Do you love the idea of a themed afternoon tea London experience since you literally have continual visions of scones and clotted cream dancing through your head?
Or perhaps you’re planning a return visit to London and just want to dine at one of the many quirky places to eat in London?
YUP, ALSO ME!
If you emphatically nodded yes to either of these questions, since your love for all things carb is eternal and true, then this afternoon tea London guide is for you.
Because let’s be honest:
No one does afternoon tea like London. That’s why even traditional high tea at the Ritz is absolutely wonderful.
You can savor delicious English Breakfast tea and warm, fresh-out-of-the-oven scones with hefty dollops of clotted cream elsewhere, but it just isn’t the same.
And honestly, if you’re going to all this trouble and paying all this money, then why do a boring and totally traditional afternoon tea in London?
Nah. That’s not for you. You’re way cooler than that.
You want to jazzy fizzle it up with my super cool picks for the most unique and best afternoon tea in London.
So grab a pastry to gnaw on, because we’re about to get hungry up in here, and let’s explore the whimsical world of totally cool, themed afternoon teas in London.
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1. Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea Party at the Sanderson
Trust me, we’re all a little mad here at Girl with the Passport.
Okay, well it’s just me since I can’t afford a staff, but that just makes what I just said even truer.
If you’re feeling a little MAD and looking for a unique afternoon tea experience to call your own, then head to the Sanderson for a Mad Hatter’s afternoon tea party for a very merry UN-borthday to you!
You need to book aftternoon tea at the Sanderson WAY in advance since, understandably, this experience is super popular.
Upon arrival, you may be seated in either the hotel restaurant or the outdoor courtyard.
Which is fine:
Minus the fact that me and my lovely friend, over at That Anxious Traveller, were seated outside in the middle of winter.
Big, super WOMP.
And while there were outdoor heaters, I was definitely cold and kind of felt like I needed to wear my coat the entire time.
That was the only, TINY negative of the entire tea party.
As I’m sure you can guess, this London afternoon tea extravaganza is based on Lewis Carroll’s novel, Alice and Wonderland; a theme that you’ll see everywhere, starting with afternoon tea menus that are presented inside vintage books.
My book loving heart loved this amazing little touch.
You’ll then be treated to an assortment of Alice and Wonderland themed tea infusions that are served in little glass jars that mimic the one Alice found, after she fell down the rabbit hole, which had a tag that read, “drink me”.
Once you breathe in the assortment teas and choose your preferred infusion of deliciousness (I got the Queen of Hearts which had rose, vanilla, and chocolate flavors), you’ll be treated to a fresh pot of tea that is served with an actual, queen of hearts crown.
No joke, but literally everything about this afternoon tea was fun and totally whimsical, from the beautiful china to the delicious finger sandwiches ( I had cream cheese with croque-monsieur, grilled vegetables with tomato on an avocado brioche roll, and a cucumber and cream cheese sandwich with pesto bread).
My favorite part was, of course, the scone with clotted cream and raspberry jam. They came out warm and toasty so definitely try to eat them first so they don’t get cold!
The sweet menu items were decadently delicious too with items like Alic’s exotic fruit “Drink Me” potion, a vanilla macaron, a strawberry jammy dodger, lemon curd financier, etc.
There are an assortment of menu options available for anyone with food allergies or dietary restrictions (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy-free menus available).
Three cheers for no anaphylactic shock!
So while yes, the tea was a bit pricey at £48 per person and £35 per child (for children 4-11 years old), I personally think it is a crazy fun experience that is totally worth it (for bank holidays the price is £58 per person).
2. Prêt-à-Portea (fashion/design-themed tea) at The Berkeley
Any fashionistas out there?
Because if so then this EN VOGUE, fashion-themed afternoon tea is for you.
With impeccable service, insanely delicious finger sandwiches, and lovely, fashion-inspired desserts (accompanied by a look book so that you see where the inspiration for each dessert came from), afternoon tea at The Berkeley is a true event and a great choice for anyone who wants to try a fun themed afternoon tea in London.
You can even try an unlimited number of teas during your tea service, which is an added bonus too.
I adored the finger sandwiches which didn’t feel like a lame precursor to the main event, which is generally the dessert.
Party chef Mourad Khiat really took time to create sandwiches with well-developed, innovative flavors like mayonnaise, beef heart tomatoes and mustard cress on brioche bread or beetroots, horseradish feta, and watercress on tomato bread.
The Berkeley even serves delicious, warm and savory treats too, like baked brioche with spice jam and Manchego cheese.
Yeah, this sorta makes up for the fact that no scones are served at this afternoon tea.
(Quietly sobs in the corner)
As far as dessert was concerned, I wasn’t overly impressed.
Some of the desserts were really delicious, like the pecan madeleine cake filled with velvet nashi pear and ginger cream, or the lemon poppyseed cheesecake.
