Afternoon Tea in London
A quintessential British tradition, afternoon tea has been around since the 19th century. Follow the tea-sipping lead of bygone British duchesses, and indulge yourself with mid-afternoon cakes, sandwiches, and tea at a traditional London hotel.
A pot of tea paired with a tier of fresh finger sandwiches, scones, and little cakes on fine china form the hallmark of the best afternoon tea. Champagne is offered as a special indulgence.
While squeezed between lunch and dinner, afternoon tea is a ritual that can’t be rushed. Aim to "take tea" for about two hours.
Most experiences take place at elegant tea rooms in prestigious central London hotels, easy to access by foot and public transport. Some combo tours offer hotel pickup and drop-off, too.
Credit for the afternoon tea custom goes to a friend of Queen Victoria's, the seventh Duchess of Bedfordshire, who ordered snacks to see her through until dinner. The tradition went on to become a beloved social occasion.
Afternoon Tea Experiences
For a traditional afternoon tea that would be approved of by the aristocrats, look to a 4- or 5-star hotel such as Grosvenor House, Claridge's, the Savoy, the Ritz, or the Rubens at the Palace Hotel. While the tea menu, elegant cakes, and finger sandwiches will delight most, some hotels go further for families with a kids' menu that swaps tea for milkshakes.
Pair a London city tour with English afternoon tea; it's the perfect way to top off an action-packed sightseeing experience in the capital. Tea can be taken as you sightsee from a Thames River boat; after a vintage London bus tour; or after a dedicated tour of Buckingham Palace, St. Paul's Cathedral, or Shakespeare's Globe.