Afternoon tea is a special treat, and what better time to treat yourself and your family and friends than at Christmas? These restaurants and hotels are all offering special festive twists on their menus and Christmas afternoon teas and high teas this December, so whether you're Christmas shopping in Oxford Street, skating at one of London's seasonal ice rinks or just catching up with friends, there's one nearby. You'll need to book in advance, so get your diary out and get planning.
Christmas afternoon tea at Biscuiteers icing cafes
Icing cafe Biscuiteers — whose staff created the gingerbread model of Covent Garden that's currently on display — offers a Christmas afternoon tea at both its Notting Hill and Battersea branches.
A Christmas biscuit, orange and cranberry scone with Christmas jam, and Christmas pudding macaron are some of the items on the yule menu, all washed down with a Christmas tea blend. Have we said 'Christmas' enough yet?
If you're inspired by what you're served, take part in a biscuit icing session afterwards, and learn how to ice like the professionals, taking what you make home with you.
Biscuiteers Christmas afternoon tea, at Notting Hill and Battersea venues. £30 per person (extra £15 per person to ice your own biscuits to take home). Available 1 November-31 December 2019.
Festive afternoon tea at Aqua Shard
Treat someone to a Christmas day out to remember at Aqua Shard. Enjoy the festive afternoon tea menu along with panoramic views over the capital. Sandwiches on the special menu include turkey, cranberry and lettuce, and fig chutney and brie, but it's the sweet selection we really like the sound of — gingerbread, a milk chocolate and coffee Christmas tree, a sweet clementine and prosecco trifle, and a pear and cinnamon Santa hat. Full menu here.
Festive afternoon tea at Aqua Shard. £49 per person/£67-£72 with a glass of champagne. Available 18 November 2019-1 January 2020.
Festive afternoon tea at The Hansom, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel
Rather swish bar The Hansom, inside St Pancras station, has launched its own festive afternoon tea to tempt in shoppers, travellers and hotel guests.
The bar's executive chef Adam Ashe has whipped up delights such as an edible Christmas bauble with mulled wine mousse, dark chocolate and mandarin mousse Christmas trees, strawberry and coconut baubles and vanilla and raspberry wreaths. The sandwiches have a festive twist too (hello, turkey and cranberry), and freshly-baked scones complete the line-up.
Wash it all down with tea, a mulled tipple, or champagne.
Festive afternoon tea at The Hansom. £38 per person/£50 with a glass of champagne. Available 18 November 2019-5 January 2020.
Christmas afternoon tea at Podium at London Hilton Park Lane
Luxury hotel London Hilton on Park Lane offers a Christmas afternoon tea that's ideal for a pick-me-up on the way to nearby Winter Wonderland. Tuck into scones, seasonal sandwiches, and festive fancies including a chocolate and chestnut tart, passion and coconut log, chocolate Christmas tree, a mulled wine bauble, and a strawberry and lime parfait. The pièce de résistance is a ‘letter to Santa’, which breaks open to reveal a seasonal surprise.
Christmas afternoon tea at Podium. £39 per person/£49 with champagne. Available 23 November 2019-6 January 2020.
Sugar Plum Fairy afternoon tea at The Waldorf Hilton
Get your dancing shoes on — The Waldorf Hilton's afternoon tea gets a theatrical twist for Christmas, as a Sugar Plum Fair theme takes over.
A magical sugarplum mist welcomes you to The Homage restaurant, where you can tuck into treats including salmon blinis, an assortment of sandwiches, ballerina biscuits by Biscuiteers and scones accompanied by the hotel's own sugar plum jam. Chocolate trifle, a pistachio and chocolate filled sandwich, and a vanilla choux crowned cake are also on the menu. At the end of the meal, you receive a bag of traditional bon bons to take home with you.
Sugar Plum Fairy afternoon tea at The Waldorf Hilton, Covent Garden. £39 per person. Available 25 November 2019-2 Februry 2020.
Festive afternoon tea at The Petersham
The festive afternoon tea at The Petersham is a staple of any London foodie's festive calendar. Have a seat in a dining room overlooking the Thames, and tuck into the restaurant's usual top-notch sandwiches and scones, followed up with Christmas-themed cakes and pastries. A mince pie and fruit cake get your Christmas off to a traditional start, while the cinnamon and orange cheesecake and chocolate, mulled wine and caramel mousse add a more modern twist.
Festive afternoon tea at The Petersham, Richmond. £34.50 per person. Available 2-30 December 2019.
Festive afternoon tea at The Savoy
If you want to really push the boat out, book for festive afternoon tea at The Savoy, served in the gorgeous Thames Foyer. The teas are selected by a tea sommelier, and served up with festive sandwiches including coronations turkey on cranberry bread, and eggs and truffle on spinach bread.
The Christmas dessert selection includes a Savoy Christmas cake, a traditional mince pie and a chocolate Christmas tree with peppermint ganache.
Christmas Mad Hatter's Tea Party afternoon tea at Sanderson Hotel
The much-loved Mad Hatter's afternoon tea at the Sanderson gets a limited edition festive twist. A mini Christmas pudding and Mad Hatters Christmas tree meringue are just some of the treats added to the usual enchanting menu of sweet and savoury goodies.
Christmas afternoon tea at the Sanderson Hotel. £58 per person, booking required, available Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.
Other recommendations for festive afternoon teas in London:
- Millie's Lounge at The Ned serves a festive afternoon tea in the Grand Banking Hall, with mince pies, mini gingerbread men and Christmas tree cake among the items on the menu.
- The Curtain hotel in Shoreditch has teamed up with fragrance experts Penhaligon's for an afternoon tea that pays homage to the brand's new fragrance. It's not particularly festive, but it is part of the hotel's Christmas events programme.
- South Kensington's Scoff & Banter tea room offers several skate & dine food choices, in collaboration with the nearby Natural History Museum ice rink, including the winter afternoon tea menu. Spend an hour on the ice, before walking to Scoff & Banter for scones, sandwiches and winter desserts.
- For six weeks, The Berkeley offers a festive twist on its fashion-forward Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea.
- The Petrichor Restaurant inside The Cavendish hotel in St James's offers a festive afternoon tea.
- Items on the festive afternoon tea menu at The Dorchester include a spiced fig and honey cake, and gingerbread.
- Again, it's not particularly festive but we love the chocolate theme going on at the Christmas afternoon tea at the Kimpton Fitzroy London.
- Rosewood London — best known for its art-inspired afternoon tea menu — offers a festive afternoon tea over Christmas, with Father Christmas himself making an appearance on 21 and 22 December