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Unique and themed afternoon tea in London

Posted by
Megan Murray
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Afternoon tea lovers, we’re about to take your love of scones and finger sandwiches to new heights, with this expertly selected round-up of unique and themed afternoon teas in London. 

Once the reserve of garden parties and twee church fetes, afternoon tea is getting a makeover. 

The oh-so-British tradition has been reinvented with some imaginative twists - from tea inspired by the latest catwalk trends to classic literature like Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Whether you’re all tea-ed out and looking for something different to reignite your passion for mini-deserts, want to support a worthy cause (check out the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party that supports women’s charity mothers2mothers) or have something special to celebrate and want to do it in style, we think one of these might just do the trick. 

Take a gander at our favourite themed and unique afternoon teas in London and treat yourself to some imaginative indulgence. 

Prêt-à-Portea: The Dior Collection at The Berkeley 

The Berkeley Dior afternoon tea

We can’t think of an afternoon tea more fabulous than one themed around the legendary fashion house, Dior. In celebration of the Victoria & Albert Museum’s monumental fashion exhibition, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, luxury hotel The Berkeley has created a simply beautiful afternoon tea featuring biscuit bags and fondant frocks.

Each delicious morsel is inspired by an actual Dior design, from the Junon Dress worn by Theo Graham at Le Pré Catalan in Paris 1949, to the Bar Jacket (synonymous with Dior since it took to the catwalk in 1947). This is an experience real fashion fans will love.

Menu highlights include a rose pink Miss Dior eau de Parfum lychee and raspberry cake topped with lychee pata de fruit and an oversized bow, this season’s J’dior slingback pump vanilla biscuit with royal icing finished with an edible sugar ribbon and the Lady Dior handbag gifted to Princess Diana by France’s first lady, Bernadette Chirac, sandwiched with strawberry ganache and iced with red chocolate miroir.

Of course, the tea is served with… well, tea – but you can also opt for a glass of bubbles, too. The Berkeley serves a wide selection of champagne, so we don’t think you’ll have any problems finding something you like.

When: 1-5.30pm, daily
How much: from £60

Make a reservation here

Rare Charity afternoon tea at Claridge’s

The afternoon tea at Claridge’s is always an incredible experience. However, sipping a tea at the iconic hotel comes with a once in a lifetime opportunity on the 25 of March.

Martyn Nail, executive chef of Claridge’s, has teamed up with Richard Hart of Hart Bageri and René Redzepi, founder of Noma Restaurant in Copenhagen, to create a special afternoon tea, 

That’s right: for the first (and maybe last) time ever, René Redzepi will bring Noma’s incredible food art to London. The four times best restaurant in the world is famous for its incredibly elaborate dishes and, it’s fair to say, we are more than excited to see what René will create for the Claridge’s afternoon tea. And, as if that weren’t enough reason to try and win yourself a spot at the table, there’s also the fact that the tea has been organised to raise money for Rare Charity.

Rare Charity funds education for young people in Malawi, advocating for gender equality in the country and promoting female students by creating school scholarships for girls.

Raffle tickets are available on the Rare Charity website

When: 3pm on the 25 of March

How much: £5

Try to win a ticket here

London Landmarks Afternoon Tea at Town House  

Landmark London afternoon tea

Could there be anything more brilliantly British than visiting a decadent West London establishment for an afternoon tea inspired by the capital’s most iconic buildings? We think not.

At Town House in Kensington, the Shard, Gherkin and London’s red telephone boxes have all been re-imagined as tasty treats, sculpted and crafted from delicious materials. Presented on a mini London eye, the afternoon tea leads diners on a tour of the capital’s architectural feats and culinary traditions, while paying tribute to London’s most famous structures.

Tuck into a Big Ben-inspired lemon curd tart, a carrot cake and milk chocolate Shard and a red phone box made from rhubarb mousse – then wash it down with a glass of champagne.

When: Every day from 12-4
How much: from £42

Make a reservation here

Squiffy Picnic at Cahoots 

Squiffy picnic afternoon tea Cahoots London

This vintage-themed spectacular isn’t technically an afternoon tea, but it most certainly is one of the most unmissable dining experiences in London. Underground bar Carhoots, in Carnaby Street’s Kingly Court, is known for its quirky concept transporting guests back in time to a post-war 1940’s disused underground tube station, with real train carriages for seats, vintage themed cocktails and a speakeasy feel. 

Every Saturday the venue puts on a unique, ‘tipsy tea’ take on the usual afternoon tea set up, swapping scones and finger sandwiches for picnic treats like hot pies, dips and crisps, generously filled sandwiches and, most importantly, unlimited cocktails. Unlike traditional teas, your choices are not limited to bubbly, but a whole range of seriously delicious alcoholic drinks. From the creamy Mornin’ Mr Milkman to the zingy, gin-based Down the Apples and Pears, we think you’ll enjoy filling your boots. 

