As I wrote recently, a traditional afternoon tea in one of London’s top hotels can be a costly, if memorable way to spend an afternoon. But it doesn’t have to be and there are many venues that offer the best budget afternoon teas in London that are great value for money.
So here is my list of some of the best value afternoon teas London has to offer ranging from £9 to £40 per person.
Be warned, some require you to pre-book and some may charge a cancellation fee if you don’t give notice.
Voted the Best Value Afternoon Tea by the Daily Telegraph, the Orangery at the Fan Museum in Greenwich offers a delicious afternoon tea for only £9 per person. Overlooking a secret garden in the Japanese style, the Orangery is decorated with beautiful detailed murals and has a light airy atmosphere.
Your tea comes with a pot of tea or cafetiere of coffee, a slice of carrot cake, a choice of lemon drizzle cake or salted caramel brownie and a scone with clotted cream & jam.
Access to the Orangery is via the Fan Museum so an additional entrance fee of £5 is required. Opened in 1991 the museum was the first of its kind in the world and owns over 4,000 fans dating from the 10th century. There is a permanent display on the history and manufacture of fans and the temporary exhibits are rotated every three months.
Afternoon tea is available on Tuesdays, Fridays and at the weekend between 12.30 and 4.30pm. No booking is required. Sometimes the Orangery is closed for private functions so it’s worth checking ahead here.
Where? : The Fan Museum, 12 Crooms Hill, Greenwich, SE10 8ER
Transport ? : Greenwich or Cutty Sark DLR stations
When? : Tues, Fri and Weekends 12.30 to 4.30pm
Cost? : £9pp (plus £5 entry to the museum). No booking required. No service charge.
Website? : https://www.thefanmuseum.org.uk/orangery
Located on the King’s Road, the free to enter Saatchi Gallery is a 70,000 square foot art space devoted to contemporary art.
Afternoon tea is served in the Gallery Mess with its exposed brickwork, vaulted ceilings and display of art. There is an al fresco terrace which overlooks the green.
UPDATE 2020. The Gallery has appointed Searcys as the new restaurant operator and will launch a new menu in February 2020. The Cafe on the Lower Ground is open for ticketholders of the Tutankhamum exhibition until 3rd May 2020. I’ll update when I have more info.
A selection of British sandwiches are followed by scones with cream and jam, then pastries including a Financier, banana brownie, custard tart and macaroon washed down with a selection of Canton teas. A glass of champagne can be added for an extra £10 (£15 for two).
Younger visitors can enjoy the Origamitea mini afternoon tea complete with sandwiches, babyccino and a cupcake to decorate with fresh and healthy ingredients. They can also pass the time with an origami kit.
Where? : The Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Rd, SW3 4RY
Transport ? : Sloane Square tube station
When? : 2.30 to 6pm daily. Book online.
Cost? : £17.50pp (£34.50p for two) plus 12.5% service charge.
Website? : http://www.saatchigallery.com/gallerymess/
The Wallace Restaurant serves visitors to the Wallace Collection, an art gallery on Manchester Square and a short walk from Baker Street or Bond Street underground stations. The free to enter museum is home to works by Titian, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Velazquez and perhaps it’s best known work, ‘The Laughing Cavalier’ by Fran Hals.
The restaurant is operated by Peyton & Byrne and tea is served in an indulgent covered courtyard with plenty of natural light bathing the salmon pink walls of this double height atrium.
The £19.50pp Wallace Afternoon Tea is served on a three tier stand. The finger sandwich selection includes cucumber with dill cream, egg, smoked salmon with cream cheese and coronation chicken. Scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam then follow. A selection of mini cakes and pastries finish the meal which may include lemon meringue pie, white chocolate cheesecake and a chocolate and raspberry heart.
There are a good selection of black and green teas (from the lighter Earl Grey to the smoky Lapsang Souchong) plus herbal and fruit infusions.
Where? : The Wallace Collection, Hertford House, Manchester Square, W1U 3BN
Transport ? : Baker Street tube (to the North) or Bond Street tube (to the South)
When? : Monday to Sunday 2.30 to 4.30pm. Booking required.
Cost? : £19.50pp plus 12.5% service charge. Champagne afternoon tea is £30.50pp
The Tea Terrace operates from two branches of House of Fraser in Central London; one on the fifth floor of the Oxford Street branch and the other on the second floor of the Victoria Street branch.
