Afternoon Tea for Children in London
For families visiting London with kids, the British ritual of afternoon teas is high on the to-do list with Big Ben, the London Eye and the changing of the guard. Whether it’s a traditional afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches, creative afternoon teas with sushis or seasonal afternoon teas with gingerbread reindeer, they are extremely fun and a great way to relax. The afternoon teas below are perfect for children, some even tailored for children, combining great quality food and drinks with a child-friendly atmosphere.
#1 KENSINGTON PALACE ORANGERY
Kensington Palace, Kensington Gardens, Tube: High Street Kensington
Overlooking historic Kensington Palace and the landscaped garden, the Orangery is a beautiful building with tall French windows and the best view in town. While the Orangery serves brunch and lunch as well, I took my girls for an afternoon tea after school and they loved it. On a week day, we were promptly seated and ordered the afternoon tea which came with sandwiches, scones and a wide selection of teas in fine china. Since tables were well spaced, we had ample room to put down our coats and bags on a chair and make ourselves comfortable.
There was no children’s menu, but my girls shared an adult portion and were very happy. They had the biggest thrill when the waiter laid out their individual tea pots filled with herbal teas – just like for adults. By the time we went out, night had fallen and walking through the winter garden felt completely magical. If you go during the summer, the Orangery offers outdoors seating on the terrace but the building is so nice that sitting inside is great regardless of the weather.
Family plus: if the kids feel antsy, they can run outside in the garden while you keep an eye on them. You can also visit Kensington Palace before your tea for a special royal day – Kensington is a royal palace and Kate and William live in the building.
Good to know: Restrooms outside. Reservations highly recommended on weekends.
#2 MILESTONE HOTEL
1 Kensington Court, across from Kensington Gardens. Tube: High Street Kensington
If you’re looking for a beautiful place with impeccable service, a children’s tea and a fireplace, this would be it. I took my girls to the Milestone Hotel after a concert at the Royal Albert Hall when my in-laws were in town and we were all blown away by the place. The reason I chose the Milestone Hotel was their Prince and Princess Tea, a tea for children under 12 where they get their own menu and decorate cupcakes in the hotel’s kitchen. In reality, it’s far better than that.
A luxury boutique hotel housed in a Victorian building, the Milestone Hotel is all understated elegance. The lounge where we had the afternoon tea looked like a gentleman’s club library, except better. With wooden shelves of old books around the room, flower arrangements and tall drapes, a live piano player in the background, it was Old England at its best. Ironically on the day we went, we were surrounded by other French people and a Japanese party of four. Since I’d been too late to book the only 6-person table, we adults sat on a sofa while my girls enjoyed a first-rate view on the Christmas tree at their own table. Decorating the cupcake was a big highlight for them, they even donned a white apron to go crazy on sugar decorations in the kitchens.
Family plus: obviously, the special attention to children is an awesome plus for this place. The proximity to the Royal Albert Hall and Hyde Park makes it even sweeter, as you can combine family fun nearby with this highly civilized tea.
Good to know:: Reservations mandatory, especially if you’re looking to score the 6-person table by the fireside. Portions are very generous. Either go early or forego the next meal.
#3 FORTNUM & MASON
181 Piccadilly, Tube: Green Park or Piccadilly Circus
I took my mother, my girls and my husband to the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon and it was a fantastic family afternoon. Located on the 4th floor of the iconic luxury goods store, the tea salon is a light and airy Tiffany-blue and white room overlooking Piccadilly. Upon arrival, we were promptly shown to our table where my girls staked the couch with my mother while I picked the chairs. The menu was incredible and if ever we had had any sort of dietary requirement, they would have had a solution.
As it were, we didn’t and hesitated between the Afternoon Tea and the High Tea–a variant that starts with a hot savory treat instead of sandwiches–while my girls studied the Children’s Afternoon Tea options. Since Fortnum’s is quintessentially a tea purveyor, we also got a separate 9-page tea menu. That’s nine pages of different tea blends sorted by tea type, origin or blend – a tea lover’s dream! To me, the highlights of the tea were the great service, the miniature Fortnum & Mason preserve jars served with the scones, and the quality of the food. My girls loved their tea although only one went for the children’s menu. The older one preferred an adult choice.
