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 11 affordable afternoon teas to book for spring.
Main image: iStock
Zetter Townhouse, Marylebone
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
Click here for more information. Image: Zetter Townhouse
Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea at Balthazar, Covent Garden
Fashionable brasserie Balthazar has collaborated with world-renowned make-up maven Bobbi Brown to create this luxurious, beauty-inspired afternoon tea. Tuck into finely cut sandwiches and scones as well as a delicious selection of cakes inspired by Brown’s iconic beauty products, including a rhubarb and ginger ‘Shimmer Brick’ and a pecan and jasmine ‘Long-Wear Cream Shadow’ macaroon.
Every diner is also invited to experience a complimentary make-up session with a Bobbi Brown artist at the Covent Garden Studio around the corner.
When? Weekdays 3pm-5.30pm, Saturdays 3pm-5pm, Sundays 3pm-6.30pm
How much? £27.50 for the Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea; £37.50 for the Champagne and Cocktail Afternoon tea
Traditional Afternoon Tea at The Reform Social & Grill, Marylebone
The Reform Social & Grill is a proudly British establishment, with a vintage-inspired afternoon tea that draws on the refined dining traditions of the Forties and Fifties. Expect classic finger sandwiches (including the defiantly old-fashioned minted cucumber and cheese and coronation chicken), as well as scones, green tea cakes, macarons and fruit tarts.
They also have an intriguingly huge selection of unusual loose-leaf teas, from Turkish apple to rooibos orange and cactus fig, and you can throw in a glass of Moët & Chandon champagne for an extra tenner.
When? Monday-Thursday 2pm-5.30pm, Fridays 3 pm-5.30pm, Saturdays 3pm-5.30pm, Sundays 12.30pm-5.30pm
How much? £26.50 for the Traditional Afternoon Tea; £37 for the Champagne Afternoon Tea
Click here for more information. Image: Reform Social & Grill
100 Kensington, Kensington
The interior of 100 Kensington, just around the corner from the Natural History Museum, is fancy – Instagram is full of photos of its rainbow neon-lit bar (pictured).
The afternoon tea includes unexpected twists on classic treats: think duck egg, aioli and watercress sandwiches, spiced pumpkin scones and burnt orange caramel and mango panna cotta.
When? Daily, 11am-5pm
How much? £25; £35 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot
Glam Rock Afternoon Tea at K West Hotel, Shepherd’s Bush
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, 2pm-6pm
How much? £24.50 for the Glam Rock Afternoon Tea; £31.50 for the Glam Rock Prosecco Afternoon Tea; £36.50 for the Rock ‘n’ Cocktails Tea
The Modern Pantry, Clerkenwell
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 chicken, harissa mayonnaise and avocado sandwiches, lavender and earl grey scones with orange and rose petal marmalade, and kaffir lime tart.
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? Friday-Sunday, 3pm-5pm
How much? £22.50; £27.50 “with bubbles”
Click here for more information. Image: The Modern Pantry
The National Café, Trafalgar Square
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 (we like the sound of the flourless gooey chocolate cake). Fresh blended juices are also on offer.
When? Daily, 2.30pm-4pm
How much? £22.50; £31.50 with champagne
Dean Street Townhouse, Soho
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, 2pm-6pm
How much? £21; £32 with champagne
Hoi Polloi, Shoreditch
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 laidback 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, 3pm-5.30pm
How much? £21; £30 with champagne
Little Nan's, Deptford
Deptford in south-east London might seem a little off the beaten track, but the journey is worth it for a trip to Little Nan’s. This delightfully bonkers cocktail bar, right next to Deptford High Street station, features décor halfway between a tropical-themed party and an old lady’s living room: think squishy flocked floral sofas, a zebra-print bar and pink lights everywhere.
The Afternoon High Tea includes home-baked scones, mini pastries, Victoria sponge and carrot cake and a selection of sandwiches, set to a disco soundtrack. The bar serves cocktails throughout the day, so you can carry on the party well into the night.
When? Weekdays 3pm-7pm, weekends 1pm-5pm
How much? £20; £25 with two cocktails
German Gymnasium, King’s Cross
Can this place get any better? German Gymnasium in King’s Cross was recently 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 and Friday 3pm-5.30pm, weekends 4pm-5.30pm
How much? £18.50
Click here for more information. Image: German Gymnasium