What could be more British than celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee with a spot of afternoon tea. But what does one do if one has specific dietary requirements?
Traditionally served between 3 and 5pm, afternoon tea has long been a royal affair, with Queen Elizabeth II reportedly opting for jam before cream on her 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 alternative afternoon teas.
The Guardsman Hotel
A 5-minute walk from Buckingham Palace, The Guardsman Hotel is perfectly placed for a Jubilee 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 tophat. Savoury options include sandwich fillings like pulled BBQ jackfruit, and marinated cucumber, dill and lemon butter.
The cost per person is £45 (€52.83), including a glass of Perrier-Jouët Grand Brut Champagne, and bookings are available every Wednesday to Sunday 12-5pm .
Recently redecorated 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 raspberry and blackcurrant macaron, to egg gougère, 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 £69 (€81) and bookings are available every Monday to Sunday from 11.30am-4.30pm.
Brigit’s Bakery Covent Garden
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’s a special Queen’s Platinum Jubilee themed afternoon tea menu that will be served until 31 July, featuring sweet and savoury treats such as royal victoria sponge and smoked salmon pretzel with cream cheese, chives & cucumber slices. There are alternative afternoon teas for vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free and halal on request.
The cost per person is £50 (€58.73) for adults and £40 (€46.99) for children and 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
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 Cave Aged Cheddar Souffle with Watercress and Cumbrian Beef Fillet with Pommes Duchesse.
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 £70 (€82.23) and bookings are available every Monday to Thursday 11.30am until 7.30 pm, Friday to Saturday 11am- 8pm and Sunday 11.30am-7.30pm.
Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium
While the Queen might prefer corgis, cat lovers will feel right at home with this purrfect afternoon tea from the UK’s longest running cat café.
The gluten-free menu features orange polenta cupcake, salted caramel brownies and plain scones served with clotted cream, raspberry and strawberry jam.
For vegans and dairy-free diners, there’s pistachio cake, lemon shortbread and chocolate raspberry cupcakes, plus a special soya-based spread for scones.
The cost is £15 (€17.62) per person, plus an additional £10 (€11.75) entry fee for one hour. Visitors must be over the age of 12 and bookings made at least 2 hours in advance. Opening times are 11am-7pm every day except Wednesdays.
Cutter & Squidge
This magical afternoon tea experience, complete with school-style desks and a Potions Master, might not be the Queen’s cup of tea, but it’s perfect for families looking to celebrate the Jubilee while keeping kids entertained.
Guests are greeted with an interactive glass of Galaxy Juice, which is a concoction of passion fruit, hibiscus and…unicorn tear tea? (We’re not sure either)
Vegans can anticipate a roast dinner-filled finger sandwich and rock cakes served with vegan cream and handmade jam, among other things. Gluten-free and halal-friendly options are available also.
Prices start from £49.50 (€58.15) for adults and £39.50 (€46.40) for children and bookings must be made in advance. Open every day from 11am-7pm.
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, Shaved Asparagus and Spiced Avocado Mousse. If that all sounds a bit too fancy, there’s classic vegan cream and jam, of course.
The cost is £95 (€111.59) per person and opening times are every Wednesday to Thursday, 12-4pm (last seating at 2.45pm) and Friday to Sunday, 12-6pm (last seating at 4.45pm).