NB: the post below was published in 2013. We’ve since done a more up-to-date rundown of top 10 London hotel afternoon teas in 2014/15 with up-to-date prices and contact info.
It’s that time of year when the annual Tea Guild Awards come round again and we’ve done our usual added-value research from their findings to help you track down the best – and best-value – London hotel afternoon teas.
Dubbed by some as the Oscars of the afternoon tea world, these awards have been rewarding establishments that excel at delivering quality experiences for almost three decades. This year The Goring (tea pictured above) gained the highest honour – Top London Afternoon Tea 2013 – while 22 London venues were given prestigious Awards of Excellence.
These awards give you a good idea of where to spend your hard-earned cash for the ultimate afternoon tea delight. To help you out further, we’ve researched up-to-date prices for all 23 venues (you’ll find our full research at the end of this piece). Note that the prices reflect the basic afternoon tea to our best knowledge and not a champagne or premium afternoon tea.
Below we take a closer look at the top ten hotels of the bunch (all shortlisted by the Tea Guild) which offer the most affordable luxury afternoon tea experiences – listed from the cheapest upwards.
1. The Royal Garden Hotel – £24.00
The hands down winner at just £24 for the hotel’s signature Kensington Tea, the Royal Garden Hotel offers superb value with its affordable afternoon tea. The setting is simply sublime overlooking peaceful Kensington Gardens, and with further ambience provided by a live pianist you’d be hard-pressed to find a better-value afternoon tea experience.
2. The Montague on the Gardens – £25.00
A close second, the Montague on the Gardens is the perfect choice for anyone visiting the nearby British Museum. To provide even greater value this year and to tempt museum patrons in to enjoy cake and tea, the hotel is offering afternoon tea and a ticket to the museum’s popular exhibition, ‘Life and death in Pompeii and Herculaneum’ for just £35 per person. This special offer is valid from 28th March to 29th September.
3. The Intercontinental London Park Lane – £28.00
Served in the regal Wellington Lounge, afternoon tea at the Intercontinental Park Lane is a great way to round off a day of sightseeing while you take in the views looking out over the famous Wellington Arch. In addition to the hotel’s Wellington Tea, a special Botanical Tea and a Royal Tea (served with a Dubbonet cocktail) are also available.
4. Sofitel London St James – £28.00
Afternoon tea at Sofitel London St James is served in the Rose Lounge – an elegant yet homely drawing room style setting decorated in pink and cream. The air of sophistication is enhanced by a live harp accompaniment, making for a wonderfully relaxing afternoon tea experience.
5. The Athenaeum – £29.50
Not just great value but also last year’s winner of the Top London Afternoon Tea, it’s hard to go wrong with a visit to The Athenaeum. Tea is taken in the sumptuous Garden Room with views of the hotel’s unique ‘Living Wall’ horticultural installation. Guests can choose between the traditional Evergreen Afternoon Tea and the delicious Regents Park Honey Tea, which comes with a glass of Honey Fizz. Delicious!
6. The Capital Hotel – £29.50
Situated in the heart of Knightsbridge, the Capital Hotel is a popular choice for shoppers at Harrods and Harvey Nichols looking to rest their feet in style. The Capital Hotel’s afternoon tea features a wide choice of teas, homemade pastries and jams made on-site by the hotel’s pastry chef.
7. The Royal Horseguards Hotel – £30.00
For £30 you can enjoy an exquisite afternoon tea with London Eye views, accompanied by the soothing strains of the resident harpist. As well as traditional afternoon tea there is cream tea for under £17 and a £12 mini-tea for kids including juice and a colouring book. An extensive tea menu is featured including teas from India, Sri Lanka and China.
8. The Park Lane Hotel – £31.00
The Park Lane Hotel’s Art Deco Palm Lounge is the setting for afternoon tea, and a superb setting it is too. The ambience will take you back in time to the early 20th century, while the tea offerings are varied, ranging from Earl Grey and Darjeeling to Blackcurrant and Hibiscus and Gunpowder Green Tea. Add live harp accompaniment and plenty of scope for dietary requirements and it’s easy to see why it received an award of excellence.
9. Four Seasons Park Lane – £32.00
The Amaranto Lounge was designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon and provides a stunning yet understated backdrop to your afternoon tea experience. The Four Seasons Park Lane also offers something a bit different in the form of ‘La Dolce Vita’ – afternoon tea inspired by Italian flavours, including foccacia, Parma ham and brushetta: “ottimo!” as they say in Milan!
10. The Chesterfield Mayfair – £32.50
The Chesterfield Mayfair has won an Award of Excellence for several years running and offers a high level of choice at reasonable prices. For children there’s the Little Prince and Princess Afternoon Tea, while The Chocolate Lover’s Tea is sure to delight chocoholics with its chocolate pastries, chocolate scones and more. We recently also reviewed the wonderful sharing platters on offer at the hotel’s friendly English pub-style bar.
That completes our rundown! Keep reading London Hotels Insight since our bloggers constantly review the top London hotel afternoon teas.
To help you reach your own conclusions and find the afternoon tea best suited to your needs and budget, the table below provides up-to-date prices (as of 17th April 2013) together with further details of all teas that received the Tea Guild’s Award of Excellence in 2013.
