London's Most Glamorous Afternoon Tea

By Lydia Manch Last edited 56 months ago
London's Most Glamorous Afternoon Tea
Deep purple: the L'oscar Hotel afternoon tea is as decadent as the decor

Looking for chandelier-hung, vintage glamour? Or sleek, modern twists on the classics? London has an afternoon tea to suit all tastes and we've scouted out the most glamorous — from high-concept menus to straight classics, and from luxe hotels to velvet-strewn ex-chapels.

Mr Fogg's, Mayfair

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Book a velvet sofa at Mr Fogg's and get ready for a marathon of macarons, sandwiches and Victoriana. The glamour at Mr Fogg's comes partly from the opulence and partly from the steady flow of champagne cocktails.

We mourn the lack of scones on the menu — this is very much a sandwich and cake affair. But we acknowledge that a delicate teapot of the Japan-teas — Hendrick's gin, cherry liqueur, apple juice and Veuve Cliquot — would go a long way to distracting you from it.

Price: £44 a head for the Tipsy Tea, with a single teapot of gin or champagne tea. Extra teapots are £28.

Mr Fogg's, 15 Bruton Lane, W1J 6JD.

Sketch, Mayfair

Sketch's brand of glamour isn't going to be to everybody's taste: the Gallery, where the afternoon tea is served, is very pink and pneumatic-looking, like being trapped inside a marshmallow. But it's distinctive, glossy and the walls are covered with David Shrigley artworks for you to feast your eyes on if the colour scheme gets to be too much to handle.

As for the afternoon tea, the sandwiches and scones are relatively trad, but the cakes are as high-design as the interior.

Price: £59 a head for the afternoon tea, or £73 a head for the Champagne afternoon tea. Heads up: the Sketch website is staggeringly awkward, we recommend going via Afternoon Tea's booking page for menu details/a reservation.

Sketch, 9 Conduit Street, W1S 2XG.

The Goring Hotel, Victoria

The Goring Hotel: afternoon tea doesn't come much statelier than this.

The afternoon tea at the Goring Hotel is traditional, classic and comes with 12 different tea blends and six infusions to choose from. The scones are freshly baked and served warm, with homemade jams. But it's all really just an excuse to bask in the fireplace-warmth and deep sofas of their bar, along with assorted celebrity guests of the hotel.

Price: £50 a head for the afternoon tea, or £62 with a glass of champagne.

The Goring Hotel, 15 Beeston Place, SW1W 0JW.

The Ritz, Mayfair

They take afternoon tea really seriously at The Ritz: read about Londonist's visit behind the scenes at this institution, for an insider's view into just how seriously.

It's glamour of a formal, dinner-jacketed sort, the Palm Court an ocean of starched tablecloths, silverware, chandeliers and — as there's a dress code — people in their Sunday best.

Price: £58 a head for the traditional afternoon tea, or £77 with a glass of champagne.

The Ritz, 150 Piccadilly, St. James's, W1J 9BR.

Lyaness, South Bank

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Fancy by name and fancy by nature, the Fancy Tea at Ryan Chetiyawardana's South Bank cocktail spot riffs on a high-end 80s dinner party. Expect glossy swagger to both the decor and the food: think pineapple upside-down scones, devilled eggs and mascarpone éclairs.

Price: £38 a head for the afternoon tea, £48 a head for the champagne afternoon tea or £58 with four cocktails.

Lyaness, 20 Upper Ground, SE1 9PD.

Fortnum & Mason at The Royal Exchange, Bank

The setting alone would earn F&M a place on the list: The Royal Exchange's a mass of columns and archways, golden lighting and ornate stonework. And Fortnum's — in the central courtyard of the Royal Exchange, flanked on all sides by neoclassical grandeur — is rising to the occasion, with plenty of turquoise velvet banquettes and art deco curviness.

Lovely touches include top-uppable sandwiches — though as they're also excellent there's a risk of falling into a coronation chicken vortex, and leaving no room for cakestand-tiers two and three. Which would be a shame; scones come with trad jam and lesser-spotted lemon curd; and the cakes are as rich, elaborate and pretty as the venue. Pair them with a special Fortnum's Royal Exchange tea blend, made in honour of the location and only available here.

Price: £35 a head for the afternoon tea, or £48 with a glass of champagne.

Fortnum & Mason, Royal Exchange, EC3V 3LR.

The Berkeley, Knightsbridge

The Pret-a-Portea afternoon tea at the Berkeley is a bright, sugary thing, paying homage to the 'themes and colours of the fashion world.'

As transient as the fashion world itself, the menu changes every six months. Past desserts have included Moschino's blood orange sponge, a yellow handbag design wrapped in red chocolate, and Jason Wu's bavarois of cherry and coconut, with a small leg and high-heel made of biscuit poking out of it.  Check the website for current offerings.

Price: £60 a head for the afternoon tea, or £70 for the champagne afternoon tea.

The Berkeley, Wilton Place, SW1X 7RL.

L'oscar, Holborn

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Once upon a time this was a Baptist church. These days there's as much sinning as saintliness happening at L'oscar, now an opulent, jewel-toned peacock of a hotel. Mirrors, butterflies and golden birds sprout from every available surface; walls, floors and furnishings are a sea of dark purple with the occasional gleaming patch of marble or gilding.

The devilled chicken sandwich and the Adam and Eve's cake are highlights — but nothing at the afternoon tea drops below the surreal, high-luxury bar set by the decor. Virtue comes cheaper than vice, with sinners forking out £60 a head for a version including three tea-based cocktails — but for glamour per pound sterling, they're a bargain.

Price: £38 a head for the Saint afternoon tea, or £60 a head for the Sinner afternoon tea.

L'oscar, 2-6 Southampton Row, WC1B 4AA.

Corinthia Hotel

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Good morning and Happy Friday. A moment of calm in our Crystal Moon Lounge before the day begins ✨

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You might recognise the Corinthia, even if you've never crossed its threshold; the grand neoclassical frontage on Whitehall Place is pretty distinctive.

Stays at the hotel feature underfloor heated marble, and penthouse guests are offered a 24-hour private butler service. So... imagine that level of old world luxury, but in afternoon tea form, and you're on the right track. Scones come in a small wooden chest, cakes are wheeled to you on a stately silver trolley by your dessert sommelier, and transferred with some ceremony to a freestanding cake-holder next to your table. A pianist gently rolls out the classics on a Steinway. The sparkling Baccarat chandelier matches your Baccarat champagne flute. Traditional glamour: high. Scones: on point. Rhubarb jam: genius.

Price: £55 a head for the afternoon tea, or £65 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne.

Corinthia Hotel, Whitehall Place, SW1A 2BD.

Last Updated 09 August 2019