Top 15: Festive Afternoon Teas in LondonBy Alicia Grimshaw
This is our 2016 guide – for our 2017 guide to the best festive afternoon teas in London, see here. Christmas: a time for boozy hot chocolates, lashing of mulled wine, and festive afternoon teas. Here’s where to get your finger sandwich fix in the capital over the festive season:
What: The iconic Strand Palace Hotel has been serving tea and cake in the heart of London since 1909. To kick start Christmas festivities in the capital and provide a welcome dose of Yuletide cheer, chefs at the famous London hotel have created a special Festive Afternoon Tea menu to be enjoyed in the glamorous surroundings of the hotel’s Gin Palace Cocktail Bar until New Year’s Eve.
Eat and Drink: Traditional sandwich fillings have been swapped for much-loved Christmas flavours including turkey and cranberry; stilton and tomato pickle; egg mayonnaise with watercress; and smoked salmon and horseradish . Festive favourites including mince pies, stollen bites and rich fruit cake marinated in house brandy provide Christmas-inspired sweet treats, accompanied by chocolate and amaretto cheesecake, bosco tart and macaroons. The limited edition menu is completed with afternoon tea staples of freshly baked sultana scones served with clotted cream and strawberry preserve. To accompany the mini delights, the Strand Palace Festive Afternoon Tea includes a warming glass of homemade spiced mulled wine.
Price: Prices start from £29.95 per person.
Where: 372 Strand, London WC2R 0JJ
What: Hosted in The Ampersand Hotel‘s charming Drawing Rooms, the hotel’s new Christmas Science Afternoon Tea is a festive variation on The Ampersand Hotel’s Science Afternoon tea. The seasonal homage to the hotel’s neighbouring Science Museum boasts a delightful selection of sweet and savoury treats.
Eat and Drink: Running until 27th December, the science afternoon tea features goat’s cheese, pumpkin and sage quiche; roast beef bagel with horse radish, water cress and cornichons; crayfish with asparagus and Mary Rose sauce on toasted focaccia; and smoked salmon and avocado on blinis. And in keeping with the science element, unearth Santa Claus chocolates in their fossil box, and dig deep into test tubes filled with freeze-dried crisoy raspberry and freeze-dried crisy yogurt. Followed by a warm selection of homemade cranberry, orange and white chocolate, and plain scones served with Devonshire clotted cream and homemade strawberry preserve. There’s a mince pie cocktail. Need we say more?
Price: From £32.50 per person.
Where: 10 Harrington Road, London SW7 3ER
What: Cutter & Squidge are turning their Secret Garden into Santa’s Gastronomic Grotto for a very special Festive Afternoon Tea, available until the end of the year. The afternoon tea is a lavish spread that includes festive inspired finger sandwiches, scones, savoury and sweet bites as well as their iconic Biskies and jolly Dream Cakes.
Eat and Drink: The festive finger sandwiches include: cranberry and stuffing; Boxing Day turkey; smoked cheese and onion; and salmon and chives. There’s plenty of cakes and sweet bites to go around – pistachio and raspberry lollibag dream cake; their famed dulce de leche and chocolate pearl Biskie; mince pies; gingerbread blondie with fruit; and lemon and lavender biscuit. Don’t panic – there’s cranberry and cheddar scones too.
Price: £27.50 per person or £32 per person with a bellini or glass of Prosecco.
Where: 20 Brewer St, Soho, London W1F 0SJ
What: Running until the end of December, The English Tea Room within Brown’s Hotel will be serving its award-winning Traditional Afternoon Tea with a festive theme. Think decadent seasonal finger sandwiches and pastries in the elegant surrounds of open fireplaces and high-end decorations by Smythson, all to the accompaniment of the resident pianist playing well-known Christmas carols.
Eat and Drink: The savoury spread does not disappoint. We’re talking about honey-roast ham and piccalilli on tomato bread; Burford Brown egg, salad cream, smoked paprika and cos lettuce on white bread; and cucumber, cream cheese and celery salt on malt bread. For anyone who complains there isn’t enough savoury eats, don’t sweat. There’s also smoked salmon, pickled fennel, capers and dill on a bagel; Brie de Meaux, chilli jam and sliced chestnuts on a tomato foccaccia; and turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and watercress on a brown roll. In the sweet selection, enjoy baked apple and cinnamon cheescake; lime mousse with caramelised banana; chocolate, caramel and mandarin tart; and lastly, coffee and pecan opera cake. There’s freshly baked plain and fruit scones with homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream for afters.
Price: From £55 per person.
Where: Albemarle St, Mayfair, London W1S 4BP
What: The iconic Christmas Carol Afternoon Tea has returned to The Promenade at The Dorchester, and will run until Sunday (18th December). Decorated for the festive season, the room boasts magical decorations and all the festive touches of Christmas – and also a children’s choir belting out hits.
