Food

Most delicious and affordable places for afternoon tea in London

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Moya Crockett
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Want to snaffle a finger sandwich without breaking the bank? Take a look at our selection of the best affordable afternoon teas in London. 

Whether you’re treating your mum on her birthday or celebrating your best friend’s big promotion, few activities feel as out-of-the-ordinary special as going for afternoon tea in London. 

But this very British tradition can also be eye-wateringly expensive – particularly in London, where afternoon tea in a top hotel can easily set you back upwards of £50 per head.

That’s quite a lot of money for some crustless sandwiches and a glass of fizz, no matter how delicious they might be, so we’re grateful to the diligent folks over at Business Insider, who have ranked London’s best afternoon teas according to price.

Pleasingly, while these are eminently purse-friendly, they’re still deliciously stylish. Here, we’ve selected some of the most affordable afternoon teas to try for yourself.

PAUL

Branches of this traditional, family-owned French bakery can be found strewn across London (and beyond), making it an easily accessible and wonderfully affordable option when you want a sweet treat. However if it’s a hankering for an afternoon tea you’ve got, it’s the Covent Garden PAUL that you’ll need to head to. 

The brand has made its mark on this typical British meal with a “Parisian twist”, that comes in the form of creamy camembert sandwiches and mini macaroons and instead of scones, a traditional brioche loaf served with jam and whipped cream. 

Although this tea is reasonably priced, if you did fancy spending a little extra, we’re also pretty impressed that you can bag yourself free flowing bubbles for £24.95. 

When: Daily, 2.30-5.30pm
How much: from £14.95

See more information here

Balthazar

Balthazar’s afternoon tea may look like it costs a pretty penny, but in reality this glamorous French bistro is a lot more affordable than you would think. The restaurant often changes the theme of its afternoon tea and at the moment it’s collaborating with online delivery service FLOWERBX to create a feast that’s as beautiful as it is delicious. 

After gobbling your fair share of sandwiches and scones, get ready for an assortment of cakes inspired by colourful seasonal blooms, from sky blue hydrangea to a deep red Balthazar rose.

Each FLOWERBX cake has been expertly paired with flavours to complement both the flower and the hue. These include Apple and Blackberry Tulip, Coconut and Yuzu Hydrangea, Salted Caramel Anemone, Lemon & Blueberry Dahlia and Balthazar Raspberry Rose

When: Monday to Friday, 3-5.30pm. Saturday, 3-5pm. Sunday, 3-6.30pm.
How much: £29.95

Make a reservation here

Zetter Townhouse

Zetter Townhouse Marylebone is a quirky and opulent boutique hotel, tucked away on a quiet street a stone’s throw from Hyde Park. 

Head to the darkly glamorous hotel lounge, Seymour’s Parlour, and choose from a range of retro options for afternoon tea – including sloe gin glazed ham finger sandwiches, smoked salmon on herb crème fraiche, and (of course) fresh scones with Cornish clotted cream and jam.

When: Daily, 12pm-5pm
How much: £28

Make a reservation here

Glam Rock Afternoon Tea at K West Hotel

This is not your grandma’s afternoon tea. The K West building once played host to musical heroes including Amy Winehouse, David Bowie and Bob Marley in its former guise as BBC Kensington House, and the hotel’s afternoon tea is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to its rock and roll heritage.

Tea is served on vintage record covers, with electric blue and pink teapots and teacups, and the menu includes “rolling scones” (of course). You can upgrade with a glass of prosecco – or even plump for the Rock ‘n’ Cocktails Tea, which includes five “cocktail shots” or one cocktail.

When: Daily, 2-5pm
How much: from £28.50

Make a reservation here

The Modern Pantry 

If you find traditional afternoon tea menus a little dull, this airy, stylish restaurant is the place for you. The Modern Pantry’s afternoon tea menu features delights such as smoked ricotta & thyme roast grape crostinis, a basil and black pepper scone with macerated blackberries and clotted cream, and tamarind and miso caramel macaroons. 

For drinks, pick your poison from the restaurant’s seasonal tea library – or treat yourself to a glass of Mabis prosecco or a white peach, lychee and passionfruit Bellini.

When: Tuesday to Sunday, 3-5pm 
How much: from £22.50

Make a reservation here

The National Café

Never got around to visiting the National Gallery? You’re missing out. Take in the gallery’s incredible collection of historic artworks before taking tea in its elegant café, run by modern British bakery Peyton & Byrne.

The menu is classic, made up of sandwiches, scones, pastries and cakes. Fresh blended juices are also on offer.

When: Daily, 2.30-4.30pm
How much: from £22.50

See more information here

Dean Street Townhouse 

Everything about the Dean Street Townhouse – a boutique hotel in the heart of Soho, housed in a sleek white Georgian building – oozes grown-up elegance. The wood-panelled dining room is dark, smart and cosy, and the afternoon tea is simple but effective, with three choices of sandwiches (cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and horseradish or eggs and mayonnaise), fruit scones and a range of luxury teas.

You can also have your afternoon tea at one of the hotel’s outdoor tables, and watch the hustle and bustle of Soho pass you by.

When: Daily, 2-6pm 
How much: from £21

Make a reservation here

Hoi Polloi

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Hoi Polloi is a “modernist brasserie” in Shoreditch’s super-hip Ace Hotel, and its afternoon tea is just as cool as you might expect. While the menu doesn’t mess with the classics (hearty scones with clotted cream and jam; delicate cucumber sandwiches), the atmosphere is laid back and stylish, with Breton-stripe clad staff and comfy leather booths.

If you don’t actually like tea, you can swap it for a pot of bottomless coffee – and they’ve a range of delicious cocktails, too.

When: Daily, 3-5.30pm
How much: from £21

Make a reservation here

German Gymnasium 

Can this place get any better? German Gymnasium in King’s Cross was previously voted the most beautiful restaurant in the world, and its afternoon tea is eminently affordable.

Purists might feel a twinge of anxiety at the thought of an afternoon tea menu that asks you to choose between two European-themed options, “The German” and “The Austrian” (this is supposed to be a British tradition, after all). But the treats on offer – from Black Forest ham and celeriac remoulade mini rolls to nussecken (German nut shortbread) and apple strudel – are delicious enough to tempt even the most anti-Europe Leave voter.

When: Thursday to Friday, 3-5.30pm. Saturday to Sunday, 4-5.30pm
How much: from £18.50

Make a reservation here

If this list has just ignited your fancy for afternoon tea, get ready for a full blown love affair once you feast your eyes on our round-up of unique and themed afternoon teas in London and most iconic and luxurious spots to enjoy the pass time. 

Images: Erol Ahmed / Courtesy of venues 

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Moya Crockett

Moya is Women’s Editor at stylist.co.uk, where she is currently overseeing the Visible Women campaign. As well as writing about inspiring women and feminism, she also covers subjects including careers, podcasts and politics. Carrying a tiny bottle of hot sauce on her person at all times is one of the many traits she shares with both Beyoncé and Hillary Clinton.

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