Afternoon tea is quintessentially British, so what better place to enjoy it in than Britain's capital city, London? Taking afternoon tea in the city is a very on-trend way to meet up with friends and a tasty alternative to coffee, brunch or lunch get-togethers. Tradition has it that Anna Duchess of Bedford introduced afternoon tea into London society in the early 19th century as a way of staving off hunger pangs in the long gap between breakfast and dinner. For many years, London afternoon tea has been the preserve of old fashioned hotels, but is now popping up across the city, in museums, theatres and even high in the sky. Londons young crowd are now embracing this tradition, so why not treat your favourite couple and let them experience afternoon tea for two?
Keeping up the traditions - afternoon tea at The Ritz
Afternoon tea and London's Ritz Hotel have long gone hand in hand, and this is still one of the best places to sample this traditional afternoon delight. Smart dress is expected - you won't be allowed in wearing jeans or trainers - but for finger sandwiches, raisin scones and the freshest of cakes on beautiful cake stands, served up with a touch of British ceremony, this grand hotel can't be beaten. This isn't a budget option, but something everybody should try at least once. For a real splurge, swap your pot of tea for a glass of champagne! Other famous hotels worth sampling are Brown's and Claridge's, both carrying a reputation for excellence in service and taste.
Theatrical teas with a twist
A love of cake and theatre is easily combined in one attractive package when you go for afternoon tea at the National Theatre. The afternoon starts with a guided tour of the theatre, including backstage and off-limits areas, such as prop stores and costume studios. You might even catch a glimpse of a rehearsal before you sit down to enjoy an afternoon tea in London, with delicacies on offer named inspired by and referencing former shows from the theatre. Enjoy Cat in the Hat sandwiches with your scones and clotted cream.
The highs and lows of afternoon tea in London
Take the lift to the 35th floor of The Shard, the tallest building in the EU. Here you'll find the Ting Shangri-La Restaurant, where sleek Far Eastern decor pairs with amazing views across the city. Guests can choose from a traditional British afternoon tea, or sample the Asian variety of sweet and savoury bites. If you can't make up your mind, combine the two and start with Chinese savouries, like melt-in-the-mouth prawn dumplings, and follow them with a rich chocolate cake. If The Shard doesn't tempt you, head to the River Thames and enjoy an elegant afternoon tea river cruise. Afternoon tea paired with a tour, you can enjoy the views and informative commentary as you cruise past the city's memorable sights. The perfect way to end a day's sightseeing or shopping in the city.