12 festive afternoon teas yule love
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Afternoon tea is a delight any time of year, but there’s no better season to enjoy this English tradition than during Christmas, when everything gets amped up with the flavours and charms of the holidays. Indulge in everything from delicate seasonal sandwiches and spice-scented scones to boozy Christmas cakes and cocktails tarted up with seasonal spirits, all surrounded by pine trees and mistletoe, serenaded by Christmas carols. All this fun doesn’t come cheap, but certainly makes for an unforgettable holiday treat, so we’ve rounded up some incredible options in London and around the U.K.
London: the epicenter of fancy festive afternoon teas
Considering the hotel’s prime location on Piccadilly, festive tea here is the relative “bargain” of the bunch. The afternoon tea includes a selection of sandwiches, scones and five different types of themed pastries from cranberry macaroons to traditional Christmas cake and a meringue and cinnamon tart. Tea service is in the chic art deco lobby overlooking St James’s Park.
In the heart of Mayfair, festive tea in the sleek Jean-Georges restaurant at The Connaught is a stunner. Each course is more intricate than the next, starting with a bite size Asian-inspired amuse bouche of mushroom and smoked eel in a waffle cone followed by a rainbow of perfectly sliced homemade sandwiches filled with twists like cucumber with mint and turkey with shaved brussel sprouts. To end, there’s pastries shaped like reindeer and gingerbread men, a chocolate fondue and delicately hand-spun candyfloss to finish. (£75 includes a glass of Champagne Laurent Perrier ‘‘La Cuvée’’ Brut NV)
Price: £75 and includes a glass of Champagne Laurent Perrier ‘‘La Cuvée’’ Brut NV
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Hotel Cafe Royal
Inspired by Queen Victoria’s Christmas and New Year celebrations in 1894, the festive version of Queen of Afternoon Teas at Hotel Café Royal takes you on a six-course journey back in culinary time with such dishes as carrot veloute, game pie, Champagne jelly, plus turkey, beef, gravlax and duck liver sandwiches, traditional scones and pastries including Victoria Sponge (obviously) and Christmas pudding vanilla tart.
Price: Starts at £65 and includes a glass of Champagne Veuve Clicquot and there’s an option to include a Diptyque candle for £80.
This has to be one of the most gorgeous tea rooms in London, with its domed glass ceiling, celestial blue and gold decor. A talented pianist playing holiday tunes adds to the magical ambience. The award-winning afternoon tea takes a festive twist as Head Pastry Chef, Fabio Bardi, re-imagines Christmas classics with treats including a Santa belt made of spicy apple and pear mousse, a Rudolf nougat mousse and a Christmas tree of hazelnut and dark chocolate, served alongside classic scones, jam and clotted cream. On Hyde Park corner, convenient for before or after Winter Wonderland.
Price: Starts at £60.
Ideally located near Oxford and Regent Street, this is the perfect spot if you’re worn out from shopping. The hotel claims its dazzling Palm Court is the place where the tradition of afternoon tea was born over 150 years ago. Travel is the theme of this year’s festive tea and they’ve drawn on its chefs’ journeys around the globe for inspiration. Expect yuzu pastries, fig jams and spicy infused cakes.
Price: £70 and up. Children’s tea is £35.
Ting at Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard
The height of luxury for a Christmas afternoon tea — Ting is located on the 35th floor of The Shard where the spectacular views of London are nearly upstaged by the most adorable pastries in the shapes of snowmen and Christmas trees.
Price: £68 and up
Favourite festive teas around England
Ironically one of the best places in England to enjoy a warming winter tea is Summer Lodge, an 18th century Georgian Manor House, made famous by the literary giant Thomas Hardy. Tucked away in the picturesque village of Evershot in the heart of the Dorset Downs, the five-star Summer Lodge offers a picturesque setting to enjoy seasonal treats — freshly baked scones and Dorset clotted cream, cranberry whisky and oat cranachan, Bailey’s choux buns, mince pies and Christmas cake all washed down with a a special Christmas tea blend full of aromatic spices
Four Seasons Hampshire
As you’d expect of Four Seasons, no expense is spared in creating the picture perfect Christmas at this country resort set on 500 acres in Hampshire –there’s an ice rink, carriage rides, horse riding or long country walks to work up an appetite for a festive tea with special pastries including a pear Mont Blanc and a cranberry speculoos tart.
Price: £42 for adults, £22 for children.
Oh Me Oh My
This grand tea room overlooks Liverpool’s iconic Albert Dock, making it the perfect spot for enjoying their festive afternoon tea after a busy day shopping or exploring the city. Enjoy a cake tier of sandwiches, scones and pretty pastries with holiday twists including pigs in a blanket with sage and onion stuffing, cinnamon flavoured scones with brandy butter, and a Baileys creme brulee.
World of Wedgwood
Learn about the world-famous English pottery brand in the museum and factory, take a shot at your own creation (hello, built-in gift!) and then hunker down to enjoy festive tea with a selection of sandwiches and treats including Christmas pudding cheesecake and mincemeat tart topped with brandy butter cream, all served on — wait for it — fine Wedgwood china.
Price: £25 for adults and £10 for children.
Carol singers set the mood at the five-star Coworth Park in Ascot, a luxury country house hotel nestled next to Windsor Great Park. Settle down in the Drawing Room overlooking the hotel’s polo fields with fluffy scones, freshly-baked cakes and festive pastries while listening to traditional carols sung by local choirs.
Price: £65 includes a glass of bubbly.
This is a great one for families — the Railway Museum pulls out all the stops for the holidays with a series of special events from storytelling to pop-up science demos. Enjoy festive tea aboard the Countess of York, a beautifully restored rail carriage, where afternoon tea is served on antique china. There’s a children’s option and an adult version with a mulled wine upgrade and themed treats include an eggnog brulee and chocolate orange yule log.
Price: Adults £25.50 and children £15.50
Festive afternoon teas are a magical way to celebrate the holidays. Check the various venue websites as vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free and children’s menus are also available at most locations mentioned. Some discounted offers up to 25% can be found by booking through www.afternoontea.co.uk.
Featured image courtesy of Courtesy Hotel Cafe Royal