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Tea for two, or three, or four -perfect in genteel Kensington borough



If sugar confections are your thing, or eating like Stella McCartney or Kate Moss then afternoon tea in Kensington will be the perfect activity during your stay in London. At Peggy Porschen's Parlour you can tick off all the above and enjoy deliciously freshly baked cakes. If your taste is slightly more American, then the Hummingbird Bakery will serve you very well, branches can be found right across London and as concessions but the one on Church St in South Kensington is a heaven of swirled butter cream topping and light spongy cup cakes. The Goring won the award for London tea venue of the year from the UK tea guild which on top of its 104 year history of serving tea makes it a great place to sample, with tea gathered from the foothills of the Himalayas. At Blakes, you can find almost sushi like boxes of finger sandwiches along with delicious slabs of plum cake, chocolate cake and freshly baked scones with big glass jars of whipped cream, marinated strawberries and jams. 

Afternoon tea can also make you feel like a Prince or Princess, so taking tea in Kensington Palace or at the Orangery in Kensington gardens makes for a great London experience. But if you're feeling more virtuous, then Down to Earth will bring you back down to earthy ethical roots and provide a vegetarian or vegan experience of tea and cake.


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The Orange is a public house and hotel which has been elegantly furnished and restored. Its the kind of place that would make you feel as though you are in the house that you would live in if only you could afford it, a kind of elegant home from home. This being a hotel, with four beautiful rooms, the Orange offers a haven to stop off and enjoy afternoon tea in between shopping in Kensington and Knightsbridge or seeing museums and art galleries like the Tate on the Pimlico Road. The place also does, breakfast, lunch and dinner, and so this is a definite contemporary take on the idea of afternoon tea, not so much finger food sandwiches as delicious desserts and savoury snacks, or even a wood fired pizza if you so desire, topped off with light teas and punchy coffees.




Patisserie Valerie is a great French inspired bakery chain in London and its premises on Kensington Church St is a perfect place for a French twist on the Afternoon tea theme, which suits Kensington down to the ground since the borough is home to the largest population of French people outside France in Europe. Here you will find the French Lycee and all sorts of important French people running businesses and going about life in London, so Patisserie Valerie is like stepping off the London streets and in to a beautiful chintzy French bakery. Eating and drinking here will transport you if these are the kinds of cakes you like, and best of all, you can have coffee or tea here and not feel bad if you are not a tea freak.




Originally designed as a greenhouse in Kensington Gardens and approved by Queen Anne, this window-lined, 18th-century building is surrounded by neatly manicured gardens and towering shrubs. It also serves a fine breakfast and a great afternoon tea. A long, white-brick room lined with statues and dramatic Corinthian columns houses a fine brunch buffet of sponge cake, fruit scones, clotted cream, champagne, smoked salmon, croissants, soups, and rich Belgian chocolate cake. Teatime brings out many of the same dishes, along with delicate finger sandwiches and breads. The perfect stopping off point during a walk in the park, and a prelude perhaps to a night at the Royal Albert Hall, or a great shopping spree in Knightsbridge or Notting Hill. TUBE: High Street Kensington


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Gallery Mess is attached to the Saatchi gallery on the Kings Road in South Kensington. Perhaps not surprisingly for a man who used to be married to the celebrity chef, Nigella Lawson, Gallery Mess does great food and offers up a very nice alternative place for afternoon tea, with cool contemporary lines and not so much of the chintz and flowers that often accompanies afternoon tea in Britain. Here you'll find continental pastries and pattiserie along with a wide range of tea and coffee to accompany your choice of goodies. You don't need to just have afternoon tea here, Gallery Mess does food all day, but either before or after browsing the gallery itself, it's a great place to stop off and enjoy this British institution.




