Natalie French

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From the world-famous Savoy to regency-inspired Afternoon Tea at The Lanesborough, Natalie French shares the best places to enjoy this much-loved British pastime in the capital.  

Bridgerton-obsessed? Dust off your regency best and enjoy Bridgerton-themed afternoon tea at the The Lansborough Grill. The award-winning pastry team have collaborated with Netflix and Shondaland to design patisserie creations that pay tribute to the much-loved characters – from Viscount Anthony to Lady Whistledown, herself. Sip a tipple inspired by the original Regency Gin Punch - the Pall Mall cocktail - beneath the illuminated domed glass roof, with its softly-lit chandeliers. Served in an elegant high glass teacup, it’s finished off with a floating lotus – the national flower of India and nod to the Sharma family. 

Top of many afternoon tea bucket lists, The Ritz has been serving this charming British tradition since it opened in 1906. The iconic hotel, located on Piccadilly, is famous the world over for its elegance and impeccable service. What’s more It’s the only hotel in the UK to have its own certified Tea Master, Giandomenico Scanu, who travels around the globe to various tea plantations to source best tea for the menu.

Descend to the former Ballroom and try the exclusive Ritz Royal Blend Tea as you feast on finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones with Cornish clotted cream and exquisitely presented pastries and teacakes, replenished on request. The resident pianist and harpist add the cherry on the cake. 

For afternoon tea with a view, you’d be hard pressed to top The Shard – Western Europe’s tallest structure at a lofty 125 metres – with endless views of the big smoke. In a nod to its sky-scraping grandeur, TING’s Skyline Afternoon Tea promises all the usual savoury delights alongside jubilee-themed pastries and the piece de resistance: TINGs Chocolate & Raspberry Shard – an architectural delight that looks (almost) too good to eat. Throw in a glass of champagne, or cocktail, and a sunset view and you’re winning.  

It’s no surprise to hear that one of the most famous hotels in the world does afternoon tea with aplomb. People have been flocking to the stunning glass-domed atrium at the Thames Foyer for over a century to feast on homemade scones with clotted cream, jam and lemon curd. The resident pastry chefs are renowned for their works of art. Sandwiches take a twist on the classics and choose from over 30 teas. There’s vegan and vegetarian afternoon tea, too. For optimal indulgence, order a glass (or bottle) of Laurent-Perrier Champagne or Nytimber English Sparkling Wine and relax to the soothing sounds of jazz from the resident pianist.

If you’re looking for afternoon tea with a twist, book into the Jean-Georges at The Connaught – named after world-renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
From the floor-to-ceiling windows – with stain glass accent – to the curated art from Louise Bourgeois, this Mayfair restaurant is a little bit special. Plonk yourself in a window seat and people watch to your hearts content. The menu fuses British tradition with a little South East Asian magic. Think: cucumber and Greek yoghurt with a hint of mint and lime, and Coronation turkey with curry mayonnaise and sultanas roasted almonds. The teas are exotic, too, but the cakes and English scones follow time-honoured recipes. 

Corinthia London takes afternoon tea seriously. Expect a slow, unfolding ceremony of grace, charm and tradition, set within the light-filled lounge with the glow of over 1000 Baccarat crystals sparkling above you. Just a stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, the afternoon tea here really is made for a queen; opt for traditional finger sandwiches with a royal flair: smoked salmon, horseradish crème fresh, Coronation chicken and Clarence Court egg mayonnaise with truffle - served with seasonal sweet delicacies. For a real royal experience, try the Champagne Caviar Afternoon Tea or order a bottle of Louis Roederer Cristal 2014, a snip at over £400 a bottle! 

The Royal Family love The Goring. Not only is it the closest hotel to Buckingham Palace, it’s the only hotel in the world to hold a royal warrant. Afternoon Tea is served in The Veranda: an eccentric urban oasis that overlooks the private garden - a rare find in Central London. A plate of sweet hand-picked strawberries and glass of Bollinger Rose Champagne signal the start of the occasion, before an exquisite Jubilee-inspired Afternoon Tea commences. Delights include roast sirloin beef sandwiches and Her Majesty’s Royal fruit cake. If that was tempting enough, the Goring is also the winner of the The British Tea Guild Council’s Top London Afternoon Tea Award. 

More savoury than sweet? Book into 116 at The Athenaeum – a contemporary British restaurant headed up by Executive Chef, Ian Howard – and swap the jam and clotted cream for Lincolnshire Poacher Cheddar scones. This Savoury Afternoon Tea (available to pre-book 48 hours in advance) includes pork and apple sausage roll, Welsh rarebit English muffin and Yorkshire pudding with honey & mustard chipolata sausage. Order a glass of English sparkling from Chalkdown or Hambledon or, if you’re in the mood, upgrade to Bottomless Afternoon Tea for 90 minutes of free-flowing prosecco. There’s also more than 100 rare whiskies to samples. 

Leave the bustle of London behind as you step into The Dorchester’s Orchid Room; soft lighting, high ceilings and grand displays of beautiful blooms come as standard here. As one might expect, Afternoon Tea at the Dorchester is a sophisticated affair, but it’s the colourful creations from award-winning pastry maker, Michael Kwan, that really capture the imagination - from the Cherry Blossom tea mousse to the elderflower and yuzu tart. Don’t miss The Dorchester Rose tea, too, made with dried pink rose petals from the new variety of bloom created by in-house designer florist, Philip Hammond. You’ll spot this pale, blousy rose throughout the hotel, with approximately 50,000 stems used annually to make the floral displays. 

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