Living with Style, Travel Notes

Afternoon Tea in London

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What a fun post to pen! Next to champagne I adore tea. From the sense of occasion to the last bite of an English scone, tea for me is the ultimate, most civilized way to entertain…and be entertained. No one does it better than the English, so it was top of my list to seek out a good cross section of afternoon tea sites around London (it’s a demanding task, as they say, but somebody had to do it). Like the handsomely comfy, 5 Star Milestone (above), many venues are located in quintessentailly British hotels.

Print this out and save it for your next trip over the pond. It is by intent a varied selection, representing some of the best of a city’s cultural culinary asset. How seriously they take this tea ritual is obvious in the range of times that tea is available. In some locations, service begins as early as 12:00 and goes until 5:00; in others the seating is every fifteen minutes over an afternoon and into the early evening.

Such delicious options for a tradition that the English are rightfully known for! (Just a note…best to make reservations).

The Park Lounge at The Milestone

With its appealing views across to Kensington Gardens, The Park Lounge is a warm and inviting haven perfect for enjoying that delicious cup of “Afternoon Tea”. As with the creations below, most of London’s tea rooms boast a strong focus on camera-ready pastries (to say the least).

The Parlour at Sketch

What could be more fun than a tea room in an 18th-century townhouse decorated with quirky, unique themes ( ie.’30s Indochine) on each floor. My favorite? The pink velvet banquette room. And note the words scattered across the white china.This unique Michelin starred-spot transforms into a cocktail lounge every evening.

The Orangery Restaurant at Kensington Palace

Built for Queen Anne in 1704, the Orangery Restauranti is the most unique location of all the tea rooms that I visited. Obviously, I’m a little partial to anything in an Orangery, especially when it is such a classically elegant version of an open and bright garden pavilion.

The Berkeley

The Prêt-à-Portea (don’t you love the name?) menu theme at the Berkeley is inspired by the fashion world and changes every six months to reflect each new season.

The English Tea Room at The Brown’s Hotel

Brown’s is a hotel that I’ve known since my college days — so much fun to stop in to their wood-paneled café where we tea lovers are served by specialist “sommeliers.”

The Goring

Of course, since I am staying here I had to check out their tea time — especially since they are a “holder of The British Tea Guild Council’s Top London Afternoon Tea Award and The Award of Excellence.” It didn’t disappoint and I loved the glass of champagne as a finish.

The Lanesborough

This reflected all the best of English tea details — freshly-baked scones, velvety clotted cream, home-made fruit preserves — all hand-crafted by masterful chef Nicolas Rouzaud and his team.

The Dorchester

It’s own special setting helped make this the enjoyable afternoon tea stop that we needed.


Of course, Claridge’s! It’s been a stopping place for royality, celebrities and other famous personages for over a century. Just walking through the doors gives you the feeling of a very special and beloved hotel. I particularly like the fact that they have delicious tea from small, little known producers from the four corners of the world.

The Bentley Hotel

I wanted to stop by and partake of the Chocolate and Champagne selections for those “wishing to spoil themselves.” Sublime! And such a comfy setting.

The Ivy Chelsea Gardens

Not your typical tea room…a little edgy with its tile floor and leather banquettes. The garden terrace and orangery were a welcome addition for this rather traditional traveler.

So many captivating tea rooms, so little time…

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

4 thoughts on “Afternoon Tea in London

  1. Dear Bettie,

    Your lovely article about High Teas brought back the wonderful memories of the times spent at Brown’s with Sophie Fiennes, sister of Ralph Fiennes, when I was in London. We had the most wonderful teas there. Elegant and sublime surroundings and delightful company made for charming memories to last forever! I highly recommend Brown’s.

    1. One of London’s very finest, and what old world charm. I’ve known it since college…so glad to hear you love it also!

  2. You have won me over with this post. I will now go back and read so many more that look wonderful. I found you on “The Enchanted Home” which is another beautiful blog. Have a great day!!

    1. Yes, The Enchanted Home blog is beautiful and exceptional, as is the editor.Enjoy your reads and do stay in touch!

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