Stepping into the Tea Terrace is a bit like stepping into the pages of Alice in Wonderland. The decor is quasi-modern with Victorian regal throne chairs and ornate sofas and a colour theme of white and pastel pinks and blues. The tea theme is everywhere with quotes about tea on the walls, chandeliers made of teapots, teacups and teaspoons.
Traditional afternoon tea is served on Royal Albert fine bone china on a three tier cake stand. The bottom tier has sandwiches with a choice from up to six flavours – egg mayonnaise, cheese & chutney, smoked salmon & cream cheese, ham & tomato, cucumber & cream cheese or tuna mayonnaise.
The scones are the real star with a wider selection than those normally on offer. Choose two from plain, fruit, cranberry & white chocolate, or ginger, all served with clotted cream and jam. If you prefer savoury there are cheddar cheese & herb scones.
To finish comes three square slices of traditional English cakes plus French petits fours. The tea selection is extensive and includes Tregothnan English herbal teas from Cornwall including infusions of nettles, Manuka honey, Echinacea and Lemon Verbena.
Variations on the Traditional Afternoon Tea are the “Indulgence” which comes with four mini Belgian chocolate desserts (£24.95) and the “Celebration” with a glass of Prosecco (£27.75). There is also a gluten-free alternative (£25.75).
Where? : House of Fraser, 5th Floor, 318 Oxford Street, W1C 1HF and House of Fraser, 2nd Floor, 101 Victoria Street, SW1E 6QX
Transport ? : Oxford Street – between Bond Street and Oxford Circus tube stations. Victoria Street – between Victoria and St James’s park tube stations.
When? : Daily from 12 noon.
Cost? : Traditional afternoon tea is £22.75 for one, £44.95 for two. No booking required. No service charge.
Website? : http://www.theteaterrace.com/
For a quirky afternoon tea head south out of town to experience Little Nan’s Bar. In 2013 it first opened in the backroom of a nightclub off Deptford High Street serving teapot cocktails. In 2014 Little Nan’s Afternoon Teas started and proved to be a great hit. The Deptford Bar now occupies three arches close to Deptford train station and a second home was opened in 2017 at Catford Broadway Theatre.
Afternoon tea comes on a three tier stand with vintage china. Finger sandwiches of smoked salmon & cream cheese, egg mayo, ham & mustard plus a seasonal flavour and veggie filling. Followed by (you’ve guessed it) scones with cream and jam and finally Victoria Sponge, a selection of mini pastries & cakes and a seasonal treat. You enjoy your afternoon tea to a soundtrack of Disco Anthems and 90s hits.
Tea (of course) and for an extra £5 a boozy teapot cocktail.
Where? : Deptford :Little Nan’s Bar, Arches 13-15, Deptford Market Yard, SE8 4BX Catford : Broadway Theatre, Catford Road, SE6 4RU
Transport? : Deptford: Deptford Train Station (from London Bridge) Catford : Catford Bridge Train Station (from London Bridge)
When? : 3-5.30pm Thurs & Fri, 4-5.30pm Sat & Sun.
Cost? : £30pp. Booking required.
Website? : https://www.littlenans.co.uk/
The original Bea’s cafe opened in February 2008 in Bloomsbury selling cakes, pastries and sweet & savoury treats for the local area. Since then the St Paul’s cafe, overlooking the Cathedral opened and the Marylebone branch, a short distance from Madame Tassauds and Regent’s Park complete the trio of Bea’s cafes offering afternoon tea (I would go for the Bloomsbury branch and try to get a table near the front).
The full afternoon tea starts with a selection of savoury mini brioche buns with avocado & a Dukkha spiced yoghurt, pastrami with dijon mayonnaise and mixed salad, egg mayonnaise and smoked salmon with dill cream cheese. A scone with clotted cream and jam is followed by a choice of individual patisseries. These vary but may include a cupcake, mini meringues, macaroons, chocolate fudge, lemon meringue, marshmallows and a selection of brownies.
There is also the option to have a glass of champagne (£45pp) or prosecco (£37pp). A wheat free and vegetarian afternoon tea is also available by prior request.
If you would rather forego the savoury sandwiches you can choose a cream tea with tea or coffee and two scones with cream and jam for £9.95pp.
