With themed afternoon teas, vegan afternoon teas and super-glamourous afternoon teas, an afternoon tea has to something special to stand out these days. With views over the capital, the skyline and the river, this lot are certainly special.
Afternoon tea at The Shard
London’s tallest building seems the obvious place to head when you want a view of any sort, and afternoon tea fans are catered for in abundance.
Aqua Shard on the 31st floor offers a Mary Poppins afternoon tea complete with carpet bag, umbrella, and candy floss. Inspired by P.L. Travers’ book, itself set in and above London, the menu contains nods to various characters who Mary and the Banks children meet on their adventures.
Further up, a more traditional afternoon tea is served in the Shangri-La Hotel, in Ting on the 35th floor and in GONG on level 52. The same menu is served in both establishments (a summer special, at time of writing), at the same price in each, so if higher is better in your book, head for GONG.
The Library at Marriott County Hall, South Bank
Watch traffic chug by on the River Thames, and gaze across at (the currently-scaffolded) face of Big Ben at The Library, inside The Marriott at County Hall, which is located right next to the London Eye. Choose your seat carefully for views of the ever-rotating wheel, or across to the splendid buildings of Westminster. You might be too busy watching the world go by to even tuck into your traditional afternoon tea, but do take time to look inside the window too — the gorgeous, book-lined establishment is like a great big hug.
Afternoon tea at 5th View, Waterstones Piccadilly
If you’ve never ventured to the top of the huge Waterstones on Piccadilly, you won’t know about 5th View. The venue doesn’t really seem to know whether it’s a cafe, restaurant or cocktail bar, but we find its at its best on a weekday morning, when you can pop in for a coffee and have the place to yourself.
For afternoon tea though, drop in between 3pm-6pm (12pm-5pm on Sunday), and tuck into finger sandwiches, a roast beef Yorkshire pudding, traditional scones and homemade cake. It’s a budget-friendly option, and views of London’s rooftops towards Westminster are thrown in. It may not be as conventionally appealing as some of the other views on this list, but we could spend hours gazing out, trying to identify every building in the panorama.
Afternoon tea at OXO Tower
Another river view, this one further east, focusing on St Paul’s Cathedral. Located on the eighth floor of the South Bank structure, Oxo Tower Restaurant serves a traditional British afternoon tea, its glass windows offering views of the City skyline.
The menu consists of sandwiches, mini Yorkshire puddings, choux buns and traditional scones, followed by elderflower and strawberry mousse and chocolate and cherry bakewell.
See a variety of views on an afternoon tea bus tour
Can’t settle on just one landmark to gaze on while you graze? See multiple London sights on an afternoon tea bus tour. Book your seat on a specially kitted out double decker, and board at either Northumberland Avenue or Victoria Coach Station.
Once everyone’s on board and tea is served, the bus takes a route passing the likes of Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, Hyde Park, the Royal Albert Hall, Marble Arch and Trafalgar Square. Traditional, vegan, vegetarian, halal and gluten-free menus are available.
A word of warning — there are no toilets on board, so go easy on the tea.