And some were rather underwhelming. I literlly took one bite of and was like, ehh, not for me.
I also was not a fan of the mocktail they gave me since I didn’t really want it but ordered one because apparently, it came with my tea.
So while I felt like there were a few slight misses:
This is still a fantastic London afternoon tea service for your furst time in London, albeit a bit pricey at £58.00 per person (not my favorite afternoon tea on the list or the best afternoon tea in London).
3. Sweet Shop Afternoon tea at the Chesterfield
Walk into the Chesterfield for afternoon tea and you’ll find a traditional sweet shop just filled with candies that celebrate the nostalgia and beauty of youth.
Inspired by Hardys Original Sweetshop:
This quirky afternoon tea in London is filled with delicious tea, fantastic service, and an assortment of fine foods like freshly made finger sandwiches, homemade scones, delicious cakes, and tantalizing pastries.
When I visited though:
It was pretty hilarious because it was the holiday season and my waiter was walking around, dressed up like a giant elf.
Sorry Buddy but this guy blew you out of the water.
Now personally, I felt like the “theme” was a little weak.
I mean, I was there during the holidays and in terms of a themed afternoon tea, all I got was a gingerbread man and a dessert shaped like a Christmas tree.
So I wasn’t exactly WOWED by their insane level of theme creativity.
However, everything they did serve was delicious.
I literally had to stop myself from devouring the cheese, tomato, and chutney sandwich on onion bread, or the egg salad on basil bread.
They had my beloved fruit and chocolate scones, with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jelly (I prefer raspberry jam but that’s just me).
The desserts served were also really tasty and included an eclair, a homemade red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting, a rhubarb and custard macaron, lemon cheesecake, etc.
But it gets even better!
The afternoon tea here is bottomless so if you want more of anything at all, just ask and the staff will happily bring it out for you (minus alcohol since that costs money).
But you might not need anything else since you also get a complimentary bag of candy to take away with you.
So while the food, tea, and service were great:
I saw this as more of a traditional afternoon tea in London and less of a super unique afternoon tea in London.
***Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus are all also available. Afternoon tea here is £40 for adults and £21.50 for children.***
4. Harry Potter Themed Afternoon Tea at Cutter and Squidge
Umm, who doesn’t wanna dress up like a wizard, wave a “magical” wand around, and pretend to make potions for two hours?
Because this Harry Potter lovin’ fool does!
I mean, first of all, this themed afternoon tea is held in an entirely separate room from the bakery and is fully bedazzled to look just like Snape’s potions class, fully eqipped with one standard size pewter size cauldron for each student.
And as if that wasn’t cool enough:
Your professor will stand in front of the class and actually lead you through a mock potions class.
Super fun and perfect if you’re solo traveling London!
But all that potion making is hard work, so clearly you need some libations and sustenance to get you through the class!
Am I right?
Well, not to worry because this Harry Potter themed afternoon tea has got you covered.
Between the leek and potato pie (definitely the best savory item on the menu), Yorkshire pudding, scones with clotted cream, and an avocado roast vegetable sandwich, there is no way that you will leave hungry.
And then there are the desserts!
Not only do you get to indulge in a butterscotch sandwich cookie and trifle with whipped cream, but a dessert trolley actually comes to your table and gives you some desserts to take away too!
My personal fave was the slab of caramel cake that I got to take with me (no exaggeration since my piece of cake was huge.)
So moist and delicious that I had to stop myself from licking the plate clean.
if you’re looking for one of the more unique things to do in London, then definitely reserve this winderful, afternoon tea experience with Cutter and Squidge.
And do it at least a month in advance since spaces fill up quickly!
***Diners can choose from vegan, vegetarian, wheat-free, dairy-free, and children’s menu options. Tickets are £49.50 for adults and £39.50 for children.***
5. Kona at the Taj, Candy Striped Carousel Afternoon Tea
I am so bummed that I missed out on the Sherlock Holmes afternoon tea here before Kona started doing their famed Alice in Wonderland and Candy Striped Carousel themed afternoon teas.
But it’s okay since this afternoon tea has the most ethereal desserts humanly possible.
I mean, some of my desserts were served on a miniature carousel and carriage!
Yeah, food presentations don’t get much better than that!
Centered around a trip to the carousel, you’ll start your fantastical foodie journey with an assortment of savory sandwiches like thyme grilled vegetables with tomato chutney on carrot bread and Cornish Yarg cheese with cucumber, and red currant jelly on tomato bread.
Nom Nom Nom.
You’ll then enjoy traditional orange and chocolate chip scones with Devonshire clotted cream and fig preserves.
Yeah, if they just gave me a giant plate of scones, I would’ve been 100% okay with that.
