A Guide to the Most Unique Themed Afternoon Teas in London

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For me, England has always been synonymous with one thing. No, not royalty or sports or fish and chips; for me, it's always been afternoon tea.

When I planned my first trip to London (and later, when I took my mom for her first time), going somewhere to have afternoon tea was high on my to-do list. But, back then, I kind of assumed that all afternoon teas were relatively the same.

And while it's true that the usual trappings – the hot tea, the finger sandwiches, the scones, the sweet treats – are standard in any good afternoon tea, to say that afternoon teas are all the same is severely doing the tea experience a disservice.

As it turns out, afternoon tea is anything but standard, especially in a city like London.

Mad Hatters Tea Party in London

London knows how to do a memorable afternoon tea, with several boasting really creative themes that only add to the overall experience.

I've made it my mission over the past year to try out as many themed afternoon teas in London as possible in order to bring you a guide to the very best of them.

The best themed afternoon teas in London

I won't lie to you: This list was VERY difficult to compile, not least of all because many of these themed teas change frequently. Mostly, though, it was just tough to pick a favorite because they're all done so well!

Here, then, are my picks for the best themed afternoon teas in London in reverse order.

6. Midsummer Nights Dream tea

Swan at Shakespeare's Globe, South Bank

A Midsummer Night’s Dream afternoon tea at Swan

If it's a themed tea with a great view you're looking for, you can't really beat the afternoon tea at Swan, the restaurant attached to Shakespeare's Globe theater. The tea here is loosely-based on A Midsummer Nights Dream, with an illustrated menu and bespoke tableware.

The food includes a selection of savory sandwiches, mulberry scones, and a handful of sweet treats, and I also added on a “Love Potion” cocktail (made with gin, honey, blackberry puree, and prosecco).

I also ended up winning the seating lottery on this one – my table looked out over the Thames and had a view of the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral!

A Midsummer Night’s Dream afternoon tea at Swan
Can you spot St. Paul's in the background?

The pros: The views are great, and this is the most affordable themed afternoon tea on this list.

The cons: The food is only lightly-themed, and I didn't find most of it to be particularly memorable. In fact, I didn't even finish all of my sandwiches.

Who this tea is best for: First-time visitors to London who want to go to an afternoon tea while exploring one of the most popular parts of the city (the South Bank) at the same time.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream afternoon tea menu
All the themed touches at the Swan tea

Price: £28.50 for standard tea; £35 if you add a cocktail

When: 2-hour seatings; offered 12-3 p.m. daily

Good to know: If you have dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, etc.), let them know at time of booking, as they may not be able to accommodate these requests on the day. Booking ahead is recommended.

5. B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

Central London

Afternoon Tea Bus Tour in London
Crossing the Thames on the B Bus

It's debatable whether this one really fits into the category of “themed afternoon teas,” but I'm including it simply because it's so unique. Put on in conjunction with B Bakery (AKA Brigit’s Bakery in Covent Garden), this tea has you riding a converted double decker bus around central London as you sip your tea and eat your scones.

With pickups at either Victoria Coach Station or Trafalgar Square, the general route of your tea bus tour takes you in a big loop around Hyde Park, passing London icons like Big Ben, Harrods, Oxford Street, and Hyde Park.

There's a recording that accompanies your tour so you know what you're looking at out the bus windows, and the pastries especially are really tasty.

B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour
Eating sweet treats on our way past Harrods

The pros: It's a fun way to see a bit of London, and you get to go home with a souvenir travel mug (since you're on a moving bus, your tea isn't served in normal tea cups!).

The cons: You are moving throughout your tea, so be careful when trying to spread the jam on your scones! The buses also have very weak air conditioning, so be prepared for it to be warm if you catch London during a heat wave like I did. I also found it difficult to hear the recorded guide because of course everyone on the bus was chatting over their tea!

Who this tea is best for: A couple on a day-date, or a group of girl friends looking for a fun day out. I also think it's fun for solo travelers, since the bus tour portion is cool even if you're on your own. (Just note that you can't book a single seat online – you need to call to make a solo reservation.)

B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

Price: Starting at £45 per adult, though I couldn't find seats for less than £56. Seats on the top deck are more expensive, and seats at the “VIP” front tables start around £66 and can go up to £71 per adult.