Where? : St Paul’s : 83 Watling Street, EC4M 9BX Bloomsbury : 44 Theobalds Road, WC1X 8NW Marylebone : 27A Devonshire Street, W1G 6PN
Transport ? : St Paul’s : St Paul’s tube station. Bloomsbury : Holborn tube station. Marylebone : Baker Street, Regent’s Park or Bond Street tube stations.
When? : Varies by location but core hours 11am to 4pm. 1.5 hour slot or 2 hours for a group of 6 or more. St Paul’s has upstairs seating and there is no lift.
Cost? : £30pp plus 12.5% service charge. Booking required. 50% advanced payment required on booking.
Website? : As of July 5th 2020 the Bea’s website seems to have expired. I will monitor the situation and resort the link when back up. Thank you.
Nothing to do with the Reform Club in Pall Mall, The Reform Social & Grill gives the air of a gentlemen’s dining club with its button back leather sofas, marble topped tables, large station waiting-room clock and menus printed in handbill typefaces.
The Great British Afternoon Tea is inspired by the 1940s and 50s with classic finger sandwiches made up of the usual suspects – cucumber & cream cheese, chicken tikka with mint chutney mayonnaise, tuna & horseradish mayonnaise, smoked salmon & cream cheese and egg with sping onion and followed by the scones with clotted cream and jam.
The sweet bites include macarons, raspberry financier, lemon tart, Crème brúlée and chocolate cheesecake.
There is a good selection of teas or for £37pp you can have a glass of champagne.
If you would rather swap the sandwiches for something more substantial the Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea includes a mini smoked salmon bagel, roast beef in a Yorkshire pudding, a chicken tikka sandwich and crispy haddock fish fingers with tartar sauce.
Children haven’t been left out as the Reform offers a Mini Afternoon Tea (£12.50) with a peanut butter and jam sandwich, fish finger and ketchup sandwich and a BBQ chicken slider. The sweet bites follow with a fruit and chocolate chip scone washed down with a strawberry milkshake with gingerbread man dipper. Finally there’s a chocolate and marsh mellow lollipop, jelly and custard and a jammy dodger (two shortbread biscuits (cookies) with a jam filling).
Where? : Mandeville Hotel, Mandeville Place, W1U 2BE
Transport ? : Bond Street tube station
When? : 3-5.30pm Thurs & Fri, 4-5.30pm Sat & Sun.
Cost? : £26.50pp plus 12.5% service charge. Booking required.
Located a stone’s throw from Covent Garden market and the Royal Opera House, Balthazar is ideally located for London’s theatre district.
Available to book until 1st March 2020 the Balthazar brings New York City to London with flavours, symbols and colours from the Big Apple with their new afternoon tea, The NY-Tea.
With savouries featuring quintessential New York ingredients such as a pastrami bun with egg, pickle and mustard; and sweets featuring a signature baked cheesecake and the crowd pleasing Cookies ‘n Cream Tart.
With a choice of herbal teas and infusions, the tea starts with a selection of sandwiches including NY style pastrami & egg roll, smoked salmon & lemon Crème fraiche, coronation chicken & apricot and egg mayonnaise.
Each of the five cakes are a little taste of New York. Indulge in the ‘Liberty’ eclair with peanut butter and vanilla apricot jam, ‘Spring Sweet’ cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Pecan Pie with Bourbon and chocolate marmalade chantilly and a Cookies ‘n’ Cream Tart with coconut mousse & lemon curd.
For £39.95 enjoy the NY-Fizz afternoon tea which adds a glass of champagne or ‘The Yankie’, a cocktail of Makers Mark, boker’s bitters, sugar cube and blanquette.
Where? : Balthazar, 4-6 Russell Street, WC2B 5HZ
Transport ? : Covent Garden tube station
When? : 3 to 5.30pm Mon-Fri, 3-5pm Sat, 3-6.30pm Sun.
Cost? : £29.95pp plus 12.5% service charge. Booking required.
Website? : http://balthazarlondon.com/ny-afternoon-tea/
The Strand Palace Hotel sits close to the north end of Waterloo bridge just opposite the Savoy Hotel and offers a traditional afternoon tea for those on a budget, for less than half the cost of its up market neighbour.
Served in the eclectic new afternoon tearoom at Haxells, Afternoon Tea starts with a selection of finger sandwiches served in interesting breads. Egg & cress on white bread, cucumber cream cheese on beetroot bread, smoked salmon & dill sour cream on rye bread and grilled ham & cheese on brioche.
