Nothing says London like little finger sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, and of course, Earl Grey. In a quest to feel utterly authentic, tourists might attend teatime at The Ritz, Claridge’s or any number of high end hotels offering traditional experiences in the most elegant of surroundings. The thing is, though, quirkiness and whimsy are equally synonymous with London. The teatimes below incorporate fun themes and unique menus while still being chic, sophisticated and quintessentially British.
Art Afternoon Tea at Rosewood London: In a city covered in murals and dotted with some of the best museums in the world, it’s hard not to find inspiration in art. Executive Pastry Chef Mark Perkins is channelling that into a teatime menu complete with pastries inspired by the work of Banksy, Alexander Calder, Damien Hirst, Yayoi Kusama and Mark Rothko that are almost too pretty to eat.
Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley: In London, high fashion is just as much of a staple as high tea. For ten years now, Pastry Chef Mourad Khiat has been paying homage to top designers with a teatime menu featuring sweet treats modeled after trends. Like fashion, the pastry menu changes with the seasons, but currently on offer is a selection of the best creations from the past decade including tiny gingerbread Manolo Blahniks, a chocolatey Burberry trench coat and more.
The Spatisserie Tea at The Dorchester: Part of the fun of teatime is dressing up, right? Yes, but sometimes it’s nice to keep things just a bit more casual. This teatime takes place at the hotel spa, meaning you’re welcome to attend in a robe, fresh from a massage or facial. The menu is a traditional spread that puts regular spa water to shame.
It’s All in the Game Afternoon Tea at St. James’s Hotel & Club: Boredom is impossible at this game-themed tea. Designed by Michelin-starred Executive Chef William Drabble, diners are welcome to play games like Snakes and Ladders (better known as Chutes and Ladders in the States), backgammon, chess, Monopoly and more while enjoying sweets in the shape of board game pieces.
Tea-Tox at Brown’s Hotel: While I firmly believe at least one scone should be ingested on any trip to London, not every day can be so indulgent. For a healthy alternative to afternoon tea, Brown’s called upon nutritional guru and author Madeleine Shaw to create a menu of beetroot, ginger and kale de-tox juice, miso glazed salmon and radish, cauliflower couscous, gluten free raspberry and pistachio brownies and more guilt-free treats. Of course, adding champagne is still an option.
Images courtesy of: Rocco Forte Hotels