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 festive season — 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!
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 finger sandwiches, scones and pastries, with treats such as orange and mixed spice loaf, and a sweet chestnut mousse.
If that's too sweet for you, choose the savoury afternoon tea: Finger sandwiches followed by walnut scones served with Fortnum's redcurrant and port jelly, and a Cropwell Bishop stilton scone swith chive cream cheese, followed by a savoury pastry selection starring chorizo brioche, and duck mousse with mulled wine, among other treats.
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; black pudding scotch egg; and roe deer wellington. Scones and patisserie follow.
The tea salon — heck, the whole shop — looks enchanting decorated for Christmas, with trees, baubles and foliage, and Christmas carols played on the piano while you dine. Veggie and gluten-free menus are available.
Christmas Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason. From £80 per person, available from 1 November 2023.
Ice Palace Afternoon Tea at Strand Palace
The Strand Palace hotel gets a chilly makeover, with frosted snowflakes and sparkling snowy décor adorning its tearoom, where the Ice Palace Afternoon Tea is served. The theme extends to the food and drink, which includes ice-inspired sweet treats, savoury bites and a glistening Ice Cocktail. A goat's cheese, caramelised onion and sage tartlet, traditional turkey and cranberry mayo bun, a chocolate and orange macaron with a white chocolate snowflake, and a chocolate and cherry reindeer yule log are among the items on the menu. Full menu here.
Children are very much welcome at this afternoon tea, and there's live entertainment during the weekend sittings (included in price) in the form of an Ice King Crystal Ball Juggler and an Ice Princess Ballerina.
Ice Palace Afternoon Tea at Strand Palace. £49-£59 per adult/£25-£30 per child, available 7 November 2023-3 January 2024.
Wish Upon A Star Afternoon Tea at London Marriott Hotel Park Lane
Lanes of London at London Marriott Hotel Park Lane celebrates new Disney film Wish with a themed festive afternoon tea. A shimmering star topping a white chocolate and peppermint mousse, a chocolate spell book adorned with golden spells and a 'Wish Bubble' candied fruit cake are among the menu highlights.
Wish Upon A Star Afternoon Tea at London Marriott Hotel Park Lane. £60 per person, available 8 November 2023-7 January 2024.
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 Festive Afternoon Tea — a festive take on the restaurant's usual Skyline Afternoon Tea, featuring themed pastries. The apple compote and cinnamon sponge Shard replica pastry sounds particularly dreamy, but the menu also includes smoked salmon and roast turkey and cranberry finger sandwiches, a celeriac burger and freshly baked scones with cranberry jam and clotted cream. Full menu here.
Festive Skyline Afternoon Tea at Shangri-La at The Shard. From £89 per person, available 14 November 2023-7 January 2024.
The Snowman Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor Hotel
Even the most Grinch-like of Scrooges would struggle to smile at this adorable afternoon tea themed on Raymond Briggs' children's book The Snowman. Us? We melted into puddles on the floor when we saw it. It takes diners through the journey of the book, with courses called One December Morning (a sparkling wine granita); Midnight Magic (crunchy snowball meringue filled with chocolate mint cream and vanilla buttercream, set on a gingerbread snowflake); A Friendly Face (a mousse with tangerine marmalade, on a fluffy meringue base); The Snowman (a spiced ginger ganache encased in a chocolate shell, infused with pineapple); Snowy Symphony (hazelnut and praline sponge stump); and The Enchanted Forest (pastry tartlet with salted caramel and spiced milk chocolate in Christmas Tree form).
The menu contains bespoke illustrations designed exclusively for Grosvenor House by Illustrator and Animation Director Robin Shaw, who worked on The Snowman and The Snowdog, and you can take your menu home as a keepsake.
The Snowman Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor Hotel. From £65 adult/£35 child, available 17 November 2023-7 January 2024.
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; whisky cured salmon with beetroot and pink pepper; maple glazed gammon with sage and spice apple relish) followed by freshly baked cranberry and buttermilk scones served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, along with mince pies. Finish up with desserts including a chestnut, blackcurrant and vanilla tart, and a spiced orange and chocolate cake. Full menu here.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Beaumont Hotel, Mayfair. £75 per adult/£30 per child, available 21 November 2023-8 January 2024.
