Traditional tearooms in Nostalgic London

1) Palm Court at The Ritz

There aren’t many things more traditionally English than afternoon tea – the meal, typically served on tiered plates, is said to have been dreamt up in the mid 19th century by a duchess, who was fed up of the long wait between lunch and dinner – and there aren’t many places more spectacular to ‘take tea’ than at The Ritz. There’s a smart dress code and a live pianist to accompany your visit. Feasting on delicious delicacies surrounded by mirrored walls and elaborate floral displays is old-school glamour at its best.

Palm Court at The Ritz Hotel London

2) The Garden Café

If you need a pick-me-up after exploring the V&A’s many exhibitions and gallery spaces, there’s nowhere better than the Garden Café. When it opened in 1856, it was the world’s first museum restaurant, serving tea, buns and hot meals to weary visitors. It’s still a great place to refuel today. Pick up a generous wedge of sponge and a pot of Earl Grey to enjoy in the bright and highly decorated Gamble Room, whose dazzling tiles, bold arches and ceramic ceiling were unveiled in 1868. Another of the original refreshment rooms was designed by a young William Morris. To sit surrounded by one of his earliest patterns, pre-book a historically accurate Victorian-style afternoon tea, currently served every Friday.

The Garden Café teahouse at the V&A museum

at: the V&A, Cromwell Road

+44 (0)20 7942 2000

More Nostalgic London?

Immerse yourself in the city's 2000-year-old history with this guide to London's treasures for nostalgia-lovers. From Victorian splendour to Beatle mania, a guaranteed trip down memory lane.

Buy the book or ebook

3) The Foyer and Reading Room

With its gilded columns, grand proportions and original art deco mirrors, the 1930s Foyer and Reading Room in Claridge’s has been charming visitors for more than 150 years. After you’ve devoured a pile of tiny sandwiches, warm fruit scones with Cornish clotted cream and handmade sweets, and sipped a cup of the hotel’s bespoke tea blend in elegant striped china, you’ll be surprised to step onto a 21st-century street when you leave.

stunning interior of the Foyer and Reading Room at Claridge's hotel

at: Claridge's, Brook Street

+44 (0)20 7107 8886

4) Palm Court at The Langham

Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are known to have been fans of this hotel, which claims to be the first hotel ever to serve afternoon tea. Whether or not that’s true, it can’t be denied that The Langham knows what it’s doing. It’s been serving tea, dainty sandwiches and pretty pastries in the elegant Palm Court since 1865.

tea house of the Langham hotel London

5) Diamond Jubilee Salon

Climb to the top floor of Fortnum & Mason’s delightful Piccadilly store and you’re in for a treat. The Tea Salon has been making a good brew since the 1920s, but was done up in elegant, vintage style to mark the Queen’s – you guessed it – diamond jubilee. Visit to sample Fortnum’s famous teas (there are more than 50 blends on the menu) on their historic premises. You can order your afternoon tea sweet or savoury – or pimped with one of F&M’s classic Scotch eggs.

tea room at the Diamond Jubilee Salon

at: Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly

+44 (0)20 7734 8040

6) Oscar Wilde Lounge

If you take afternoon tea at the Hotel Café Royal, you’ll be served in an ornate mirrored room, which dates back to 1865. Named after one famous former patron, the room is said to have been visited by David Bowie, Mick Jagger, The Beatles and Elizabeth Taylor, as well as Wilde himself. While the practice of afternoon tea is traditional, here you can expect clever twists on old classics.

impressive interior of the Oscar Wilde Lounge

at: Hotel Café Royal, 68 Regent Street

+44 (0)20 7406 3310

Join the community

Sign up for free to gain unlimited access to the website. Plus, you'll receive a 10% discount in our online bookshop.

Sign up