I can’t be the only one who enjoys a nice cup of tea and a small pastry while catching up on studying or reading. There’s plenty of spots in central London hidden away from the buzz of tourists and busy work commuters; some are found right under your nose. In this list, you’ll find the tranquility and inspiration that only a high tea meal and small tea shops can offer, a quiet nest for your productivity. The best part? These places all have items on the menu within a student’s budget, or a little bit higher if you want to treat yourself after a stressful week.
- Bea’s of Bloomsbury
Located at the One Square shopping center near St Paul’s Cathedral, this high tea parlor not only offers a great opportunity to people-watch, but also comfy seating on the second level to work in a quiet area. Bea’s also has locations in Marylebone and Russell Square. This place falls on the ‘treat yourself’ section of the list, as the wait for food may be a while, but you can be assured it will please your taste buds. Beas by Bloomsbury offers brunch in the morning, a small cream tea and high tea, or you can choose from the mouth watering cakes and treats in the dessert case.
A brunch at Bea’s can range from £7.00-11.50 for the full English. A small cream tea costs an easy 9 pounds, while the full high tea can be up to £30. They also have a nice wine selection to choose from. For the tea enthusiast, the lights are shaped like tea kettles!
- Peggy Porschen
Easily London’s most famous tea parlour on Instagram, Peggy Porschen lies in the hustle and bustle near Victoria Station. It’s not hard to miss with its bright pink exterior, a land of marshmallow cloud dreams inside. If you’ve ever dreamed of being a princess and having tea at a fancy cafe, this is the place for you. With the tea shop’s popularity, expect a bit of a wait time. Sometimes it can take up to 30 minutes to get a table inside, but you can usually always get a seat outside, or get a yummy treat for takeaway.
It’s worth popping by this shop as the seasons change, because their menu and decorations change along with them. Last Halloween, they served adorable ghost cupcakes, which were replaced by sugar coated penguins and polar bears around Christmas time.
Head over to Instagram at @peggyporshcenofficial to drool over their beautiful, pink frosted cakes, which they sell by the slice. Tea for one is priced at just £3, cold and hot drinks for £3-4, and a wide range of cupcake flavors for £3.50 each.
- Waterstones Cafe
If Peggy Porschen wasn’t quiet enough, head over to Piccadilly Circus. Hidden in the hustle and bustle is Waterstones Piccadilly, boasting not only six floors worth of books and hideaway places to work or read, but there’s also a tiny cafe on the ground floor. They serve a brilliant tea selection, sandwiches, loaf cakes and pastries starting from £2.50. The tea is brought in a vintage tea kettle. There’s a few spaces for board games like chess, and it’s a great place to meet with friends.
If views of London are more your thing, head upstairs to the busy restaurant offering a stunning view of the London Eye and the Thames at night. This is slightly more expensive than the downstairs cafe, but they’ll allow you to sit and write for a long time. High tea costs £15 with a homemade cake, scone and jam and choice of tea. A mini cream tea is more affordable at £6.50. They also serve desserts priced at £4.50, starters from £6.00, and mains from £9.50.
- Fortnum and Mason
This luxury tea shop also lies in Piccadilly Circus or at the Royal Exchange. It’s a popular destination around the holidays, selling mountains of tea in neat packages, a huge selection of bon bons and small treats, a food hall with sweets from around the world, homeware, wine, and best of all, a chocolate library.
This tea chain is definitely more on the expensive side, with a nice dress code to par. I could spend hours walking along their tea selections and still find something new in pretty teal packaging. This shop is perfect if you need some tea for your dorm; they sell tins of small tea packs from £4.95, loose leaf caddys from £12.95, from black, green, oolong infusions and sparkling tea flavors.
- British Library
At first glance, this might seem like an odd choice. But with a bookshop that sells cute stationary, reading rooms, many many desk spaces sprawled across the different levels and a cafe, this is a nice, quiet place for work and a snack. Be sure to get here early, because this is a very popular place for students, and most tables are gone by noon. The library has free tours, boasts the Alan Turing Room, and has a massive shelf in the middle filled with huge old books reminiscent of the Restricted Section from Harry Potter. There’s a couple options in the area for food that are a short walk away from the nearest tube station, Kings Cross. The Terrace Restaurant offers tea and cakes all day, with a Terrace Cafe inside the library levels, and Origin Coffee on the ground floor. Prices at the indoor cafes start at £1.95, with drinks and tea from £1-2.
- Sweet Mile End
A very popular hang out spot for Queen Mary students, Sweet Mile End is where to go for your sugar cravings. The best part? It’s about a five minute walk from the Queen Mary campus, just by Stephney Green station. The cafe is often most popular around midday and the start of the evening, but you’ll usually always find a seat. If you want a bit more of a quiet space, Sweet has a sun room in the back where a beautiful pink cherry tree sits in the middle of the tables, all spaced out to give you a bit of privacy to work. This is also a great place for meet ups or celebrations with friends.
The tea menu here has your classic chamomile, but paired with a waffle topped with ice cream, brownie sundaes, crepes and cheesecakes, this bustling shop has just about every dessert you could need after a long day. Dishes can range from £7 for pancakes, £8 for waffles, or singular brownies and ice cream scoops from £5.