The Best Places to Take Tea in London

It’s hard to choose the best place to take tea in London. Should you take afternoon tea in the lush, sophisticated surroundings of London’s best hotels, with a view over London’s iconic landmarks or in Soho’s secret tea room? No matter the setting, you’ll spend afternoon tea enjoying tiny sandwiches, warm scones, tiny cakes and pots of jam and clotted cream.

29 Greek St, West End, London W1D 5DH, UK
While everyone and their mother (and aunt and grandmother) are on the waiting list to have afternoon tea at Brown’s or Claridge’s some time next April, head to Soho for the no-longer-a-secret-but-still-unknown tea room inside the Coach & Horses pub. Once you arrive, you’ll be shown the way under the bar and up a flight of stairs where, just like Alice, you’ll find yourself in a quaint square room in which teas, biscuits, and the like—all made fresh daily—are served in mismatched vintage china. Sit back, relax, and be a part of the “secret” show. You should reserve ahead, but a day or two will do.
Regent St, Carnaby, London W1B 5AH, UK
It’s no coincidence that walking around Liberty feels as if you’re exploring someone’s grand home; the department store’s founder, Arthur Lasenby Liberty, wanted to create that very feel, and so in 1875 settled on a Tudor-style building that featured a jumble of interconnecting rooms. A wooden staircase at one end connects the six floors, and a paper room sells stationery in the store’s iconic floral Liberty print, fashion and beauty halls, a cafe, and multiple branded treatment rooms. Still, it’s the florist’s shop outside that seems to provide the main draw; as any passing tourist will attest, its colourful array of blooms is highly Instagrammable.
160 Piccadilly, St. James's, London W1J 9EB, UK
It’s pronounced “Wool-zee,” and it’s a former showroom for the smart old cars that bear its name. Now a restaurant, it’s been restored to its original 1930s glamour with a gorgeous art deco slant. If you want a true taste of old Mayfair and St James—from the days when the streets were full of men in top hats carrying canes, and everyone had a gentleman’s gentleman—then a smart breakfast or lunch at the Wolseley can take you back in time. The food is classic British—and yes, that means there’s grilled kippers and kedgeree on the menu, as well as other retro dishes such as chicken Kiev—and the service is fabulous. Anything with eggs is a must—the souffle is particularly brilliant—and they also do a marvelous afternoon tea.
Bankside, London SE1 9TG, UK
It’s impossible to ignore the hulking 1950s architecture of the Tate Modern, slap-bang in the middle of the most-walked part of the South Bank. A visionary refurb of this former power station has resulted in an artistic behemoth with multiple gallery spaces (containing both free exhibitions and ticketed exhibitions), including the fantastic Turbine Hall for oversize installations. Outside, the Millennium Bridge leads over the Thames to the City and the great domed St. Paul’s Cathedral.
9 Conduit St, Mayfair, London W1S 2XG, UK
A gloriously eccentric venue, Sketch isn’t a restaurant so much as a collision of ideas, design, food, and frivolity in a large Mayfair townhouse. Its Parlour serves all day breakfast and then evening cocktails in an ambience that’s less Alice in Wonderland and more seriously deranged Hatter. The Gallery is designed by artist and comic genius David Shrigley, meaning that your afternoon tea with one-of-a-kind pastries and cakes come with a side order of wit and a pinch of bitter satire. Upstairs, the Lecture Room and Library delivers a Michelin-starred tasting menu, while there’s breakfast, brunch, and cocktails in the Glade. A trip to the bathroom involves sitting in your own individual egg; try not to be put off by the carpet of red wax oozing down the stairs on your way in.
1C Portland Pl, Marylebone, London W1B 1JA, UK
Ah, The Langham for tea? Excellent choice. You’ve dressed up, of course, and the top-hatted gentleman nods his approval before opening the door to a most glamorous afternoon tea. Tea in the Palm Court is an elegant affair. A jazz pianist provides perfect accompaniment to the clinking champagne glasses and china teacups. The discrete, well-trained staff floats among the tables delivering tray after tray of delectable sandwiches, cakes and scones. A tea sommelier stands at the ready to help you choose the perfect blend. You while away the afternoon piling feathery scones with clotted cream and preserves, sipping tea from Wedgwood cups and enjoying the the relaxed luxury of afternoon tea in Palm Court. Just when you think you can’t eat another bite, the dessert tray arrives bearing sweets almost too beautiful to eat. Almost.
6-7 Chandos Pl, Covent Garden, London WC2N 4HU, UK
Do you fancy tootling around London on a classic double-decker bus whilst sipping tea and eating pastries? Of course you do. BB Bakery adds wheels and a French twist to the tradition of afternoon tea. A uniformed driver zips past London’s iconic sights as you enjoy your tea. ...the London Eye, Houses of Parliament, Hyde Park and more. Book early and get a seat on the top deck for the best view and don’t forget to raise a cup to the Queen as you roll past Buckingham Palace. It’s only proper.
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