An offshoot of the Piccadilly original, this is Fortnum & Mason with a twist. Service is lively, liveried and brisk, respectful but not fawning, attentive without being obtrusive, resolutely on the right side of stuffy. Crispy cannoli are filled with a pistachio cream and dipped in the darkest chocolate, and brutti ma buoni – perhaps best described as a sort of meringue/biscuit hybrid – are soft and chewy. A word of caution: for those of you of a sensitive disposition, easily disturbed by high Victorian grandeur and gilt, or who get in a tizz about anything other than clean-lined minimalism, look away now. We’ve sat down to countless cups of tea, finger sandwiches, scones and macarons to bring you our editors’ reviews of the best afternoon tea in London – from the traditional spreads perfect for Mother’s Day to the modern interpretations that roll on into evening drinks. Prawn dumplings are plump and sweet, then there's vegetable gyoza (eat these first as they'll go cold), Cornish crab brioche buns, little cups of wasabi- and ginger-cured salmon, and an open duck roll on wanton. Address: Fortnum & Mason, 181 Piccadilly, London W1 Telephone: +44 20 7734 8040 Website: fortnumandmason.com Price: Fortnum's Afternoon Tea £52.50 (£56.50 with Rare Tea). Organic Bohea Lapsang, anyone?From £75, Trust the inventor of the Cronut to make the afternoon tea ritual his own. As well as the usual selection of sandwiches, taster spoons and canapés, the tea has to be one of the most photographed in the city. By Anna Prendergast, Address: Palm Court, Kimpton Fitzroy, 1–8 Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London WC1B 5BETelephone: +44 20 7123 5000Website: palmcourt.londonPrice: Afternoon tea, £30. With a tea tail or glass of prosecco, £55. This cocktail-accented spot (the drinks are by Tony Conigliaro) is decidedly dude-friendly, and the crowd reflects is mostly middle class, youngish couples looking for a break from an energetic bout of retail therapy on nearby Marylebone High Street. For the traditionally inclined, the signature Lanesborough Afternoon Tea is a fresh and fruity black blend, or you can always just upgrade to Champagne. The freshly baked scones, plain and raisin, are fluffy with just a slight crunch on the outside. Scones come with or without raisins and are kept warm in a napkin envelope, served with generous helpings of clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam. Under twinkling cobalt chandeliers, paneer kathi rolls, quail’s scotch eggs with black mustard seeds and samosas replace finger sandwiches, and traditional desserts like gajar halwa (carrot fudge) and boondi laddoo (bumpy sugar-glazed sweets) substitute scones and cakes. There’s a dress code—no sportswear or baseball caps—and a general air of refinement. Lauren Burvill and Tabitha Joyce. The vegetarian selection is just as varied and delicious: no endless egg-and-cress here. A long early-evening walk across Hyde Park is recommended to walk off the cake. The experience doesn’t fall short when it comes to the food either. Bevelled mirrors and gold-framed illustrations hang on the tall walls; huge chandeliers cascade above the seating area and marble-topped bar. Nominating the best of the lot would be an impossible and unrealistic task, since so much depends on mood and whim and the exigencies of the moment. But something about being in the humming, clinking, tinkling dining room with its high ceilings and attentive – never over-bearing – staff makes it extra special. And, if you’re feeling particularly bold, the Coral Room will replenish your tier of choice for free. While the afternoon tea was undeniably pleasant, it’s the historic surroundings that truly make the new Fortnum’s a worthwhile pit-stop. There’s no shortage of ceremony here – the teapots are one-of-a-kind and silver-plated, and silver strainers are engraved with the Wolseley monogram. Condé Nast Traveler does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. By Charlotte Davey, Address: Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley, Wilton Place, London SW1X 7RLTelephone: +44 20 7107 8866 Website: the-berkeley.co.ukPrice: £60 per person; £70 with a glass of Laurent-Perrier Champagne, Afternoon tea at The Petersham, Covent Garden, Mary Quant afternoon tea at The Pelham London, Afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason at the Royal Exchange, Afternoon tea at the Senate Room, Royal Academy of Arts, Afternoon Tea at Great Court Restaurant, British Museum, Parisian afternoon tea at Maison Assouline, Afternoon tea at Shangri-La Hotel at The Shard, Afternoon tea at Palm Court, Kimpton Fitzroy London Hotel, St James's Hotel & Club 1840 afternoon tea, Gin and Tonic Afternoon Tea at Dukes London, Prêt-à-Portea: the Dior Couture Collection afternoon tea at The Berkeley, The best places to visit along the Florida Keys. It’s served in the hotel’s Art Deco-inspired foyer, which glitters with retro glamour; the low-key musical combo (usually a pianist and harpist or cellist) that plays all afternoon only adds to the lush backdrop. Dress for the occasion and head to The Ritz to dine in the Palm Court or savour treats in the Thames Foyer of The Savoy. There’s also supper-style dishes from the High Tea menu, including a flaky, meaty warm sausage roll. Bang in the centre of busy Soho is the colourful Ham Yard Hotel from Tim and Kit Kemp, whose portfolio includes the splashy Whitby in New York. As for the scones, they are simply scones. (It’s served on Paul Smith-designed tableware, too.). And what makes the place extra special is its private garden out back – almost unheard of in central London – where you can enjoy your tea in good weather before working it off with a game of croquet. With a glass of Champagne, £40. All listed in a vintage book, served on delicate blue Burleigh crockery, and taken with a glass of fizz or a pot of Campbell Darjeeling Second Flush perhaps, or something more unusual, such as a hand-rolled Snow White from Nepal (also a tea, one should add, rather than something to be smoked). But whatever you’re here for, first things first: Champagne. The ultimate guide to afternoon tea in London, from a classic experience in a top hotel to a modern take on the traditional pastime. And a whizz round the beautiful Parthenon Marbles is a must. The Royal Academy celebrated its 250th birthday last year. Read more: explore where to find the best brunch in London. They resemble tiny pillowcases and are made from Egyptian cotton, without plastic, glue or staples, for maximum freshness, flavour and sustainability. Just make sure you've finished trawling the nearby fashion boutiques before you take your seat. By Karin Mueller, Address: Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, London W1Telephone: +44 20 3642 1007Website: hamyardhotel.comPrices: From £24. Looking for the best afternoon tea in London? Just be sure to save room for the French canelé – a celebration of soft doughy cake with a chewy, caramel crust originating from the pastry chef’s home town of Bordeaux. Buena Vista Social Club, the Gipsy Kings (who are, naturally, personal friends) and Frank Sinatra kept us in good company throughout our visit.

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