Christmas in London is exhaustingly fun. Embrace the festive lights, shopping and ice skating but don’t forget it is important to eat, drink and be merry. Checking all these festive boxes are the Christmas afternoon teas at London’s most glamourous luxury hotels, which ooze oh-so-sophisticated yuletide spirit. Here is our guide to the most luxuriate Christmas afternoon teas the capital has to offer.
Afternoon tea with diptique at The Hotel Café Royal
Where? Just look at this room! Tea is served in the iconic Oscar Wilde Lounge which is covered with gold, mirrors and ornate Louis XVI décor – a truly sumptuous setting for tea.
What? Inspired by Queen Victoria’s Christmas celebrations in 1894, the festive tea menu includes canapes, sandwiches, pies, scones, sweet treats and more. All this comes with a choice of over 25 exclusive teas, fine champagnes and a live pianist. If that wasn’t enough, you also get to take home a Baies diptique candle each which has an aroma of freshly picked blackcurrants and a hint of rose.
Eat… Each delicate morsel has a story from a carrot velouté created by Charles Elme Francatelli (who was once the Royal Chef to Queen Victoria) to a game pie that was a gift from Lord Cadogan. Our favourite sandwich was filled with turkey, chestnut and bacon. On a sweeter note, expect a tour de force of delicacies like a rose champagne jelly, Christmas pudding vanilla tart and a raspberry Victoria sponge.
Don’t miss… other diptique inspired activities at the hotel like a giant 16 ft tall advent calendar, a Christmas tree adorned with bespoke diptyque lucky charm ornaments as well as wreath making and table decoration workshops.
How much? £80 per person (including a 70g Baies diptique candle).
Afternoon tea with Christmas carols at The Dorchester
Where? At The Promenade lined with Christmas trees and surrounded by Nutcracker soldiers. The Promenade is in the heart of the hotel so it is the place to see and be seen.
What? The Christmas experience is taken to a whole new level with festive-inspired menus and live music. On weekends, a school choir perform traditional carols from 1.30pm until 6.30pm.
Eat… Our favourite sandwich was a yuletide Norfolk Bronze turkey with apricot and cranberry relish on cranberry bread. After a delicate pre-dessert, enjoy cranberry scones followed by pretty pastries like a spiced fig and honey cake along with much more.
Don’t miss… Afternoon tea is also served on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day too!
How much? Afternoon tea with Christmas carols is £95 per person and includes a glass of Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label champagne.
The Nutcracker afternoon tea at Grosvenor House
Where? In the elegant Park Room at JW Marriott Grosvenor House on Park Lane which has been dedicated to all things afternoon tea since 1929.
What? An enchanting afternoon winter wonderland tea inspired by The Nutcracker which has one of the great moments in classical ballet, a 10 minute visual spectacular during the final act as the Sugar Plum Fairy dances her climatic grand pas de deux. Each of the pastries is named after a character in the ballet which will be performed by Birmingham Royal Ballet at the Royal Albert Hall during December.
Eat… An assortment of pastries together with the finger sandwiches and scones (however you choose to pronounce!) are all carefully presented on a three trier cake stand, analogous to the ballet in three parts. Our favourite was The Nutcracker, a hazelnut chocolate chip tart with a Devon cream ganache closely followed by The Angels, a William pear cream pastry delicately coated in white chocolate that glistens in the light.
Don’t miss… the pianist playing a number of scores from the ballet by Tchaikovsky and many other songs from 2pm-6pm every day.
How much? From £55.50 per person.
High tea at Shangri-La Hotel, at The Shard
Where? TING lounge at the Shangri-La Shard.
What? The restaurant at level 35 of this London landmark offers the highest afternoon tea in London, allowing you to tuck into its festive offering while drinking in the spectacular views as well as marvelling at their glass Christmas tree.
Eat… First to hit the flower-strewn table is an Atlantic prawn cocktail, before you’re presented with a host of savoury sandwiches and raisin scones with jam and cream. You’d be hard-pressed to pick a favourite from the sweets, but the mulled wine and pear compote is unmissable – as is the traditional slice of Christmas cake.
Don’t miss… staying for the night and enjoying more festive treats such as making your own bauble or an intimate theatrical performance in a suite called ‘Christmas in the Clouds’. When you come, bring your old glass baubles as for every bauble, the hotel will donate £1 to Guys and St Thomas’s Charity.
How much? From £68 per person.
Festive afternoon tea at The Corinthia
Where? Served in the light drenched Crystal Moon Lounge under a two-tonne chandelier made up of 1,001 Baccarat crystals, with a single red bauble representing the heart of the hotel.
What? Afternoon tea is taken very seriously at Corinthia London and is a slowly unfolding pleasure that must never be hurried all served on bespoke fine bone china. A selection of 25 teas includes three bespoke blends curated for Corinthia London as well as champagne from an antique champagne trolley.
