Londons Sanderson hotel celebrates the avant-garde and their afternoon tea experience is a suitably magical affair. With menus disguised as vintage books and sugar cubes dispensed from a music box, The Mad Hatters tea offers a whimsical take on the classic sandwich and cake selections. Colourful sun-dried tomato and spinach breads sit alongside marshmallow mushrooms and individual tick-tock Victoria sponges. Traditionalists can still enjoy delicious sweet and savoury scones but dont miss out on the Jelly Wonderland, a selection of fruit jellies set in original Victorian moulds, served at your table.
The Mad Hatters Tea at Sanderson London, £35 per person
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10 best afternoon teas on the coast
Dedicated followers of fashion will love the Prêt-à-Portea. Updated each season to reflect the fashion worlds latest trends, this afternoon tea replaces the traditional scones and jam with delicate cakes, biscuits and fancies fashioned into miniature versions of some of the must have items of the season. Enjoy a pair of Manolo Blahnik pink cake pumps filled with gianduja cream or a green YSL Cabas Victoria sponge handbag, all washed down with the finest loose-leaf teas served in chic Paul Smith china.
Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley, £39 per person or £49 with a glass of champagne
Winner of Best Afternoon Tea in London in 2012, tea at The Athenaeum in Mayfair is the perfect place to unwind after an afternoon spent hitting the shops on nearby Bond Street. We love the addition of traditional crumpets served alongside the freshly baked scones and for those with a sweet tooth, opt for the Regent’s Park Honey Tea which includes a glass of Honey Fizz, a complimentary pot of Regent’s Park Honey and honey inspired treats such as honey macaroons and cheesecake.
Afternoon tea at The Athenaeum , £29.50 per person or £39.50 for the Regent’s Park Honey Tea
Afternoon tea should be a treat, and for those looking for a spectacular setting in which to scoff your scones, look no further than the beautiful Apsleys restaurant at The Lanesborough hotel. The Venetian style dining room, with it’s glass roof and plush upholstery is a glamourous destination for their delicious tea of cucumber sandwiches, scones and homemade preserves. Warning, you may never want to leave!
Afternoon tea at The Lanesborough, £38 per person or £48 with a glass of champagne
For the quintessential English afternoon tea, the art deco splendour of Claridges cannot be beaten. It’s the combination of a stunning setting, live piano music and the signature jade and white striped china, the culinary equivalent of a Tiffany blue bag. With over 40 teas to choose from, exquisite sweet pastries and their raisin and apple scones slathered with clotted cream, it is no wonder that early booking is recommended. Throughout the year Claridges also offer seasonally themed teas such as the strawberry-tinged tennis tea in June to coincide with the Wimbledon championship.
Afternoon tea at Claridges, £40 per person or £51 with a glass of champagne
Stepping inside The Glade room at Sketch is like entering an enchanted forest with their woodland murals and vintage wooden furniture, and this is the setting for one of London’s least traditional yet utterly delicious afternoon teas. Traditional flavours have been stretched to their limits (where else would the egg sandwiches be made with quails eggs and caviar) and the pastries and macaroons are the perfect canvas for an eclectic mix of flavours such as tapioca pudding with a pomegranate coulis and coconut and white chocolate lollipops. This afternoon tea is an explosion of taste and colour and will have to be seen to be believed.
Afternoon tea at Sketch, £34 per person or £46 with a glass of champagne
Sometimes only chocolate will do, and for the ultimate cocoa hit this is the afternoon tea for you. Following the traditional selection of finger sandwiches, an array of chocolate pastries and cakes are served including a chocolate creme brûlée infused with chilli, a chocolate and peanut tart with salted caramel and a flourless chocolate sponge. Even the scones contain chocolate chips and are served with cream and chocolate spread.
Chocolate afternoon tea at The Landmark, £42 per person
Part of the charm of afternoon tea is that it invokes a bygone age of elegant ladies in grand stately homes taking tea, very Downtown Abbey. The cosy tea room at Browns allows you to play out such nostalgic fantasies with it’s original wood panelling, roaring fireplaces and Jacobean finishes. Curl up in one of the cosy armchairs and enjoy the delicious scones and sandwiches whilst sipping Brown’s own blend of tea, all of which are continuously replenished. How very civilised.
Afternoon tea at Browns Hotel, £39.50 per person or £49.50 with a glass of champagne
Kettners has been a Soho institution since 1867, and is synonymous with pleasure, cake and cocktails - no wonder these stunning Georgian walls used to play host to Oscar Wilde. There is a distinctly British feel to the afternoon tea served here, pretty French pastries are replaced by Bakewell tarts, bread and butter puddings and classic scones. Best of all there are a selection of afternoon tea cocktails to wash down all that cake; the Earl Grey Mar-tea-ni and G&Tea are both worth a try.
Afternoon tea at Kettners, £18.67 (after the year Kettners opened) per person or £27 with a glass of champagne
One Aldwych presents a fresh and floral twist on the classic afternoon tea, to celebrate the coming of spring and the Chelsea Flower Show.
Everything on the menu, which includes sandwiches, scones, a savoury tart and panna cotta, is made in-house. Among the bouquet of flavours are wild garlic (in chicken and mayonnaise sandwiches), lavender (in brioches), violet (in panna cotta) and elderflower (in jam for the scones).
Travel editor Adrienne Wyper found her Sweet Lavender Martini 'absolutely sublime'.
Floral afternoon tea at One Aldwych, £26.50 per person or £35 with a floral martini or glass of champagne