Wyld Afternoon tea, Dandelyan Bar at Mondrian Hotel
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Be gone, boring cucumber sandwiches – the Dandelyan and its lipstick-pink leather couches stretch the traditional afternoon tea inclusions into something far more fascinating. Case in point: the elderflower compressed cucumber and burnt herb cream sarnies. If you’re taking tea with a tipple, Dandelyan has cocktails with a botanical slant intended to pair perfectly with every decadent course.
Céleste at The Lanesborough
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The vaulted glass ceiling, cameo-style reliefs, sizeable chandeliers and pale-blue and gold colour scheme of the grand and classic dining room at Céleste makes for an impressive, light-filled setting for a leisurely afternoon tea. The menu has a lengthy tea selection to choose from, including iced teas, as well as rainbow-hued, expertly crafted French pastries in addition to all the expected trimmings of sandwich slivers and scones. Did we mention it’s home to Michelin-starred talent?
Scandal Water, The London EDITION
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Contrary to the very civilised character a refined afternoon tea suggest, the 19th-century reputation for the brewed beverage was somewhat different, earning it the nickname “scandal water” due to its uncanny ability to lubricate extended sessions of gossiping. At The London EDITION, this tradition is continued. Expect a pairing of five separate teas and their matching morsels, including shortbreads and miso-cured salmon sandwiches.
Afternoon Tea at The Lounge, Bulgari Hotel London
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In keeping with the opulent, jewel-coloured surrounds, opt for The Grand Bulgari Tea List when dining at the Bulgari Hotel. Pouring some of the world’s most unique specialty teas, from a Darjeeling found in the Himalayan foothills to Emerald Green Gyokuro Precious Dew, the choice of Japanese aristocrats, there’s also a tempting range of flavoured teas. Highlights include the indulgent Bulgari Caramel and Chocolate, which is like liquid crème brulée.
Afternoon tea, Claridge’s
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True tea devotees will revel in the menu at this five-star Mayfair institution. There are 24 loose-leaf varieties, ranging from regional English classics such as Cornish Earl Grey to the more unique blends such as Guava Smoked Mountain Moto from the Thyolic Mountains of Malawi. Of course, scones with clotted Cornish cream make an appearance, as well as delicate finger sandwiches with poached Scottish salmon.
Flowerbx Afternoon Tea, Balthazar Restaurant
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There requisite Devonshire clotted cream and strawberry preserve-smeared buttermilk scones are on hand but you’ll also find a number of flavour twists. The floral theme is prominent in cakes such as coconut and yuzu hydrangea and the lemon and blueberry dahlia. With names like these, it will come as no surprise to discover these delicacies are expertly shaped as their namesake flowers, too.
Rodin Afternoon Tea, Rosewood London
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Forget the impressive array of galleries dotted around London – Rosewood London’s afternoon tea has almost more masterpieces than them all (and these artworks are edible). Channelling some of the world’s leading artists, this Art Afternoon Tea serves up delights as sculptural as they are sweet. Painter and sculptor Rodin is pastry chef Mark Perkins’ latest muse, with finger food inspired by the former’s famed creations such as The Thinker and The Kiss.
Charles and the Chesterfield Afternoon Tea, The Chesterfield Mayfair
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Any sweet tooth will have swooned at the array treats included in both the book and film version of the Roald Dahl classic, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. This afternoon tea channels that same enthusiasm – you might even spot a packet of Gobstoppers or a Scrumptious Bar lurking among your “fizzy lifting cake” or “white chocolate golden egg” pastries. The afternoon tea is also available in vegetarian and gluten-free options.
Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, Fortnum & Mason
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Is there anything more British than taking tea in a salon that’s been graced by Her Majesty? A classic, refined offering, this long-running service has truly perfected the art of proper tea time over its 90-year history: expect tea from Fortnum’s, which dates back to 1720, freshly baked scones paired with either traditional strawberry preserve or the more unusual blackcurrant and cassis curd.
Science Afternoon Tea, The Ampersand Hotel
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Being neighbours with the South Kensington Science Museum has inspired the pastry chefs of The Ampersand Hotel to be extremely experimental. Your table is likely to look as much like a scientist’s workbench as a tasty afternoon snack, thanks to menu items such as mini dinosaur biscuits and milk chocolate fossils, buried in a chocolate “soil”, the hilariously – and perhaps offputtingly – named “petri dish” of prosecco mint jelly, kiwi, lime and pineapple jam. Who said science isn’t fun?
