There is just something about afternoon tea that feels so sophisticated and quintessentially British to an American in London. It is so much fun to get dressed up and enjoy a relaxing afternoon of tea, scones and sandwiches with your girlfriends. Luckily, if you’re gluten-free you can still partake in this lovely tradition. In fact, I’ve been on the hunt for the best gluten free afternoon tea in London, after finding Google not that helpful.
For anyone seeking a gluten-free afternoon tea experience in London, my top tip is to book your tea in advance and to make sure the venue knows you require a gluten-free tea in advance. This will help ensure that they have enough gluten-free items for your tea. I have booked several teas online through Bookatable or OpenTable and noted gluten-free in the comments and they have been able to accommodate my allergy each time.
I will update this list as I attend more teas in pursuit of the best gluten-free afternoon tea in London. In fact, I have one in the diary for the first week of December!
The Best Gluten Free Afternoon Tea in London
1. The Library Lounge at The London Marriott County Hall
London County Hall
Westminster Bridge Road, London, SE1 7PB
Tea and free-flowing champagne – £41 per person
I had really high hopes for tea at The Library Lounge and, dare I say, it exceeded expectations. We had tried to visit The Library Lounge in the spring on a whim for a drink with a view, but it was fully booked. When my best friend visited, it was time to try again.
I had previously had an excellent tea at the Grosvenor House, which is also a Marriott-owned hotel. I figured that The Library Lounge may just have the same gluten free scone distributor. The scones are a very important part of tea in my eyes, ha!
From start to finish, the experience was fantastic. The energy in the room was high as we were surrounded by big groups celebrating birthdays or just coming together over a spot of tea. To start, our waiter brought out a sample of their teas for us to smell, to help us choose the right brew.
Once we chose our teas, the champagne flutes were filled and the teapots came out with a cute little custard to start.
This was followed by the delivery of a towering tray of gluten-free delights. This tea offered the most variety of any of the gluten-free teas I have tried in London so far. Multiple types of gluten-free bread were served, as well as a mini gluten-free quiche. It was delicious.
The scones did not disappoint! They were indeed as delicious as those at the Park Room. Honestly, can you believe this is gluten-free?
The beautifully presented desserts were also quite varied and lovely.
The room is warm and inviting, the views of Big Ben cannot be beat and the gluten-free options available are as yet unrivalled in my gluten-free afternoon tea search. I highly recommend an afternoon at The Library Lounge in the beautiful Old County Hall.
2. Park Room at Grosvenor House
Park Lane, London, W1K 7TN
Tea and free-flowing champagne – £49 per person
When my dear friend Sarah visited, I booked us a tea at The Park Room. Somehow I knew they offered a gluten-free tea, and the location and the deal I found were too good to pass up. Mayfair sophistication and a view of Hyde Park would be the perfect setting for tea with Sarah.
I booked the afternoon tea on Bookatable, which got us a great deal and free-flowing champagne (why not!). When we arrived, the waitress told me that she had heard that the Park Room has the best gluten free scones in all of London. Her personality did not seem presumptuous or boastful, so I had faith in her word. When the scones were served – wow! They were so, so good and the reason this tea gets #2 on this list. Go and be amazed.
The Park Room is so beautiful and the servers working that day were so friendly and helpful. We barely finished something when they were right there offering us more food or more champagne – they demanded we take more cake home with us. We were happy to oblige, and they offer a gluten-free chocolate cake.
Oh my gosh, they are truly the best gluten-free scones I’ve found in London. Unlike some of the more touristy spots on this list, the room wasn’t full and the service was impeccable. I highly, highly recommend this tea.
3. GONG at The Shard
31 St. Thomas Street, London, SE1 9QU
GONG Afternoon Tea – £56 per person
Wow. Talk about ambiance! This afternoon tea is high drama from the moment you step off the elevators onto the 52nd floor. The views are stunning.
I booked afternoon tea at GONG at The Shard when my cousin Casey came to visit. I figured afternoon tea with a view might be a treat. We got a table overlooking Tower Bridge and it was simply stunning.
The tea was delicious! I liked GONG’s actual tea menu the best of the menus I have seen. I chose the Welcome Tea, which was a white tea with apricots. There is definitely a Chinese influence on the tea menu that I really enjoyed.
The gluten-free scones were fabulous as were the treats they made gluten-free. I had some of the same ones as the regular tea, but also an incredible chocolate mousse cake and a carrot cake topped with strawberries. They did not give me all of the finger sandwiches included in the regular tea, but I enjoyed my selection nevertheless. I appreciated that their selection had less mayo focused sandwiches!
My cousin enjoyed her regular tea and the posh atmosphere really made this tea feel special! It was a beautiful setting for a fabulous tea. I have one pro-tip/warning: if you are thinking about booking a gluten free afternoon tea at Gong at The Shard, check the weather! If it is foggy, you may not get the same stunning view.
4. DUKES Hotel
35 St. James, London, SW1A 1NY
DUKES Afternoon Tea – £32.50 per person
This girl can’t turn down a good deal! When I found a Travelzoo deal for afternoon tea at DUKES Hotel, I jumped at the chance to enjoy an afternoon of tea and sandwiches with my new London friends on a budget. Sadly, the deal is no longer valid.
DUKES is adorable. Hidden away down a side street in St. James, DUKES Hotel has beautiful dark wood features and the tea room is just darling. We were lucky to have a little alcove all to ourselves. I called in advance to see if they could accommodate my gluten allergy and they were happy to on just a day’s notice.
The gluten free pastries were great, as were the sandwiches, which were served open-faced when gluten free. It was very relaxing, the service was good and they did not rush us – I think we were there for five hours!
It was lovely, but what I didn’t know then was that the bar at DUKES Hotel is said to have been the hangout for the author of James Bond and the location that inspired “shaken not stirred.” I will definitely need to go back to get one of their famous martinis but have yet to find a time when there isn’t a huge queue!
5. The Dorchester
53 Park Lane, London, W1K 1QA
Traditional Afternoon Tea – £55
This tea is the ultimate afternoon tea for British sophistication. The Dorchester is simply stunning. Located right across the street from Hyde Park, there is just something about this hotel that feels special.
We chose The Dorchester especially for an Easter Day afternoon tea with Andrew’s family. It did not disappoint. Afternoon tea at is served in the Promenade, which is beautifully draped in gorgeous fabrics that add to the feeling of luxury.
The service was fabulous and much friendlier than I may have expected from such a nice hotel. We started off with the finger sandwiches which were so lovely. They were all too happy to offer you more!
The desserts they provided were absolutely beautiful and delicious. The regular teas came with Easter-themed treats that were almost too cute to eat!
The Dorchester falls at #5 on the gluten free scale because the gluten-free scones were the stereotypical gluten-free substitute – small, bland, crumbly. They were similar to old school gluten free rolls from which most restaurants have since upgraded. I admit it, I’m being tough on the Dorchester because everything else was excellent.
More to come…
I will continue to update this post as I attend more teas! Do you have a favourite that is one of the best gluten free afternoon tea in London? Please let me know which ones I should check out!