Moment / 25 Mar 2019

Food | Taste: Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea is an enduring custom and traditional pastime once synonymous with the British aristocratic lifestyle. In the spectacular grandeur of Baroque architecture, guests would linger around fine bone china tea sets, three-tier cake stands and chandelier curtains whilst a pianist's exquisite music would echo down the hall. The food was sumptuous and this ultimate ceremonial experience is now within your reach too.

During the festive season, the whole of London is transformed into a luminous starlight dream of fairy tales, and everyone who adores afternoon tea can explore the tempting, elaborate Christmas limited menus that are currently available for your delectation. To aid you in your culinary quest for the ultimate afternoon tea experience, FINE has curated an exquisite selection of the finest venues for you to choose from.

Sanderson - Return to Alice’s Wonderland

"What's the matter my dear? Don't you care for tea?

Trust me. I know a thing or two about liking people, and in time, after much chocolate and cream cake, 'like' turns into 'what was his name again'?"

- Mad Hatter

Inspired by the whimsical world of Alice in Wonderland, Sanderson Hotel's afternoon tea is a fantastical gateway into a world of delicious delicacies and blissful indulgence that enables patrons to escape reality. Having won the 2016 Best Tea of ​​the Year Award, this afternoon tea provides an unforgettable experience as you join the Mad Hatter's marvellous party.

Mad Hatter Theme Afternoon Tea

To discover this magical underworld, guests must first find a menu hidden in an antique book. The table is set with quirky teapots adorned with kings and queens, and the restaurant's distinctive clock has the time fixed constantly at six o'clock, which means it is always time for tea.

Ancient Book Menu
Mad March Hare Vanilla Pocket Watch Macaroon

The delicious desserts are simply divine and a tantalising treat for all sweet-toothed gourmets. From the White Rabbit's pocket watch shaped vanilla macaroon and the Queen of Heart's strawberry sandwich cake to the mango coconut 'poison' that says:'Drink Me', every one of the dainty delicacies provides a pleasant revelation. The only blemish may be the overall taste is too sweet due to both the fondant and the colouring.

Rose Queen strawberryJammy Dodger
Alice's Exotic Fruits "Drink Me" Potion

This Wonderland-themed afternoon tea is a luxurious joy that is regularly updated, thanks to the introduction of seasonal and festive pastries. Last Christmas, Sanderson treated diners to two new additions to their menu: a mini pudding and Mad Hatter Christmas tree meringue. The afternoon tea is available for bookings on Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve.

Sketch - The pinkest room

Sketch is a lavish restaurant located in the exclusive London neighbourhood of Mayfair. It consists of five avant-garde dining spaces, each one distinctively different. Amongst them is the Gallery, which is the perfect space to enjoy an afternoon tea with its full pink decorations.

The Gallery

David Shrigley has collaborated with the Gallery to produce a series of white ceramic tableware that includes illustrated texts of the restaurant's location, as well as satirical drawings that complement chef Pierre Gagnaire's afternoon tea. The afternoon tea set is often updated according to the various seasons. The intricate artistic style of plating, remains the same, however, with its fresh pink interior and delicate sweet desserts.

Afternoon Tea in The Gallery
Sketch 2018 Christmas entrance
The Glade magical ceiling

Sketch is renowned for its extravagant decorations that simply brim with artistry and ingenuity. Last year, Tong Marklew, from Event Imagineer, reinvented Sketch by drawing his ideas from that evergreen festive favourite, 'The Nutcracker' ballet. Diners walk through the Nutcracker entrance to the magical scene of a white winter cottage scene and a hologram by artist Dianne Harris that projects the meaning behind the Nutcracker and Christmas. What is Christmas without kissing under the Mistletoe? British lighting designer Tala has collaborated with florist Rebel Rebel to transform the ceiling by covering it with mistletoe and intertwining fairy lights, making it undoubtedly one of the most eye-catching and festive places in London!

Sketch's futuristic 'Space Egg Toilet' has been given a big festive makeover during the holiday season. These quirky egg-shaped toilet pods have been decorated with ribbons and bows, while colourful mosaic lighting is reflected onto the "eggs" to bring out the Christmas spirit and festive joy of the holiday season.

Sketch 2018 Christmas pods

The Corinthia Hotel - The Classic English Afternoon Tea

Located in Trafalgar Square, next to the British Prime Minister's residence, The Corinthia Hotel is a restored Victorian building that combines modern design and contemporary art. It has established itself as one of the most elegant and oldest listed five star hotels in London and the location is excellent for visitors wanting to experience the London lifestyle.

This British palace has been rated as the "Best Afternoon Tea" by the British Tea Association for many years. The Corinthia afternoon tea is located in the lobby lounge, where you can partake of the delicious menu surrounded by an open-air atrium, which guests can enjoy when the weather is agreeable.

Hanging from the central dome is a giant crystal 'Full Moon' chandelier designed by the Parisian designer Chafik Gasmi and made by the French crystal brand Baccarat. Why not spend a luxury afternoon under the dreamy hall studded with 1001 crystals and enjoy the elegant surroundings?

The Corinthia Hotel offers the traditional three-tier English afternoon tea, with each exquisite dessert not only photogenic but also delicious.

