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Top 5 best-value London hotel afternoon teas.

by Rajul on May 17, 2011

Note: the article below was published in 2011.  We’ve since posted an up-to-date rundown of top 10 best-value London hotel afternoon teas in 2013 with lovely photos.

This blog recently looked at London hotel afternoon teas to explore whether they are an overpriced indulgence or a value-for-money treat.  We also listed the top 17 hotel afternoon teas in the capital based on the in-depth anonymous inspections carried out by the UK Tea Guild.

Today we delve deeper and compare this top 17 in terms of price to find the top 5 best-value London hotel afternoon teas. This is even more essential now that London hotel afternoon tea prices are apparently on the rise.

Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair is a previous Tea Guild “best London tea” winner (2009) and still makes the “most commended teas” shortlist (below)

A summary of our research data can be found in the following table:

Hotel Price (p.person)* Distinguishing Features
Claridge’s £35.00- £55.00 Choice of over thirty teas from around the world. Named this year’s ‘Best Afternoon Tea in London’ for the second time since 2006.
Brown’s Hotel £38.00- £52.50 Voted Tea Guild’s ‘Top London Afternoon tea’ 2009.  Opulent.
Grosvenor House Park Room & Library £32.50- £45.50 Guests can take tea within the regal setting of a stately home overlooking Hyde Park.
Sofitel London St James £24.50- £29.50 Elegantly feminine decor in the Hotel’s Rose Lounge. Closed until 30/09/11.
The Athenaeum £28.50- £39.00 Guests can take tea in the Garden Room, overlooking the hotel’s unique ‘Living Wall’ – a wall home to 260 types of plant, many of which are rare.
The Chesterfield Mayfair £23.50- £34.50 Offers a special ‘Chocolate Lovers Tea’ for those with a sweet tooth.
The Connaught £35.00- £55.00 Chelsea Floral Afternoon Tea served 16th may- 5th June.
The Dorchester £36.50- £46.50 Offers a selection of rare teas.
The Goring £35.00- £45.00 Tea is served on a terrace overlooking the Goring family’s private garden.
The Lanesborough £35.00- £80.00 Won UK Tea Guild’s ‘Best Afternoon Tea in London’ 2008. Top price is for Prestige Grand Marquee Champagne, Krug Grand Cuvee.
The Langham £38.00- £50.00 Guests can enjoy the hotel’s ‘Uber Tea Selection’ at supplemented prices, including China’s very rare Pre Rain Jun Shuan Silver Needle Yellow Tea.
The Milestone £29.50- £37.50 Ruinart Seduction also available for two people at £100 – includes a half bottle of Ruinart Champagne.
The Montagu at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill £28.00- £35.00 Afternoon tea overlooking Portman Square’s picturesque gardens.
The Montague on The Gardens £21.50- £28.50 Little Prince and Princess Tea for kids (featuring jam and peanut butter sandwiches), also available at £11.50.
The Park Lane Hotel £32.00- £38.00 Afternoon tea in an art deco setting, accompanied by a live harpist.
The Savoy £40.50- £53.00 Guests can take tea in the grandiose Thames Foyer, with music by the hotel’s resident pianist.
The Ritz £40.00- £52.00 For birthdays, guests can order the Celebration Tea with Champagne for £62.00, which includes a special cake delivered to the table.

* Lowest price is for standard afternoon tea, higher price is usually for the hotel’s most expensive champagne tea.  Pricing was researched on or around 2nd May 2011 and may have changed since.

The Savoy’s afternoon tea has also been given the seal of approval by the UK Tea Guild

As you can see, prices for standard afternoon tea average out at around £35, but value is about more than just price.  So we’ve picked out our own top five best value afternoon teas below, based on a balance of price and the overall quality of the experience (which is of course subjective).

1. The Montague on the Gardens – At £21.50 for afternoon tea and £28.50 for champagne tea, luxury boutique hotel Montague on the Gardens has the lowest prices in the Tea Guild’s commended list by a significant margin.  But what really distinguishes it is the wide range of traditional and exotic teas, finger sandwiches and pastries.  It’s also a great place to take the kids, with a Little Prince and Princess tea priced at just £11.50.  Superb value in a fantastic setting overlooking a private garden.