Length: 1.5 hours

Good to know: They can cater to vegetarian, vegan, halal, and gluten-free diets. They also do a gin bus tour, which is their typical afternoon tea combined with gin cocktails. You definitely NEED to book ahead for this one, as they often sell out – you can book a seat here!

4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea

Indigo at One Aldwych, Covent Garden

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea at One Aldwych

I went to a Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed tea last summer (described in the next section of this post), but the one at One Aldwych is definitely the must-do. Tea is served in the modern Indigo restaurant (you might even get seated on a balcony-like section), and has, in my opinion, some of the best-themed afternoon tea food in London.

The Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea is served in two courses: the savories, followed by the sweets. In true Willy Wonka fashion, some of the bites are a little weird (in a good way!), like the tomato/beef marshmallow, the savory scones served with bacon jam, and the savory blueberry cheesecake sandwiches. There's even a chocolate and banana milkshake that the menu says is “mixed by waterfall.”

The tea selection is inventive, too, including a chocolate tea made with coco nibs. You can also add one of two “Fizzy Lifting Drinks” to your tea, which are cocktails that come in little glass teapots complete with dry ice for a smoking effect.

Amanda at afternoon tea
“Mixed by waterfall,” supposedly
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea menu

The pros: The food is not only really imaginative, but also really good! I liked all of the sandwiches, and especially loved the chocolate financiers on the sweets side. I also appreciated that everything from the tea selections to the cocktails were Wonka-themed. And they offered free refills on everything, too, including the food.

The cons: The sweets are all REALLY sweet (I mean, it comes with cotton candy, though, so this shouldn't be a surprise). I also was a bit bummed that the sweets aren't brought out until you finish the savories – the photographer in me was sad I couldn't take photos of everything together!

Who this tea is best for: Couples looking for a fun date, a good spot for a girls' outing, and also suitable for families.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea at One Aldwych

Price: £45, or £56 with champagne or a Fizzy Lifting Drink (cocktail)

When: Seatings are for 2 hours; offered 12:30-3pm Monday-Saturday, and 12:30-5pm on Sundays.

Good to know: Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus are available, but they ask that you let them know about dietary requirements 48 hours ahead of time.

3. Science Tea

The Drawing Rooms at The Ampersand, South Kensington

Science Tea at The Ampersand Hotel

You don't have to be a science geek to enjoy this themed afternoon tea – but it certainly doesn't hurt! Complete with an “experiment” to create your own lemonade, space-themed sweets, and a small box where you can “dig” for a dinosaur treat, this science-themed tea is just FUN.

While the food at this tea isn't really themed flavor-wise, so many other elements are that this is one of the more charming themed teas you can book. There are themed plates, dry ice surrounding a one of the planet-shaped chocolate bombs when your tea stand comes out, a “petri dish” of jelly, test tubes filled with fun toppings for your scones, and more.

The food at this tea is pretty good (I particularly liked the chicken and basil bun and the dark chocolate and passion fruit planet mousse), and The Drawing Rooms are bright and beautiful, even if you visit on a rainy day like I did.

Science Tea at The Ampersand Hotel

Pros: The theme is such a fun one, and is executed really well. The service was good, you can get refills on any of your favorites (and take leftovers home with you), and I loved that they offer a kids' version that comes in a rocket-shaped tea stand! I also loved the “experiment” they give you (making lemonade) to pass the time while you wait for your food to come out. Plus, this one is offered almost all day long!

Cons: I could find few faults here. I would have liked more herbal tea choices on the menu, but that's about it.

Who this tea is best for: This is my top pick for a kid-friendly tea (I mean, there are test tubes and things to squirt into your food!), though of course anyone can enjoy it.

Science Tea at The Ampersand Hotel
Science experiment time!
Science Tea at The Ampersand Hotel
Uncovering fossils in chocolate “dirt”

Price: £39.50 for the Science Afternoon Tea; £29.50 for Kids' Sci-Fi Tea

When: 2-hour seatings; tea served 12:30-9pm Monday-Saturday and 12:30-7pm Sunday

Good to know: For an additional £10, you can add a cocktail flight to your tea. Vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free menus are available. Booking ahead is recommended.

2. The Potion Room (Harry Potter-themed tea)

Cutter & Squidge, Soho

Harry Potter tea in London

Harry Potter fans, rejoice! London now has a deliciously immersive Harry Potter-themed tea! You'll find this tea at a bakery in Soho called Cutter & Squidge, and to simply call it a “themed afternoon tea” doesn't do it justice at all. This isn't just afternoon tea. This is a full-on tea experience.

