With another spate of icy weather on the way, Londoners and visitors alike will be planning their retreats from the cold. And what better way to pass the time than sipping on a steaming cup of tea and tucking into a delicious sugary treat? It certainly takes the edge off the chill.
Go easy on your wallet and avoid the astronomically pricey “high teas” on offer at many of London’s most expensive hotels by making like a local and bagging a table at one of these fabulously affordable options:
Highness Cafe and Tea Room
21a Highbury Park
London, N5 1QJ
Tube: Highbury & Islington / Arsenal
Located at the end of Highbury Fields, Highness Cafe is without a doubt one of my favorite spots in London to spend a lazy afternoon. After being lured in by the fantastic array of cakes on show in the window, you’ll find friendly service and an excellent selection of food and drink.
The type of cake on offer changes regularly, but you’re sure to find something that takes your fancy, from classic carrot cake, to Oreo cheesecake and tempting cupcakes. Opt for one of the downstairs tables if you want to enjoy the buzz of the cafe or head up the spiral staircase to the mezzanine level for quieter experience.
Prices start from around £3.75 for a slice of cake and £2.25 for a herbal tea infusion.
Soho’s Secret Tea Room
Upstairs at the Coach & Horses Pub
29 Greek Street
London, W1D 5DH
Tube: Leicester Square
This secret haven for tea drinkers is not the easiest to find, but those who do will be rewarded with a truly unique experience. Once you’ve located the Coach & Horses Pub on Greek Street, you’ll need to tell the person at the bar that you wish to go to the tea room. If it’s busy, they may say you need a reservation, however at quieter times they should let you in – behind the bar and up the stairs, that is.
If you do make it up there you’ll find you’ve been transported to a (somewhat tongue and cheek) 1940′s tea room, and you’ll probably feel like you should be wearing a floral 40′s dress, red lipstick and high heels. As music crackles from a gramophone choose from an impressively long list of teas accompanied by scones, cupcakes or slices of cake. Alternatively opt for a full afternoon tea, which starts from £14.50 per person.
The Tea Rooms
155 Stoke Newington Church Street
London, N16 0UH
Bus routes: 393, 473 and 73
Located on picturesque Stoke Newington Church Street, this cozy, old fashioned tea room almost transports you from the bustling streets of London into a quaint countryside village. An array of sweet and savory treats line the bar and the long list of teas make it difficult to choose what to order. All the food is made lovingly by expert pastry chefs with experience catering at Claridge’s Hotel and even private Royal households, so you can be sure your taste buds are in good hands!
Prices start from £2.95 for a generously sized slice of cake, and £2.30 for a cup of tea. A pricier option is a full-blown indulgent afternoon tea, complete with sandwiches, scones, cakes and Prosecco for £23 per person.
The Fan Museum
12 Crooms Hill
Greenwich, SE10 8ER
Tube: Cutty Sark DLR station (Docklands Light Railway)
One of the most Cheapo-friendly afternoon teas in London, if you’re planning on exploring Greenwich, then be sure to incorporate this unlikely attraction into your itinerary. The Fan Museum itself houses a beautifully quirky collection of over 3500 fans and fan leaves from all over the world.
Afternoon tea is served in the pretty Orangery on Tuesdays and Sundays only at 2:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. and costs just £6 a person, including a delicious selection of tea, sandwiches, scones and cakes. Add to that the museum entrance fee (£4 for adults) and you’re still enjoying one of the best value afternoon teas in London.
Booking is absolutely essential though, so as with all great bargains, make sure you plan ahead!
Also in our guide: For much more information on ways to save in London, stop by our London guide. Our editors point out their favorite budget hotels, plus provide many tips for saving on transportation, sightseeing, and dining.