In 1840, plagued by a certain sort of hunger at around four o’clock in the afternoon, Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, decided that she needed something to satiate this feeling and thus the afternoon tea was born. Now a part of British tradition for almost 200 years, the capital’s afternoon tea options are a rich feast of fancy, fine dining and, in many cases, quirky interpretations for a personality-packed contemporary spin.
With iconic sights such as Green Park, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, Pall Mall and Soho all just a stone’s throw away, there’s nowhere better to enjoy the most British of treats than in the heart of St James’s and nearby Regent Street. From new additions to timeless experiences, discover our favourite afternoon teas in central London below.
Afternoon tea at The Ritz has garnered a world-class reputation for numerous reasons, but special attention should be paid to its tea sommelier, Giandomenico Scanu. The Ritz London is the only hotel in the UK to host this role, with Scanu responsible for sourcing the world’s very best teas for its afternoon tea menu and beyond. Should we be playing favourites, then we recommend the Ritz Royal Blend Tea, which is exclusive to the hotel. Afternoon tea at the Palm Court comes with a storied sort of elegant ambience, with live harp and piano playing accompanying the special service. Book now to enjoy an unforgettable experience at The Ritz.
The Stafford London
One of the newer afternoon teas in St James’s, The Stafford London’s decadent spread is an homage to its surroundings. Spend an afternoon here and you’ll be treated to culinary tributes to the revered boutiques and ateliers that line St James’s historic streets, as well as finger sandwiches and sweet and savoury scones. The Stafford London serves Camellia’s Tea alongside its afternoon servings and also has an extensive wine list packed with expert pairings. Book an indulgent afternoon tea at The Stafford London.
Dukes Hotel, in the heart of St James’s, offers a slew of afternoon teas, each with a unique point of difference: there’s the Vegan Tea, the Tea for Little Dukes and Duchesses, or the MarTEAni, inspired by their world-renowned Martinis created with The East India Gin company. Enjoy afternoon tea overlooking a peaceful courtyard in the heart of the city. Bliss. Book Reserve your table for afternoon tea at Dukes Hotel.
Fortnum & Mason
For many, afternoon tea doesn’t get more memorable than time spent languing and sipping at true London institution and royal warrant holder, Fortnum & Mason. Book a table in the award-winning Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon – which has been serving tea since 1926 – and tuck into the most quintessential of afternoon teas at Fortnum & Mason.
Known as London’s first grand café, The Wolseley on Piccadilly is a striking space nestled in a former art deco car garage. Indulge in fruit scones with clotted cream and homemade jam alongside a choice of teas and an assortment of delectable finger sandwiches. There’s also the cream tea for those looking for something a little lighter on the appetite. Keep an eye on its revolving door as London’s eclectic characters come to take their tea at The Wolseley.
The Langham London
Cited as the birthplace of afternoon tea, there’s much to persuade you to brew and bite at The Langham’s Palm Court. Nestled at the northernmost point of Regent Street, afternoon tea at The Langham has a contemporary take on tradition, looking to Britain’s favourite biscuits and baked tarts in its menu. Book now for afternoon tea at The Langham.
Hotel Café Royal
Hotel Café Royal offers award-winning afternoon teas in a variety of settings. Whether you select the Grade II listed Oscar Wilde Lounge or a more contemporary experience at Cakes & Bubbles, you're sure to enjoy the same first class service. Tuck into sandwiches inspired by the royal residences and sweet treats which celebrate some of the Queen's favourite fashion accessories. Don't miss out, book your afternoon tea at Hotel Café Royal.
St James's Hotel and Club
Designed by executive chef William Drabble, afternoon tea at St James’s Hotel and Club offers sumptuous, sweet treats, sandwiches, tea and champagne. Inspired by some of Queen Victoria’s favourite flavours, you’ll be spoilt with the likes of custard tarts, Victoria sponge and Cheshire cheese scones in a cosy and intimate setting. Hunger calling? Book afternoon tea at St James’s Hotel and Club now.
Ginza St James's
Those looking to heighten their afternoon tea experience should look no further than St James’s Ginza. Its afternoon tea is a Japanese-inspired take on British tradition. Expect teriyaki beef, maki rolls and a wagyu burger in place of the conventional sandwiches and scones during this unique take on afternoon tea. Treat your tastebuds with afternoon tea at Ginza.
Afternoon tea is the perfect treat if you’re celebrating a special occasion or looking for an indulgent dining option. For more dining inspiration, peruse our go-to al fresco spots, or, explore St James’s hidden cafes.