Scones with clotted cream and jam are next and a selection of cakes follow including a classic Victoria sponge, lemon meringue, pistachio bakewell and chocolate champagne bomb all accompanied by a selection of loose leaf and herbal teas. You can also enjoy bottomless bubbles with one and half hours of Prosecco (£35pp), Veuve Clicquot Yellow (£40pp) or Rose (£45pp).
Where? : The Strand Palace, 372 Strand, WC2R 0JJ
Transport ? : Covent Garden, Temple or Charing Cross tube stations.
When? : Daily Noon – 6pm (last serving 5pm)
Cost? : £25pp plus 12.5% service charge. Booking required.
The Zetter townhouses are a pair of Georgian boutique hotels oozing with quirky character, the decor inspired by the collection of Sir John Soane with mismatched antique furniture and red toned walls decorated with an array of frames and curiosities.
In Marylebone tea is served in Zetter’s Uncle Seymour’s Parlour whilst the Clerkenwell property, owned by their Great Aunt Wilhelmina, it is served in the Cocktail Lounge.
You can choose from two afternoon tea menus. Aunt Wilhelmina’s has the more traditional finger sandwiches of smoked chicken with roasted corn and tarragon, egg mayonnaise, salt beef and smoked salmon with prawn mayonnaise, lemon & chervil. For a more heartier start choose Uncle Seymour’s menu with a pasty, devilled egg, truffled sausage roll with brown sauce and a mini Croque Monsieur.
Scones with clotted cream and jam follow and you finish with a selection of cakes including a black forest macaroon, toffee apple choux and a banana, brown butter & honey cake. There are, of course, a wide selection of teas or you can enjoy a tea infused cocktail.
There is also the option of a vegetarian afternoon tea, just let them know when you book.
Where? : Clerkenwell : 49-50 St John’s Square, EC1V 4JJ Marylebone : 28-30 Seymour Street, W1H 7JB
Transport ? : Clerkenwell : Farringdon & Barbican tube stations Marylebone : Marble Arch tube station
When? : Clerkenwell : Every day 2-5pm Marylebone : Every day 12-5pm
Cost? : £39.50pp plus 12.5% service charge. With tea infused cocktails or bubbles £49.50.
The Wolseley, located at 160 Piccadilly, was orginally a car showroom for the Wolseley Motors Limited who, in 1921 commissioned the English architect William Curtis Green to design its showroom with its Venetian and Florentine inspired details. Later a bank, the Wolseley opened as a restaurant in 2003.
Classic afternoon tea (£29.75pp) comes with an assortment of finger sandwiches, fruit scones with cream and jam and a selection of pasteries washed down with tea from the Wolseley collection (including Jasmine Bud Chocolate Tea and Caramel Tea). Add a glass of Pommery Brut Royal champagne for £40pp.
If you would like a lighter affair the Cream Tea costs £12.75pp with fruit scones, cream, jam and tea.
Where? : 160 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9EB
Transport ? : Green Park tube station (Victoria, Jubilee and Piccadilly lines)
When? : M-F 3 – 6.30pm, Sat and Sun 3.30 – 6.30pm. Booking advised but some tables held for ‘walk-ins’ on the day.
Cost? : £29.75pp. With Champagne £40pp. Cream tea only £12.75pp. All plus 12.5% service charge.
Roast is located in the Floral hall of Borough Market, close to London Bridge. Borough Market is one of London’s largest and oldest food markets in the capital with a market on the site dating back to the 12th century.
Roast’s afternoon tea comprises of 4 courses including sandwiches, savouries, scones, cakes and a selection of teas.
Finger sandwich fillings include coronation chicken, roast beef with horseradish, dried and semi-dried tomatoes, cucumber with cream cheese and smoked salmon & creme fraiche. Savouries of a sausage roll and cheese and onion pasty follow.
Sweet selections are fruit scones with clotted cream & rhubarb jam, ginger rum and date tea loaf and a blood orange drizzle cake.
Vegan, vegetarian and gluten free alternatives are avaiable with 72 hours prior notice.
Where? : The Floral Hall, Borough Market, Stoney St, SE1 1TL
Transport ? : London Bridge tube station (Jubilee and Northern lines)
When? : Mon to Sun Noon to 6pm
Cost? : £30pp. With Champagne £35pp. Plus 12.5% service charge. £20pp cancellation charge for less than 24 hours notice.