on the menu, along sarnies like Coronation sweet potato and squash, crispy shallots and baby gem on walnut bread. Best of all it comes with their amazing paired cocktails.
How much: It's £58 for the cocktail tea (£38 for the booze-free option).
When: Thursday to Sunday, between 12pm and 5pm. Last sitting at 3:30pm
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.
When: Every Saturday from 12.01pm
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 Banksy, Yayoi Kusama and Rodin and we particularly love the look of the kids tea which features a painter's palette and paint tubes filled with jam and lemon curd.
How much: The adult tea starts at £60 - the children's is £35.
When: Mon-Fri 2:30 to 5:45 p.m. Sat/Sun 12pm to 5:45pm
Where: 30 Rupert St, London W1D 6DL
Taking tea at this Taiwan spot includes enjoying the full-blown Taiwanese tea ceremony. Savouries include Char Sui Girolles Puffs and, on the sweet side, there's Taiwanese Pineapple Cake among other treats.
How much: Starts at £32
When: Sat/Sun from 12-5pm.
- At The Rosebery in the Mandarin Oriental, you can choose from a wine, beer or even sake afternoon tea.
Subscribe to hear the latest from Hot Dinners