By Sara d'Souza
It’s autumn. And whether it’s darting in out of the rain or escaping the shopping crowds for a dainty sandwich and glass of champagne or two, there’s nothing quite like afternoon tea .
The Ritz and The Savoy may be the time-honoured venues for old-fashioned grande dame-ish afternoon tea, but for our money it’s Claridge’s that takes the top spot. On the surface it is a fairly straightforward spread of tea, scones and sandwiches, but it's s the details that make it special – whether it’s the tea-infused jam or the choice of 30 teas (top tip: try the exquisite Royal White-Silver Needles – it’s only picked on two days of the year at dawn) served in lovely peppermint and white striped pots, or the pianist seredaing you in the black and white chequered lobby.
Afternoon tea at Claridge’s – from £55 pp.
Read ELLEuk’s full review of Claridge’s
Like Claridge’s, The Connaught is not only one of the best places for afternoon tea in London, it’s also one of the very grandest. It doesn’t rest on its (ultra-luxurious) laurels, though. Featuring the likes of sesame frangipane tartes and ginger scones made by chef patissier, Kirk Whittle, a menu of home-made Christine Ferber jams and a wide range of teas (from green Sencha Gyokuro Asahi Pearl Dew to the black house blend, Royal Connaught Afternoon), its ‘Chic and Shock’ tea in Espelette is superb from start to finish.
Afternoon tea at The Connaught – from £45 pp
Read ELLEuk’s full review of The Connaught
Afternoon tea at Brown’s spells Christmas. Not only is the English Tea Room a lovely, snug wood-panelled slice of traditional London, but it’s surrounded by the glitteringly festive shop windows of Mayfair (with Dover Street Market across the road). The service is stellar, too, and well-informed staff will help you to a cake or two from the trolley or guide you through the tea options available. For proper tea fanatics, they even do a ‘Tea-torial’ – a class in how to make afternoon tea by pastry chef Joanne Todd, followed by a chance to tuck into the real thing.
Afternoon tea at Brown’s – from £45.00 pp
The Berkeley goes one better with an unusually creaive afternoon teas. Fashion-centric to the core (it is as one of our top London Fashion Week hotels, and you can hire a gorgeous vintage dressing-up box stuffed with Chanel and Dior for the night…) its Pret-a-Portea afternoon tea is catwalk-inspired, changing seasonally so you can work your way through everyone from Miu Miu (high heel-shaped biscuits) to McCartney (a quite lovely polka dot sponge cake).
Afternoon tea at The Berkeley – from £45 p
Read ELLEuk’s full review of The Berkeley
The Langham is aTea Guild winner, and it’s easy to see why: served in the cavernous Palm Court, against a backdrop of a tinkling piano, it’s a very civilised set-up indeed. Best of all is the hotel's location – at the upper end of Regent Street,., so when you're all shopped out, you can bowl in, put your bags down and your feet up and, having consulted the tea sommelier, discuss the day’s shopping over a dainty sandwich or three .
Afternoon tea at The Langham – from £26 - £42.00 pp