Oscar Wilde Lounge, Hotel Café Royal
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Afternoon tea at this storied London venue is a traditional affair. What sets it apart is the flamboyant, distracting sparkle of the gilded and mirrored setting; a regular former haunt of Oscar Wilde and host of other notables including Mick Jagger, Virginia Woolf and Winston Churchill. Should you want to take any of the teas home, they’re also available for sale.
Tipsy Tea at Mr Foggs’s Residence
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The interiors hark back to Jules Verne’s adventurous epic Around the World in 80 Days and the tea experience is just as whimsical. At this immersive, experiential afternoon tea, waiters stay in character (that of Victorian England where such a meal was quite the affair) and the tea is something a little different. Along with tea-infused vermouth, you’ll find a few generous splashes of Hendricks in your teapot of “G & Tea”. You’ll also be treated to the dainty cucumber finger sandwiches, as well as scones and tiny Victoria sponges.
Sherlock Holmes Afternoon Tea, Taj 51
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Enthusiasts of the legendary fictional resident of 211B Baker Street won’t be able to resist sitting down to this inventive spread. Each inclusion is meticulously Sherlock Holmes themed – from the coffee-and-Bailey’s-infused Moriarty’s Bomb cheesecake to the smoked caramel mousse of Sherlock Holmes Smoky Cigar pastry. The space itself is also sprinkled with Sherlock-esque oddities, including magnifying glasses, wooden pipes and, of course, a tweed deerstalker’s hat.
Afternoon tea, Millie’s at The Ned
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The former Midland Bank building was given new life in 2012 when the disused property took on a new occupation as luxury member’s club, incorporating 12 eateries and bars, a lavish hammam, spa, gym and even an on-site grooming salon. Drag out your days in the sprawling complex by slipping into Millie’s Bar, where afternoon tea includes the staples (scones and sandwiches) on millennial pink lounges and, if you fancy, a glass of sparkling or two – a flute of Perrier-Jouët NV Champagne will add £10 ($18) to your bill.
Afternoon Tea, Dominique Ansel Bakery, London
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Like a beautiful garden in bloom, the garden-themed afternoon tea at Dominique Ansel’s awarded bakery flourishes from seed to sapling and beyond in one sitting. Although the famous cronut isn’t included on the tiered tray, there are plenty of other unique mouthfuls that bear the Ansel trademark – a solid strawberry that collapses into jam and clotted cream for spreading on your scone, along with a brown butter financier cake topped with a rose ganache and a flutter of fresh rose petals.
The Langham, London
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You’d be hard pressed to find a tea menu as detailed and as varied as the one at The Langham. Specialty varieties include exotic blends such as the Southern Indian, winter-harvested Nilgiri Frost and the delicate, jasmine-scented Yin Hao Lotus. The tea list also includes the world’s rarest tea, Jin Jun Mei, which is gathered from the forests of the Fujian Province in Eastern China. Not sure which one to taste? A tea sommelier is on hand to help the process along.
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Lovers of contemporary art will find the Gallery especially alluring thanks to sketch’s over-the-top pink-on-pink interiors (complemented with exotic marble and brass), the original David Shrigley artworks cramming the walls and his quirky custom ceramics set at every table (read: #instaheaven). On your table you’ll find yet more whimsy: there are selections as tempting as eggs truffle gougere, pear bourdaloue tart and berriolette marshmallow. Tip: check out the bathrooms for a trip to the loo that feels like being transported to Outer Space.
Prêt-à-Portea, The Berkeley
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Not sure whether to shop or take tea on an afternoon in London? This Knightsbridge hotel covers both with its fashion-forward tea events. Head pastry chef Mourad Khiat’s clever “couture cakes” are rotated to reflect seasonal runway trends, lending every edible piece a truly sartorial feel. Previous creations have included a Miu Miu-inspired vanilla bikini biscuit, a Tom Ford stiletto of hot-pink royal icing and a chocolate biscuit base.
Traditional Afternoon Tea, The Ritz
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The Palm Court at central London’s The Ritz sets the scene splendidly for a spot of afternoon indulgence with its gold gilded walls, sparkling chandeliers, marble columns and elevated floral centrepieces. While you enjoy one of 18 types of loose-leaf tea and selection of sweets, the resident harpist and pianist will provide a soothing soundtrack to your almost-regal experience.