Afternoon tea, that quintessentially English treat (it’s “high tea” in Scotland) has had something of a makeover in recent years. It’s not just fancy, pricey finger food and posh crockery these days. From unusual themes to international alternatives, and even pet-friendly spaces, there are options to suit all tastes and budgets. We’ve rounded up a few low-key options for afternoon tea in London all for under £40.00 per person.

The Wolseley, for traditional afternoon tea

If classic afternoon tea replete with finger sandwiches, cake, scones and clotted cream is your bag, then head to The Wolseley. The Mayfair Hotel serves up a taste of old London grandeur that looks like it would be right at home in an Agatha Christie adaptation. Menus range from a simple cream tea (£12.75 per person), the classic (£29.75 per person), or for those who want a little fizz with their scones, there’s the champagne afternoon tea (£40.00 per person).

It’s also worth noting that The Wolseley is run by the same people as The Delauney. The latter isn’t currently offering afternoon tea, but you may be able to redeem any existing vouchers at The Wolseley instead.

  • Tea time: Monday–Friday: 3 pm–6 pm | Saturday–Sunday 3:30 pm–6:30 pm
  • Price: Classic £29.75/person or Champagne £40.00/person
Afternoon tea with champagne
Photo by iStock.com/Michael Mann

MAP Maison, for a savoury, Spanish twist

One for omnivores only, alas. There are no meat-free or gluten-free options here, but, if you do partake in meat and wheat, there are plenty of savoury and sweet treats to feast on. It’s basically tapas-style sharing plates. The savoury menu includes caprese, mini Iberico burgers, and The Spaniard: baguette slices with buffalo mozzarella, Iberico ham, black-olive tapenade, and sundried tomato. For sweet offerings, there are mini cheesecakes that change daily, mini banoffee pies and red velvet cake.

The teas include English breakfast, Earl Grey, chai, hibiscus, and Jade Tips green tea. As with most afternoon teas, you can choose between classic, alcohol-free options, or go for either a Prosecco or Champagne version.

  • Tea time: Monday–Sunday: 12 pm–5 pm
  • Price: Classic £25.00/person, Prosecco £29.00/person, Champagne £35.00/person

Ladurée London, for some at-home luxury

Ladurée is a French tea room famous for its macarons, with restaurants all over the world, including two in London. Although it has reopened since the lockdown, bookings don’t seem to include afternoon tea.

But the good news is they deliver. Okay, so it’s a more pared-down affair than going out for afternoon tea, consisting of scones, jam and, of course, some macarons. But if you’re interested in quality rather than quantity, you could pop into Fortnum & Mason to get some fancy tea, then collect a Cream Tea for Two from Ladurée for a decadent afternoon at home. They also deliver, but in any case you’ll need to allow 48 hours’ notice to put in your order.

  • Price: £26.00 (click & collect)
  • The Park Grand London Lancaster Gate, for Indian-inspired afternoon tea

    The Park Grand London Lancaster Gate is a more exotic option and especially good for veggies. The Indian-inspired menu includes sweet and savoury morsels such as spiced sultana scones, the Bombay Aloo Bonda (a croquette-like spiced crispy potato snack), chutney sandwiches, samosas, and kathi rolls. And there’s more too: each afternoon tea is made for two. On the tea menu, you can expect masala chai, plus Assam, Darjeeling and green tea. And sweet treats include a trio of mithai (confectionery) and mango rice pudding. Booking required 24 hours or more in advance.

    • Tea time: 2:30 pm–5:30 pm daily (on reopening)
    • Price: £35.00 for two

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    Dukes Hotel – For Vegan Afternoon Tea

    Because we haven’t forgotten about our vegan cheapos. Dukes Hotel in Mayfair offers a range of afternoon teas from the traditional to the MarTEAni afternoon tea (yes, it’s really spelt like that). But for plant-based clotted cream teas and assorted treats, hit up the vegan afternoon tea, with savoury options that include vegan cheese with fig relish on white bread, and grilled courgette and tomato tapenade sandwiches.

    The sweet menu also comes with scones, naturally, but also some other treats like mango cashew cheesecakes, coconut cookie cake, and cinnamon beetroot cake. Afternoon tea wouldn’t be complete without tea, and there is a good selection, including royal breakfast tea, jasmine tea, green tea, white tea, and assorted herbal infusions.

    • Tea time: 2 pm–6 pm daily (three sittings)
    • Price: £35.00/person

    The English Rose Café & Tea Shop

    Moments from Buckingham Palace in Victoria is The English Rose Café & Tea Shop, an independent family-run café and tea shop with a traditional yet cheap afternoon tea. Inside, it’s decorated “grandma style” with flowery wallpaper, mismatched chairs and cups and a decorative teapot tree.

    The afternoon tea is £30.00 for two people and for that you get a selection of sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, and a selection of homemade cakes. You also get a pot of tea for two or – for an extra £6.75 per person – a 200ml bottle of Prosecco. They can also accommodate vegetarians and any allergies.

    Grab a table outside if the weather’s good or settle inside to take in the cosy quirky atmosphere. There’s no need to book in advance but we visited on a Saturday and the place was pretty busy so book ahead to avoid disappointment.

    • Tea time: 10am – 4:pm, closed Tue/Wed
    • Price: £30.00 for two people

    Paul Covent Garden

    For a British afternoon tea with a French twist, head to Paul in Covent Garden. Prices range from £14.95 to £24.95 depending on what drink you go for. For food, there’s a selection of sandwiches made from Paul’s artisan bread, a freshly baked almond brioche, French patisserie cakes, mini macarons and Chantilly cream and jam.

    For drinks, you can choose between tea and coffee to get the afternoon tea for £14.95, a glass of bubbles brings it to £19.95, a glass of Paul Champagne for £21.95, and – if you’re treating yourself – on Saturday and Sunday you can get bottomless bubbles for £24.95. Be sure to book in advance.

    • Price: From £14.95 to £24.95
    • Thé times: Monday – Sunday 2:30pm – 5:30pm

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