Looking for a London afternoon tea that is a bit more interesting than the regular cucumber sandwiches and Victoria sponge? Telegraph Travel's guide to the city's best quirky afternoon teas features the best places for a quirky date, a day out with your bestie, or quality time with the children. Expect to be taken down the proverbial rabbit hole: think macaroons served on magnifying glasses, tea-infused punch cocktails and Stella McCartney shoes reimagined as cake. Plus, when there are Oompa Loompa cupcakes to be eaten, who needs scones?
Science Afternoon Tea at The Ampersand Hotel
After an e-TRex-ra special afternoon tea? The Ampersand Hotel, which is just across the road from original home of Dippy the Diplodocus at the Natural History Museum, has crafted a fun dino-themed afternoon tea that both adults and children will appreciate. Wannabe archaeologists can dust for short-bread dinosaurs hidden in chocolate soil and test-tube-squeeze toppings on their scones. Cream cheese planet mousses are among the savory treats. Whether the afternoon tea will have to be tweaked seeing as Dippy is currently on a world tour and has been replaced by a giant blue whale skeleton is yet to be confirmed.
From £32.50 per person
Read the full review: The Ampersand Hotel, London
Salon Couture High Tea with Suzie Turner at The Savoy
On the first Wednesday of every month, the legendary hotel’s Thames Foyer hosts a fashion show, featuring ball gowns by leading British designer Suzie Turner. These afternoons are inspired by the salon-style fashion affairs that The Savoy put on 70 years ago. While the audience sips their tea, models work the room in corseted fishtail gowns, splashed with black French lace, and dresses puffed with petal appliqués. The performance plays out soul music mixed by a DJ in a satin tuxedo. Oh, and it's a very posh spread that even includes an Insta-worthy appetiser. Savoury treats include pumpernickel with goat’s curd and duck pastrami tartlet.
£58 per person
Read the full review: The Savoy, London
Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley
The Berkeley's take on a fashion-inspired afternoon tea is a bit more literal, and changes every six months to match the latest catwalk trends. This spring/summer, it's all about the ruffles and graphic lines that have taken London by storm. Showstopping treats include the Ralph & Russo pain de Gênes dress cake topped with a sugar frill, the Stella McCartney Battenberg decorated like her sellout chequerboard summer pumps and an Emilio Pucci jumpsuit reinterpreted as a caramelised pineapple compôte with psychedelic chocolate waves.
From £52 per person
Read the full review: The Berkeley, London
Scandal Water at the London EDITION
'Scandal Water' is 19th-century slang for tea, perhaps on account of the drink's reputation as the ideal lubricant for a good sit-down gossip. London EDITION brings the concept firmly into the 21st century with its brew-and-food pairing extravaganza – and tea-infused punches serve as an optional extra to help get tongues a'wagging, of course. Whimsical foodie treats include 'iced gem' shortbread biscuits with butter cream and miso-cured salmon with caviar. The Punch Room with its fumed-oak bar and candle-lit banquets makes this a top venue for an alternative date.
From £35 per person
Read the full review: The London EDITION
Sherlock Holmes Afternoon Tea at Taj 51
Surely even Mr Holmes himself would agree that there's nothing 'elementary' about Taj 51's new Sherlock Holmes afternoon tea – particularly the macaroons infused with 25-year-old Scotch displayed on a magnifying glass. Fans of Britain's most famous fictional detective will also appreciate the cigar made with smoked caramel mousse and a stout beer cupcake topped with 'Watson's moustache'. Rarely for a London afternoon tea, the theme also extends to the sandwiches: think The Five Orange Pips with orange-flavoured horseradish, and the Hound of Baskerville with roast beef and English mustard.
From £35 per person
Read the full review: Taj 51 Buckingham Palace Gate Suites and Residences, London
Art at Rosewood London
Banksy chocolate cube anyone? London's most sophisticated art-themed afternoon tea takes its cue from the biggest names in modern art. Think tarts that capture Damien Hirst's spot paintings, a layered coconut cake based on Mark Rothko's soft rectangular forms, and an eye-catching passion fruit cremeux with eccentric pop art queen Yayoi Kusama as its muse. Tea obsessives won't be disappointed either: expect keemun gong fu – widely regarded as the best tea in the world, as well as Iron Buddha named after its so-called mineral complexities. Oh, and the darjeeling has ain intriuging hint of apple apparently. Worth investigating just to be sure...
From £50 per person
Read the full review: Rosewood London
The Spatisserie at The Dorchester
Follow up your ice crystal facial or rose cocoon body treatment with a cheeky afternoon tea in the Dorchester's spa. There is a decent selection of decaffeinated teas in vague homage to the wellness theme – from nettle to lemon verben and organic plum. But there's no holding back with the food, which includes the works: finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and delicate pastries. Top it off with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Rosé Champagne. Delightful.
From £55 per person
Read the full review: The Dorchester, London
Instruction at COMO The Halkin
Crazy. What else do you expect when London's zaniest Michelin-starred restaurant announces an afternoon tea? The tempura rose petals and spider crab soup are just the beginning. Foodies with an adventurous side can expect outlandish Basque delights like quince balls, orange toast with spinach, 'dropped' rice pudding and duck and shallot skewers. The accompanying Sipsmith cocktails list is sufficiently on-trend, awash with saffron-infused gins, eldeflower liqueur et al.
Read the full review: COMO The Halkin, London
From £32 per person
Low Tea at London Marriott Grosvenor Square
Because London wouldn't be London if it wasn't possible to have afternoon tea served in a Prohibition trunk. There's committment to the theme in the Marriott's Roaring Twenties-inspired Luggage Room bar stuffed with antique curiosities and handmade wine cabinets. The Boston Tea Party-style balsamic hyperion brew is definitely worth getting in a flap about. Suitably retro highlights include scone trifle and crème fraiche vol au vents. It's also a good one for meat lovers, courtesy of the Devonshire wild boar sausage rolls and devilled Balmoral venison.
From £48 per person
Read the full review: London Marriott Grosvenor Square
Charlie and the Chesterfield Afternoon Tea at The Chesterfield Mayfair
As nice as the sandwiches are, you'll be wolfing them down to hurry up and get to fun bit; the sweet menu based on Charlie and Chocolate Factory. Violet Beauregarde has been reimagined as a blueberry macaroon; there are also foil-wrapped Willy Wonka chocolate bars, fizzy lifting cakes with popping candy and bubblegum eclairs. Add in Oompa Loompa cupcakes a fetching shade of Fanta and a white chocolate 'golden egg' and you'll be rolling out feeling like Augustus Gloop (you know, the one with "fat bulging from every fold, with two greedy eyes peering out of his doughball of a body," according to Roald Dahl).
From £38.50 per person
Read the full review: Chesterfield Mayfair, London
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