Afternoon Tea in London: My Attempt at Being Posh

I’ve been to London several times and have done most of the tourist things; except for one…. I had never had Afternoon Tea in London.

I had heard it was quite the production, but that it was also quite expensive.  Were sandwiches with their crusts cut off really worth the £30?  I didn’t like sandwiches that much, besides I am a celiac, meaning that I’m allergic to gluten – in other words sandwiches. A Google search of “gluten-free afternoon tea in London” almost immediately lead Jennifer from JDombs Travels and I to The Lanesborough.  Located directly across from Hyde Park and offering the self-proclaimed “finest afternoon tea in London.”  Curious as to what all the fuss was about, we decided to check it out.afternoon tea in London

Photo courtesy of The Lanesborough.

Our afternoon tea was served in a formal and stuffy room where the Queen of England would fit right in.  I, on the other hand with my jeans….But in my defense they were nice jeans and I was wearing a dressier (ish) shirt.   And I did not meet the Queen, or Kate, or William or any of the royals that day.  But I digress.

The first order of the day was to choose a tea.  I know the English like their tea, but I have never seen such a huge menu, all for tea.  They all sounded good, but I ended up choosing some kind of energizing fruit tea.  The name escapes me at the moment, but it was one of those cutesy names that caught my attention. And it was quite possibly the most fragrant and flavorful tea I have had – EVER!
afternoon tea in London
Next up, came the first round.  And yes that tray is just for one person:

afternoon tea in London

Photo courtesy of The Lanesborough.

Followed by two more courses.  I lost track, but there must have been more than 20 of the little sandwiches with no crusts/dessert thingies.  And of course there were also biscuits!

Jennifer and I snapped photos like crazy, believing we were being subtle about it since we were only using our iPhones.  We were in a very posh place after all! The amused looks we got from the other tables indicated otherwise.  Aggh commoners!

I didn’t eat everything (I’m a picky eater) but I did sample everything.  If you don’t think that finger food can fill you up, you’re just not eating enough.  I left stuffed and skipped dinner that evening.

In summary, afternoon tea is an entertaining way to spend an afternoon in London.  After seeing all the food that was served I think the £30 was reasonable (although definitely not cheap) despite my initial doubts.  I won’t be doing afternoon tea every time I come to London but then again, most Brits that I know don’t make a regular habit out of high tea either.

Is the Lanesborough the best afternoon tea in London as it self-proclaims?  It was nice, but as it was my first afternoon tea in London I have nothing to compare it to so can’t say either way.

What I do know is that I failed royally at being posh.  But then again I’ve only slept one night in a castle hotel.  Clearly I need more practice and shinier hair – just like Kate!

Afternoon Tea in London:  Know Before You Go

  • Make a reservation in advance.
  • If you have special dietary requirements (like gluten-free or vegetarian) indicate this at the time you make your reservation.
  • I was surprised to learn that Afternoon Tea is served in late afternoon.  The earliest sitting was at 4:00.
  • Dress up a little bit.
  • Think of intelligent conversation…..just in case you do happen to meet the Queen or any other member of the royal family.

Note:  Photos are not of the gluten-free afternoon tea.  My photos mysteriously disappeared.

Edit:  This post was originally called “High Tea” in London.  My friends from London who are obviously much posher than I am informed me that I had “Afternoon Tea” which is different from “High Tea”. Trying to be posh, I have changed all previous references from “High Tea” to “Afternoon Tea.”



    • says

      @Christy – That put me off too which is why I hadn’t done it until recently. Fortunately the price is accompanied by a lot of food, so it’s not just tea and a few biscuits.

    • says

      @A Montrealer Abroad – Thanks for the recommendation, I’ll have to check it out. I was surprised at how late it was in the afternoon as well, agree that earlier would make sense. I guess it saves from having to eat dinner.

  1. says

    As a self-proclaimed tea fanatic, it sure is troubling that I never considered having High Tea – but seriously, I didn’t even know that it was an activity you would book and everything!! …Anyway, put it on my list now. Will shop around for a knee-length flowery dress in pastell colours and white gloves (oh wait! I have white gloves!) to prepare myself. And maybe watch “My Fair Lady”. Although I’ll ruin any good impression I might be able to make by stuffing my face silly with cakes – there’s no “I didn’t eat everything” in my world, unfortunately…

    • says

      @Vera – I didn’t realize you had to book in advance either. You’ll have to send me the photos of you all dressed up – I can just picture it!

  2. says

    Looks like such fun and gluten-free too – wonderful! I wish we’d done this on our last jaunt to London.

    Laurel, I know you’re in Munich – we’re currently visiting Oberammergau. Do you know of any good gluten-free spots in Munich, or any directories to search establishments in Germany? Danke!

  3. says

    I’m always up for high tea. Thankfully there are many places in the states that do it, too. But I have yet to go to one in London (or in England for that matter). I’m sure that will be my highlight of my trip there again, someday soon.

  4. says

    I’ve crossed the ocean several times on Cunard ships. They name their ships after queens and it shows in the the decidedly british presentation of things including high tea at sea. It really is an interesting thing.
    I found that I like scones with jam a lot better than cucumber sandwiches. Cool that someone has done a gluten-free tea.

  5. says

    This high tea is gorgeous & a great read! That’s so cool that tray of food was just for you, what a deal!
    We will definitely be sharing this for our #GwOFoodie month, such a lovely piece!
    We totally agree that giant tea menus can be quite intimidating!

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