Afternoon tea. This must be one of the most British traditions there is, with nicely cut sandwiches (without crust), cake, scones, tea and, preferably, if the occasion allows it, champagne. Considering how easy and cheap it is to get afternoon tea most places in Britain, it is surprisingly difficult, and expensive, to find it in London. The lovely Shipp's tearooms in Borough Market had to close down due to problems with their lease, and with them my favourite tearoom disappeared. You will find tea and scones with cream and jam on the menu in a lot of places, but to me afternoon tea is not restricted to simply being a culinary experience. Call me fussy or old fashioned, but afternoon tea should be enjoyed in a room together with people also enjoying afternoon tea, with a table that shows off the lovely homemade cakes, and proper china tea cups and saucers. It should also be a place with a lot of charm, like most of the tearooms in more remote places have. Why is it so difficult to find this in London? I have absolutely no idea, but I have found a few good alternatives:
The Orangery at Kensington Palace is located in Hyde Park, behind Kensington Palace. It's quite a posh place, but afternoon tea is not outrageously expensive. They have a big table full of lovely cakes to choose from, and their chocolate tea is delicious. Champagne tea is recommended! In the summer it is possible to sit outside, which is lovely, but be aware that it gets very busy on sunny days and during the tourist season in summer.
Fortnum and Mason is a big department store located in Piccadilly. Very English and very old fashioned, it is worth going to have a look at their hamper or tea selection. It is quite expensive, but feels very exclusive and very, very English. Lovely biscuits, cakes and scones. And needless to say, their tea is excellent!
The Vintage Emporium and Tea Rooms is a very eccentric place in Shoreditch, just off Brick Lane. Downstairs there is an antique clothing shop, with amazing clothes from the Victorian times up until 1950s. Very expensive, but absolutely worth looking at! The tea room upstairs feels like someone's living room, it is intimate and with lots of pretty things to look at. The tea and coffees are great, as are their cakes. The staff is very friendly, and they often have live music on weekends. Strongly recommended!
Bake-a-boo is a place in West Hampstead that I actually haven't been to yet. I've seen a few things written about it here and there, and I want to go and check it out soon! It looks like a place that offers just the thing I want.
Do you know of any other places to find proper afternoon tea in London?