You may be wondering why today’s topic is afternoon tea, when regular readers will know that this is a travel blog. I think we can all agree that a major part of visiting new places is trying the local cuisines! Since the majority of my readers live outside of the UK and afternoon tea is quintessentially British, I thought I would give you a little run down of the best and most overrated afternoon teas I’ve had recently.
The problem with afternoon teas in London is that they are generally quite gimmicky and overpriced, mainly catering for hen parties and tourists. The recent trend means that fancy establishments and hotels can charge upwards of £35 for sandwiches and cakes that are really not very special. Despite attempts to add themes and twists, a lot of places fall short of anything mind-blowing.
- The Science Afternoon Tea – Ampersand Hotel, South Kensington (£32.50 pp)
You may have read my post about the Science Afternoon Tea, which was a really unique experience as well as a meal. This was a good example of an afternoon tea which combined great food with a kooky and exciting theme! You can read my previous post on this tea to find out more.
This hotel changes its themed afternoon teas periodically and I believe at the moment, you can join them for a Wimbledon special!
- Afternoon Tea – St. Ermin’s Hotel, Westminster (£29 pp)
I enjoyed afternoon tea at St. Ermin’s Hotel while attending a hen party last year. The presentation was a bit quirkier than your usual three tiered stand and the desserts were different enough to make this something out of the ordinary, without being overly pretentious or compromising on taste.
- Charlie & the Chocolate Factory Afternoon Tea – Chesterfield Hotel, Mayfair (£36.50pp)
My most recent afternoon tea was at the Chesterfield Hotel, where the theme was “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”. This was a treat from my lovely friend “Hot Mama”, and while the sandwiches and scones were delicious (you must try the chocolate scones!!), the pièce de résistance should have been the cakes, which were unfortunately quite an anticlimax. We thought that they should have put more energy into making sure the texture and taste of the cakes and desserts was palatable, rather than trying to mash together random flavours.
They also had some guy dressed in a really bad Willy Wonka costume walking around handing out coupons for the hotel, which was odd to say the least. Good points were the wide range of teas on offer (which could be switched out for hot chocolate) and the fact that they keep replenishing the food until you’re full!
- Afternoon Tea – Hanbury Manor, Hertfordshire (£25 pp)
Taking things out of the city and back to the home counties, I feel like this is more of a classic afternoon tea experience than can be found in the hotels of London. Hanbury Manor is a hotel in rural Hertfordshire which has a very grand setting. The afternoon tea they serve is a classic – a great option for those who prefer country surroundings and something a little bit more budget friendly!
The service at this hotel is always top notch and the staff are very accommodating to any dietary requirements.
- Afternoon Tea – Sopwell House, St Albans (£23.90 pp)
Like Hanbury Manor, Sopwell House is a fancy hotel in Hertfordshire. However, this hotel is little bit closer to civilisation and so the afternoon tea they offer is slightly more cosmopolitan than the traditional one mentioned above.
Amongst the usual cakes and fruit tarts you would normally see on the top tier, they also had Christmassy green macaroons and delicious caramel chocolate eclairs!
- High Tea – Brewery Tea Rooms, Walkern/Hertfordshire (£17.99 pp*)
I have saved the best for last. If you read my Go Ape post, you’ll know that I recently turned 25. For my birthday I wanted half a day of adrenaline and half a day of relaxation and food, so I organised afternoon tea with 16 of my friends at the Brewery Tea Rooms in Walkern. Located in a pretty little village and filled with kitsch furniture and crockery (as well as a cute shop in the back), it really does tick every box for the perfect afternoon tea experience.
The whole organisation process was really straightforward and the owners worked very hard to make sure that everything went smoothly (despite changing numbers and awkward timings on my end). Not only were they able to cater for people with nut allergies, vegetarians and vegans, they also themed the whole thing on my passion for Ancient Egypt! The food was absolutely delicious and freshly prepared – in fact, I’m not sure I will ever eat a cupcake as amazing as the King Tut/ Eye of Horus cupcakes they made for my party.
Their venue can hold up to 28 people so if you’re looking for somewhere to host a tea party, I would highly recommend this tea room for your event. Of course, you don’t need to be attending a party to enjoy afternoon tea here – it is served throughout the week but you do need to book in advance. They also offer lunch, cakes and scones as standard if you don’t fancy eating as much or you’re just dropping in on the day.
What are your favourite afternoon teas? If you’ve had a great experience somewhere, feel free to leave it in the comments below.
Thanks for reading,
*The price will go up if you’re holding an event outside of usual trading hours.