But what makes this experience stand out from all the others? Well it has to be the fabulous live entertainment, which will have you laughing from start to finish. Lois ‘Legs’ Laurelle is your host, and between the jokes, conga line and serenading, there’s absolutely no way you won’t have a good time. With a group of a friends, this is the ultimate way to spend a Saturday. 

When: Every Saturday from 1pm
How much: Prices start at £46

Make a reservation here

Bottomless Afternoon Tea at Radio Rooftop 

Radio Rooftop afternoon tea

Radio Rooftop is famed for being an exquisite place to sip cocktails as the sun goes down, with stunning views that stretch out for miles over the iconic London skyline. Sleek, stylish and deliciously swanky, it’s the ultimate venue for treating yourself. And what’s more special than a decadent afternoon tea?

And now this sky-high bar and restaurant is serving an extra boozy afternoon tea, and we can’t wait to try it out.

The menu includes savouries like roasted turkey sandwiches with piccalilli on rye bread and egg and watercress brioche, while desserts come in the form of lemon pie and pink rhubarb macaroon. There’s also a selection of warm scones alongside clotted cream and jam, and plenty of tea to wash it all down with. 

On the bottomless front, there’s a selection of five drinks to choose from, including prosecco, Bellini, Mimosa, Bloody Mary and champagne. 

When: Until 4pm everyday 
How much: £28

Make a reservation here.

Sheraton x Lock and Co afternoon tea at Sheraton Grand London Park Lane

Sheraton Grand afternoon tea

Since opening in 1927, Sheraton Grand London Park Lane has enjoyed sharing a patch its patch of Mayfair with the renown milliners Lock & Co, who set up shop there in 1676. For just short of a century, the two establishments have existed side by side and to celebrate their history they have decided to create a special, hat-themed afternoon tea. 

You see, Lock & Co is no ordinary shop, just as Sheraton Grand London Park Lane is no ordinary hotel. Lock & Co is steeped in history, having served notable figures like Queen Elizabeth II and Sir Winston Churchill. Served in the hotel’s The Palm Court, guests can dine on exquisitely made sandwiches and pastries, inspired by the world’s most recognisable hats. Elegantly presented in a Lock & Co. hat box, treats such as The Worsley (a cocoa nib tart with pineapple jam), The Bowler (a kalamansi and caramelised chocolate mousse with Oreo biscuit) and The Fedora (mandarin jelly, alunga chocolate mousse and red velvet biscuit) are expertly balanced and are as delicious as they are beautiful. 

If that’s enough to tempt you, you should also know that The Palm Court celebrated a sought-after ‘Highly Commended’ certificate at the 2017 Afternoon Tea Awards. Fancy, right?

When: Everyday with seatings at 12p, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm
How much: From £39

Make a reservation here.  

Mary Poppins Afternoon Tea at Aqua Shard

Mary Poppins afternoon tea at Aqua Shard

This playful afternoon tea acts as a tribute to the much-loved character Mary Poppins and all of her magical adventures. Taking inspiration from the books, rather than the Disney adaptation, even the menu attempts to imitate the gold gilded mirror that acts as a symbol for Mary’s vanity and “practically perfect” reflection throughout the literature series. Other impressively attentive details include the tiny kites you’ll find in your champagne flute, and a tiered stand shaped like the mystical nanny herself. 

Both savoury and sweet dishes stick to a quintessentially British format, with a slight contemporary twist. Think Devon crab and cucumber brioche and mini crumpets, served with smoked salmon and cream cheese. While sweet treats come in the form of a gingerbread star and black “cherry tree lane” mouse covered in dark chocolate.

When: Everyday from 1-5pm
How much: From £49

Make a reservation here.  

American CUTcakes and Tea at 45 Park Lane

45 Park Lane afternoon tea

Park Lane may be one of the most iconic British addresses around, but this luxe hotel has decided to take a walk on the American side when it comes to serving afternoon tea. The team at 45 Park Lane have swapped delicate, porcelain sandwiches and piano music, for a feast of delicious American teatime favourites.

Menu highlights include Cola Cake with Caramel Corn, S’mores and Black Truffle grilled cheese, which can all be washed down with American craft beers. If that list doesn’t make you weak at the knees, wait until you see the peanut butter and jelly Twinkie, or the macaron artfully disguised as a mini cheeseburger.

When: Monday to Saturday, 2.30pm and 3.30pm 
How much: from £55

Make a reservation here

Parisian Afternoon Tea at Maison Assouline

Assouline Maison afternoon tea

Maison Assouline is what happens when all of the right stars align. By that we mean, this charismatic cultural destination is not only a place where you can browse design-lead tomes and rare first editions of classi titles. But, as well as a gorgeous book shop, it also happens to be a museum of eclectic artifacts, concept store and Parisian style eatery and bar. Can it get any better?