We hope you enjoy your afternoon tea experience! Remember you can contact us for tips or use our bespoke booking service to negotiate a free afternoon tea with your stay (we can’t guarantee a hotel will grant you this but are happy to try on your behalf if you’re staying more than one night).
|Price (per person for standard afternoon tea, checked on 17/04/2013)||Comments|
|The Goring Hotel||£37.50/ £47.50 for Bollinger Tea||Winner of the 2013 Top London Afternoon Tea Award|
|Brown’s Hotel||£39.50/ £49.50 for Champagne Afternoon Tea/ £52.50 for Rose Champagne Afternoon Tea||2009 winner of the Top London Afternoon Tea Award|
|Claridge’s||£40.00/ £51.00 for Champagne Afternoon Tea/ £55.00 for Seasonal Afternoon Tea||2011 winner of Top London Afternoon Tea. Almost 40 teas from around the world.|
|Corinthia Hotel London||£39.00/ £49.00 for Laurent-Perrier NV Afternoon Tea/ £58.00 for Laurent-Perrier Rose NV Afternoon Tea||Cream tea also available for £21.00 per person. Served in the lobby lounge overlooking maple courtyard and illuminated by Baccarat Chandelier|
|Four Seasons Hotel Park Lane||£32.00/ £46.00 for Champagne Afternoon Tea||Italian inspired ‘La Dolce Vita’ afternoon tea also available|
|Fortnum & Mason||£40.00/ £42.00 for Savoury Afternoon Tea/ £44.00 for High Tea||Served with either Fortnum’s Classic Blend Tea or Single Estate Tea (extra charge applies)|
|Grosvenor House||£34.50/ £45.50 for Champagne Afternoon Tea||Special ‘Grover’s Tea Time’ afternoon tea available for children (£12.50|
|Sofitel London St James||£28.00/ £32.00 with champagne cocktail||Served in the elegant Rose Lounge|
|The Athaenaeum||£29.50/ £36.50 with a glass of Rose Petal Champagne||2012 winner of the Top London Afternoon Tea Award. Special Regent’s Park Honey Tea also available for £39.00|
|The Capital Hotel||£29.50/ £42.50 with glass of Jaquart Champagne||Served in the sitting room, with fresh pastries and jams|
|The Chesterfield||£32.50/ £39.50 for Champagne Tea||Little Prince and Princess Afternoon Tea available for £12.50|
|The Connaught||£38.50/ £45.00 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne||Setting overlooks architect Tadao Ando’s water feature ‘silence’|
|The Dorchester||£41.00/ £51.00 for Champagne Afternoon Tea/||Vintage Afternoon Tea on the balcony, and Chelsea Flower Show Floral Tea (20-26th May) also available|
|The Intercontinental London Park Lane||£28.00 for Wellington Tea/ £38.00 for Botanical Tea/ £38.00 for Royal Tea||Ideally placed for visits to Buckingham Palace. Afternoon tea location overlooks Wellington Arch|
|The Lanesborough||£38.00/ £45.00 for Champagne Afternoon Tea/ £85.00 for Prestige 2000 Krug Champagne Tea||Gluten & dairy free afternoon teas available|
|The Langham||£40.00/ £52.00 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier NV||Served in the hotel’s attractive Palm Court|
|The Park Lane Hotel||£31.00/ £41.00 for Art Deco Afternoon Tea (with champagne)||Served in an art deco lounge that the Tea Guild described as ‘one of the most wonderful settings in which to take afternoon tea in London’|
|The Montague on the Gardens||£25.00/ £15.00 for Scones Afternoon Tea||Little Prince and Princess Tea also available for £12.50|
|The Royal Garden Hotel||£24.00 for the Kensington Tea/ £34.00 for Royal Tea (with champagne)||Location overlooks Kensington Gardens. Live pianist accompaniment|
|The Royal Horseguards Hotel||£30.00/ £40.00 for Laurent Perrier Afternoon Tea/ £55.00 for the Laurent Perrier Champagne Flight||Offers views out over the London Eye, with accompaniment by a harpist|
|The Savoy||£42.50/ £54.00 with a glass of champagne||Served in the Thames Foyer with accompaniment by the hotel’s resident pianist|
|The Ritz||£45.00/ £57.00 for Champagne Afternoon Tea/ £67.00 for Celebration Tea with champagne||Served in the hotel’s prestigious Palm Court. Gentlemen must wear jacket and tie|
|The Wolseley||£22.50/ £32.50 Champagne Afternoon Tea||All scones and pastries made freshly on the premises|
Two hotels which didn’t make the shortlist but deserving an honourable mention for being affordable and full of luxury charm are The Beaufort Hotel and The Cavendish, both of which our bloggers have reviewed.
As previously featured here, all guests at The Beaufort receive a free cream tea included in their room rate (as well as unlimited drinks from the self-service bar). Afternoon tea at The Cavendish is only £18 per person with unlimited re-fills. Both make for a relaxing afternoon in central London.
So go forth and drink tea!
Photo credits: Goring Hotel, Montague on the Gardens, InterContinental Park Lane, Sofitel St James, Athenaeum Hotel, Capital Hotel, Chesterfield Mayfair, Four Seasons Park Lane, Sheraton Park Lane, LHI bloggers Jules and Saloni.