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You could argue that the British Empire was built on the principle that ‘everything stops for tea’. There are still a few corners of England where this habit holds out, such as the cricket field: here are a few of the best places to take tea in London.

Any comments - or a suggestion for a London secret? Please e-mail me.

Afternoon Tea 1 2

Fortnum & Mason

St James Restaurant offers more than 100 different blends of tea, served in silver-rimmed delicate blue china cups while a pianist adds the perfect touch of style. As to dressing up, Fortnum 'kindly request that both sexes lean more towards elegance.'

181 Piccadilly W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7734 8040
www.fortnumandmason.com

Browns Hotel

Brown's is one of London's most historic hotels, being the first to open in 1837. A traditional afternoon tea is served in The English Tea Room to the sound of a Baby Grand Piano Room. Awarded 'Top London Afternoon Tea 2009' by The Tea Guild.

Albemarle Street W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7493 6020
Tube: Green Park

www.brownshotel.com

Grosvenor House

Anna's Afternoon Tea in the beautiful Park Room & Library here serves pretty finger sandwiches, cream filled pastries, French pastries and plain and raisin buttermilk scones. A selection of rare tea and a resident pianist complete the picture.

Park Lane W1
Tel: + 44 (0)20 7399 8452
Tube: Green Park
www.marriott.co.uk

The Langham

The Langham’s splendid Palm Court has been serving tea for more than 140 years, claiming to be the first grand hotel to do so, in 1865. Its etiquette guide suggests you should not hold your pinkie finger out when drinking tea: so please fold it back. ;)

1C Portland Place W1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7965 0195
Tube: Oxford Circus
www.palm-court.co.uk

The Lanesborough

Voted Best Afternoon Tea 2008 by the UK Tea Council, tea at Apsley's restaurant comes with all the trimmings. Karl Kessab, England's first tea sommelier, will steer you through the bewildering choice as you relax in the plush Venetian-style setting.

Hyde Park Corner SW1
Tel: +44 (0)20 7259 5599
Tube: Hyde Park Corner
www.lanesborough.com

The Goring

Served on the terrace, overlooking the garden, tea here comes on a silver stand with fresh sandwiches, home-made scones with Devon clotted cream and pastries. Winner of a British Tea Guild Council Award of Excellence in 2008 and 2009.

15 Beeston Place SW1
Tel:  +44 (0)20 7396 9000
Tube: Victoria
www.thegoring.com

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