Double decker buses, cat cafes and London Fashion Week: London’s best afternoon teas

A selection of afternoon tea treats at The Guardsman Hotel
A selection of afternoon tea treats at The Guardsman Hotel Copyright The Guardsman Hotel
Copyright The Guardsman Hotel
By Amber Louise Bryce
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These afternoon teas not only offer unique experiences, but vegan and gluten-free options too.


What could be more British than enjoying a spot of afternoon tea? 

Traditionally served between 3 and 5pm, afternoon tea has long been a royal affair, with the British royals reportedly opting for jam before cream on their scones - the order toppings are put on is a decades-long debate amongst Brits.

From the calming clink of china to dainty finger foods, it’s a quintessentially British tradition that offers a taste of regality. 

But all that cream, sugar and pastry can be rather unfriendly to those with different dietary needs, so here’s a list of London’s best afternoon teas - including vegan and gluten-free options.

The Biltmore Mayfair: For fashion-forward foodies

The Biltmore Mayfair's afternoon tea is packed with dainty savouries and decadent desserts.

This September, the five-star hotel has teamed up with Malone Souliers for a menu themed around London Fashion Week.

Dig into a high-heel shaped treat of rose and vanilla cream, strawberry and raspberry confit, crumble and fresh raspberry inspired by the Italian footwear brand's Maureen shoe and a handbag-shaped creation of organic matcha butter cream and sponge, yuzu ganache and chocolate coating inspired by the Divine bag.

Highlighting fresh and heritage produce from across the UK, the menu also covers classics like buttermilk scones with clotted cream and jam, and cucumber and dill cream sandwiches.

Gluten-free options are available on request.

You can catch this menu throughout September from 12:30-5pm, priced at £80 (€93) or £95 (€111) with a glass of Champagne.

The Guardsman Hotel: For vegan afternoon tea bliss

The Guardsman Hotel
The Queen is a big fan of afternoon tea, which consists of various dainty sweet and savoury foods.The Guardsman Hotel

A five-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, The Guardsman Hotel is perfectly placed for a regal celebration.

A winding staircase leads to a low lit dining room, complete with velvet furnishings, marble tables and gold-framed paintings, creating an atmosphere that feels both cosy and sophisticated.

The menu is varied, offering vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free afternoon teas. For vegans in particular, there is a deliciously dense almond cream and a soft blueberry cheesecake made with cashew nuts, wearing a jelly-textured top hat. Savoury options include sandwich fillings like pulled BBQ jackfruit, and marinated cucumber, dill and lemon butter.

The cost per person is £65 (€76), including a glass of Mumm Cordon Rouge Champagne, and bookings are available every Wednesday to Sunday 12-5pm .

Sketch: For Wes Anderson-style whimsy

Decorated in sunshine yellow, with bubble lamps and rainbow-lit toilets, the tea room at Sketch London has become iconic for its Wes Anderson-style whimsy.

From a chocolate and redcurrant macaron, to eggs Drumkilbo, the innovative Mayfair menu offers a uniquely French twist on traditional British afternoon tea. There are also alternative nut-free, gluten-free and vegan options, including vegan coronation 'chicken' and cream cheese.

The cost per person is £80 (€93) and bookings are available every Monday to Sunday from 11.00am-4.30pm.

Brigit's Bakery Covent Garden: For tours and tea

All aboard for afternoon tea! See the sights of London while snacking on scones with Brigit's bus tours.


Departing from Victoria coach station or Trafalgar Square, a classic double decker bus has been converted into a tea room, serving up tiny pastries as St James's Park drifts past your window.

There are bottomless drink options covering prosecco, gin cocktails or Champagne to pair with creative twists on afternoon tea classics like the cucumber, cream cheese and mint finger on basil bread.

There are alternative afternoon teas for vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free and halal on request.

The cost per person is £39 (€46) for afternoon tea, £45 (€53) with a glass of prosecco or from £70 (€82) with unlimited drinks. Bookings can be made for any day between 12-5 pm, with each bus tour lasting 90 minutes.

The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason: For sophisticated luxury

Despite being at the very heart of London's hustle and bustle, Fortnum & Mason's Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon provides a serene space to escape for a while. It was even opened by the Queen herself in 2012.


There are over 100 exotic teas to choose from, while plates are piled high with sophisticated savoury treats such as leek and gruyere souffle with Waldorf salad and Cornish turbot with Jerusalem artichoke and preserved lemon sauce.

Gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free and halal diets are all catered for if specified when booking, and there's a vegan and vegetarian menu available.

The cost per person is from £78 (€91) and bookings are available every Monday to Thursday 11.30am until 8pm, Friday to Saturday 11am-8pm and Sunday 11.30am-6pm.

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium: For feline friends

While the royals might prefer corgis, cat lovers will feel right at home with this purrfect afternoon tea from the UK’s longest running cat cafe.

The gluten-free menu features lemon drizzle cake, and chocolate and praline brownies.


For vegans and dairy-free diners, there's miso, shiitake and tofu buns, red velvet cupcakes and cat-shaped vanilla shortbread.

A visit to the cat cafe costs £16.50 (€19), with dishes and drinks priced individually, or you can book a visit and a cream tea for £24.50 (€29).

Visitors must be over the age of 12 and bookings made at least two hours in advance. Opening times are 11am-5pm Monday-Friday and 10:30am-6pm on weekends.

Cutter & Squidge: For witches and wizards

This magical afternoon tea experience, complete with school-style desks and a Potions Master, might not be the King's cup of tea, but it's perfect for families looking to celebrate while keeping kids entertained.

Guests are greeted with tea, coffee and love potions - including 'Unicorn Sours'.


Vegans can anticipate a trip of rolls, scones and tartlets, among other things. Gluten-free and halal-friendly options are also available.

Prices start from £44.99 (€53) for adults and £34.99 (€41) for children under 12 and bookings must be made in advance. Open every day from 11am-7pm.

The Savoy: For peak indulgence

Afternoon tea reaches peak luxury and indulgence at one of London's most famous hotels: The Savoy. In fact, afternoon tea has been a favourite here for over a century, with traditional scones and teas served alongside richly flavoured patisseries and sandwiches.

The menu has also been given a more modern twist to include vegan and vegetarian options such as Coronation jackfruit sandwiches, and marinated fig with orange cream, smoked vegan cheese and forge brioche. If that all sounds a bit too fancy, there’s classic vegan cream and jam, of course.

The cost is from £75 (€88) per person and opening times are every Monday to Tuesday, 12:30-4pm (last seating at 2.45pm) and Wednesday to Sunday, 12:30-6pm (last seating at 4.45pm).

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