May started with a flurry of regally-inclined afternoon teas to celebrate the coronation (a couple of which are still available throughout the summer, FYI), but as the fuss from that one dies down, we're seeing a fresh wave of brand new afternoon tea menus coming to London. Read on to find out what we'll be sipping and slurping to make ourselves feel fancy over the coming weeks.
1. 150 Years of St Pancras Afternoon Tea at The Hansom
The St Pancras Renaissance Hotel celebrates its 150th birthday this year (the station itself celebrated the milestone in 2018) and it's doing so in style with a special afternoon tea. It consists of classic sandwiches (cucumber, mint and crème fraîche; smoked salmon and chive lemon cream cheese; beef and horseradish; egg, truffle mayo and mustard cress) and fresh scones with clotted cream and jam, followed by a sweet selection inspired by the era in which the hotel was built.
They include the St Pancras Battenberg; a cherry & chocolate black forest; strawberry & vanilla Victoria sponge cake; and a lemon curd éclair with orange chantilly and candied citrus.
150 Years Afternoon Tea at The Hansom. £49 per person, or £62 with a glass of Veuve Clicquot. Available Wednesday-Sunday.
2. London Afternoon Tea at The Dilly
We *may* have done a tiny squeal of delight when this one landed in our inbox. The Dilly — previously known for its top-notch Peter Rabbit afternoon tea (no longer available) — has turned its attention to the landmarks of London. Big Ben (or the Elizabeth Tower, to the pedants among you), a red phone box, a black cab and the tube roundel have been recreated in miniature, in the form of cakes, biscuits and macarons.
There are traditional scones and finger sandwiches too (smoked salmon, ham and cheese, egg mayo, and roasted veggies and hummus) with vegetarian options available. And while we're sure they'll be absolutely delightful, we're going to struggle to take our eyes off that top tier.
For what it's worth, The Terrace at The Dilly is one of our favourite London spots for afternoon tea. It's light and airy, spacious enough that it never feels crowded, and peaceful, despite the madness of Piccadilly going on right below you. Delightful.
London Afternoon Tea at The Dilly. £49 per person/£65 with champagne/£67 with rose champagne/£39 per child. Available daily from 11 May.
3. Ping Pong's Dim Sum Afternoon Tea
Chinese dim sum restaurant Ping Pong make a foray into the world of afternoon tea — with a heavy focus on the dim sum — at two of its London branches.
The afternoon tea menu features three steamed and three fried dim sum per person. Meat or vegetarian options are available, and include crispy duck spring roll, spicy chicken dumpling, crispy tofu, and a mushroom and leek steamed dumpling.
That's followed by a trio of desserts; a black coconut ice cream bao, a petit cheesecake and a petit chocolate fondant. It's served on a tiered stand, along with hot or iced tea or coffee — or you can splash out extra for a glass of prosecco or a gin & tonic tea pot.
Ping Pong Afternoon Tea. £20 per person. Available daily from 15 May at the St Katharine Docks and St Christopher's Place branches of Ping Pong.
4. Strand Palace Afternoon Tea with Love Cocoa
Here's a treat for chocoholics: Haxells Restaurant at the Strand Palace Hotel has teamed up with Love Cocoa for an afternoon tea menu that's all about the good stuff.
Love Cocoa was founded by James Cadbury, the great-great-great grandson of a certain John Cadbury so it's safe to assume they know their way around a cocoa bean. But before you get to that, eat your way through a fancy take on traditional savouries, including a tomato tartlet with buffalo mozzarella and basil, and a honey smoked ham and Wensleydale wrap, followed by a traditional fruit scone with blackberry jam and clotted cream.
The cocoa-laced sweet section of the menu features an espresso martini brownie with coffee beans; pistachio macarons with cocoa caramel popcorn; and a sour apple marshmallow served with a white chocolate shard. There's a choice of six teas to wash it all down, and a vegan option is available.
Oh, and in case you need an extra incentive to indulge, one tree is planted for every afternoon tea sold. So you can absolutely class it as your good deed of the day.
Strand Palace Afternoon Tea with Love Cocoa. £45 per adult (£49 with prosecco)/£27 per child. Available 16 May-12 November.