You start by going down into the basement of the bakery, which has been transformed into the Potion Room. You get given a cloak and a wand, and are seated at a desk before you meet your Potions Master (or Mistress).

Potion Room at Cutter & Squidge
The Potion Room totally feels like a real classroom!

You then spend the next couple of hours mixing edible potions, drinking teas with names like “Elixir of Life” and “Unicorn Tears,” and geeking out as much as your little magical heart desires. I did this one with fellow travel blogger Lauren, and it was SO FUN.

Potion Room at Cutter & Squidge
Lauren and I after “class”
Potion Room at Cutter & Squidge
Making potions

The pros: This was the most-themed tea I attended; it's a fully immersive experience, and you really will feel like you're in a Potions classroom! I was so impressed by the presentation, as well as the food – the ham sandwich, leek and potato pie, and rock cakes were my favorites. I also felt like this one gave you the most bang for your buck because of the overall experience AND all the extra goodies that are included.

The cons: I mean… I guess if you're not a huge Harry Potter fan this might seem a bit kitschy?

Who this tea is best for: Anyone like me who is still convinced that their Hogwarts letter got lost in the Owl Post… This one would make for a great date or an outing with a Harry Potter-loving friend. I'm glad I didn't do this one solo, as it was definitely more fun with a friend.

Harry Potter Potion Room tea in London
A Unicorn Sour (sparkling lemon and vodka)

Price: £49.50 per person, and alcoholic mixed drinks are available for purchase

When: Teas last 2.5 hours; there are 3 seatings per day at 12pm, 3pm and 6pm

Good to know: They cater to vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free needs. You need to book well in advance for this one! There are only 15 seats in the Potion Room, and they book up fast.

1. Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea

Sanderson Hotel, Fitzrovia

Mad Hatters Tea Party in London

So are you surprised that the Harry Potter tea didn't take the #1 spot? I kind of was, too, to be honest! But, when it comes down to it, another of London's famous themed teas slightly nudged it out: the Alice in Wonderland-themed Mad Hatters Tea Party at the Sanderson.

Why did this beat out the Potion Room? Well, because I think the Potion Room appeals to a very specific kind of tea-goer (i.e. the kind who will happily wear a cloak and wave a fake wand around while enjoying an immersive tea experience), while the Mad Hatters tea has a much wider appeal while still being adorably cute and super delicious.

The Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea was the first themed tea I tried in London, and I was immediately enchanted. From the on-theme dishwear to the themed tea blends to the pretty plate of food that came out, I was super impressed with everything about this tea.

Mad Hatters Tea Party
The themed tea blends are perfect!

The pros: Pretty much everything – the theme is carried out perfectly throughout the whole tea, and the food is all very good. They'll also box up any extras for you to take with you (as will most of the other teas on this list).

The cons: The only slight downside is that the tea is served in both the Sanderson's restaurant and courtyard garden, but you won't know where you'll be sitting until you get there. The courtyard is very pretty, but if you're in London during a heat wave like I was, it may be a little warm!

Who this tea is best for: Pretty much anyone who wants to enjoy a fun themed afternoon tea! This would probably be my pick if you wanted to take kids to a themed tea.

Mad Hatters Tea Party in London

Price: £48 per person, £35 per child

When: 2 hours; served Monday-Saturday 12:30-4pm and Sundays 1-4pm

Good to know: They can accommodate needs for vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free diets.

BONUS: Tea with kitties

Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, Shoreditch

High Tea at Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium

One more fun tea that I think deserves a mention on this list is the afternoon tea you can have at Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium, a cat cafe in Shoreditch. Enjoy a regular afternoon tea menu, but do it while surrounded by a bunch of kitties in Lady Dinah's super cute cafe.

You can read more about this tea here: A Purrfect Afternoon Tea at London's First Cat Cafe

Pros: Umm… kitties!! If you love cats and would love to visit a cat cafe anyway, this is a great way to do it. The food is very good, and it's one of the most affordable afternoon teas you'll find in London.

Cons: Cats are jerks, and they probably won't cuddle with you when you want them to.

Price: £25 + cat cafe entrance fee

When: 1.5 hours

Good to know: They can cater to most dietary needs, including vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, and even gluten-free vegetarian. I highly recommend booking this one in advance.

