Now we can reveal the survey result everyone’s been waiting for…Our annual, 2017, restaurant survey included for the first time a category for that most vital and celebrated of occasions: the afternoon tea.
Although some Yorkshiremen claim (with rightful pride in the legendary Betty’s) that “thou gets best posh cuppa ‘up north”, this is a corner of Bake-Off Britain in which the Capital shines.
So, without further ado, here is the top-10 countdown of London’s top afternoon teas, as voted for by our 7,500 participants in the 2017 diners survey.
The Ritz, Palm Court W1
150 Piccadilly 020 7493 8181
Harden’s Says – “The gold standard for afternoon tea” – this “splendid and iconic” room wins praise as “a quintessential English experience with melt-in-the-mouth petit fours, sandwiches and cakes” and even if it’s “tooooooo expensive” most reporters feel it’s “worth it” to “feel a little bit special”.
Fortnum & Mason, The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon W1
181 Piccadilly 020 7734 8040
Harden’s says – “The best selection of teas in town” and “exceptional, endlessly refreshed platters” of sandwiches and cakes help establish this “stylish and beautiful” chamber on the third floor of the famous St James’s grocery store as “a wonderful spot for a special celebration afternoon tea”.
The Goring Hotel SW1
15 Beeston Pl 020 7396 9000
Harden’s says – “Away from the hoi polloi, and convenient for Buck Pal’”, this “splendid and unspoilt survivor” is not only “an oasis from the hustle and bustle of Victoria” but also a bastion of unchanging values: in particular its “impeccable” service “pandering to every whim”. The Michelin star bestowed on the “delightful dining room” is something of a distraction – “the food is not outstandingly good, but old-fashioned and English” – perfect for business, a “traditional British breakfast par excellence”, or “a masterclass in how to do afternoon tea”.
Brown’s Hotel, The English Tea Room W1
Albemarle St 020 7493 6020
Harden’s says – “Let yourself be transported away from the madding crowd to this peaceful haven of afternoon tea!”, say fans of this very “traditional” hotel lounge, “with the tinkling piano in the background”. “It may not be the most innovative, but the quality and quantity is second to none, and they really look after you”.
The Wolseley W1
160 Piccadilly 020 7499 6996
Harden’s says – From “the perfect power breakfast” (“like a Who’s Who of the FTSE100!”) to “celeb-spotting” over lunch or dinner, Corbin & King’s “cosmopolitan and Continental feeling” Grand CafeÌ by The Ritz is “always full of fizz”, even if the “bistro-style” Mittel-European fare has always been decidedly “formulaic”. A few accuse it of laurel-resting though? – in particular service (typically “very professional”) was patchier this year. Top Tip – “one of the few grand afternoon teas in central London that isn’t a total rip-off”.
The Dorchester Hotel, Promenade Lounge W1
53 Park Ln 020 7629 8866
Harden’s says – “A rare treat nowadays, but over half a century it’s always been a particular pleasure!” This ultra-plush and “beautiful” lounge provides a picturebook setting for a light bite, but most particularly afternoon tea: “absolutely delicious with simply masses of yummy treats!”
Claridge’s Hotel, Foyer W1
49 Brook St 020 7107 8888
Harden’s says – “Lovely any time of year, but especially magical at Christmas when the cakes are beautifully themed” – the afternoon tea in the “very comfortable” foyer lounges of this Mayfair landmark is “wonderful for a special occasion: a wow from start to finish”.
The Savoy Hotel, Thames Foyer WC2
The Savoy, The Strand 020 7420 2111
Harden’s says – “The afternoon tea of dreams” – “a wonderful range of teas” coupled with “absolutely fantastic paÌ‚tisserie” – is regularly reported in the “lavish, comfortable and enthralling” central lounge of this London landmark: service in particular “helps make for a delightful experience”.
The Delaunay WC2
55 Aldwych 020 7499 8558
Harden’s says – Like its sibling, The Wolseley, Corbin & King’s “bustling and luxurious” venue on Aldwych “gives a very good impression of a middle-European cafeÌ in the grand style”, and makes a supremely business-friendly choice. But aside from “wonderful old-school breakfasts” and “lovely afternoon teas”, the somewhat “unimaginative” cooking is “only OK for the price”, and has seemed even more “ordinary” of late. Next door, ‘The Counter’ is “The Delaunay’s little brother, serving light meals, coffee and cakes”.
Palm Court, The Langham Hotel W1
1c, Portland Place 020 7965 0195
Harden’s says – “I think I have done every major afternoon tea in the city and nothing beats The Langham!” – “most exquisite sweets and yummy savouries”, and “really interesting sandwiches served on a platter rather than left on the table”. (In fact, this “beautiful” space is a handy fall-back in general).
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