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The best unique and themed afternoon tea in London

Posted by
Megan Murray
Published
Mary Poppins afternoon tea at Aqua Shard

Afternoon tea fans, 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. 

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

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.  

Beauty and the Beast Afternoon Tea at Town House 

Listen up Disney fans, Town House in South Kensington has granted all your afternoon tea wishes. The swanky, West London restaurant has launched a magical Beauty and the Beast themed tea, aptly named Tale as Old as Time. Every aspect of this whimsical meal is inspired by the characters and scenes of the much-loved 1991 animation, from the chocolate clock tart made with chocolate ganache to the “try the grey stuff” mousse. We’re particularly excited about the collection of Mrs Potts and Chip themed tableware, which are bound to make it onto your Instagram. 

When: Monday to Friday, 12 -4pm 
How much: from £42

Make a reservation here

American CUTcakes and Tea at 45 Park Lane

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

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.

Doggie Afternoon Tea at Bluebird Café

Dog friendly afternoon tea in London

For too long, dog owners have been forced to part ways with their furry friends when the mood for afternoon tea strikes. But although some people may think that china cups and chiwawas don’t mix, that’s all about to change thanks to a new partnership between Bluebird Café, pet travel company PetsPyjamas and animal welfare charity, the Wild at Heart Foundation. 

Every Sunday for six weeks from the 22 July, the Bluebird Café in White City will be throwing a paws up for dogs and their owners alike, serving afternoon teas that can be enjoyed by all. For smaller, fluffier patrons, there’ll be banana and peanut butter vegan dog cookies served in luxury dog bowls (perfect for Instagramming the occasion). And for larger, human patrons there’ll be a delicious-sounding, three tier selection of jam and cream fruit scones, chocolate swiss rolls and cucumber, salmon and cream cheese sandwiches on offer. 

When: Sundays, 2.30-5pm.
How much: £21.50 

Make a reservation here

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 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.

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 a 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 known for being a masterpiece of colour and design, drawing its inspiration from catwalk style and fashion icons. 

Every six months the tea is updated to reflect the world’s most current and exciting trends, with this summer’s main influence being the distinguished fashion and accessory designers of 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 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

Diptyque Afternoon Tea at Hotel Café Royal 

Hotel Café 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, 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 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 summer Diptyque afternoon tea is a floral delight, taking flavour inspiration from the perfumer’s geranium rose, freesia, choisya orange blossom and Baies rose and berries scents. And as if the romantically decorated lounge wasn’t sumptuous enough, wild flowers and Diptyque scented ovals have been added 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 and 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 past 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 evident in this unique afternoon tea. It takes inspiration from 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 cup of tea. 

In celebration of this tradition, Henrietta Lovell, founder of the acclaimed Rare Tea Co. and Phil Carmichael, the 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 which has been custom created from each of the respective teas. It’s 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. 

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