Well apparently, yes it can. Maison Assouline, which is housed in a former bank’s Grade II listed building in Piccadilly, is now serving afternoon tea themed on the most romantic city in the world. Take a trip to its Central London location and feast on French fancies such as L’Ami Louis foie gras, chocolate, hazelnut, and apricot cakes with your choice of earl grey tea and house champagne. Bon appetit! 

When: Everyday from 3-5.30pm 
How much: £35

Make a reservation by calling 020 3034 3092 or visit assouline.com.

Mad Hatter’s Charity Tea Party at The Sanderson

Alice in Wonderland themed afternoon tea in London at The Sanderson Hotel

As the name suggests, this afternoon tea takes its inspiration from all things Alice In Wonderland. The crockery is wonderfully fantastical with dainty little glasses labelled ‘drink me’, teapots decorated with kings and queens, and menus placed neatly in vintage books.

But if that wasn’t enough reason to try it out for yourself, this summer The Sanderson is collaborating with Laurent-Perrier Rosé and charity mothers2mothers, to give their tea and courtyard a flamboyant pink make-over while supporting the women’s charity.

A donation of £1 from every tea will go to the Africa-based charity, which strives to empower HIV-positive women as community health workers to help families get the health advice and medication they need, and support them on their treatment journey.

When: Monday to Saturday from 12.30-4pm, Sunday 1-5pm
How much: from £48

Make a reservation here.

Vegan Afternoon Tea at Ethos 

Vegan afternoon tea Ethos

Afternoon tea is a sociable affair, so Ethos has made sure that everyone can partake in it, whatever their dietary requirements. 

Their vegan and gluten-free menu includes healthy black bean brownies, banana bread and lemon drizzle cake, and you can wash it all down with a cup of Black Sheep coffee, Harrogate fine tea or a glass of prosecco if you fancy some fizz. 

When: Everyday from 3-5.30pm
How much: £20

Make a reservation here

Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Sketch afternoon tea London

Although not specifically themed, the afternoon tea at the artistically designed restaurant Sketch, is a particularly unique experience. 

Stepping inside the restaurant-slash-bar-slash-tea-parlour is like falling down the rabbit hole. Push aside a thick velvet curtain and you’ll see the outline of a hopscotch on the floor (feel free to practise your playground skills), neon signs interspersed with avant-garde artworks on the walls and utterly over-the-top décor and furniture. And this is nothing compared to the completely millennial pink room where the tea itself is served. 

Aside from the spectacular decor, the food and presentation is also show-stopping. Classic cucumber finger sandwiches are replaced with caviar and quail egg fillings and a fois gras tartelette. And the deserts will have you exclaiming ‘oh la la’ as soon as they hit your lips, with many taking a French turn, like the mini caramel and chocolate eclair. 

When: Daily from 11.30am-4.30pm
How much: from £58                                                                                                         

Make a reservation here

Midsummer Night’s Dream Afternoon Tea at The Swan

Literary lovers unite for this whimsical afternoon tea served at The Swan, celebrating the great Bard himself and one of his most adored plays, A Midsummer’s Night Dream.  

The tea’s creators invite you to “eat your way through the twists and turns of Shakespeare’s ethereal romantic comedy” as they theme each bite to a different character or part of the story. 

From the pea flower of Oberon’s love potion, the apricots Titania feeds to Bottom and the mulberries from the lovers’ tree, every morsel has a meaning.

We particularly like the sound of the “magical” love potion cocktail, which mixes Earl Grey infused gin, honey from the London Honey Co, blackberry puree and prosecco, topped with fresh blackberries. 

When: Daily from 12-3pm
How much: from £28.50                                                                                                                                    

Make a reservation here

 Pa-tea-sserie at The Wellesley 

Tea lovers will adore this patisserie inspired afternoon tea, which gives a creative, new twist to one of our most favourite meals. Not only have The Wellesley added French pastries to the order of the day, but they’ve given them a unique flavour using some of the hotel’s custom tea blends. 

Deserts are served alongside finger sandwiches and an assortment of scones in the elegant Jazz Room, where the soothing sounds of a live piano hums through the air daily. 

But not only are you be treated to some brilliant live music, the surroundings are pretty astounding too. The teal and dusty pink colour scheme that runs throughout the room is designed to evoke a sense of classic Art Deco style and sophistication, a goal which has absolutely been achieved. 

When: Monday to Friday, 3-5pm. Saturday to Sunday, 2-6.30pm
How much: from £35

Make a reservation here

Although we love taking a walk on the wild side, can anything beat London’s most iconic and luxurious spots for afternoon tea? After all, it is quite literally, the food of queens. 

Check out our list of opulently classic afternoon teas in the capital here. But if some of those pull at the purse strings ever so slightly too tightly, don’t worry, we’ve also found some of the most affordable (and utterly delicious) afternoon teas in London, too. 

Images: Raw Pixel / Courtesy of venues