Taking afternoon tea is a classic way to experience London. Everyone wants to sit up straight, stick their pinkie out, and sip hot tea in the company of friends and family—and preferably in the warm embrace of one of our six favorite tea salons. Remember to book well ahead and expect to dress up for posh hotels. Most high teas are offered between 3 and 5:30 pm with real tea served in china and elegant finger foods on a three-tiered silver tea stand.
Amid a maze of marble and gold leaf, afternoon tea in the Promenade is best taken on comfy sofas and to the sound of the resident pianist. Teas are £33.50, £48.50, or £60 for high tea—with light bites like salmon and Cromer crab. Book well ahead. See Fodor's Dorchester hotel review.
Tea Times: daily 2:30 and 4:45
This classic Mayfair town-house hotel sets the standard at the English Tea Room, where one of London’s best-known afternoon teas is served (£35–£48). See Fodor's Brown's Hotel review.
Tea Times: weekdays 3–6, weekends 1–6
Fortnum & Mason
Upstairs at the revamped 300-year-old Queen’s grocers, three set teas are ceremoniously served: afternoon tea (sandwiches, scones, and cakes: £32), old-fashioned high tea (the traditional nursery meal, with scrambled eggs and salmon: £34), and champagne tea (£42). See Fodor's Fortnum & Mason store review.
Tea Times: Mon.–Sat. 2–7, Sun. noon–4:30
At the Ritz tea is served in the impressive Palm Court, with marble tables and Louis XIV chaises complete with musical accompaniment, giving the last morsel of Edwardian London. Afternoon tea is £37 and champagne tea £48. Reserve two to three months ahead and remember to wear a jacket and tie. Learn more about the Ritz.
Tea Times: daily 11:30, 1:30, 3:30, 5:30, 7:30
Café at Sotheby’s
What could be better than perusing the famous Mayfair auction house before afternoon tea? It’s open from 9:30 and tends to book up days in advance. Teas are available from £6.50 to £18.75, including toasted tea cakes, scones, and Welsh rarebits. Learn more about the Café at Sotheby’s.
Tea Times: weekdays 3–4:45
This bustling art deco tea salon was inspired by the grand Viennese cafés. Cream teas are well priced at £9.75 or £19.75; you’ll find a regularly changing pastry menu. See Fodor's Wolseley restaurant review.
Tea Times: Sun.–Fri. 3:30–6:30, Sat. 3:30–5:30