Family plus: the delicious children’s afternoon tea menu is an obvious draw to this place. The proximity to Piccadilly Circus, Buckingham Palace and Green Park make the location hard to beat on a London day out. Just know it’ll be hard to resist the tea and treats on the ground floor. Not only do they make great gifts, they are delicious teas to splurge on for yourself.
Good to know: Reservations mandatory. Elevator to get to the 4th floor. One of the most beautiful grocery/gourmet stores in London.
#4 THE CONNAUGHT
Carlos Place, Mayfair, London, W1K 2AL.
We went to the Connaught to celebrate my second daughter’s 10th birthday, right after school. Though the traditional grand hotel was a bit intimidating, this afternoon tea ended up being one of our favorites because of the exquisite sweets, the perfect scones (and I mean, perfect) and the service. I had called ahead to mention it was my daughter’s birthday but I didn’t expect much more than a candle on a cake. In addition to the candle, my daughter saw a plate arrive where a pastry chef had written “Happy Birthday” in chocolate with the best penmanship ever. So sweet!
Now, if you’re a sucker for scones like me, you’ll love this. Not only were these scones very good, but the choice of jams was much better than elsewhere (I’m looking at you, Ritz). Nowhere else do you get a choice of quince, blackcurrant or cherry-rhubarb in addition to the usual suspects. I would return just for the scones. Last but not least, as both my girls had small appetites, they were unable to finish their plates. Without a blink, the remaining cakes were packed in a lovely paper box that we took home to enjoy later.
#5 PALM COURT AT THE LANGHAM
1C Portland Pl, Marylebone, London W1B 1JA
Both my girls are huge fans of a UK cooking show on TV called Creme de la Creme and they knew that one of the judges, Cherish Finden, is pastry chef at The Langham. If her TV expertise was anything to get by, the afternoon tea at the Palm Court, restaurant at The Langham, promised wonders. We went in December for the Festive Tea with my mother and it was indeed a delight. The Langham is one of London’s iconic stylish grand hotels and its Palm Court is every bit as elegant as you would expect.
The afternoon tea was perfect for kids, as both my girls got a wide choice of drinks (they both settled on fruit teas), had multiple servings of their favorite sandwiches (excellent smoked salmon brioche) and absolutely loved the pastry plate complete with tiny gingerbread house and winter decor. For kids under 12, the Palm Court also offers a children’s afternoon tea with Hamleys teddy bear. The only down side of this afternoon tea was that our service was a bit slow, which doesn’t sit well with an afternoon snack for kids.
#6 SAVOY HOTEL
Strand, London, WC2R 0EZ. Charing Cross tube station.
The Savoy is the epitome of London fancy hotels. Decorated in Art Deco style, it is directly on the river Thames and because of its unique architecture and grand style, has been featured in many Hollywood movies. It also features a theatre next door, where we saw a great musical on the Beatles.
We were invited, my girls and I, to the afternoon tea by my boss and it was a wonderful tea. As you would expect, service was impeccable and all the food was good (and very abundant). What stuck with us was music, as the pianist played a selection of Carole King hits and my boss knew all of them by heart. The Thames foyer was incredibly comfortable despite being so big and we literally sunk in our plush armchairs. Definitely a top afternoon tea in London.
Good to know: huge food quantities. Arrive with a healthy appetite.
#7 ORANGE PEKOE
3 White Hart Lane, London, SW13 0PX
Located in Barnes, this small and intimate tearoom is a lovely low-key afternoon tea option for children who don’t care about grand hotels. I organized my first daughter’s 11th birthday party here and she got a whole table with five of her girlfriends. We sat at another table with our youngest daughter and watched the birthday girls laugh and have fun in their own private alcove, having a ball and ordering without our help.
As Orange Pekoe is foremost a tea shop, tea was very nice and food was good, but if I am honest, I concentrated more on managing 6 boisterous 11-year-olds than on my scones. I should have, they were good. All that I know is that everybody was very happy and it was a great birthday party. So yes, Orange Pekoe is a good afternoon tea spot for children but beware. It gets very crowded on weekends.