The gentleman’s tea
The Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea at the Sanctum Soho Hotel, a distinctly masculine take on the meal, presents hearty fare in miniature sizes accompanied by a tankard of Jack Daniel’s. The menu includes traditionally man-friendly dishes such as burgers served with mustard seed relish and a Yorkshire pudding stuffed with roast beef and horseradish, followed by indulgent twice-baked chocolate fudge cake and scoops of ice cream flavoured with Jack Daniel’s. After tea retire to the fifth-floor roof terrace and enjoy a cigar and another dram of whiskey.
Sanctum Soho Hotel, 20 Warwick Street, London W1B 5NF, +44 (0)20 7292 6100
The fashion-forward tea
The most on-trend of afternoon teas, Prêt-à-Portea takes inspiration from the best catwalk collections of each season and transforms them into cakes. Served on bespoke Paul Smith china at the Berkeley hotel in Knightsbridge, this spring’s selection includes Tom Ford’s pale pink chiffon summer dress in biscuit form with rose icing and sparkling silver cuffs, a Victoria Beckham tote in sponge cake with peach-coloured crocodile-print chocolate and Jil Sander’s little black dress with colour-blocked crème de menthe and coconut jelly.
The Berkeley, Wilton Place, London SW1X 7RL, +44 (0)20 7107 8866
The connoisseur’s tea
A delight for tea enthusiasts, the peaceful Miller Harris tearoom in Mayfair offers bespoke blends that combine fragrance and flavour with aplomb. A selection of complementary cakes based on the essences infused in each tea perfectly matches the extensive tea menu, which ranges from the fruity to the floral. The light, feminine and floral Pétales unites vanilla Ceylon tea with Turkish rose absolute while the smoky Fumé blend offers hints of Indian spice, cinnamon and cardamom pods.
Miller Harris Fragrant Tea Room, 21 Bruton Street, London W1J 6QD, +44 (0)20 7629 7750
The traditional tea
The archetypal afternoon tea has been a fixture at the Dorchester in Mayfair for 80 years; this award-winning tea is served five times each day in the hotel’s luxurious Spatisserie. The menu features sandwiches with classic fillings; cucumber with cream cheese on caraway seed bread and egg mayonnaise with shiso cress are particular highlights. Raise a toast with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne produced especially for the Dorchester, or remain teetotal with a cup of subtly woody black Ceylon tea.
The Dorchester, Park Lane, London W1K 1QA, +44 (0)20 7629 8888
The Mad Hatter’s tea
Disappear down the rabbit hole with the Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea served at the Sanderson hotel. Try the Drink Me smoothie, an exotic concoction of apple pie, lemon curd and English toffee, or go Tweedledee for magical blueberry lollipops that turn your tongue from cold to hot. Keep one foot in the real world with traditional scones, clotted cream and jam. Join the tea party in the Courtyard Garden, or, if you’re late for a very important date like our friend the white rabbit, you can take tea to go if you book in advance.
Sanderson, 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG, +44 (0)20 7300 1444
The high tea
Savoury treats abound at the Dean Street Townhouse’s substantial high tea. A selection of family favourites including macaroni cheese and fish fingers and chips make this tea an unusual, laid-back, treat. Lighter dishes such as spiced crab paste on toast and Ayrshire bacon bites are ideal for satisfying hunger pangs while traditionalists can indulge in softly buttered crumpets and scones accompanied by a comforting cup of tea or coffee.
Dean Street Townhouse, 69-71 Dean Street, London W1D 3SE, +44 (0)20 7434 1775
The height-of-luxury tea
Elegance reigns in the quintessentially English tearoom at Claridge’s in Mayfair, which is dominated by a silver-white light sculpture that hangs from the ceiling. Choose from a selection of 30 tea blends from around the world accompanied by an array of finger sandwiches and sweet pastries while strains of classical music play in the background. The freshly baked raisin and apple scones served with tea-infused jam and rich Devonshire clotted cream add to the luxurious atmosphere.
Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair, W1K 4HR, +44 (0)20 7107 8872