Welcome to our very merry guide to the best Christmas-themed afternoon teas in London.
Christmas, the most wonderful time of year, is particularly so because of all the eating and drinking it entails. From deliciously foodie advent calendars to alcoholic Christmas crackers and of course, all those dinner parties and the big day itself, there’s lots of excuses to indulge. And we’re about to give you one more.
Be it full-out luxury or niche and unique, we love an afternoon tea at the best of times. But these Christmas-themed afternoon teas are a next level of fabulousness. Classically festive ingredients and flavourings give the usual scones and finger sandwiches a totally new taste, from turkey and cranberry chutney bites to dark chocolate and cherry yule log.
Check out our edit of the best Christmas afternoon teas in London, and toast your teacup to the jolliest of Decembers.
Festive Afternoon Tea with Liberty at The Savoy: for a quintessentially English experience
You might think that afternoon tea is as quintessentially English as it gets - but you’d be wrong. It’s actually possible to make this infamous pastime even more British, as proven by five-star-hotel The Langham. The long-standing Strand occupant are putting on a glitzy festive afternoon tea in the fabulously festive Thames Foyer at the heart of the hotel.
This special festive tea starts with sandwiches like coronation turkey on cranberry bread and a savoury crème brûlée with olive and pumpkin, before giving their sweets a seasonal twist with a chocolate Christmas tree dolloped with peppermint pine ganache and a milk chocolate sphere flavoured with vanilla and mandarin aptly named Rudolf’s nose. After that, enjoy their takes on Christmas classics with a candied orange fruit cake soaked in Earl Grey tea and a traditional mince pie finished with a spiced streusel topping.
When? 26 November to 5 January
How much? from £78
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Ned: for tea that’s grand accompanied by a band
We can’t think of a more fabulously festive venue than the ever-grand, The Ned. With luxurious dark wood features, marbled columns and a live band playing in the center of a myriad of restaurants, it doesn’t get more atmospheric than this. This Christmas, in the blush pink-themed Millie’s Lounge, their traditional afternoon tea is being sprinkled with magic thanks to some deliciously festive touches.
Served on bespoke Burleigh china tea sets, guests will enjoy mince pies, mini gingerbread men, a selection of festive cakes including a Christmas tree shaped cake, plus scones with seasonal jam and clotted cream, and a selection of sandwiches. Get ready to fill your (ski) boots.
When: 27 November to 28 December
How much: from £40
Biscuiteers Christmas Afternoon Tea: for beautiful biscuits
There is no biscuit like a Biscuiteers biscuit. This adorable brand has carved out quite the name for itself thanks to its creatively designed and immaculately iced biscuits, all created in their great icing hall. Seeing as charming seasonal sweets are what they’re known for, it makes perfect sense that they would put on a themed array of delights especially for Christmas.
Hosted in both the Notting Hill and Northcote Road icing cafes, the Christmas afternoon tea serves up miniature versions of their most loved cakes and patisseries in seasonal flavours. From the freshly orange and cranberry scones with mulled winter jam and handpiped Christmas pudding macarons to the festive salted caramel brownies and mini frangipane mince pies, you’re in for a sugar rush.
When? From 11am to 4pm every day, from 1 November to 31 December
How much? £30
Festive Afternoon Tea at The Landmark London: for Christmassy cakes and carols
When? 28 November until 5 January, Monday to Friday 3pm to 5pm, Saturday and Sunday 1.30pm to 5pm
How much? £58
Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea at The Chesterfield Mayfair: for walking in a winter wonderland
Starting with a warming glass of mulled wine, The Chesterfield’s Winter Wonderland Afternoon Tea can be enjoyed just around the corner from Hyde’s Park’s Christmassy funfair of the same name. The Chesterfield have transformed their conservatory into a wintry, fairy-light filled paradise and their menu features a selection of finger sandwiches with festive ingredients like the pulled ham hock, brie and spiced apple chutney on onion bread and a prawn and Marie Rose slider, as well as freshly baked cranberry and chocolate scones served with clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Guests can also tuck in to festive pastries such as chocolate Yule Log, cranberry and coconut Christmas ball and gingerbread man cupcake.
When? 18 November to 5 January
How much? £45
Festive Afternoon Tea at Petersham Nurseries: for floral festivities
The Petersham Nurseries are a botany lover’s delight. They’re known for their intricate floral displays and equally aesthetic menus, and you can now enjoy a festive-inspired afternoon tea in the verdant and colourful Floral Court at the heart of their Covent Garden site.
They’ve approached the classic English afternoon tea from a more European angle, whipping up festive flavours from Italy, France and beyond. Start with savouries like a Baron Bigod croquette drizzled with tangy cranberry sauce before getting stuck into homemade sweets including a Christmas pudding chocolate choux bun filled with brandy custard and a Gingerbread macaron stuffed with a gingerbread milk chocolate ganache. Round off the seasonal spread with a Petersham take on that most traditional of Christmas treats: the humble mince pie, here served with cranberry-peppered mincemeat and a delicate fondant snowflake on top. You can also take some of the floral festive spirit home with you: the gorgeous floral displays decorating the tables are available to purchase for an extra £15.
