Afternoon tea is a special treat, and what better time to be indulgent with family and friends than at Christmas? These restaurants and hotels are offering special festive twists on their afternoon teas and high teas this December — perfect if you're Christmas shopping on Oxford Street, skating at one of London's seasonal ice rinks or just catching up with friends. You'll need to book in advance, so get planning!
1. Selection Box Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court, Sheraton Grand
We start this list with one for chocolate fans: The Selection Box Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court, a fancy twist on the Cadbury Dairy Milk Caramel, Flake, Orange Twirl and Whole Nut that you'd find in a classic selection box. They take the form of a Black Forest Bauble, a Yuletide Eclair, a Merry & Bright Macaron and The Nutcracker Tart, served alongside festive sandwiches and scones.
At any time of year, The Palm Court is one of our favourite spots in London for a fancy afternoon tea in decadent, art deco surroundings. At Christmas, it gets that little bit more special, and we can confirm that this year is as magical as ever, with the afternoon tea served next to one of the most beautiful Christmas trees we've spotted in London so far this year.
Selection Box Afternoon Tea at The Palm Court, Sheraton Grand London Park Lane. From £55 per person, available 18 November 2022-8 January 2023.
2. Festive Afternoon Tea at The Guardsman
Located near Buckingham Palace, The Guardsman is very proud of the fact that its afternoon tea offering has just won the 2023 Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence for Best Afternoon Tea. Now, it's putting a festive twist on the award-winning menu — think fig bruschetta proscuitto, traditional Christmas cake and a chocolate and orange Christmas ball, alongside scones.
The price includes a glass of champagne or a Christmas cocktail.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Guardsman hotel, near Buckingham Palace. £65 per person, available 30 November 2022-8 January 2023.
3. Festive Afternoon Tea at The Royal Lancaster London
Head to The Hyde Cafe within the Royal Lancaster London to enjoy its Festive Afternoon Tea. Sandwiches include roast beef and horseradish, and roast turkey with cranberry jam, followed by traditional scones, but the centrepiece is the quartet of sweet treats, designed to look like a bauble, a Christmas tree, Santa's hat and a Christmas pudding — boasting flavours such as orange bakewell tart, and Kirsch cherry mousse.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Royal Lancaster London, Lancaster Gate. £39-£45 per person, available 26 November 2022-1 January 2023.
4. Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Lane
Renowned east London baker Lily Vanilli is behind the savoury and sweet treats on the Christmas Afternoon Tea menu at The Lane. Munch your way through delicacies including a cranberry enriched sausage roll, a cranberry mince pie, a gingerbread spiced sticky toffee pudding, and a chocolate cake decorated with piped wreaths and strings of Christmas lights, topped with a gingerbread star.
The surroundings aren't too shabby either; tea is served inside the opulent Grand Saloon at Theatre Royal Drury Lane, on a bespoke tea service, designed specially for the venue and featuring illustrations of costume designs created for ballets, pantomimes, comic operas and Edwardian musical comedies.
Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Lane. £49 per person, available 1-31 December 2022.
5. The Landmark London's Festive High Tea
Step inside a Winter Garden inside an eight-storey high glass atrium — home to one of London's largest Christmas trees — for Festive High Tea at The Landmark London. Begin with a glass of chilled champagne, followed by finger sandwiches, scones with preserve and cream, and Christmas-inspired cakes and pastries. In our opinion, this is one of the more romantic options on this list, but an equally good choice for a fancy catch-up with friends and family.
Festive High Tea at The Landmark London, Marylebone. £78 per person, available 1 December 2022-4 January 2023.
6. Festive Skyline Afternoon Tea at Shangri-La at The Shard
For afternoon tea with a side of excellent views, may we suggest Ting at Shangri-La at The Shard. If you can get your mouth around that lengthy venue name, you'll have no trouble polishing off the galaxy-inspired Festive Afternoon Tea — a festive version of the restaurant's usual Skyline Afternoon Tea, featuring shimmering pastries. The spiced pear, vanilla and white chocolate Shard replica pastry, served over clouds of dry ice, is particularly dreamy, but the menu also includes smoked salmon and roast turkey and cranberry finger sandwiches, a prawn cocktail roll and freshly baked scones with jam and clotted cream.
The venue has has a celestial makeover for the season, with a neon-decked avant-garde Christmas tree.
Festive Skyline Afternoon Tea at Shangri-La at The Shard. From £69 per person, available 7 November 2022-31 January 2023.
7. Festive Afternoon Tea at The Beaumont
A festive afternoon tea with a Transatlantic twist is available in The Gatsby Room at Mayfair's Beaumont Hotel this Christmas.
