One of the most charming and traditional things to do in London is a spot of afternoon tea. Afternoon tea has been a popular pastime in London since the 1840s, and it has been refined time and again over the centuries. Whittard of Chelsea, however, may have just perfected the afternoon tea experience.
In the heart of Covent Garden, you’ll find a branch of Whittard that’s more than just a shop. Here, you can sit and enjoy an afternoon tea for two, surrounded by the buzzing and eclectic atmosphere that Covent Garden provides.
Whittard Afternoon Tea
There are some fantastic themed afternoon teas in London, but this one hosted by Whittard is a modern refinement of the classic approach to afternoon tea. That, of course, includes a tiered platter of small sandwiches, scones (complete with clotted cream and a variety of tea-infused jams for spreading) and sweet cakes to finish. Let’s not forget the tea itself and a complimentary glass of prosecco.
Our afternoon tea for two at Whittard was on Valentine’s Day, and so we were treated to their Valentine’s special, which included heart-shaped biscuits and red-and-pink cakes including their new red velvet specialty. But Valentine’s aside, you’ll still be treated to sandwiches, cakes and scones with your traditional afternoon tea.
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What sets Whittard apart is the very thing they specialise in: their incredible range of teas (over 100 options in fact). Speaking as a coffee addict who doesn’t understand the appeal of British tea/builders tea/black tea, it was an absolute delight to be able to choose from sweet flavoured teas like chocolate and coconut, as well as green teas and fruity teas. The selection is incredible, and the teas you can choose from are soothing and warming.
Whittard celebrate tea so splendidly, and do such a sweet and wholesome job of romanticising tea with all its powers of warmth and comfort. The hero of liberal politics, William Gladstone, once said, “If you are cold, tea will warm you; if you are too heated, it will cool you; if you are depressed, it will cheer you; if you are excited, it will calm you.” Whittard certainly understand this philosophy, and enjoying their range of teas during an afternoon tea for two is a blissful experience as a result.
Beyond the selection of teas, Whittard afternoon tea also serves up a selection of sandwiches to start with, and the scones are some of the freshest and most perfectly baked you could possibly imagine enjoying.
Before we go any further, how do you pronounce scone? This has bugged me for years but, as explained by a friend from the US who cares about the British Royal Family a lot more than I do, Queen Elizabeth pronounces scone like gone, not like cone, so I guess we should follow her lead!
Despite tea being the most critical part of afternoon tea, it’s the scones most of us get excited for. It’s not afternoon tea without scones, after all. The afternoon tea was originally invented by Anna, Duchess of Bedford, who always got hungry at around 4pm and so would enjoy tea and scones a few hours before dinner was served.
And the scones at Whittard afternoon tea in Covent Garden are phenomenal. The clotted cream is thick and fluffy; the scones themselves are warm and soft; and the jams are infused with Whittard’s own teas to make for some of the most delectable jam you’ll ever enjoy. Long story short: these are elite scones.
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So, your Whittard afternoon tea for two is going to entertain and satisfy you with a range of foods and drinks, from sandwiches stuffed with fresh salmon to a tall glass of prosecco; from jasmine and coconut tea to the best scones in London. But beyond that, it’s also the atmosphere that really makes this a delightful afternoon tea.
Covent Garden is one of the most charming and famous places in London for a reason. Despite spending so much time in London, we still find ourselves not only visiting Covent Garden often, but always finding new things and writing about Covent Garden on a regular basis, so easy is it to be inspired by the architectural beauty, the boutique shopping, the art history, and the entertainment of Covent Garden.
Having afternoon tea for two in Covent Garden is more than ideal: Whittard manage to make it the quintessential afternoon tea experience. Covent Garden, after all, is home to literary pubs, a victorian toy shop, independent bookshops, and the London Royal Opera House. Having all of that encircling you as you enjoy the best afternoon tea in London offers enough joy for you to burst.
Whittard afternoon tea allows visitors to feel like they’re living in a Jane Austen novel. The quality of the food, the teas, and the prosecco, coupled with the historic and literary atmosphere that Covent Garden provides, makes for an unparalleled, charming, and utterly bookish experience unlike anything else available in London.
Also in Covent Garden
While you’re enjoying your afternoon tea for two in Covent Garden, make sure to take advantage of all the other delights that this area of central London has to offer. As we’ve said, there are few parts of London with as many charming cultural delights as Covent Garden.
Just outside Covent Garden, you’ll find the antiquarian bookseller Quinto Books, as well as the delightful independent comic book shop Orbital Comics. There’s also the original Stanford’s bookshop which is dedicated to travel books and international literature (our perfect bookshop). We’ve covered all of this and much more in our literary guide to Covent Garden.
If you’re staying in the area for a while after your afternoon tea for two, you might find yourself getting hungry as the sun goes down. In which case, Covent Garden has some of the best restaurants in London, including Rules (the oldest restaurant in London), Dishoom (the peak of Indian dining in London), and some great Japanese restaurants (including Wa and Yaki Yaki). We’ve covered all of these and more in our guide to the best Covent Garden restaurants.
Will predominantly writes about the books of Books and Bao, examining the literature of a place and how the authors have used the art of storytelling to reflect the world and the culture around them.