What better way to get into the festive spirit than with a Christmas Afternoon Tea? Whether you’ve spent a busy morning blitzing the boutiques and playing Santa, or just fancy a little pre-Christmas indulgence, a delicious spread of sandwiches, cakes, scones and tea makes for a perfect December treat. Read on for our tried-and-tested edit of London’s best Christmas Afternoon Teas for 2014…
The Opulent Afternoon Tea
To cross the threshold of the Ritz at this time of year is to enter an enchanting, elegant Christmas world. Leaving behind busy Bond Street, you’re immediately entranced by the biggest and most beautiful Christmas tree you will see this December – and with the most deliciously festive scent. The Ritz hotel’s Christmas Afternoon Tea is the epitome of all that is delightful about this enchanting time of year, and without any of its unfortunate stresses. And there’s Champagne too.
The only strain – in an hour and a half of sheer opulent indulgence – is how to navigate the luxuriant fare on offer. A range of delicious sandwiches, enticing pastries and cakes, and freshly baked scones is quickly followed by the arrival of an attentive waiter bearing the most delectable Bakewell Tart and sumptuous slices of rich Christmas Cake. To wash it all down, we recommend the Christmas Tea: a blend of fine black tea and aromatic spiced apple with a touch of cinnamon. The afternoon tea is made all the more festive thanks to perfectly-pitched Christmas carols, accompanying but not overbearing the occasion. Re-emerging into the bustling swirl of the West End, we felt refreshed and re-vivified, ready to throw ourselves into all the pleasures of the season.
For more information and to book, see The Ritz’s website.
The Traditional Afternoon Tea
Located in an elegant, leafy square, a hop and a skip from the independent boutiques of Marylebone High Street, the Dorset Square Hotel feels like a bit of a secret address. The hotel’s intimate Kit Kemp-designed Potting Shed restaurant is a relaxed, cosy space perfect for a festive afternoon tea with family – the special Christmas Afternoon Tea is really quite a spread. And there are Christmas favourites aplenty – from turkey and cranberry sandwiches to delicious pigs in blankets and crisp, spicy mince pies to indulgent yule logs, this traditional tea is a real crowd-pleaser. We loved the Potting Shed’s scrumptious freshly-baked scones too.
In addition to an expertly mixed, well-dosed Earl Grey Martini, a wide selection of teas is on offer, with the restaurant’s knowledgeable and unfailingly helpful staff happy to make recommendations. We particularly liked the fragrant rose tea – perfect for a little light afternoon refreshment. And at just £25 per person, the Christmas Tea is an absolute steal – leaving you with more pennies for those presents!
For more information and to book, see the Dorset Square Hotel’s website.
The Fashionista Afternoon Tea
The Berkeley places you in the midst of an Autumn/Winter 2014-15 catwalk review with its seasonal Prêt-à-Portea menu, where afternoon tea gets a high fashion makeover. A selection of sandwiches kicks off the feast, including festive turkey and cranberry, paired with your choice of champagne or tea (or perhaps both – Laurent Perrier followed by a pot of Organic Assam works well). Next, tuck into the most stylish cakes you’ve ever seen, each one a miniature version of a covetable designer piece.
Moschino’s homage to McDonald’s – a bright red quilted handbag with the golden arches logo – is reimagined in blood orange sponge and chocolate icing; Jimmy Choo’s zebra print Cayla clutch is expertly topped with tiny rainbow meringues. You can also nibble on a melt-in-the-mouth ginger biscuit tribute to Diane Von Furstenberg’s classic wrap dress (a DVF staple for 40 years), then bite into Charlotte Olympia’s Sarah boot, before devouring a Dolce & Gabbana-inspired star anise and blackcurrant mousse complete with chocolate owl. To top things off, the hotel’s service and setting is as luxurious as the designs. This really is an irresistible treat for anyone with an appetite for fashion.
For more information and to book, see the Berkeley’s website.
The Ultimate Christmas Afternoon Tea
At this time of year, entering the Corinthia Hotel is a bit like visiting a grotto. Aside from baubles everywhere and firs dressed in shimmering silver and white, there’s a genuine gingerbread tree and a magnificent chandelier that makes you feel like you are in your own personal snowglobe. Served in the art deco Lobby Lounge, the hotel’s Festivi-Tea continues the theme; the cakes have all been renamed, so that you can munch on a Santa’s Little Helper macaron and have fun attempting to match each tiny decorative fancy with its festive moniker.
There’s so much to choose from, from the insanely delicious salted caramel ‘avalanche’ chocolate sticks to the ‘stocking filler’, a tangerine mousse that puts a Jaffa Cake to shame. Theres also a magnificent roulade, named somewhat inappropriately after Ebeneezer Scrooge. Not that there’s anything Dickensian about this tea, from the exquisite finger sandwiches to the crumble-in-your-mouth scones, or the selection of teas to meet every preference. Afternoon tea is a joy all year round, but there’s something particularly special about enjoying it on a briskly cold afternoon this close to Christmas. Just don’t go if you’re on a pre-Christmas diet!
For more information and to book, see the Corinthia hotel’s website.
The Christmas Shopping Afternoon Tea
Smart yet remarkably understated, Lanes of London offers a sweet refuge from the frantic hubbub of bag-bashing that is Oxford Street at this time of year. Leave the madding crowds far behind and head to the Edwardian mansion to relax into cosy booths, heavy leather armchairs and velvet banquettes. This is the ideal spot to sip Champagne with the girls, while you restore your shopped-out soul with dainty finger sandwiches, warm buttermilk scones and the sensational Christmas patisseries that make up Lanes’ Festive Afternoon Tea.
Sandwich options include cucumber on basil bread and luxurious salmon and rye, but save some space for the sweets… It doesn’t get much more festive than a giant Christmas pudding macaron – and then there’s a coffee and mascarpone yule log, spicy gingerbread and chocolate orange opera cake. A range of loose leaf teas such as blackcurrant and hibiscus, jasmine pearl or traditional Assam stay piping hot in little glass teapots, while homemade fruit compote and pearly clotted cream are on hand for the scones. And you’re conveniently located a hair’s breadth away from Hyde Park, where you can walk it all off over vast swathes of green and burnished bronze leaves.
For more information and to book, see Lanes of London’s website.