15 of the Most Affordable Afternoon Tea Options in London

Date post added: 15th May 2024

Is there anything more quintessentially British than afternoon tea? Sipping tea from a fine bone china cup, with a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and sweet treats is such a special experience.

There are many beautiful places around London offering decadent afternoon tea experiences, but you may have to pay £150+ for two of you. If you’re looking for a more affordable afternoon tea in London, you need to do your research. Luckily for you, we’ve done that already (it’s a hard gig but someone had to do it!). All you have to do is decide whether to put the strawberry jam or clotted cream on your warm scone first (cream first, always!). Here, we share the best afternoon tea destinations in London whatever your budget.

History of afternoon tea

Back in the 1800s, Anna the Duchess of Bedford, found herself getting rather ‘hangry’ between lunch and dinner. We all know that 4 pm slump. The close friend of Queen Victoria craved a little sweet treat to keep her going until supper. Afternoon tea was the answer. At that time, it really was just a light bite rather than the feast it is today.

The idea spread amongst society women and they started donning their long gloves and taking tea in the drawing room between 4 and 5 pm.Fast forward several decades, and more people wanted to enjoy the British tradition of afternoon tea like the lords and ladies did.

These days, traditional afternoon tea is quite the thing, especially for special occasions like Mother’s Day or birthdays. It’s a super popular experience and you’ll find many different offerings across the capital.

Most affordable afternoon tea in London

tea cafe in green

We reckon your cheapest cup of tea is at one of the old cabman’s shelters. There are 13 of them around London. You have to be a cabbie to go inside, but nearly all of them do takeaways. You’re not going to get fancy patisseries and finger sandwiches. But if you’re happy with a bacon butty or a fried egg sandwich with a runny yolk for around £2.50, and a cup of tea for a quid, this is the place to seek out.

1. Candella Tea Room, Kensington Church Street

This cute Kensington cafe opened in 2012 with the aim of bringing back the tradition of tea. It’s a charming experience. Choose from a wide array of teas blends. Tuck into sandwiches with fillings like smoked salmon and honey infused fromage frais, cucumber with a herby Greek feta whip or diced egg and avocado. You’ll get a clotted cream scone with a side serve of more clotted cream, and handmade patisseries. It’s a whimsical and elegant destination for a reasonable £24.95 per person.

2. The English Rose Cafe and Tea Room, Victoria

A mere stone’s throw from Buckingham Palace, on Lower Grosvenor Place, is this welcoming family-run cafe serving traditional afternoon tea between 12 and 4pm. Their traditional afternoon tea arrives on a tiered cake stand and costs £25 per person. Expect floral cups and saucers like your Granny used to have, and wonderful selection of baked goods.

3. M&S Cafe

Good ole M&S serves up a pretty cheap afternoon tea in its cafe for just £10 a person. There’s a selection of sandwiches (including vegetarian and gluten-free), a fruit scone with clotted cream and jam, fresh strawberries, a selection of cakes and a pot of tea. For an extra fiver you can get a glass of fizz too.

4. Cafe Rouge

Traditional afternoon tea with a touch of French sophistication is served up at Cafe Rouge brasseries across the capital. We like the one near St Paul’s. For £17.99 per person, you’ll get three tiers of delectable Parisian savoury and sweet delicacies.

Not so traditional afternoon tea

5. Akira, Kensington High Street

This Michelin starred restaurant in Japan House is the place to experience a Japanese style afternoon tea with seasonal wagashi and sparkling sake. Between 2.30 pm and 4.30 pm, you can choose from a selection of beverages including green teas and smoked black teas, with a seasonal platter of sushi, wagashi – Japanese traditional sweets – and desserts. It’s £28 per person and quite a different experience.

6. German Gymnasium, Kings Cross

The German Gymnasium in the heart of Kings Cross is a pretty cool destination. Bypass the schnitzel, sausages and steins of lager for the patisserie counter. Their German pastries are made from scratch on the premises. Their afternoon tea sharing platter (£60 for two) comprises unlimited tea or coffee. The Herzhaft (savouries) include pickled herring tart, beetroot hummus and Black Forest ham, whilst the Süß (sweets) span chocolate gugelhupf, strawberry macaron and traditional apple strudel.

7. Brigit’s Bakery bus tour

Combine a sightseeing trip on a double decker bus round London with a cuppa and cakes. The stylish Brigit’s Bakery serve up afternoon tea on a fun bus tour around the city for £45 per person. This is a real high tea, if you sit on the upper deck! If you don’t want to get on a bus, their cafe, Brigit’s Bakery in Covent Garden, is lovely and serves a stationary afternoon tea for £40. Elevate the delectable experience with a glass of Prosecco, Champagne or seasonal cocktail.

8. NHow Hotel, Shoreditch

If you don’t go anywhere without your pooch, you can now treat it to a dog-themed afternoon tea. At NHow Hotel, your canine companion can enjoy homemade cupcakes, frozen peanut butter bites and other treats. Wait for it, they’ll also get a ’puppucino’. Don’t feel left out, the ‘pawrent’ can enjoy a coffee and sweet treats too, all for £25 each.