Begin with a selection of Christmas sandwiches (roast Norfolk bronze turkey with stuffing and cranberry; poached organic salmon with crayfish and lemon; maple glazed gammon with Pommery mustard) followed by freshly baked cranberry and buttermilk scones served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. Finish up with desserts including a chestnut, vanilla and cherry Mont Blanc, and a Baileys, hazelnut and milk chocolate delice. Sounds delice-ious.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Beaumont Hotel, Mayfair. £70 per person.
8. Festive Sugar Plum Fairy Afternoon Tea at Pan Pacific London
For a Christmas afternoon tea with a fun twist, head to the Pan Pacific London, which celebrates Christmas ballet The Nutcracker in all its festive offerings this year.
Tuck into festive snowy stollen scones and four patisserie presented in hanging bird cages. They include the Prima Ballerina (a cherry blossom macaroon, with cranberry pate de fruit) and the Sugar Plum Fairy, a chantilly choux with spiced plum compote and mascarpone.
As for savoury, choose between the traditional (think coronation turkey and egg mayo sandwiches), or the hotel's 'Kopi Tiam' menu featuring Southeast Asian savouries including shiitake mushroom bun with Korean BBQ sauce & chimichurri, Vietnamese prawn rolls and aromatic hoisin duck.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Orchid Lounge at Pan Pacific London. £78-£85 per person, available 7 November 2022-8 January 2023.
9. Festive Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason
No list of Christmas teas in the capital is complete without a mention of Fortnum & Mason — and rightly so, as the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon has enough options to bamboozle even the most seasoned of afternoon tea fans.
You might opt for the traditional offering, consisting of scones and pastries, with treats such as cranberry and orange Christmas cake; the ginger loaf and the Christmas wreath pastry laced with cherry and chocolate, available from the cake trolley.
If that's too sweet for you, choose the savoury afternoon tea: Seasonal scones served with chive cream cheese and Fortnum's redcurrant and port jelly; followed by a savoury pastry selection starring beetroot and goats curd éclair; duck parfait and macerated cherries; and brie and truffle mousse.
Alternatively, there's the high tea, served in the early evening as a post-shopping or pre-theatre option, offering hot dishes instead of finger sandwiches, including Victoria lobster omelette with truffle; wild mushroom and boudin blanc scotch egg; and venison wellington.
The tea salon — heck, the whole shop — looks absolutely enchanting decorated for Christmas, with trees, baubles and foliage, and Christmas carols played on the piano as you dine. Veggie, vegan, and dairy- and gluten-free menus are available.
Christmas Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason. From £75 per person, available from 21 November 2022.
10. Festive Afternoon Tea at The Montagu Kitchen & Lounge
Buttermilk and blueberry Christmas Bauble. Black forest Stollen cake. Santa hat with speculaas, pear and ginger.
Just some of the festive treats on the Christmas afternoon tea menu The Montagu Kitchen & Lounge at The Churchill London, which combines them with sandwiches, savouries and scones. Feeling decadent? For an extra £20 you can get two hours of free-flowing bottomless bubbly to accompany the food.
FYI: This one's located a couple of minutes off Oxford Street, if you're looking for a pick-me-up in the middle of your Christmas shopping.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Montagu Kitchen & Lounge, Marylebone. From £46 per person, available 1-30 December 2022.
11) Festive Afternoon Teas at Kona
We've long been fans of the themed afternoon teas at Kona, the restaurant inside Taj 51 Buckingham Gate, and things are looking as exciting as ever this Christmas.
You can tuck into a traditional festive afternoon tea, where treats include honey glazed turkey and cranberry sandwiches, rosemary roasted beef roulade turnover, gingerbread cheesecake, and Santa's Parcel (a chocolate mousse, with cherry and chocolate sponge).
Alternatively — and this one sounds a little bit special — opt for The Baubles and Ballerinas Afternoon Tea, to enjoy those Christmassy treats accompanied by a live cinematic performance of dancers in the TH@51 conservatory.
Festive Afternoon Teas at Kona at Taj 51 Buckingham Gate Suites and Residences. Traditional Festive Afternoon Tea is £80 per person, available 1 December 2022-2 January 2023. Baubles and Ballerinas Afternoon Tea is £100 per person, available 3-24 December 2022.
And the best of the rest:
- Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea at Rubens at the Palace (14 November 2022-1 January 2023)
- Festive Champagne Afternoon Tea at The Dorchester (21 November 2022-3 January 2023)
- Festive Afternoon Tea at The Petersham, Richmond (1-30 December 2022)
- Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea at Podium, Park Lane (1 December 2022-3 January 2023)
- The Grinch Afternoon Tea at Dotty's Teahouse, Carshalton (from 25 November 2022)
- Festive Afternoon Tea at The Gallery at Sketch (17 November 2022-6 January 2023)
- Festive Champagne Afternoon Tea at Searcy's At The Gherkin (from 21 November 2022)
- Christmas Afternoon Tea at The Ivy Chelsea Garden (from 16 November 2022)