Like many of the luxury five star hotels in London, Blakes offers a great afternoon tea, and indeed, food and drink at almost any time of day. This is afternoon tea with a Chinese twist, and is served in their subterranean 'Chinese room' all dark woods, gleaming silver tea pots and elegance. If Chinese beauty doesn't take your fancy, and the weather is clement enough, then you can also take tea in the stunning Japanese garden. There are beautiful, almost sushi like, boxes of colourfully filled finger sandwiches garnished with little pots of cress and other tiny pretty salad leaves. Perfect freshly baked scones, pots of rich cream and little jars of fresh strawberry jams. Fresh marinated strawberries, great slabs of chocolate cake, and delicate plum cakes finish off the sumptuous spread.




Kensington Palace does a great Afternoon tea, and the place is also a perfect place to just sit back and relax and unwind. Afternoon tea was apparently first created by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford to combat that dreaded afternoon slump in between the two main meals of the day, breakfast and dinner at around 8pm. So, as the story goes, she asked for tea to be taken in her boudoir with a light snack, and the idea took off. Given that history, what better place to take tea in Kensington than in Kensington Palace itself, surrounded by beautiful gardens after swanning around the palace and pretending that you are a princess yourself.




Down to Earth is a great place to eat an alternative type of afternoon tea in Kensington. This is an organic, vegetarian and vegan market and cafe. All packaging here is biodegradeable and carefully thought out, so the ethic of waste not want not is very present. In fact, as the website itself lays out, all the by products from their kitchen goes to feed their cows at their farm in Harrow in West London. This place shows that vegan and vegetarian food can be highly indulgent and delicious, with layered cakes dripping with creamy fillings and light spongy chocolate layers. There are even raw food options for those who want to feel hugely healthy but still enjoy an afternoon stop off, and there are plenty of savoury options too.




The Hummingbird Bakery is just one of a batch of delicious bakery and cupcake shops in London and across the UK. Serving up delicious butter cream topped cupcakes and various other things, this is about the American kind of cupcake, soft light sponge in various flavours and huge amounts of soft sugary topping. The bakery is very popular among ladies who lunch in Knightsbridge and no doubt its sugar confections also appear at many a child's birthday party in that part of the world. At Halloween the bakery does lots of ghoulish themed cupcakes, gravestones on top of muddy paths, pumpkins, ghosts and ghouls. At Christmas similiarly suitable themes abound. There are the usual red velvet and vanilla cupcakes, chocolate ones, black bottomed ones, which, if you're interested are dense chocolate cupcakes with a cheesecake centre and a frosted creamcheese topping and carrot cake.




Peggy Porschen Cakes is a bespoke cake company which will cater for any event and produces the most amazing window display that you could imagine, with tall sugary confections transporting you to fairy lands this is all about creating works of art in sugary. Peggy counts royals and many celebrities among her client list so you are in very good company if you decide to take afternoon tea here. According to her website, her cakes have graced the weddings of Kate Moss and Stella McCartney's weddings. They are present at Elton John's White Tie and Tiara balls and Sir Anthony Hopkins 70th birthday party. In 2010, the bakery opened up The Parlour so you can enjoy Peggy's own blended teas based on flavours found in her kitchen along with delicious slices of fresh cake and cookies.




The Goring has been serving its very own brand of "quintessentially English" afternoon tea ever since it opened way back in 1910. There is a huge range of teas, from delicate leaves gathered at the foot of the himalayas to strong British "brews" for those of you who like the stronger stuff to accompany slithers of cake. In 2013, the Goring was awarded a great accolade from the UK Tea council Tea Guild, gaining the title of "Top London afternoon tea award". The Goring says that these awards are considered to be the "oscars" of the tea world and hugely coveted. At the Goring, the sandwiches will often come with a seasonal twist, so for instance around Christmas time you'll find turkey, cranberry and mayonaise, honey glazed ham with mustard mayonaise and the ubiquitous egg and cress and cucumber.


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Meet Emma Wallis

London gives Emma a warm fuzzy feeling every time she gets back to her home city. As a writer and broadcaster she travels extensively round Europe and the world, but is always happy to return to...  More About Emma

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