5. Sri Lankan High Tea at Lyaness
Afternoon tea in a cocktail bar can be a hit-and-miss affair, but when the cocktail king himself Mr Lyan is involved, you know it's going to be good.
Ryan Chetiyawardana took inspiration from his parents' home city of Galle in Sri Lanka, skilfully blending sweet and savoury dishes with the extravagant cocktails he's known for.
Kick off with a Curry leaf Champagne cocktail (Bombay Sapphire, mango, curry leaf, champagne) paired with finger sandwiches including chicken kukul mas and coconut, masala spiced tuna with mayonnaise, and marinated aubergine and brinjal butter. The fillings emulate the spices and flavours of the island of Sri Lanka.
The next course of savoury bites includes a mutton croquette with tomato sambal, and turmeric-spiced devilled eggs, alongside a coconut flower daiquiri cocktail (Bacardi Carta Blanca, coconut water, lime, grapefruit, jaggery).
The sweet dishes are classic Sri Lankan treats, reimagined through a British palate, and include a pandan Swiss roll and a wattalapam (coconut custard) tart, accompanied by a selection of teas from the Rare Tea Co, chosen to support local Sri Lankan suppliers.
Plain and raisin scones are served with clotted cream and berry jam, alongside a Ceylon milk tea punch cocktail (Grey Goose, Rare Tea Sri Lankan black tea, clarified rice milk and tamarind).
Sri Lankan High Tea at Lyaness. £43 per person/£53 with cocktail pairing/£63 with cocktail pairing and champagne. Available every Saturday and Sunday from 20 May.
6. Summer Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley
As sure as bluebells turn to cherry blossom turns to wisteria, the fashion-centric Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley gets a seasonal makeover every few months. This time it's inspired by individual pieces from designers including Kenzo and Moschino.
The Hermès tasselled bucket bag is recreated out of Victoria sponge with apricot jam, wrapped in chocolate and finished with a chocolate feather plum. Loewe's viral Anthurium dress takes the form of Sacher sponge, espresso caramel and chocolate mousse, topped with a chocolate flower.
There's also an homage to the late designer Vivienne Westwood: a Madagascar vanilla biscuit portrait, intricately iced, complete with iconic red hair.
Spring/Summer 2023 Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley. £80 per person. Available daily, throughout the summer.
7. Bringing Bali to Belgravia at Como at The Halkin
As much of a wellness experience as an afternoon tea, Bringing Bali to Belgravia aims to transport diners to the shores of the COMO Shambhala Estate in Bali.
Receive hot towels infused with the COMO Shambhala signature scent on arrival, before tucking into a selection of dishes inspired by recipes from The Pleasure of Eating Well.
Savoury dishes include sweetcorn and basil soup; 'Real Toast' with seeds and avocado; and spiced crispy prawns and marinated chicken lolly with a rice salad and pomegranate seeds.
They're followed by cucumber jelly, apple and avocado sorbet; wholemeal banana waffles with peanuts and yogurt sauce; and mango and passionfruit cheesecake. The zen garden, made of protein rock, chocolate stone and matcha cake, is a highlight.
Wash it all down with a selection of juices and teas, including the COMO Shambhala ginger tea, the Lean and Clean Greens designed to build lean muscle and boost energy and immunity, and the Blood Builder curated to cleanse the blood, improve circulation and lift your mood. Basically, if you're looking for 'afternoon tea but make it healthy', this is it.
Bali afternoon tea at Como at The Halkin. From £55 per person. Available daily.
8. Musical Afternoon Tea at Middle Eight
Though it launched in March, this musical offering escaped our radar at the time — but it looks absolutely delightful.
Taking inspiration from the Covent Garden hotel's name, Middle Eight, it features cakes decorated with musical touches, including Blood Orange Opera citrus pannacotta with layers of blood orange jelly; Treble Clef Treat Pistachio macaron filled with buttercream & roasted praline; and crispy creamy Hazelnut Harmony, a twist on the classic hazelnut éclair.
Scones with clotted cream and jam are also served, along with finger sandwiches (think coronation chicken, salmon and cream cheese, and grilled vegetables and hummus). The tea itself is a choice of several black, green and white teas, and floral and herbal blends.
Musical Afternoon Tea at Middle Eight. £45 per person/£55 with a glass of prosecco. Available Wednesday-Sunday.