Eat and Drink: Included in the Christmas Carol Afternoon Tea is a glass of Champagne, NV Laurent-Perrier Brut or Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé on arrival. For munch, there’s a selection of finger sandwiches, warm freshly baked raisin and plain scones from their bakery, served with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry jam. And lastly, a range of festive themed pastries and cakes, and a choice of exclusive teas to wash it all down with.
Price: £75 per adult, including a glass of Laurent-Perrier NV Champagne or Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé.
Where: 53 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1QA
What: Christmas Afternoon Tea is a collaboration between world-renowned chocolatier Paul A. Young and InterContinental London Park Lane’s Executive Chef Ashley Wells. The limited-edition Afternoon Tea combines classic festive ingredients, evocative flavours, and Paul’s mastery to present a traditional Christmas Day delivered in an unexpected way.
Eat and Drink: The savoury selection features all the festival hallmarks in bite size packages. A warm stilton, chestnut and walnut vol-au-vent and a venison and winter vegetable puff, as well as turkey and sage stuffing in clove mayonnaise finger sandwiches and smoked salmon, crayfish and prawns in a Marie Rose sauce. Paul’s exclusive chocolate creations include smoked crackling embers tart, a gingerbread spiced pastry tartlet filled with single origin 72% Venezuelan chocolate ganache, subtly reminiscent of an open fire. This is followed by a chocolate Christmas sphere, a 72% Venezuelan chocolate shell filled with chocolate ganache, orange and cranberry compote, and salted caramel hazelnuts, and winter pod – a white chocolate water ganache infused with mincemeat and served in a half single origin 65% Grenadian Kalingo dark chocolate cocoa pod. To complete the experience, warm classic and speculaas scones served with orange curd, strawberry jam and clotted cream.
Price: £42 per person.
Where: Park Ln, Mayfair, London W1J 7QY
What: The Savoy has been transformed into a frozen fantasia, featuring a magnificent 15ft Boodles-inspired Christmas tree and, for the first time in Savoy history, an indoor ice rink and cascading Louis Roederer Champagne bauble installation. And if you need to refuel after a few laps around the rink, The Savoy has a created a special Champagne Christmas Afternoon tea.
Eat and Drink: The menu features a selection of finger sandwiches including Wiltshire bone ham with horseradish remoulade and apple cider chutney, and Scottish smoked salmon with lemon infused crème fraîche and watercress. This is followed by delicacies such as ice and diamonds Christmas log, Boodles Winter éclair and frozen fantasia opera pink almond macaroon, alongside classic cakes and obviously, scones.
Price: £82 per person
Where: Strand, London WC2R OEU
What: Forest on the Roof at Selfridges have created a Festive Afternoon Tea for the festive season. Devised by Head Pastry Chef Siobhan Ambrose, the afternoon tea selection features classic sandwiches and desserts – and also killer views of London town.
Eat and Drink: If you’re after a straight up afternoon tea, with less tinsel and big flavours – the Sparkling Afternoon Tea is the one. On offer is a selection of finger sandwiches filled with traditional ingredients, and savouries. Save space for the selection of Forest house baked tea cakes and pastries, and two freshly baked scones, with clotted cream and homemade raspberry jam. The Sparkling Afternoon Tea also includes a pot of tea from the Rare Tea Company, and a glass of Forest English Sparkling Wine.
Price: £28 per person.
Where: Selfridges, 400 Oxford St, London W1A 1AB
What: The Athenaeum has Afternoon Tea down to a fine art – they’ve won awards for theirs (yes, really). Galvin at The Athenaeum put on a fine Festive Afternoon Tea, using the best British produce fresh smoked salmon from Severn & Wye, Cumbrian ham, Kentish strawberries and Devonshire clotted cream.
Eat and Drink: This elegant offering provides a well-deserved break from hectic preparations and features a selection of sandwiches, seasonal cakes and pastries including a black forest gateau, praline éclairs and scones served with spiced fig jam. For extra Christmas sparkle, upgrade your tea by ordering a bottle of Galvin Grand Reserve Brut NV Champagne. Galvin at The Athenaeum also serve dairy and gluten-free afternoon teas. Everybody wins.
Price: £29.50 per person
Where: 116 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7BJ
What: Bulgari Hotel‘s Classic Afternoon Tea has been given a festive twist for the Christmas season. Along with an assortment of traditional savoury delights, Bulgari Hotel‘s imaginative Pastry Chef has created an array of indulgent pastries and sweet treats with a festive touch.
Eat and Drink: Sandwich fillings seasonally change, and include cucumber, cream cheese and mint; Scottish smoked salmon, lemon and butter; egg mayonnaise; chicken and rocket; beef pastrami and horseradish; and courgette poppy seed and goat’s cheese. Delicacies include; mini panettone; pear and chestnut yule log; coconut and lime cake; orange and winter spiced macaroons and, of course, traditional scones.
