South Bank London

Where to Enjoy Afternoon Tea

There are few things as splendidly decadent as a classic British afternoon tea. Relaxing for hours in grand surroundings with an opulent spread before you. The fluffiest scones with jam and cream, dainty sandwiches, the cutest little pastries and endless pots of the finest tea. Or perhaps even a glass of bubbly or two to toast the occasion? Why not!

Afternoon tea is the perfect way to mark a special occasion, or to simply treat yourself to something out-of-the-ordinary. Here's a look at where to enjoy afternoon tea in South Bank.

OXO Tower Restaurant, Bar and Brasserie

Contemporary chic presentation and a stunning rooftop view of St Paul's.

Afternoon tea stand with cakes and sandwiches, pot of tea and two glasses of champagne

The Oxo Tower’s famous rooftop restaurant serves up a chic high tea experience with all the trimmings. Soak up the delightful view across the river to the dome of St Paul’s while enjoying a generous and colourful spread of sweet and savoury bites, and perhaps a glass of Harvey Nicols Champagne to toast the occasion.

Classics like coronation chicken sandwiches, buttermilk scones with jam and cream and an elegant layered honey sponge, share a stand with clever contemporary bites such as St George’s mushroom éclairs, Dorset crab brioche rolls and an Isle of White blue cheese, buttermilk and rosemary shortbread served with kumquat marmalade.

Dishes change with the seasons, with inventive new nibbles making their way onto the towering display. A vegetarian afternoon tea is also available (make sure to specify when booking).

Available: Daily from 3pm–4pm (3:30pm–4:30pm on Sundays)
Cost: From £40
Reservations: Make a booking online here

The Library at County Hall

Elegant riverside venue serving up unrivaled Big Ben view in historic surrounds.

If a British High Tea for you is all about that old-fashioned refined atmosphere, dainty scones and the best selections of teas, this is the venue for you. The setting is the London Marriott Hotel County Hall’s Edwardian-styled wood-panelled Library in the historic County Hall building that looks straight onto Westminster Bridge and Big Ben. You can even hear those famous ‘bongs’ while you tuck into your sandwiches!

The Library makes the very best of locally sourced ingredients in its afternoon tea spread; sandwiches are made with cured salmon from London’s oldest smokers H Forman & Son and Burford Brown eggs from the exclusive Clarence Court. On the sweet side, the pastries are whimsically beautiful referencing the clockface and architecture of the iconic Elizabeth Tower – the rhubarb and rose panna cotta Big Ben is an Insta favourite that tastes as good as it looks.

For tea connoisseurs, don’t miss the option to upgrade to the Rare and Limited tea selection where you can try single-origin and single-harvest (micro-batch) teas produced by independent artisan farmers. A vegan afternoon tea is also available (make sure to specify when booking).

Cost: From £55
Reservations: Make a booking online here

Sri Lankan High Tea at Lyaness

A decadent afternoon tea with a twist created by an award-winning cocktail bar.

Lyaness at Sea Containers London

The Sri Lankan High Tea at the glam cocktail bar Lyaness is inspired by Lyaness mixologist maesto Mr Lyan (aka Ryan Chetiyawardana)’s memories of enjoying tea service in his parent’s hometown of Galle. The glorious afternoon tea spread presents an inventive take on traditional Sri Lankan flavours, with perfectly balanced savoury and sweet dishes paired with Lyaness cocktails created especially for the occasion.

High Tea treats on the table include Masala spiced tuna mayonnaise sandwiches, turmeric-spiced devilled egg, Pandan Swiss rolls and Wattalapam tarts paired with cocktails like Coconut Flower Daiquiri and Ceylon Milk Tea Punch.

As with Lyaness’s cocktail menus, the attention to detail is exquisite and the clever medley of flavour and texture utterly unique. There’s the option to skip the cocktails and opt for a fine tea pairing which features superb Sri Lankan blends by the Rare Tea Co.

Available: Saturday and Sunday 12pm–5pm (last booking 3.30pm)
Cost: From £43
Reservations: Make a booking online here

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