Six of the best British afternoon teas

FORTNUM AND MASON, PICCADILLY LONDON

This is a classic, served with suitable pomp and circumstance in the elegant Tea Salon of this Piccadilly emporium. The two-tier afternoon tea offers five dainty finger sandwiches including a punchy Scotch smoked salmon with tartare dressing and an intriguing rare breed hen's egg with mayo and watercress. Scones – plain and fruit – come with clotted cream, strawberry preserve and lemon curd, and there's a selection of pastries from the trolley. The tea list of 100 brews is a connoisseur's wish list, as you might expect from a providore that has been serving tea to Londoners since 1707. There are no less than five orange pekoe teas alone. There's also a children's tea menu – jammy dodger biscuits anyone? See fortnumandmason.com

THE ROSEBERY AT THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL HOTEL, LONDON

The setting suggests a proper toff's high tea at this stylish Knightsbridge hotel ... but wait ... there's something different about this one. Alongside the scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam, the Mandarin Oriental references its Asian heritage in the spicy tuna with wasabi, chicken with shiitake mushrooms, and salmon with teriyaki asparagus and roasted sesame sandwiches served at its afternoon tea. The tea menu is modest but refreshing for those not looking for complicated choices, and there's the option to spice up your afternoon with a glass of bubbly, wine, beer or sake. See mandarinoriental.com

COWORTH PARK, ASCOT, BERKSHIRE

Refined, patrician and British to its bootstraps, afternoon tea at this Georgian manor is well worth the one-hour drive west from London. Served in the hushed and elegant Drawing Room, with views of a wildflower meadow, Coworth Park's afternoon tea is as comforting as old slippers. It features roast beef finger sandwiches with mustard mayo and prawns with lettuce, black forest cake, a pecan brownie and blood orange with buttermilk mousse. The arbiters of afternoon tea excellence approve, and Coworth Park took out the prize for the Best Traditional Afternoon Tea at the 2018 Afternoon Tea Awards. Royal watchers note, Coworth Park hosted Prince Harry on his last night as a bachelor. See dorchestercollection.com

ROSEWOOD LONDON, HIGH HOLBORN STREET, LONDON

The grand Edwardian facade might suggest stiff-upper-lip Britain but the Rosewood's Art Afternoon Tea takes the taste buds into fantasyland. Executive pastry chef Mark Perkins crafts eye-popping, Instagrammable pastries inspired by some of the luminaries of the art world. Past subjects have included Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Alexander Calder, Banksy and Mark Rothko. The current afternoon tea pays tribute to Vincent van Gogh and coincides with The EY Exhibition: Van Gogh and Britain which is on at Tate Britain until August 11. The overture to the symphonic pastry collection includes a salmon vol-au-vent with caviar and an egg and watercress sandwich, plus the obligatory scones with elderflower jam, with a selection of Mariage Freres teas. The hotel's sumptuous, theatrical Mirror Room creates a razzle-dazzle backdrop. See rosewoodhotels.com

THE BINGHAM HOTEL, RICHMOND

Pretty gardens filled with bird sounds bring a generous infusion of country style to this smartly tailored riverside retreat on London's western outskirts. The triple-tier afternoon tea is a true-Brit affair with ham hock and honey mustard sandwiches alongside oak-smoked salmon with dill and cream cheese, followed by plain and fruit scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, lemon meringue pie and a caramelised apple and cream choux pastry. If the sun is shining, sit outside on the riverside balcony above the lounge bar for lovely views over the Thames. See thebingham.co.uk

LUCKNAM PARK, COLERNE, CHIPPENHAM, WILTSHIRE

Set in a vast parkland just 10 kilometres from Bath, this 18th-century Palladian mansion is British country house living at its finest. Roll up for a full-blooded afternoon tea that smacks strongly of tradition, served in the music room, library or drawing room overlooking the gardens or, weather permitting, on the terrace. It's an ever-changing selection of dainty finger sandwiches, cakes and pastries that reflects an appreciation for fresh, seasonal local produce. It's also classy – Lucknam Park's fine-dining restaurant has a Michelin star, and afternoon tea lives up to that promise. See lucknampark.co.uk

Michael Gebicki was a guest of Visit Britain.

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