Eat… Roast turkey and cranberry sandwiches along with other high tea classics and Christmas sweet items where a spiced pineapple & vanilla éclair was our favourite.
Don’t miss… talking to a Tea Sommelier who will impart knowledge of all things tea.
How much? From £60 per person.
Christmas afternoon tea at Sofitel St James.
Where? Tea is in the intimate and elegant décor of The Rose Lounge, a rose-filled retreat moments away from Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly Circus.
What? Indulge in the most decadent of all British traditions and enjoy a delightful festive afternoon tea with a French touch.
Eat… Sandwiches read like a Christmas Day menu and involve turkey, cranberry, ham cock, prawn cocktail and cheese. A Christmas carrot cake with vanilla mascarpone cream was so good we asked for an extra one to take home.
Don’t miss… a bespoke Sofitel Royal Blend and The Rose Lounge Signature Tea.
How much? From £45 per person.
Twelve days of Christmas afternoon tea at Intercontinental Park Lane
Where? Intercontinental Park Lane’s elegant Wellington Lounge.
What? To celebrate the hotel’s partnership with Perrier-Jouët, the Wellington Lounge has been filled with an explosion of champagne pink and gold decorations with a huge Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque-inspired Christmas tree.
Eat… The menu is inspired by the twelve days of Christmas, so expect edible interpretations of the carol’s characters with a dedicated vegetarian menu also available. The festive line-up includes a partridge and pear pithivier, a ‘maids a milking’ chocolate tart and a ‘turtle doves’ chocolate layered cake, but the star of this show (see photo above) is a ‘geese a laying’ macaroon decorated with a carefully-piped goose’s head.
Don’t miss… unlimited Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne, available for an hour and a half for an extra £29 per person.
How much? From £65 per person.
Edwardian wonderland tea at The Ritz
Where? Palm Court at the heart of The Ritz.
What? This year’s annual festive makeover of London’s most quintessentially English hotel will deck the halls of the refined Palm Court in rich red and gold trimmings, along with a 25 ft lavishly decorated Christmas tree. Don’t forget that formal attire is required for adults but smart casual for kids.
Eat… Expect a traditional yet extravagant feast of finely cut sandwiches and freshly baked scones with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, with the addition of festive-themed pastries and a platter of warm mince pies.
Don’t miss… The Ritz choir and harpist performing carols underneath the glittering Christmas tree.
How much? £80 per person.
Christmas afternoon tea aboard Sunborn luxury yacht hotel
Where? The UK’s only luxury super yacht hotel docked near Canary Wharf.
What? A Christmas afternoon tea aboard a super yacht sounds like a great Saturday afternoon with a choice of loose leaf teas or even a Laurent Perrier champagne flight.
Eat… Sweet bites include mince pies, Battenberg cake, winter berry trifle and a moreish 70% dark chocolate & Maldon sea salt macaroon. Savoury finger sandwiches include Norfolk bronze turkey with cranberry and stuffing, Wensleydale cheese with tomato chutney, smoked salmon and cream cheese and more.
Don’t miss… freshly baked spiced cranberry scones.
How much? From £35 per person.
Winter Wonderland tea at Landmark London
Where? Landmark London’s winter garden.
What? The gorgeous glass-roofed indoor garden has been transformed into a winter wonderland with a hefty sprinkle of red berries, white snowflakes and golden decorations as well as a huge, twinkling Christmas tree.
Eat… The sandwich selection sticks to the classics and scones are still served with clotted cream, but that’s where tradition ends. Strawberry jam is swapped for alternative fruity options like rhubarb and redcurrant, and a bright red macaroon is filled with a hazelnut and chocolate ganache, topped with a white fondant snowflake. Don’t miss the chocolate brownie adorned with a gingerbread mousse and a few redcurrants: it’s simply heavenly.
Don’t miss… the Landmark London staff choir performing Christmas carols, Tuesday – Thursday from 4.30pm.
How much? £58 per person.
Afternoon tea and wreath making at Egerton House Hotel
Where? The hotel’s cosy dining room.
What? True to its name, this sophisticated stay’s vibe is more home than hotel – from its tranquil dining room to its Fido-friendly afternoon teas. Over the Christmas period, you can relax in one of the almost-too-comfortable arm chairs and enjoy festive treats served on a golden platter.
Eat… The Victorian-inspired menu features delicious home-made cakes including a classic Christmas cake, a lightly spiced gingerbread man and a chocolate brownie served with lashings of cranberry icing.
Don’t miss… On 5th December you can pair afternoon tea with a festive wreath-making class with RHS Chelsea Flower show’s official florist, Jane Wadham.
How much? Festive afternoon tea from £48 per person, with wreath making workshop £90 per person.
By Georgie Young