Price: £38 per person, or £50 per person with a glass of “R” de Ruinart Champagne
Where: Bulgari Hotel, 171 Knightsbridge, London SW7 1DW
What: Jumeirah Carlton Tower is serving up a Festive Afternoon Tea in its relaxing Chinoiserie Lounge until New Year’s Eve with live music from the hotel’s resident harpist. Specially for the occasion, the tea includes Christmas cakes that are seriously pretty.
Eat and Drink: The tea features seasonal savouries such as brioche bun with roast Norfolk turkey, sage and chestnut stuffing and cranberry sauce; bridge roll with Loch Fyne smoked salmon and duck egg mayonnaise; and brie, baby spinach and Christmas chutney on wholemeal bread. Scones and pastries include Santa Claus is Coming to Town – a white chocolate and cinnamon Santa’s hat; Frosty the Snowman – coconut financier and meringue snowman; and Glitter and Gold – glazed mandarin tart with blood orange curd. And plain and fruit scones served with a selection of preserves and clotted cream.
Price: £45 per person or £55 including a glass of Laurent-Perrier champagne.
Where: 1 Cadogan Pl, Belgravia, London SW1X 9PY
What: Experience the full festive high tea with free flowing sparkles at the glamorous Grade II listed building, just off Park Lane in the fabulous bar and dining room. Lanes of London is the perfect escape from the Christmas shopper calvary charge on Oxford Street Christmas or before Winter Wonderland across the road.
Eat and Drink: Expect the royal treatment, limitless prosecco bubbles, and assorted sandwiches including beetroot toast bread with salmon and cream cheese; mini bagel with egg mayonnaise; poppy seed bread roll filled with ham and melted cheese; and basil toast bread topped with cucumber, salted butter and mint. Of course, there’s plain and raisin scones served with homemade spiced plum jam and cornish clotted cream, and an assortment of pastries such as milk chocolate and clementine Christmas present; chestnut Mont Blanc; stollen; and snowman cupcakes.
Price: £39 per person, or £49 per person with free flowing Prosecco.
Where: 140 Park Lane, London W1K 7AA
What: Royal Garden Hotel on Kensington High Street know a thing or two about what makes a good scone. This year, the hotel was awarded a Highly Commended certificate at the Afternoon Tea Awards 2016 in recognition of its outstanding quality.
Eat and Drink: Have yourself a very merry afternoon at the Royal Garden Hotel’s Park Terrace Restaurant Lounge and Bar, which overlooks Kensington Gardens. The festive afternoon tea, on offer until Christmas Eve, includes homemade Christmas pudding and cinnamon scones, mini mince pies, walnut and brandy slices, mulled wine pear trickle, and an impressive selection of 15 fine loose leaf teas.
Price: £31 per person, or £41 per person with a glass of Théophile Roederer NV Champagne.
Where: Park Terrace, Royal Garden Hotel, 2 – 24 Kensington High Street, London W8 4PT
What: Afternoon Tea with a Christmas twist will be served in The Kensington’s Drawing Room by the open fire, at the chic Town House restaurant throughout December. Nestled in the heart of one of London’s most desirable neighbourhoods, Town House is located on the corner of two of London’s iconic thoroughfares, Queen’s Gate and the Old Brompton Road, and is spread across three classically designed drawing rooms, serving locally-sourced, seasonal modern British cuisine.
Eat and Drink: The savoury selection is tip top – roast beef and horseradish sandwiches; smoked salmon palmier with ginger, currants and dill; spiced fruit loaf, port jelly and Shropshire blue; and smoked chicken and cranberry on brown bread. The sweets are just as good: chocolate tart with sea salt caramel; lemon polenta drizzle cake; red velvet cake with rose butter cream; and chocolate and blood orange arctic roll. And not forgetting, homemade fruit and plain buttermilk scones with Devonshire clotted cream and jam. The Gluten-Free Christmas Tea is also available and includes a selection of gluten-free sandwiches, sweets and gluten-free homemade buttermilk scones with Devonshire clotted cream, jam and a selection of homemade cakes and pastries.
Price: £35 per person.
Where: 109-113 Queen’s Gate, London, SW 7 5LR
What: Throughout December, The Montagu will be serving its traditional afternoon tea with a festive touch to the accompaniment of their resident pianist who will be spreading festive cheer with nostalgic Christmas carols. Relax in front of the burning log fire or save yourself from the packed high-street.
Eat and Drink: The afternoon tea sandwiches are a classic affair; honey roasted turkey with cranberries; Scottish smoked salmon; cucumber with cream cheese; egg mayonnaise with cress; and coronation chicken. The afternoon tea pastries have been given a festive makeover – mini mince pies; festive gingerbread man; white chocolate and cranberry macaroon; dark chocolate and mandarin cupcake; and spiced pineapple Christmas log. Freshly baked scones are served with house-made strawberry jam, Cornish clotted cream and lemon curd.
Price: £32 per person
Where: 30 Portman Square, Marylebone, London W1H 7BH