Themed London teas no longer offered

Many hotels rotate through afternoon tea themes, meaning some that I loved are no longer offered in the way that I experienced them. Here are a few more others that I enjoyed, along with info on what has since replaced them.

1. Sherlock Holmes afternoon tea

Kona at the Taj, Westminster

Sherlock Holmes Afternoon Tea in London

If you're looking for a beautiful (and tasty!) themed tea in London, you can't really go wrong with any of the offerings at Kona, one of the restaurants at the 5-star Taj 51 Buckingham Gate hotel. For me, there was no question about which themed tea I'd choose: it was Sherlock Holmes all the way!

I absolutely adored this tea, from the fun props on my table to the themed goodies like the “221 B Macaroon,” which was flavored with Scotch; a stout cupcake called “Watson's Moustache,” and a smoked caramel mousse in the shape of a cigar. This was not only a delicious tea, but was also presented in such a fun way.

Sherlock Holmes afternoon tea in London

The pros: The food was very good, and I loved the totally themed menu and inventive presentation. This was one of the more photogenic teas I attended.

The cons: I literally could find no cons to this one. I loved it!

Who this tea is best for: A group of friends, or maybe on a fancy date. I also felt like I got extra-nice service here as a solo tea-goer.

Price: £40 per person, or £45 if you add a glass of prosecco

Length: 2 hours

Good to know: You need to book any of the themed teas at Kona at least 24 hours in advance.

Sherlock Holmes afternoon tea

But the bad news is… this tea only ran through the end of July 2018. They add different themed teas frequently, though, so check out all their afternoon tea offerings here. (In August 2019 Kona was offering an Alice in Wonderland-themed tea, a “Jasmine Indian” tea, and a “Candy Striped Carousel” tea.)

2. Charlie and the Chesterfield

Chesterfield Mayfair hotel, Mayfair

Charlie and the Chesterfield tea in London

After having tea at this charming Mayfair hotel, I'm now obsessed with staying here on a future trip to London. It's within walking distance to Green Park (and Buckingham Palace), and has that “old world” hotel feel without feeling too stuffy.

I went for their Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-themed tea, which like all afternoon teas at the Chesterfield, was served in their light-filled conservatory. The tea selection was unique (they have quite a few flowering teas on their menu), and I liked the chocolate scones and Wonka-inspired sweet treats, including an Oompa-Loompa cupcake and bubblegum eclair.

Charlie and the Chesterfield tea
Oompa Loompa-inspired cupcake

The pros: The tea selection was unique, the conservatory was nice, and there was even live music when I was there.

The cons: This was the least-themed of the themed teas I went to. The presentation was pretty standard, and I didn't think the food was all that special. (Then again, this was my 5th afternoon tea in 6 days, so maybe I was just over the finger sandwiches by that point!)

Who this tea is best for: Families with kids who want to go to a nice afternoon tea, but don't care if there's an over-the-top theme.

Price: £40 per person

When: 2 hours; 12:30-5:30pm daily

Good to know: They can accommodate vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diets. They also have a children's tea for £21.50. Booking ahead is recommended.

Charlie and the Chesterfield tea in London

This tea was replaced with a sweetshop-themed tea as of July 2018.

The new theme is fairly similar in that it still centers around candy, and you'll still get to enjoy the quiet setting in the conservatory, along with the very nice staff at the Chesterfield.


Where to stay for afternoon tea in London

Here are some hotels to check out that are convenient to these afternoon teas:

WHERE TO STAY

Here are some hotels to check out that are convenient to these afternoon teas:

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory tea

  • One Aldwych – The tea is offered at this hotel, and it's also a 5-star beauty in the heart of London.

Science Tea

  • The Ampersand Hotel – The hotel that hosts this themed tea is also highly rated, and it one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World.

Harry Potter tea

Mad Hatters tea

Charlie and the Chesterfield 

Teas at Kona

Cat cafe tea


Have you ever been to a themed afternoon tea? Which of these are you going to book next time you're in London?

Pin it for later:

The Best Themed Afternoon Teas in London
The Most Unique Themed Afternoon Teas in London

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31 Comments on “A Guide to the Most Unique Themed Afternoon Teas in London

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  1. This is FANTASTIC! I did lots of tea parties when I was younger and had my very own fancy little tea set. Even my bridal shower was at a tea house. I LOVE the idea of not only attending a themed tea, but attending MANY of them. If you’re ever looking to go back, I will totally do the Beauty and the Beast tea with you!!