Check rates at the Montague on the Gardens

The gorgeous conservatory setting in which you’ll enjoy arguably the best-value afternoon tea in London at The Montague on the Gardens

2. Claridge’s – Any discussion of London’s best afternoon teas must include this year’s Tea Guild winner.  While it might be slightly higher up the price scale, afternoon tea at Claridge’s is worth the money due to its vast selection of over thirty globe-trotting blends of tea and the high levels of service from the hotel’s well-trained staff.  It’s the ideal place to go for a celebration or treat in stunning Art Deco surroundings.

Check rates at Claridge’s

Claridge’s afternoon tea was ranked number 1 by the UK Tea Guild this year which described it as “a very enjoyable and relaxing tea experience in splendid surroundings.”

3. The Athenaeum – Where else can you take afternoon tea with a view of a modern masterpiece of horticultural art?  The hotel’s ‘Living Wall’ features over 260 types of plant, creating a uniquely relaxing and sublime experience for guests.  At £28.50 for afternoon tea, the price is pretty good too.  There’s also a good deal of menu innovation which we love, including an intriguing floral-inspired Evergreen Tea and a sumptuous Regent’s Park Honey Tea.  This also happens to be London’s most kid-friendly hotel.

Check rates at the Athenaeum Hotel

Afternoon tea drinkers at The Athenaeum enjoy views over the hotel’s unique “Living Wall”

4. The Langham. – It’s expensive yes, but I must admit I have a soft spot for the Langham, after experiencing the hotel’s decadent Wonderland Tea at first hand not long ago.  The experience was unforgettable because I found the setting both inspiring and relaxed – a difficult balancing act.  We never felt rushed and gentle live piano music created a very chilled-out ambience.  I also loved the wide selection of Chinese teas too.

Check rates at the Langham Hotel

The finger sandwiches in the Langham’s Wonderland Tea are based on well-executed classic combinations and there are sumptuous cakes too

5. The Chesterfield – The Chesterfield Mayfair offers an excellent afternoon tea at an attractive price tag, starting at around £23.50 per person.  Anyone with a particularly sweet tooth can indulge themselves with the hotel’s creative ‘Chocolate Lover’s Tea’, which includes hot chocolate or chocolate milk shake, chocolate scones, pastries and even a Chesterfield luxury chocolate bar!  This is also the only Mayfair hotel to win a prestigious AA “Inspector’s Choice” Award and so the service is impeccable too.

Check rates at the Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel

The Chesterfield Mayfair’s afternoon tea (taken in its conservatory) is one of the most underrated in London and offers great value for money

Is London hotel afternoon tea worth the money?

Afternoon tea in London has always been pricey.  But I believe it can be justified as an occasional treat on the following grounds:

This painting in the Rose Lounge at Sofitel St James can be enjoyed while enjoying the hotel’s delicious afternoon tea (listed in the UK Tea Guild’s selection above) accompanied by harp music
  • You get a truly decadent luxury experience in an often stunning setting – and it’s much cheaper than actually staying at the hotel!
  • The great service turns a celebration or treat into an unforgettable occasion: the perfect gift for your mother, sister or grandmother!
  • Afternoon tea can be seen as two meals in one.  Whenever indulging I’ve skipped lunch and dinner and taken a long walk afterwards – you’ll eat to your heart’s content without feeling guilty!
  • It is a real conoisseur’s experience in terms of the cakes and pastries as well as the teas – afternoon tea is the ideal stage for the world’s best pastry chefs to strut their stuff.  Many of their creations are true art!
  • Immerse yourself in history.  Afternoon tea’s distinguished past makes it the ideal way to transport yourself back to another era.  For lovers of history and tradition, the experience is absolutely priceless.
Kitchen staff at The Langham who were helping to prepare afternoon tea in 1910

Do make sure you choose one of the UK Tea Guild’s shortlisted hotels listed above and you won’t go too far wrong!

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Photo credits: Claridge’s Hotel, Brown’s Hotel, The Savoy, Montague on the Gardens Hotel, The Athenaeum Hotel, Langham London Hotel, Chesterfield Mayfair Hotel, Sofitel St James.

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