All the hotel's teaware comes from Richard Brendon, the British handmade bone china brand, whose distinctive mix of gold and silver mirror design teacups and stripes will surely astonish even the daintiest of guests by cleverly combining the old with the new.

This year's special Christmas package includes vanilla white chocolate cranberry Christmas snowballs, chestnut mousse hazelnut sponge cake, cherry black forest cake and red heart pomelo coconut marshmallow. Elegant and thoughtful, these unique and adorable desserts are the perfect ingredients for a classic English afternoon tea.

The Berkeley - Most High Fashion Afternoon Tea

Located in the bustling London neighbourhood of Knightsbridge, The Berkeley's provides an haute couture inspired afternoon tea with a French twist, called 'Prêt-à-Portea' (which means 'ready to wear'). The chic menu is inspired by the seasonal launches of fashion companies, and so all the refreshments are designed to resemble the most iconic, popular fashion pieces. You can partake of everything from miniature savoury skewers to elegant canapés and tea sandwiches, and the menu is updated every six months with the release of the new Fall-Winter and Spring-Summer collections.

So if you're looking for a romantic and chic afternoon tea, The Berkeley is an impeccable choice.

Prêt-à-Portea AW 2012/2013

Inspiration:Fendi ankle boot / Marc Jacobs double breasted pink blazer / YSL green Handbag

Prêt-à-Portea SS 2016

Inspiration: Prada Handbag / Manolo Blahnik Polka dot Heel / Stella McCartney Striped Dress

Prêt-à-Portea SS 2017

Inspiration: Miu Miu Lime Two-piece Bikini / Balenciaga pointed stilettos / Mulberry Pembroke Bag

Prêt-à-Portea AW 2018/2019

Inspiration: Victoria Beckham 10th Anniversary bag / Valentino dress / Tom Ford two-piece suit

To celebrate Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday, The Berkeley launched its Royal Collection afternoon tea in 2016. This special menu consists of the Queen's favourite accessories, and features pieces such as a 'bag' based on Launcher London's original model that the Queen carried at William and Kate's wedding.

One thing to note is that the fondant's sweetness may be a little bit over the top for some tastes; however, the exquisiteness of every dessert in this visually flawless afternoon tea definitely compensates for this and will leave you feeling reluctant to even take the tiniest of bites.

Cakes & Bubbles - World Class Pastry Chef

Ninyoyaki Chocolate Ball

This restaurant is owned by Albert Adrià, who has been named as one of the 'Word's 50 Best Pastry Chefs' after working at the legendary world-class Michelin restaurant El Bulli with his brother Ferran and his successful pop-up appearance at Café Royal. Continuing to establish his name in the pastry world, Cakes and Bubbles is Albert Adrià's first permanent establishment outside of his home country Spain.

Pastry Chef Albert Adrià

The arrival of Cakes and Bubbles has brought an unprecedented storm of dessert to London and FINE visited this ingenious taste experience at the first opportunity. Unlike other afternoon teas, Cakes and Bubbles is free from the traditional three-tier tea set so guests can create their own medley of favourite desserts and beverages.

Golden Egg Flan

Maple syrup muffins, chocolate cakes scented with coffee beans, playful egg-shaped caramel pudding, redefined Coulommiers cheesecake and passion fruit chocolate with hazelnut ice cream are amongst some of Albert Adrià's new creations with the underlying theme of delight and passion. The moment you take your first bite, you will forget everything you have ever known about desserts.

Baby Pineapple with Lime Zest and Coconut
Thai Pomelo salad with papaya, orange, and Asian herb
Crispy 'Air-Pancake' filled with yoghurt foam and Maple Syrup butter

This innovative combination will take you on a gorgeous culinary adventure that delivers new taste sensations without ever losing the traditional heritage of desserts.

"For me, the sweet and the savoury are one and the same. To be fair, I'd rather have a good bowl of ice cream than a bad pudding." - Albert Adrià

Passion fruit and Chocolate cake with Hazelnut and Ice Cream

The Landmark - Greenhouse in the City

Landmark Victorian Style Architecture

Built in 1898, The Landmark in Marylebone is a highlight of London's iconic Gothic Revival style architecture. The history emanating from the building's red bricks, bell tower and magnificent façade reveal its prosperity and status during the Victorian era.

A huge glass dome was installed in the central courtyard of the building after its reconstruction in 1986. Surrounded by an ivory interior, the glass dome adds a touch of elegance and dreamy languor to the overall atmosphere, hence the name 'Winter Garden'. The atrium boasts ceilings that rise up to eight stories high and lofty palm trees encompass the courtyard, creating an exotic atmosphere.

Landmark Seasonal Garden
Landmark 2018 Christmas Decorations

Whatever the weather outdoors, it is always comfortable inside the greenhouse: transparent, atmospheric and bright. From November onwards, a Christmas tree is placed alongside the palm trees to welcome every guest to the festive season at the 'Winter Garden'.

Landmark 2018 Christmas Decorations

The Landmark's afternoon tea snacks are dense and sweet, yet never greasy. Last Christmas, festive desserts filled with creativity and classic delicacy were introduced, including a gingerbread mousse brownie, snowflake macaron, pistachio cranberry Opéra cake and chocolate almond marble cake.

Landmark 2018 Limited Edition Refreshments