Scones, cakes and finger sandwiches – there’s no better way to celebrate the festive season
Ah, afternoon tea. One of the finest English traditions.
There’s no better time to indulge in a dozen finger sandwiches, buttery scones laden with clotted cream and strawberry jam, mince pies, stolen bites, and a glass (or two) of fizz, than the festive season.
Here’s where to get your Christmas afternoon tea fix …
Situated on London’s prestigious Park Lane, Lanes of London is the perfect place to mark the holidays with a seasonal afternoon tea. Available daily from midday until 5pm, the Festive Afternoon Tea can be enjoyed in a stylish, yet casual environment, set against unrivalled backdrops of Hyde Park and Marble Arch – a stone’s throw away from the shopping, sights and attractions of Oxford Street, Mayfair and Marylebone. The Christmas-inspired tea includes: an assortment of sandwiches, a sultana or plain scone with Devon clotted cream and strawberry jam, and last but not least a fabulously fun assortment of novelty shaped Pastries and brownies such as the Christmas tree Snowman macaroon as well as chocolate and pistachio trees. What better way to finish up your Christmas shopping?!!
The cost: £39 per person or from £45 with a glass of Champagne. Why not add a Jing Tea Infused Cocktail Pot for two is priced at £14?
This London hotel is a Tea Guild winner and, with the cavernous Palm Court and tinkling piano, is a very civilised set-up. New for the festive season is the Nutcracker Festive Tea, which includes eggnog pannacotta with rum jelly (a pre dessert nonetheless), truffled duck egg sandwiches, mini reindeer chocolate log cakes, cinnamon Christmas tree shortbreads and nut-cracker Victoria sponge with cranberry and white balsamic pate de fruit – to name just a few. Best of all is the hotel’s location, at the upper end of Regent Street, so you can collapse with a sandwich (or three) after a day of Christmas shopping. Available from November 27 to January 3.
The cost: £49 per person or £59 per person including a glass of N. V Laurent-Perrier Brut Champagne.
The afternoon tea at sketch is just the right side of bizarre. Giant fluffy scones are served in a pink velvet room with cartoon-lined walls and squashy pink sofas. Make your entrance through the Christmas installation by Bethan Laura Wood for the new festive afternoon tea, which has been designed by Masterchef Pierre Gagnaise. Cake stands include quail and caviar sandwiches, traditional sultana scones with clotted cream and fig jam, passion fruit tartlets, chocolate and mint gateau, and tangy citrus meringues and Malabar marshmallows. Nut-free, gluten free and vegan afternoon teas are also available.
The cost: £41 per person
Under a canopy of exotic palm trees, a Venetian chandelier, and glass dome ceiling, this is one of the grandest afternoon teas served in Edinburgh. Served to the sound of a harp, the Balmoral Hotels offers a good selection of loose leaf teas and sandwiches, as well as scones served warms from the oven and seasonal cakes made by their pastry chef. You will also leave with a tin containing the Balmoral blend of loose leaf tea, making this a great Christmas present. Afternoon tea is also served as early as noon – which earns them extra brownie points.
The cost: £35 per person
The Ritz and The Savoy may seem like the grande dames of afternoon tea, but Claridge’s takes the top spot. It is the details here that make it special – the choice of almost 40 teas from all over the world (including the White Christmas specialty tea), infused jams and Christmas carols being sung in the Foyer on weekends (or the pianist serenading you on the other days). Treat yourself to a selection of Christmassy finger sandwiches, including a Dorrington ham, celeriac remoulade and smoked tomato chutney number, Cheddar, pear and walnut Eccles cakes, Christmas pudding ice cream, freshly baked raisin scones with Noel jam, a Snow drift (otherwise known as a sour cherry cremeux with almond macaroon and toasted meringue), crispy choux bauble with vanilla cream and sea salt caramel, and a turtle dove (that’s dark chocolate ganache with Seville orange marmalade, orange infused chocolate supreme and a chocolate feather). Claridge’s festive afternoon tea runs from November 16 until January 3.
The cost: £80 per person, £95 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rose
Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, partly because it’s more acceptable to consume vast quantities of chocolate. Set in the grand rural estate of Stoke Park and overlooking the beautiful lakes and gardens, this afternoon tea is a dream for chocoholics. Follow up those traditional finger sandwiches with raisin and chocolate chip scones, homemade chocolate cakes and pastries and Stoke Park’s hot chocolate. You could happily lose an afternoon here.
The cost: £36 per person for the chocolate afternoon tea
Combining Great British fare with opulent surroundings, the Gilbert Scott restaurant (Marcus Wareing’s brasserie in St Pancras’ Renaissance Hotel, named after the architect of this gothic landmark) is the perfect spot for a leisurely festive afternoon tea. Tuck into roast turkey and cranberry sandwiches, pigs in blankets, salmon tartlets and stuffing, before moving onto a host of sweet treats: chestnut macarons, Clementine Eton mess, warm mince pies with brandy butter and homemade scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam – all rounded off with a mulled wine bellini. The Gilbert Scott’s festive afternoon tea is available from December 5 until December 27.
The cost: £29 with your choice of tea, £39 with a mulled wine bellini
The home of the fat rascal, Bettys in York have been serving tea and cakes since they opened in 1937. Served on a traditional silver cake stand by waitresses in period dress, the art deco interior of the Belmont Room and café pianist are the perfect setting to spend a December afternoon. The quantity of cakes are pretty staggering.
The cost: £32.95 per person for the Lady Betty Afternoon Tea without bubbles, £39.95 with
This Clerkenwell foodie destination is also a good spot for afternoon tea. As you would expect from Chef Anna Hansen, the flavours here are anything but traditional: think chia seed bread with wasabi cured salmon, yuzu cream cheese and herb cress, za’atar spiced wild mushroom and ricotta pastries, licquorice Christmas cake, tonka bean mincemeat pie and chai tea infused marshmallows.
The cost: £22.50 per person, £27.50 per person with bubbles
Holbeck Ghyll, Lake District
For an afternoon tea with a view, Holbeck Ghyll is pretty hard to beat. Looking out onto the Windermere and the Lake District Fells, treat yourself to platefuls of finers sandwiches and dainty cakes this Christmas, all washed down with Taylors of Harrogate tea. Take your tea in the Arts and Crafts lounge and snuggle up by the inglnook fire.
The cost: £20 per person without bubbles, £30 with
When it comes to afternoon tea, if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t like to mess with tradition then head to The Wolseley. Serving their traditional afternoon tea this festive season, demolish stacks of finger sandwiches, freshly made scones and pasties, all washed down with properly brewed pots of tea, among their beautiful Florentine marble floors and Corinthian pillars. And relax …
The cost: £25.50 per person, £36 for their Champagne tea
The Angel Hotel, Abergavenny
This has a reputation for serving the best afternoon tea in Wales, and has a host of awards to prove it. Choose from 40 different teas or three sparkling wines and champagne to sip alongside sandwiches, savoury pastries, warm scones and freshly-baked cakes. Gluten-free afternoon teas are also available.
The cost: from £21.80 per person