No visit to London without High Tea! The concept, which supposedly takes its roots in the early 19th century, is more popular than ever, and it’s synonymous with British etiquette. Most larger hotels offer High Tea these days, but these five elegant venues never go out of style. There’s one for every occasion.
The traditional: Brown’s Hotel
There are LOADS of traditional High Tea venues in London, so it’s nearly impossible to choose a favorite. Still, there’s something about Brown’s version that makes me come back again and again. Maybe it’s the famous English Tea Room adorned with mahogany details and a cosy fireplace, or maybe it’s just the slice of traditional London life you’ll get when unwinding in the plush furniture. Whichever, Brown’s Hotel wasn’t the favorite tea venue of Queen Victoria for no reason.
Guests can choose between different High Tea menus - go for the traditional serving if you’re a newbie in the world of Afternoon Tea, but go the extra mile and opt for a ‘tea-tox’ if you’d like to try something different (and a bit healthier). Brown’s cater to everyone’s needs - especially those with a preference for quality tea! If that’s you, go for the seasonal tea library, which is a collection of the world’s most exquisite teas.
Monday-Sunday 12AM-6PM. Prices from: €60. More info.
The one with a view: Shangri-La Hotel
Pamper all of your senses with a traditional High Tea afternoon at the stunning luxury hotel Shangri-La. Or if you’re up for a different version; an Asian inspired afternoon tea. First-mentioned is a cornucopia of delicious pastries, sandwiches, scones (the ones with camomile are to die for!) and sweet arrangements leaving little to the imagination. It all happens in the trendy signature restaurant and lounge of TING (meaning ‘living room’ in Chinese) located on the hotel’s 35th floor. No need to stress the fact that the view from here is simply superb. Perfect for a romantic date or if you need to pamper your tastebuds and sight at the same time!
Monday-Sunday 12AM-4PM. Prices from: €68. More info.
The old-school: The Dorchester
While Brown’s is certainly traditional in its approach to High Tea, The Dorchester takes the first price for being totally old-school (in the most elegant sense of the word). Since 1931, this 5-star luxury hotel has been catering to the needs of the rich and famous. They call it ‘the finest afternoon tea in London’, but it almost feels like entering a home away from home when stepping inside the legendary ‘The Promenade’ - a restaurant simply celebrating British heritage. Finger sandwiches, scones and sweet pastries - it’s all there, but the menu also offers breakfast, cocktails, lunch and dinner. The Dorchester is a member of the prestigious Tea Guild.
Monday-Sunday at 1PM, 1.30PM, 3.15PM, 4.30PM and 5.30PM. Prices from: €60. More info.
The modern version: Sanctum Soho
A 30-bedroom boutique hotel in the heart of Soho. Sanctum Soho is untraditional in many ways, yet its rooftop terrace with hot tubs and cinema room remains a secret to most people (not to mention tourists). Here, you can enjoy a different High Tea concept - one for the ladies and one for the gentlemen. The modern approach really works though, and it’s actually quite refreshing that someone dares to challenge this first-class British tradition. ‘High tea for high heels’ allures the female audience with ingredients such as smoked salmon, caviar, fish pie and cinnamon scones while the ‘Gent’s afternoon tea’ presents steak with peppers and mushrooms, lamb and potato hotpot, mini beef burger and chocolate fudge cake with Jack Daniels ice cream. Tempted, anyone?
Monday-Sunday 3PM-5PM. Prices: €44 (women), €63 (men). More info.
The “budget friendly”: Harrod’s
Arguably the world’s finest department store, Harrod’s is definitely a decent choice for High Tea if you’re tired of the upscale hotel versions. At Harrod’s very own Georgian Restaurant, guests can indulge in afternoon delights and traditional interior - the restaurant opened its doors in 1911 and one can still feel the presence of history in this historical section of Harrod’s.
It might be a bit pricy, but High Tea here is still more affordable than in most hotels. Enjoy a refreshing glass of Harrod’s Rosé Champagne along with a generous selection of sandwiches, tea pastries and of course the traditional baked scones. Go for the full treat including a variety of smaller dishes if you’re really hungry.
Monday-Saturday 11.30AM-9PM, Sunday 12AM-6PM. Prices from €50. More info.
The history of High Tea ☕
Today, loved and cherished all over the world, the concept of British High Tea (or Afternoon Tea) began in the 18th Century (mid 1700s) as an afternoon meal served between 3 and 4 o’clock. The idea emerged in high society, where most people didn’t get anything to eat between breakfast and dinner - there were no such thing as lunch! It gradually became a social event allowing Ladies and Gentlemen to indulge in sweets, bread and tea before going to the theater etc. The popular finger sandwich first appeared when John Montagu (the 4th Earl of Sandwich) placed slices of meat and other fillings between two slices of bread in the mid 1700s! And the rest is history….there are many versions of this story, but this one is our favorite (and probably the most true, too!)