London's not short of cake shops and tearooms — something we're grateful for everyday — but when you're looking for somewhere a little off the beaten track, these are your best bets:
The Basement Tea Rooms, Camden Market
Unless someone told you about it, you'd be unlikely to ever stumble across the Basement Tea Rooms in Camden Market. In fact, even knowing about it, it can be tricky to find (go down the steps by the Amy Winehouse statue and The Cheese Bar, and when you get to the bottom do a U-turn to your left. Then follow your cakenose along the wooden-floored corridor to the very end. You're welcome.).
Among the street food stalls of the area, The Basement Tea Rooms is a refreshingly calm change. This corner of Camden Stables Market is still configured like its namesake stables, and while you're not exactly dining on haystacks, the old-fashioned barriers, leather booths and floor-to-ceiling wood look more like something out of a western film than a trendy London market. Colourful bunting and rails of retro clothing ensure that you don't forget you're in Camden, while you tuck into coffee, cakes, afternoon tea or an all-day breakfast. There's often showtunes playing, portion sizes are generous, and the vintage china is an Instagram bonus.
Saucer & Spritz at Oasis, Tottenham Court Road
That's right — fashion chain Oasis has a tea room tucked away upstairs in its Tottenham Court Road store. Saucer & Spritz deals in cakes and cocktails in equal measure, and although it describes itself as a cocktail bar foremost, we've always found the kitsch interiors perfectly conducive to a mid-shop cake stop.
Floral wallpaper, decadent lighting and colourfully-tiled tables make for a feminine atmosphere, while the delicate bars at one end of the mezzanine cafe give the illusion of eating in a giant bird cage, while shoppers browse below.
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Afternoon tea needs to be pre-ordered, but cream teas, cakes, brunches and hot and cold drinks can be enjoyed on a walk-in basis. And if you do end up washing it down with a cocktail or two... well, who are we to judge?
Cake Hole at Vintage Heaven, Columbia Road
As with all of the best hidden treasures, we stumbled across this one quite by accident while wandering among the dying embers of Columbia Road flower market mid-afternoon one Sunday. Vintage Heaven is an independently-owned vintage shop specialising in crockery, china, glass and kitchenalia.
Of course, the next step for a place with so many dainty dishes, twee teapots and cute crockery is a vintage tearoom... and that's exactly what you'll find if you head to the rear of the shop. Cake Hole is a kitsch and cosy place, with vintage mirrors and artwork lining the walls, and a mixture of wooden chairs and church pew-style seating.
The menu reads like a who's-who of the London cake scene: cakes from Primrose Bakery, scones from Rinkoff Bakery, and jam from English Preserves of Borough Market.
Note, Vintage Heaven and Cake Hole are only open at weekends, like many of the businesses on Columbia Road.
The Orangery at the Fan Museum, Greenwich
Most people don't even know that London has a Fan Museum, let alone that said museum is home to a beautiful, elegant tea room. The Orangery is a conservatory-style dining room You need to pay museum admission in order to visit The Orangery, but once you're in, you find yourself tucking into traditional cakes, sandwiches and scones. You're surrounded by beautifully detailed murals and overlooking a secret, Japanese-style garden — and all just a five minute walk from Greenwich station.
Betty Blythe, Hammersmith
If you're at all familiar with Hammersmith, Betty Blythe will come as no surprise — the vintage tea room sits proudly on the corner of a residential road in Brook Green, tempting punters in with is cake counter and chandelier.
But unless you've been inside, you won't know about the gorgeous downstairs room, a beautifully decorated but petite space, which you might have completely to yourself if you time your visit right.
It's themed like a private dressing room, with vintage clothes and jewellery strewn artistically about the place — items which you're allowed, nay, encouraged, to try on. The fancy dress box consists of dresses, hats and other garments from the 1920s and 1930s — plenty for you to hold a full-blown photoshoot between courses.
Also keep an eye out for... Soho's Secret Tea Rooms
A time of writing, Soho's Secret Tea Rooms is closed due to the fact that the pub above which it resides has changed hands. Keep an eye on the Facebook page to find out where and when it'll make a comeback.