Mid-range afternoon tea

7. The Wolseley, Piccadilly

The Wolseley is in such an iconic, heritage building at 120 Piccadilly. It retains a feeling of old-school glamour and grandeur. The interiors are quite spectacular and you’ll get exemplary service. They’ve has just opened another branch on King William Street in the City. Aptly, it’s in the building which once housed Ridgeways tea suppliers.

All of their pastries are handmade on the premises daily, from mouthwatering millefeuille and macarons, to fresh cream eclairs and traditional Battenberg cake. You’ll get finger sandwiches and scones as well. Classic afternoon tea with a selection of teas is £44.50 per person, or add Champagne for £56. A less expensive option is the cream tea at £19.50, still in the same opulent surroundings.

8. St James, Mayfair

St James’s is a 5 star hotel in Mayfair and their delicious afternoon tea is designed by Executive Chef William Drabble. You’ll get luxurious sweet treats, sandwiches and tea or Champagne in really memorable surroundings. At £45 per person (without the Champagne), it’s not quite as expensive as you might think.

9. Roast, Borough Market

Better known for its quality, traditional meat feasts, Roast also does a good afternoon tea for £45 per person. Perched above the bustling Borough Market, you get a great vantage point to people-watch whilst enjoying great food. Their afternoon tea menu is traditional, yet a little different. The savouries are great and full of flavour – truly delicious Scotch eggs, sausage rolls and a beautiful roast beef and horseradish Swiss lateral sandwich. You’ll get cakes like lemon drizzle, choux and cheesecake. Cocktails and fizz are also on the menu at extra cost.

10. The Anchor Bar and Terrace, Chelsea

With views across the Thames, the Anchor Bar and Terrace in swanky Chelsea harbour serves up traditional afternoon tea for £35 per head. The menu comprises various savouries (don’t miss the Coronation chicken with toasted almonds on mini brioche roll or traditional cucumber finger sandwich), scones and sweet treats.

Cultural afternoon tea

11. The Wallace Collection, Marylebone

Set in Marylebone, The Wallace Collection is a museum with exquisite exhibitions and collections to admire. There’s also a glorious courtyard in which to eat. Their traditional afternoon tea is £45 per person. It’s a classic menu offering egg, cheese, smoked salmon with cream cheese and coronation chicken finger sandwiches, along with scones, cakes and pastries.

12. The Great Court Restaurant, Bloomsbury

The famous British Museum boasts a wonderful restaurant – The Great Court. Once you’ve had your fill of ancient Egyptian artefacts and centuries of history, you can relax in this refined yet relaxed cafe. At £35 per person, you can enjoy a delectable afternoon tea in atmospheric surroundings.

13. Sketch afternoon tea, Soho

Sketch afternoon tea is the stuff of legend. As you’d expect from this arty venue, they tweak, adapt and serve traditional afternoon tea with a twist. The petits gateaux are sublime, ranging from blueberry and chestnut cheesecake tart to pineapple eclairs and the intriguing ‘exotic cake’. It’s a more expensive option at £80 per person or takeaway afternoon tea is £55.

High end afternoon tea

14. The Ritz, The Strand

The epitome of traditional luxury, and the scene of many period dramas, tea at The Ritz is an iconic British experience. It doesn’t come cheap, afternoon tea is £75 per person, but you don’t go to The Ritz without an ample budget. Drink in the sublime surroundings, along with a choice of over 20 teas including The Ritz Royal Blend. Savour finely cut sandwiches, freshly baked scones with Cornish clotted cream and strawberry preserve, and a mouthwatering range of beautiful pastries and teacakes, replenished on request.

15. Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly

Another sophisticated and luxurious, very British destination, is Fortnum & Mason. For generations, the delightful tradition of afternoon tea has been served here. It feels truly special to sip a cup of tea in such elegant surroundings. Enjoy extraordinary cakes, still-warm scones and an array of freshly prepared sandwiches with a pot of Fortnum’s tea for £80 per person. If you’re pushing the boat out, add a glass of Champagne or Fortnum’s 0% organic sparkling tea.

Looking for other foodie destinations?

Join us on a gastronomic London walk:

Epicurean, Foodies, Gourmet London

Foodie’s London – Biscuits and Banquets

Empire in a Cup – the History of Tea

The East India Company – Guided by a Distinguished Diplomat

 

 


David Tucker

David Tucker

David – the Seigneur of this favoured realm – broods over words, breeds enthusiasms and is “unmanageable.”* He’s a balterer, literary historian, university lecturer, journalist, logophile and lifelong thanatophobe. For good measure, he’s the doyen of London guides.

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Pippa Jackson

Pippa Jackson

Pippa is a word nerd and content aficionado with a background of working in TV on both sides of the globe. She loves to discover and share the diverse and wonderful stories of her much-loved London. When she’s not writing blogs and articles, you’ll find her walking beside the Thames or even paddleboarding on it (in the finest of conditions only!) or enjoying a coffee in the sunshine with a good book.

Read all articles by Pippa Jackson