Fortnum and Mason, London: afternoon tea review
Expect duck egg blue chinaware, immaculate finger sandwiches, and whole pots of jam at this traditional afternoon tea
Looking for afternoon tea in London? Read our review of Fortum and Mason afternoon tea, then check out more best London afternoon tea reviews here.
Fortnum & Mason afternoon tea review
Head to Fortnum & Mason for a traditional afternoon tea, taken in the elegant top-floor salon opened by HM The Queen to mark her Diamond Jubilee. Crisp white linen is complemented by the store’s signature blue-green ‘Eau de Nil’ chinaware and soft padded seating. The ceilings are a little low, but decorated with pretty chandeliers.
A (small) wait in the foyer, where you can enjoy the tinkling of a grand piano playing show tunes, is worth it for the pitch-perfect finger sandwiches – not a curling corner in sight, and filled with the usual suspects, only far more luxurious: Suffolk cured ham with piccalilli, and rare bread hen egg with cress. Thick slices of soft smoked salmon, available in Fortnum’s food hall downstairs, are also excellent…
Plain and fruit scones come warm, fluffy and served with whole pots of spread – the best of which was a velvety lemon curd (available to buy in the food hall) – and even more clotted cream. Individual patisseries change with the seasons, with standouts including a subtly floral rose éclair, a modern take on Eton mess and lighter-than-air meringue topped with fresh berries. These are followed by more sweet treats chosen from the cake carriage (this time serious cakes, such as battenberg and matcha layer cake).
There’s an option to choose a savoury afternoon tea (think courgette and thyme scones with whipped ricotta, oeufs drumkilbo and quail scotch egg in place of cakes) or even a ‘high tea’, that includes something more substantial such as lobster omelette with truffle or welsh rarebit, followed by scones and patisseries.
Tea options are vast, with over 50 different varieties available – make the most of the F&M tea ‘sommeliers’ to get the right cup; we tried the famous smoky Earl Grey (the original blend to be sold at Fortnum’s and The Queen’s personal favourite); a sweet and floral New Zealand oolong; and an unusual sparkling tea. The champagne list is similarly extensive, with highlights including a light Brut rosé, Fortnum’s Brut Sparkling from Cornwall and a perfectly smooth Blanc de Blancs.
Service is discreet yet sharp, with waiters striking a balance between topping up your tea and giving you space to enjoy your three tiers of treats. If possible, get a corner table by the window furthest away from the reception area for maximum people watching potential.
Star of the show: smoked salmon sandwiches and lemon curd
Scone rating: 8/10
Perfect for: traditionalists, or potentially savoury-minded people
Price: £62.50 for afternoon tea with a pot of Fortnum’s Tea; £62.50 for vegetarian afternoon tea with a pot of Fortnum’s Tea; £65 for savoury afternoon tea with a pot of Fortnum’s tea; £68 for high tea with a pot of Fortnum’s tea.
Words by Charlotte Morgan and Helen Salter