Are you looking for the best afternoon tea in London? Want to experience a luxury afternoon tea for the first time?
After decades in London, my sister decided that it was time to try a proper afternoon tea in London. We chose to have our first luxury afternoon tea experience at The Hansom in the Renaissance Hotel, near Kings Cross St Pancras station. Our second option for high tea was Sketch London which we are hoping to visit soon.
We had initially planned on having the afternoon tea months prior, but due to conflicting diaries, it never happened. So this was overdue.
What’s afternoon tea?
The tradition of afternoon tea goes back to the early 19th century when it was common to eat only two meals a day. It is said that Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, finding the time between breakfast and dinner too long, started having light snacks consisting of tea and pastries. Shortly after, she started inviting her friends to her snacking ritual. It slowly became a fashionable social event, especially amongst the upper class. And thus, the afternoon tea was born.
Nowadays, afternoon tea (or high tea) is practised throughout the UK, especially in tea rooms and luxury hotels.
The Hansom is located on the ground floor of the iconic and Grade II building of the Renaissance Hotel. It takes up all of the mezzanine floors, which used to be the St Pancras station’s tickets office. The decor of the hotel is stunning and helps to give a modern yet luxurious afternoon tea experience.
As soon as we sat down, our lovely hostess came to introduce herself and thoroughly explained the set menu to us. Everything sounded delicious. Although we mentioned that one person was gluten-free when booking, we failed (well I forgot) to inform their full dietary requirements. However, Mihela and the onsite chef were very accommodating.
What are you served for a traditional afternoon tea?
We chose our teas in the first instance. The tea list has about 20 teas from different countries, including India, Japan, China etc…I decided on the Japanese Genmaicha green tea. At the same time, my sister chose the signature Green Tea & Mint Blend, and my brother-in-law went for a hot chocolate surprisingly.
The extra nice little touch is that the waiter will change the teapots with fresh tea after some time. So you can try different variety.
As we sat enjoying our teas and the beautiful decor, we were kept entertained by a toddler was having the best time of her life.
The first thing that came through was the plates of sandwiches. I had assumed that everything would come at once. However, at the Hansom, dishes (if I can call them that) were served in sets. The sandwiches consisted of Haggis scotch egg, smoked brown trout, horseradish cream and dill on poppy seed bread, cucumber on white bread.
Everything was delicious, especially the Scotch egg with haggis. I tried haggis for the first time during my weekend in Glasgow. I have to say that I quite like it, although it doesn’t sound appetising when you look at the list of ingredients.
After the sandwiches came freshly baked scones (plain and with raisin) accompanied by strawberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream. All three ingredients were excellent. We finished them as soon as they came.
Not long after, we were served the sweet desserts. They were beautifully presented and exceptionally tasty. We had: chocolate, hazelnut & honeycomb sweet, strawberries, vanilla cream & basil mousse, caramel-glazed profiterole, salted caramel cream, Battenberg cake and rhubarb, raspberry & almond tart.
My favourites were the raspberry & almond tart and the caramel-glazed profiterole. I wish I had more of them!
I have to admit, we didn’t finish everything. One sandwich and two cakes were left behind. I wanted to eat more but was too full to even lift my fork.
Cost and booking
The experience takes about one-and-a-half hours to 2 hours. As mentioned above they will try to accommodate all dietary requirements with prior notice.
- Classic Afternoon – Tea £38
- Champagne Afternoon Tea – £50 (including 1 glass of Perrier–Jouët Champagne)
- You can make the booking here.
- The Hansom – St. Pancras Renaissance, Euston Road, London NW1 2AR
The experience was excellent. I couldn’t have chosen a better place for my first afternoon tea experience. Not only the food was delicious, but the atmosphere, along with the high-quality service of our dedicated waitress, all added to the great experience of the traditional afternoon tea at the Hansom. This experience was by no means cheap, but we thought it was worth every penny! After all, it’s way less expensive than The Ritz or Claridge’s.
I would highly recommend going there for tea and more. If you are visiting London, do not miss experiencing Afternoon Tea.