When? 31 October onwards, Thursday to Sunday 3pm to 4:30pm
How much? from £45
Festive Mad Hatters Tipsy Tea at the Sanderson: for an Alice-themed tea party
The Sanderson Hotel is renowned for inviting guests to tumble down the rabbit hole and enjoy a mad hatter-inspired tea party in their elegant in-house restaurant. This festive season, they’ve made it even easier for visitors to eat, drink and be very merry with their revamped, booze-centric Christmas afternoon tea.
As the menu hidden inside a vintage book will tell you, this festive feast starts with storybook-inspired savouries that include a smoked salmon Scotch quail’s egg with caviar and cream cheese and a ‘White Rabbit’ wild mushroom, truffle and parmesan tartlet. Next, you can indulge in boozy Wonderland-inspired treats like a Grey Goose Cherry Noir vodka and cranberry tartlet and a Tweedle Dee lemon and limoncello curd finger, all washed down with a coconut liqueur potion labelled “Drink Me”. They’ve also got a secret dish on the menu: the Mad Hatter’s festive surprise. All will be revealed from late November, or you can unwrap an alcohol-free edition of this tipsy tea exclusively on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.
When? 25 November to 5 January, 7pm to 9pm.
How much? from £58
Festive afternoon tea at One Aldwych: for chocolate factory fun
This chic hotel is just around the corner from Covent Garden’s theatre district and they’ve certainly added a theatrical air to their afternoon tea menu. They’re turning up the drama by giving their already magical Charlie in the Chocolate Factory themed afternoon tea a hefty helping of Christmassy spirit.
Take a seat in their bauble-bedecked private dining room to experience a truly enchanting festive feast. Their usual savouries have been swapped for a seasonally-inspired spread, including a turkey and cranberry sandwich on charcoal bread and Montgomery cheddar and mustard scones with a lick of bacon jam. However, it’s their sweets where the Christmas spirit and chocolate factory fun really run wild. Traditional fruit scones are given a devilishly festive twist by adding a dollop of eggnog curd alongside usual culprits berry jam and clotted cream. They’ve also created a range of imaginative cakes and tarts, including a gingerbread cake pop smothered in white chocolate and topped with violet popping candy, marzipan flavoured chocolate milk served in a glass bottle and, to top it all off, a cloud of home spun candy floss.
When? 27 November to 5 January
How much? from £68
Twelve Days of Christmas Afternoon Tea at Intercontinental Park Lane: for carol-themed treats
Head down to any London pub in the months between November and January and you’ll be sure to hear a tuneless version of Christmas anthem Twelve Days of Christmas being belted out by a well-oiled patron. It’s a slightly classier affair at the Intercontinental Hotel. They’ve adapted the classic Christmas carol into a sophisticated and sensational festive afternoon tea menu instead.
Set in the elegant Wellington Lounge that gets its name from the guaranteed views of London’s Wellington Arch from every seat, the twelve dish bonanza is inspired by gifts named in the carol. Start with a partridge and pear Pithiver, followed by their take on three French hens – a slow roasted, corn fed chicken with cranberry chutney and carrot hens. Sweet dishes are similarly inspired, with a chocolate tart filled with yoghurt cream and milk bavaroise called Maids a Milking, Turtle Doves reimagined as a Gianduia layered cake, and Geese a Laying taking the form of an orange macaroon base and calamansi mousse. Finish off with some mini mince pies – and it’d be rude not to indulge in a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut, particularly as it’s included in the price.
When? 18 November to 5 January
How much? £65 including a glass of Perrier-Jouët Champagne or £104 for unlimited champagne for 90 minutes.
B Bus Bakery Christmas Afternoon Tour: for landmarks and Christmas lights
Can’t decide which festive location to have your festive afternoon tea at? Why not have them all, with one of B Bakery’s Christmas afternoon tea tours that take place on an iconic London double decker bus. You’ll be taken on a tour of London’s famous landmarks and best Christmas lights from the comfort of the fairy light and tinsel strewn London bus.
Their menu has gone big on the festive flavours, with savouries including smoked salmon pretzels with Philadelphia and figs, a stilton muffin with chestnuts, leeks and cranberries, and a turkey and cheese bun with onion chutney and mayo. These are followed by an assortment of mini cakes and tarts that have been given a similar seasonal makeover: choux pastries with pistachio cream and cherry coulis, sablé Bretons with hazelnut cream, and it wouldn’t be a British afternoon tea without freshly baked scones with jam and clotted cream.
When? 16 November to 5 January
How much? from £45
Images: Courtesy of venues