Afternoon tea is more than just a meal. It’s a British tradition, whose history may be traced back to the 1830s and beyond, depending on whom you believe.

Credit for its invention usually goes to Duchess Anna Maria, the wife of the seventh duke of Bedford, who felt the need to bridge the long gap between luncheon and dinner when entertaining friends at Woburn Abbey, outside the capital.

Here are four places that are among London’s finest for afternoon tea.

The Berkeley

This luxury hotel’s Pret-a-Portea is inspired by the fashion world. The menu reflects the current collections.

The cost: $46 or $56 with champagne. Pret-a-Portea is available by delivery aboard a Vespa adorned in the Pret colors of pistachio green and pale pink.


This venue features some of the most exotic staffers along with eccentric design. Afternoon tea is served in the Parlour, a crazily beautiful room.

The cost: $36 or $47 with champagne. You get assorted finger sandwiches and two fruit scones with jam and clotted cream.


The Ritz


Where better to enjoy afternoon tea than in the gilded splendor of The Ritz?

As you nibble on your egg-mayonnaise-and-cress bridge roll, and sip the Ritz Royal English, you can listen while pianist Ian Gomes plays your request and admire the ornate beauty of the Palm Court, where afternoon tea has been served for more than 100 years.

The cost: $60 or $70 with a glass of champagne. There are five sittings, starting at 11:30 a.m. and finishing at 7:30 p.m. Gentlemen are required to wear a jacket and tie. Jeans and sport shoes are not permitted. Ladies may wear trousers. You may have to book a reservation as much as five months in advance.


The Langham

This hotel claims to have begun the tradition of afternoon tea. The Tea Guild gave it the Top London Afternoon Tea Award 2010.

The cost: $50 or $66 with a glass of champagne. It offers cakes inspired by jewels, including Delices de Cartier, and sandwiches such as pastrami and marie rose.