Unique and themed afternoon teas in London

Posted by
Charlotte Duck

Afternoon tea fans, we’re about to take your love of scones and mini-deserts to new heights, with this expertly selected round-up of unique and themed afternoon teas.

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

The oh-so-British tradition is being reinvented with some imaginative twists - from tea inspired by the latest catwalk trends, or literature, such as Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland

Whether you’re all tea-ed out and looking for something different to reignite your passion for finger-sandwiches, want to support a worthy cause (check out the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party that supports women’s charity mothers2mothers) or 

Those with a taste for tea can also now enjoy gluten-free menus, Indian-inspired offerings, or even swap out scones for seafood.

We’ve selected our favourite alternative takes on the afternoon classic in the gallery below.

Mad Hatter’s Charity Tea Party at The Sanderson

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 as 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 and support 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.

Art afternoon tea at The Rosewood Hotel 

Prestigious Central London hotel, The Rosewood, offers an artistic afternoon tea that’s won awards for its contemporary vision as well as its delicious taste.

Served in the glistening Mirror Room, the tea is inspired by London’s vibrant art scene, in particular the British Museum’s exhibition, Rodin and the art of ancient Greece. The food fabulously mimics the French sculpture’s famous modern aesthetic, replacing twee miniature cakes with deserts that twist and curve with sophistication. 

The menu features the usual suspects of finger sandwiches and scones, but thanks to the work of the team and Executive Pastry Chef  Mark Perkins, these typical afternoon tea treats are heightened to new levels of deliciousness. 

When: Monday to Friday, 2-6pm. Saturday, 12-7pm. Sunday, 12-6pm
How much: from £55

Make a reservation here

Vegan afternoon tea at 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 glass of prosecco if you fancy some fizz. 

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

Make a reservation here

Prêt-à-Portea afternoon tea at The Berkeley 

Fashion fans, this one’s for you. The Berkeley’s legendary designer afternoon tea is a masterpiece of colour and design, drawing its inspiration from catwalk style and fashion icons. 

Every six months it’s updated to reflect the world’s most current and exciting trends, with this summer’s tea being influenced by distinguished fashion and accessory designers and international runways. As well as being a treat for the eyes, your taste buds won’t know what’s hit ‘em thanks to a selection of miniature savoury skewers, taster spoons, elegant canapés and tea sandwiches. 

When: Everyday, 1-5.30pm 
How much: from £52

Make a reservation here

Afternoon tea at Sketch

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

Stepping inside 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 held. 

Aside from the spectacular decor, the food and presentation is also show-stopping. Classic cucumber filled finger sandwiches are replaced with caviar and quail egg and a fois gras tartelette. The deserts will have you exclaiming ‘oh la la’ as soon as they hit your lips, 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

Diptyque afternoon tea at Hotel Café Royal

Hotel Cafe Royal has held its distinguished spot on the helm of Regent Street since French couple Celestine and Daniel Thévenon fled Paris and set up shop in 1863. Since then it has played host to some of the most famous of faces, racking up endless glittering stories particularly in the gold gilded Oscar Wilde lounge. 

It is there, where David Bowie held his final Ziggy Stardust party and Elizabeth Taylor danced the night away, that these days the afternoon tea is held. 

Paying homage to the hotel’s Parisian roots, this supremely luxe afternoon tea is partnered with iconic fragrance brand, diptyque. It takes inspiration from some of the brand’s most-loved floral scents and changes seasonally. 

The Spring and Summer diptyque afternoon tea is a floral delight, taking flavour inspiration from the perfumer’s Geranium Rose, Freesia, Choisya Orange Blossom and Baies Rose & Berries scents. And as if the romantically decorated lounge wasn’t sumptuous enough, it has been decorated with wild flowers and diptyque scented ovals to complete the experience. Plus,  those who opt in for the highest-end package will even get a candle to take home with them.

When: Daily from 11.30am-7.30pm
How much: from £45                                                                                                                                     

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 & prosecco, topped with fresh blackberries. 

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

Make a reservation here

Scandal Water at The London EDITION

If a twee tea isn’t your thing, you’ll love this salacious version of the classically British pass time, that deviates from the typical finger sandwiches and scones and replaces prosecco with punch. 

The London EDITION hotel flawlessly manages to straddle being opulent and achingly cool at the same time, a fact that is oh-so-evident in this unique afternoon tea. It takes inspiration the 19th Century slang term ‘scandal water’ which historically refers to a time in the afternoon when the upper classes had nothing to do while waiting for dinner, and would spend the hours gossiping over a cuppa. 

In celebration of this tradition, Henrietta Lovell, founder of the acclaimed Rare Tea Co. and Phil Carmichael, Executive Chef at Berners Tavern, have recreated a small feast in the style of what would have been enjoyed by London’s nobility. Five teas come with five food pairings, including an iced gem shortbread biscuit with butter cream and miso cured salmon with caviar. 

If you fancy adding a little extra scandal to your afternoon, try the punch custom created from each of the respective teas, a delicious, alcoholic blend that’s sure to get tongues wagging. 

When: Friday to Sunday, 3-4pm
How much: £35

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. 

These will be served alongside finger sandwiches and an assortment of scones in the elegant Jazz Room, where the soothing sounds of a live piano playing hum through the air daily. But not only will you be treated to some brilliant live music, the surroundings are pretty astounding too. The teal and dusty pink colour theme that runs throughout the room is designed to evoke a sense of classic Art Deco style and sophistication, a goal which they have absolutely achieved. 

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

Make a reservation here

Images: Raw Pixel / Courtesy of venues