How can you make the sugar, caffeine and cream-fest that is a traditional afternoon tea even more of a treat? Add a Christmas twist, of course!
London lounges are sprinkling a little festive magic over their afternoon teas this winter, so if you’ve got a few extra belt-loops to spare (and you do - it’s Christmas), check out one of these five top tea spots…
The Lounge Bar at the Lancaster Hotel, Hyde Park
With gold carpeting, dark wood and squashy sofas, afternoon tea at the Lancaster’s Lounge Bar feels like Christmas in a grand great-aunt’s living room. Work it off with a stroll in neighbouring Hyde Park afterwards.
What’s on the menu? Alongside fresh tea, scones and seasonal finger sandwiches like smoked Scottish salmon and baked ham, tuck in to Christmas tartlets baked with turkey and cranberry or wild mushroom and truffle. For sweet treats, there’s a selection of festive pastries including yule log, mince pies and carrot and sultana cupcakes.
How much? £20pp
Available from: 10th Dec to 5th Jan 2012
No 35 at the Hempel, Bayswater
No. 35’s dining room is all clean lines and minimalist black and white furniture, making Christmas afternoon tea a grown-up affair perfect for those tired of tinsel.
What’s on the menu? Sultana scones are served with spiced orange marmalade, mulled wine jam and Jersey brandy cream, while sandwich fillings include roast turkey and stuffing or brie and cranberry. On the sugary side of things, chocolate and chestnut brownies, mince pies and spiced apple crumble hit your sweet spot.
How much? £20pp, £26pp including a glass of Pimm’s and £35pp including a glass of Taittinger Brut N.V.
Available from: 1st – 23rd December
Palm Court Lounge at Sheraton Park Lane, Piccadilly
Art Deco rules at the Sheraton Park Lane’s Palm Court: tuck in to your Christmas afternoon tea under a stained glass ceiling, surrounded by marble columns and golden couches.
What’s on the menu? Take your pick of Christmassy finger sandwiches, from honey roast ham to turkey and mustard on a sour cherry loaf. Sweet specials include spiced apple and cranberry scones, plus traditional German stollen bread. Wash it down with a Christmas cocktail or a glass of seasonally-hued Mumm Rose Champagne, and don’t forget to grab your promised ‘festive treat’ on the way out; what could it be?
How much? £45pp
Available from: 1st – 26th December
RS Hispaniola, Victoria Embankment
All aboard for afternoon tea! The RS Hispaniola is docked opposite the London Eye and offers wrap-around wintry views of the Thames from its dining room. Sip and nibble as the sky gets dark and Christmas lights on the South Bank begin to twinkle across the water.
What’s on the menu? Kick off with a glass of mulled wine on arrival, then settle into a quintessentially Christmassy afternoon tea of turkey and cranberry finger-sandwiches, dainty shortbread biscuits, mince pies and Christmas cake slices. The selection comes with your choice of tea, plus scones, clotted cream and jam.
How much? £24pp
Available from: 1st – 30th December
The Hampshire Bar at the Radisson Edwardian Hampshire, Leicester Square
A surprisingly sleek and calm corner just off Leicester Square, Christmas afternoon tea at the Hampshire is the perfect treat for après-pressie shopping or before a West End show.
What’s on the menu? Inventive Christmas sweet treats include a mini flip-top jar of Prosecco fruit jelly, almond macaroons, meringue with winter berries, yule log and mince pies alongside your traditional scones ‘n’ clotted cream. Open sandwiches come with cranberry spread and hunks of turkey, and the whole lot’s washed down with mulled wine and your choice of tea.
How much? £22.50pp
Available from: 1st – 30th December
About the author: @Isabel_Clift is a London-based travel blogger for budget travel specialists AnyTrip.com (who do a fine line in cheap London hotels). A wee bit obsessed with miniature-sized sandwiches and pastries, she’s always on the hunt for a new place to try afternoon tea.