Sweetsmas Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square
Giant candy canes and gingerbread biscuits surround you as you tuck into the Sweetsmas Afternoon Tea. It's inspired by classic British sweets and confectionery, with some old favourites recreated in patisserie form. The Ode to Terry is an orange treat with a chocolate cookie, chocolate mousse and orange confit and glaze, while The Gingerbread Man is a soft gingerbread biscuit with pear confit and festive spiced mousse. Finger sandwiches and scones complete the menu, but really, this is one for those with a sweet tooth.
Sweetsmas Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons Hotel at Ten Trinity Square. From £75 per person, available from 23 November 2023.
Festive Ikebana Afternoon Tea at Nobu London Portman Square
The Japanese-inspired Nobu London serves a limited edition Festive Ikebana Afternoon Tea. Created by Chef Michael, it features a selection of Nobu's famous sushi such as yellowtail jalapeño and tomato ceviche, alongside afternoon tea classics with a twist, including miso chocolate tart and Wakamomo peach umeboshi yuzu mousse.
Festive Ikebana Afternoon Tea at Nobu London Portman Square. £68 per person, available from 23 November 2023.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Royal Lancaster London
Head to The Hyde Cafe within the Royal Lancaster London, where its Festive Afternoon Tea stars sandwiches with roast turkey and cranberry jam, and smoked salmon and cream cheese. That's followed by traditional scones. The centrepiece though, is the quartet of sweet treats, designed to look like a festive candle, a snowman, a star and a bauble — boasting flavours such as pistachio ganache, and traditional Christmas cake. Full menu here.
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Royal Lancaster London, Lancaster Gate. £45-£49 per person, available 25 November 2023-5 January 2024.
Sky High Festive Afternoon Tea at Oblix at The Shard
A second mention for the restaurants inside The Shard. Oblix, on the 32nd floor, serves its afternoon tea with a festive twist. Think Christmas-tree-topped gingerbread spiced canelé, and a crunchy tartlet with caramel, coffee and creme fraiche filling encased in a marshmallow Santa hat. Sandwiches include smoked salmon, and coronation chicken, and the scones have a seasonal twist, flavoured with cranberry and served with clotted cream, honeycomb, and raspberry preserve. It's served in the East portion of the restaurant, offering views towards east London.
Festive Afternoon Tea at Oblix. From £58 per person, available 27 November 2023-7 January 2024.
Festive Afternoon Tea at St Ermin's Hotel
The award-winning afternoon tea at St Ermin's Hotel has a festive makeover, and incorporates ingredients from the hotel's rooftop kitchen garden. The menu includes mini Christmas cakes, chocolate and cherry snowballs, and chestnut and cranberry macarons. Smoked turkey and cranberry; and brie, roasted peppers and fig relish are among the sandwich fillings, served in the hotel's tea lounge.
Festive Afternoon Tea at St Ermin's Hotel, Westminster. From £45 adult/£24 child, available from 27 November 2023.
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 the Festive High Palms High Tea at The Landmark London. Begin with a glass of chilled champagne, followed by a selection sandwiches, plain and Christmas spiced mandarin scones with preserve and a chocolate and hazelnut spread, 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. Full menu here.
Festive High Palms High Tea at The Landmark London, Marylebone. £88-£90 per person, available 30 November 2023-3 January 2024.
Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea (Festive Edition) at Sanderson London
We're huge fans of the Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at Fitzrovia hotel Sanderson London — and even better, it's getting a festive update for Christmas this year. It's served on a snow-topped tiered stand, with seasonal treats including a gingerbread man (full menu to be revealed at time of writing). Probably a good bet if you're treating the kids.
Festive Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea at Sanderson London. Details TBC.
And the best of the rest:
- A Festive Take On Afternoon Tea at Bulgari Hotel London (Knightsbridge): Available now.
- Festive Afternoon Tea at TOZI Grand Cafe (Battersea): Available 13 November 2023-7 January 2024.
- Festive London Afternoon Tea at The Dilly (Piccadilly): Available 20 November-31 December 2023.
- Christmas Afternoon Tea at Theatre Royal Drury Lane (Covent Garden): Available 22 November 2023-7 January 2024.
- Festive Afternoon Tea at The Athenaeum (Piccadilly): Available from 24 November 2023 (including Christmas Day).
- Festive Afternoon Tea With A Twist at Charlotte Street Hotel (Fitzrovia): Available 29 November-31 December 2023.
- Festive Afternoon Tea at InterContinental London Park Lane (Mayfair): Available 20-31 December 2023.