      I’m bummed I didn’t know about the Beauty and the Beast tea before I went, otherwise I definitely would have tried to squeeze that one in, too! Next time…

    It’s unbelievable how many themed afternoon teas there are in London alone. Unfortunately, I don’t like tea but I wouldn’t mind the high wine equivalent of these themes

      At most of them you can actually get coffee instead of tea. 🙂 But yes, it’s amazing how many different teas there are in London!

    Wow that looks good. I knew that people like to do tea time but I didn’t know that they have special tea houses.

      Yes! I’m definitely a fan of themed teas now!

    What a totally fun idea for your trip! I too, associate tea with England and went to a tea while visiting but never even considered that there might be theme teas! The Wonka looks fabulous just because I’m such a fan of the movie and, while not a Potter die-hard, it looks great too. As you pointed out, the whole immersive experience and the setting seemed really great. So glad you enjoyed your trip!

      I had no idea there were so many themed teas! Once I discovered how many there were, I was obsessed with trying as many as possible!

    This is a great post!! I’m a huge tea lover and really appreciate you sharing all the amazing teas in London. I host tea parties every year for friends and family and can’t imagine all the work that goes into these! Thanks for sharing!

      Oh man, yeah some of these are so intricate that I can’t imagine the person who dreamed them up (especially the Harry Potter one!).

    This is such a ‘sweet’ post. 🙂 I love the concept of afternoon tea. I think this list would be helpful for someone who would like to experience the quintessential tea culture of England.

      I love afternoon teas, too, and these were definitely unique ones!

    This is so perfect! We’re headed back to London in October and I’m trying to find a good afternoon tea for us to do. This will be my 7th visit to London and my partner’s 3rd, but he’s never done afternoon tea before. He’s not a huge tea and tiny sandwiches guy, so I think a themed tea will be perfect for him. The Harry Potter tea sounds amazing! Thank you so much for recapping your experiences and providing so many great details!

    PS: If anyone is looking for a less expensive (albeit, not themed) afternoon tea, the Soho Secret Tea Room is a great choice!

      A themed tea could be perfect, then! I hope you guys enjoy whichever one you end up going to!

    Before I finished afternoon tea in the Park Room at the Grosvenor House Hotel, I offered a complimentary box of small cakes or scones–it was included to guests. Unfortunately my hotel room didn’t have a fridge so I couldn’t take a box. 🙁 However I did go for the champagne upgrade when I made my reservation online!
    Also, if you’re going to an upscale venue (such Grosvenor House Hotel), looking dressy is worth it!

      Yes, going to an afternoon tea is always a fun excuse to get dressed up!

    Wow! I wish I saw this before. I just left London and was only there for a few days. I never thought to even look up an afternoon tea joint! Next time, I guess.

      Definitely something to put on the list for next time!

    I ‘d love to try the Harry Potter tea and the Sherlock Holmes. I had a nice afternoon tea in London years ago but it wasn’t themed:)

      Afternoon teas in general are really nice – I’ve done plenty of “normal” ones in different cities around the world. But these themed ones really are something special!

    My kids would definitely go for the Harry Potter Tea but I think the Sherlock Holmes Tea would be the one for me. (The one I’d love to attend would be an Agatha Christie Tea if that existed)All look to be great fun, though.

      Ooo an Agatha Christie one would be very cool! You could do a lot with that theme.

    The Charlie & the Chocolate Factory tea sounds great! Definitely gonna have to try that soon. Love all the photos as well!

      Thanks! I had so much fun doing everything for this post, including taking photos – though I’m sure I looked a littler weird to some of the other people enjoying tea! Haha.

    As a tea lover, this post is truly wonderful, Amanda! And just in time for our planned trip to visit friends in London. Although we won’t be staying too long, I definitely will find time to visit some of these places. I am most looking forward to having tea with kitties; so that would be top of our list. Thanks for this!

      Even if you don’t go for afternoon tea, I highly recommend visiting Lady Dinah’s! It’s such a cute cafe and the cats are awesome!

    I too lived in small town OH (as a side) I am doing the B Bakery tour, soon, with my husband. Then I am doing a brand new Mary Poppins themed tea at the Shard. I am excited. Thanks for your post.

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