This is your ultimate guide to the best London afternoon teas, based on TripAdvisor data and our unique methodology. We’ve included pricing (as of 31/10/2014) and menu links. For the best afternoon teas, look no further!
Filling the vacuum left by the former UK Tea Guild
Afternoon tea is a ‘must do’ for London visitors seeking a quintessential part of English high-society culture. To experience the sacred ritual at its most elegant and sophisticated, the capital’s luxury hotels are the place to go.
With so many to choose from, picking your ideal afternoon tea experience (costing as much as £50/head) can be tricky. In previous years the UK Tea Guild used anonymous visits from which we compiled our annual list of the best afternoon teas in London, but these have been discontinued following the organisation’s rebranding as the UK Tea & Infusions Association. So we decided to create our own ranking system using a unique methodology.
How we identified the best afternoon teas in London…
We took TripAdvisor’s listings of afternoon tea venues in London as the basis. After excluding non-hotels or properties outside London proper, we then calculated the percentage of ‘excellent’ and ‘very good’ user ratings for each.
This enabled us to create a ranking of the top 10 teas based around these positive reviews. To ensure fairness, we excluded any hotels that had fewer than 10 reviews. And as a bonus to our readers we researched pricing too.
Below are the top 10 London hotel afternoon teas, in descending order. The first figure is total reviews received and the second is the number of reviews which were either ‘excellent’ or ‘very good’. This is then expressed as a percentage, rounded up. Things were close at the top, so we’ve included decimal places to separate the top three. Drum roll please as we count down our top 10…
#10 – Royal Horseguards Hotel – 22/18 – 82% excellent/very good
Afternoon tea at the Royal Horseguards Hotel is served on the terrace in fine weather, with views of the London Eye.
Alternatively you can take tea in the Lounge, with musical accompaniment from a harpist. The hotel’s signature Traditional Afternoon Tea is available for £30 and comes with finger sandwiches, savoury bites, fruit scones, handmade cakes and exquisite pastries. A children’s afternoon tea is also available for £12. LHI bloggers have had the pleasure of experiencing afternoon tea at the Royal Horseguards a couple of times and found it to be a truly memorable experience.
Price range: £17 – £55
#9 – The Wellesley – 17/14 – 82%
If you fancy something hip while you take your afternoon tea, head to The Wellesley’s Jazz Lounge.
This newcomer is already turning heads with its selection of teas chosen by connoisseur Leonardo Mattera, and pastries from chef Cristiano Paolini.
Price range: £35 – £80
#8 – The Milestone Hotel – 29/24 – 83%
For a touch of class with stunning traditional décor, check out The Milestone Hotel’s afternoon tea offering in the Park Lounge.
An open fireplace and comfortable living room furniture make it feel like taking tea with a rich aunt in the countryside, rather than a hotel in Central London. A Little Prince and Princess tea is available for £13.50. Read our review of The Milestone’s afternoon tea in the Park Lounge – it’s definitely a favourite of ours!
Price range: £36.50 – £110.00
#7 – The Savoy – 94/78 – 83%
When you hear the name Savoy, chances are you immediately think of grandiose splendour in the heart of London. On that front, the hotel’s Thames Foyer afternoon tea doesn’t disappoint.
The Foyer is an airy, spacious affair with plenty of natural light. Your tea, finger sandwiches, scones and cakes will be accompanied by a live pianist. Be sure to try some of Executive Pastry Chef Ludwig Hely’s delicious treats.
Price Range: £50 – £69
#6 – The Goring – 202/176 – 87%
The Goring is the great granddaddy of afternoon tea in London, and over the past century the hotel has perfected it to an art form.
The Goring was the final winner of the Tea Guild’s Top London Afternoon Tea Award in 2013 – a sign of its continuing excellence. Tea can be taken in the Lounge Bar or the Terrace as you desire. Our friend A Lady in London recently sampled afternoon tea at The Goring and you can read her review here.
Price Range: £42.50 – £62.50
#5 – The Montcalm – 16/14 – 88%
Afternoon tea at The Montcalm in Marble Arch is the perfect end to a day of shopping on Oxford Street, with the hotel not far from Selfridges.
The surroundings are grand and ornate, while the tea itself is accompanied by a variety of finger sandwiches and scones with jam and cream.
Price Range – £28.50 – £36.50
#4 – The Berkeley – 34/30 – 88%
The Berkeley Hotel offers an exclusive afternoon tea experience for all fashionistas.
The Hotel’s designer-inspired Pret-a-Portea afternoon tea features cakes and pastries that take their inspiration from the fashion world. Their offerings even change every half a year to reflect the fashions of the season. Laura Porter of About.com says that Pret-a-Portea is one of her favourite afternoon teas in London – read her full review of the experience.
Price Range: £41 – £57.00
#3 – St Ermin’s – 68/61 – 89.7%
St Ermin’s Hotel in Westminster offers a relaxing Central London location to sample some delectable teas and sweet treats.
Tea is taken in the dedicated Tea Lounge, and there’s even a special ‘Honey Afternoon Tea’, using honey from the hotel’s own bees. A very reasonably priced gluten-free option is also available, so no one has to miss out.
Price Range: £29- £34
#2 – Claridge’s – 70/63 – 90%
If you want a truly luxurious and indulgent experience, Claridge’s is the place.
Their afternoon tea has been going strong for almost 150 years and continues to offer one of the finest and most traditional experiences available. The setting is the hotel’s art deco Foyer, further enhancing the illusion of a bygone age. A Children’s Afternoon Tea is available for £25.
Price Range: £50 – £75
#1 – Montague on the Gardens – 42/38 – 90.5%
Narrowly beating Claridge’s to the top of our rankings is another Red Carnation hotel (the first being The Milestone), The Montague on the Gardens.
According to the hotel’s website, they ‘pay proper respect to the ritual of afternoon tea while offering some intriguing variations on the original’. This shows through in their delicious offerings, which include smoked salmon sandwiches, seasonal pastries and a wide selection of teas. And this impeccable experience is available for significantly less than other more “famous” afternoon teas. You can find our verdict on the Montague’s afternoon tea in our review.
Price Range – £15.50 – £59.00
There you have our ultimate guide to the top 10 afternoon teas available to experience in London hotels.
Do let us know if you feel there are others that deserve a mention. And bookmark or share this blog post with your friends to ensure that they too can make an informed decision about their next London afternoon tea.
Finally, do mention “London Hotels Insight” when you book your afternoon tea since one or two of the hotels above have promised a special surprise treat for our readers. Contact us to find out which ones!
Source data is derived from: TripAdvisor – Access date: 27/10/14. All prices are current as of 31/10/14.
Photo credits: Royal Horseguards Hotel, The Wellesley, The Milestone Hotel, The Savoy, The Goring, The Montcalm, The Berkeley, St. Ermin’s Hotel, Claridge’s, The Montague on the Gardens.