Concierges' Guide to London: Restaurants: Tea Time

  • Photo by Adrian Houston
    English Tea Room, Brown's Hotel Photo by Adrian Houston
  • Photo by Adrian Houston
    English Tea Room, Brown's Hotel Photo by Adrian Houston
  • The Palm Court at The Ritz
  • The Palm Court at The Ritz
  • Photo by Niall Clutton
    Thames Foyer at The Savoy Photo by Niall Clutton
  • Photo by Adrian Houston
  • Photo by Adrian Houston
  • Photo by Niall Clutton
  • Compiled by Lisa Sweetingham, Jennifer Ryan, Bruce Wallin, and Amanda Millin

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APSLEYS, A HEINZ BECK RESTAURANT "Very popular" afternoon tearoom is home to England’s first tea sommelier, Karl Kessab. The elegant establishment, within The Lanesborough hotel, also might be home to the country’s first gluten- and dairy-free tea service. (AH, CS) +44.20.7333.7254, www.lanesborough.com

THE CARAMEL ROOM The Berkeley hotel’s "clever" Prêt-à-Portea service celebrates haute couture with sweets designed to resemble au courant dresses, handbags, and other women’s fashions. "The women say, ‘Oh look, I’ve got a little Birkin that I’m about to eat!’" The menu, which changes every six months, has featured treats inspired by the designs of Paul Smith, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christian Louboutin. "It appeals to an older and a younger crowd." (AH) +44.20.7201.1619, www.the-berkeley.co.uk

THE ENGLISH TEA ROOM Storied setting at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, where tea is "served properly" until 6 pm. The "small," "very traditional" room has "very good" service and food. "The ham for ham sandwiches is baked on premises, and the scones are made in an oven the chef ordered especially for scones. I don’t think you get that attention to detail anywhere else." (AD, ST, MW) +44.20.7493.6020, www.brownshotel.com

FORTNUM & MASON "Lovely" afternoon tea served in the five eateries within the 300-year-old specialty grocery store that is a veritable "monument to teas, jams, and sweets." For a more formal experience—elegant "old-world atmosphere," piano accompaniment—reserve a table at the fourth-floor St. James’s Restaurant and choose from "a wonderful array of estate teas from around the world." (MB, MDC, BM, GM, MW) +44.20.7734.8040, www.fortnumandmason.com

THE FOYER "Old-school" tea service in a formal setting filled with "gloriously decadent Art Deco" furnishings. Set directly off the lobby at Claridge’s, this "traditional place for birthdays" and special occasions has a "wonderful" selection of 30 teas from around the world. (MB, GM, CS) +44.20.7409.6307, www.claridges.co.uk

THE PALM COURT A "very popular" British "institution" that is "right up there with Buckingham Palace and the Changing of the Guard as far as top experiences in London." But The Ritz’s daylong tea service, from 11:30 am to 7:30 pm, is considered a "tourist trap" by some. "They stack them up: in, out, have your tea, go. Next lot. It’s not what afternoon tea is about." Regardless, "it’s always booked up," so call "about three months in advance" for a table on the weekends. Jacket and tie required. (MDC, AD, CS) +44.20.7493.8181, www.theritzlondon.com

THE STAFFORD LONDON "Get away from the touristy" spots for "really, really nice" afternoon tea in the lounge of this discreet hotel on St. James’s Place. The "very old-fashioned" English setting attracts a "business" crowd. "It’s a perfectly kept secret. Either you know about it or you don’t." (AH) +44.20.7493.0111, www.kempinski.com/en/london

THAMES FOYER Elegant but informal afternoon tea under a picturesque glass cupola. "It’s the heartbeat" of The Savoy, itself a Covent Garden institution that just reopened after a $300 million renovation. "It sums up what The Savoy is about." (BM) +44.20.7836.4343, www.fairmont.com/savoy

WINTER GARDEN RESTAURANT Enjoy French pastries and scones in a traditional dining room "surrounded by towering palm trees" and located under "a soaring eight-story glass-roof atrium." From outside the Landmark London Hotel, on Marylebone Road, "you’d never guess" what’s inside. (GM) +44.20.7631.8000, www.wintergarden-london.com

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