I was recently invited to preview the new Tea Fusion afternoon tea at The Conrad, St James, and it re-ignited my love for afternoon tea. I haven’t been for afternoon tea for a while, but it’s probably my most favourite meal ever ever ever. This is because of two things: a) the fact that it’s usually a rare treat in a fancy hotel, and b) it’s essentially just a stream of never ending carbohydrate based foods. And tea. Also, I can pretty much get down with any concept that is basically just ‘adding another meal to the day’.
When I look for a new afternoon tea to go to, I usually find loads of novelty ones online that are, in real life, disappointing (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory afternoon tea, I’m looking at you). Therefore I thought I would compile a list of the ~actually good~ ones I’ve had.
Also: just a heads up, but most of these photos look like they’ve been taken on a potato because they’re a year or so old, and I took them on my old old iPhone. The places and afternoon teas are still great, but the menus may have changed slightly since I went, and therefore the food might be different to what is pictured, so check the websites before booking.
Best for fun features: The Langham (Portland Place, Regent St)
Most afternoon tea places nowadays have a classic tea, and a themed one. This is pretty hit and miss, as the classic tea always looks boring compared to the fun one, but I’ve found ‘fun’ teas often have more misses than hits. The Langham, however, consistently has an alternative tea as nice as (if not better than) the classic one. These photos were from last summer’s Chelsea Flower Show themed tea, which had funky additions such as a bright green, pearlised duck pâté, and a whole host of beautiful, intricate desserts. Also, when I was there last, Lady Gaga was there too. So that was nice.
The Conrad (St James)
Another place that has an alternative, changing tea is The Conrad. As I mentioned earlier, I got to sample the new and classic teas at their press afternoon this month and it *might* just be my new favourite afternoon tea. The ‘classic’ tea is themed too, and is called the ‘Conrad Candy Shop’ tea. Me, usually disliking the tiny, creamy intricacies of afternoon tea cakes and being a long term truther that sweets are bad, took issue with this immediately. But oh my GOD. The savouries were incredible, and included things you wouldn’t necessarily expect to find at an afternoon tea, such as chicken and pesto cones and pâté in brioche. But aside from the savouries (which, tbh, are hard to go wrong, I love everything), the sweet stuff was amazing too; something I usually always leave for the others to eat. Special shoutout goes to the weird bright green cakes in the Conrad Candy Shop tea, which are mint chocolate cheesecakes, and possibly the best dessert I’ve ever had in my life. The chai infused chocolate cake in the Tea Fusion tea was also pretty spectacular. The hotel itself is also very cool but ~sophisticated~, with my friend describing it as ‘beige lux’. Due to it’s very central location (right next to Buckingham Palace?), this would be a good one for impressing friends overseas with.
Best for luxe settings: Oscar Wilde bar, Hotel Café Royal (Regent Street)
Afternoon tea at Hotel Café Royal is served in the ‘Oscar Wilde bar’, a bar where Oscar Wilde liked to write (and according to their website, dine daily). It’s easy to see why. It’s the most incredible, ornately decorated and dimly lit underground bar, with all four walls covered in intricate gold murals. #InstagramGoals. The food is also v nice and has some unexpected combos (for example, in the gold tube on top of my [pictured below] scones is lemon curd, which they serve instead of jam. MAD.) The afternoon tea also comes with a cocktail, which is always a bonus.
Best for the classics: Claridge’s (Brook St/Bond St)
There’s a reason you can’t get a reservation for afternoon tea at Claridge’s anything short of three months before the date. And that’s also why the picture of said afternoon tea isn’t mine, it’s from some posh hiring company. Even I, photo taker of everything that enters my body, didn’t take pictures of the Claridges afternoon tea, because I was too busy shoving it into my mouth. Everything is amazing, and they refill everything as soon as you’re out of it, which tbh, they better do at £60 a head sans champagne (myself and one other person ate through three plates of sandwiches and they still continued to offer them). It’s basic in the best possible way. The room is gorgeous, the food is gorgeous, the ambience is gorgeous, the service is gorgeous. Gorgeous. This tea would be best for surprising your nan that ‘doesn’t like all these new, fancy things’ with.
Best for sweet stuff & price: Ladurée (Knightsbridge & Covent Garden)
For me personally, someone that is more of a fan of the savoury side of afternoon tea than the sweet, this afternoon tea is lovely, but not my personal preference. However, if you have a sweet tooth, this will be the tea for you. This is also the most cost effective tea, at £27.50 each. It’s very personalised; you choose the sandwich fillings you want (two each, and literally one sandwich finger of each filling), then which two croissants you would like each, which two cakes from the patisserie counter you would like each, and which two macaroons you would like each. The cost of the items individually would add up to more than the tea is priced at (you have to remember, you’re in mega expensive Ladurée where a sandwich is £22 and a cake is £10, and you’re right in the middle of Harrods, the most premium real estate in all of central London). This tea is great if you’re fussy about afternoon tea and want to like everything rather than having a few hits and misses. Due to its location, it’s also ideal for someone who wants to try lots of bits mid-shopping without having a huge lunch (sometimes afternoon tea makes you feel like you need a nap immediately afterwards). The quality of the food is, of course, Ladurée standard, as everything is taken directly off the main menu and off their patisserie counter. Oh, and like I even need to say this but, aesthetically, it’s STUNNING.
Do you have any favs that should have made the list?