After savoring those little carb bomb of delight, I mean scones:
Dig into a multitude of desserts that would make even Martha Stewart wonder what the recipe was!
So savor the joy and magic of this wonderful dessert display as you eat your way through strawberry rose cheesecake, strawberry and pistachio meringue, hazelnut crumbles with caramel ganache, almond sponge with a raspberry mousse, and more!
A fantastic way to visit an old-time carnival, but without actually leaving London.
***This afternoon tea is £40 per person during the week and £45 during the weekends. A Vegetarian menu option is also available.***
6. Open-top Bus Afternoon Tea Tour
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So, there is NO WAY that I could make a quirky afternoon tea in London list without mentioning the infamous, B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour!
Things can’t really get more British than indulging in afternoon tea aboard a moving, vintage, Routemaster, doubledecker bus! Am I right?
And if you’re worried about spilling your tea aboard a moving vehicle, have no fear!
There are an ample number of cup holders aboard the bus to save you and your clothes from impeding, tea spillage disaster!
But what if you hate the bus?
No problem! You can always try B Bakery’s more stationary afternoon tea at their Covent Garden location, or sip some tea aboard a scenic, Themes river cruise.
See, so many scones and so little time! SIGH.
Now, during your hour and a half road trip through London, not only will you enjoy the enchanting sight of iconic London landmarks like Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Hyde Park, The Royal Albert Hall, etc., but you’ll also taste some distinctively delicious British delights too.
Think tea sandwiches, mini cupcakes, pastries, macarons, and OF COURSE scones!
The scones only come out about half-way through the tour since they’re all fresh and warm and delicious.
So, be sure to save room and slather them up with clotted cream and strawberry jam…STAT!
And for my allergy riddled friends:
Vegetarian and gluten-free afternoon tea menus are available too.
You’ll even get unlimited beverage refills (tea, coffee, fresh squeezed orange juice, water), but don’t chug-a-lug it up because there’s no lavatory aboard the bus.
So drink sparingly and be kind to your bladder since it loves you and filters waste from your body.
Because you’re on a moving vehicle, space is limited. That’s why there are only 11 tables on the bus, with two VIP tables at the front.
Book well in advance because everyone loves the novelty of eating scones and drinking tea while aboard a giant, red, double-decker bus that is cruising through London.
(Real talk? Sadly, I didn’t get to try this afternoon tea while I was in London. But my friend at Passport Voyager did and she loved the afternoon tea bus in London.)
***Prices start at £45 per person and buses depart at 12:30 pm and 3:00 pm tours from 8 Northumberland Avenue or at 12:00 pm, 2:30 pm, and 5:00 pm from Victoria Coach Station.***
7. Sketch Gallery Afternoon Tea
So truth be told, I haven’t actually had afternoon tea at Sketch London…YET!
No, I swear, I was gonna go!
But alas, I waited too long to book a table and had to settle for breakfast instead, which was really good by the way.
Back to tastier things like scones, clotted cream, and copious amounts of tea!
So Sketch is ultra-famous for none other than it’s insanely Instagrammable decor.
Everywhere you turn, you’ll see exquisite, over the top decor (and photo ops) that makes you feel like you’re at a photo shoot or in some awesome, alternate reality where the Land of Oz is indeed real.
Minus the whole killing a witch with a house thing.
I mean, they have an Insta-famous bathroom that resembles an ultra-beautiful, vibrantly colored spaceship (No seriously, check out the crazy cool toilet pods and the Glade Room while you’re at it).
So clearly Sketch is the place to be.
But look past the decadent decor of the monochromatic, blush gallery that your afternoon tea is served in, and you’ll find a rich and wonderful afternoon tea experience that (I’VE HEARD) is unlike any other.
***You might also want to sneak a peek at this London packing list since this place is definitely on the formal side and probably requires a dress of sorts.***
They make cucumber ricotta sandwiches that sing with flavor. I really have no idea how since cucumber is basically like glorified green water but they do it!
And that’s Harry Potter level sorcery in and of itself.
Sketch even offers quail egg with caviar and an egg truffle gougere; savory items that will make you ALMOST forget about dessert since there’s such an epic flavor party in your mouth.
Sprinkle in some Sultana (or plain) scones with strawberry/poppy jam, pineapple and coriander tarts, passionfruit opera cake, coconut and cranberry marshmallow, and a vanilla/ hazelnut Battenberg and you may never be satisfied by another London afternoon tea experience again.
Or at least that’s what all the cool kids tell me.
***PSST…Want really awesome photos for the gram? Book your table for 12:30 pm (afternoon tea is available every day from 12:30 pm to 4:30 pm) and get there a little early so that you can take pictures before everyone arrives. Afternoon tea also starts at £59 per person and book WELL in advance since this restaurant is WICKED popular. ***