When it comes to afternoon tea in London, there seem to be almost an unlimited amount of options. You could go to one of the luxury hotels or fancy restaurants, but maybe you want to try something a little different.
Did you know that the British Museum offers afternoon tea in their Great Court Restaurant? You will want to visit the British Museum to see its world renowned collection, but should you have afternoon tea too?
We recently had afternoon tea at the British Museum. Read our review to find out if it’s worth it.
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- About the British Museum
- The Setting for Afternoon Tea at the British Museum
- The Food and Drink at Afternoon Tea at the British Museum
- The British Museum Afternoon Tea FAQs
- Overall Review of the British Museum’s Afternoon Tea
- Is Afternoon Tea at the British Museum Worth it?
- Expert Tips for Afternoon Tea at the British Museum
About the British Museum
The British Museum is one of the largest and most popular museums in the world. It was founded in 1753 and opened its doors in 1759. The galleries cover human history, culture, and art across almost 2 million years.
No other museum has a permanent collection with the same depth and breadth, beauty and significance. Typically they have more than 9,000 objects from their collection of eight million objects on display.
Located by Russell Square in Central London, it is free to see the British Museum’s vast permanent collection. In addition to the permanent collection, there are always interesting special exhibitions to see at the British Museum like the World of Stonehenge, but there may be an admission fee.
The Setting for Afternoon Tea at the British Museum
As you might guess, The Great Court Restaurant where they serve afternoon tea is located in the British Museum’s Great Court. It’s not just out in the open though, it’s a bit hidden above the Reading Room just under the iconic glass roof designed by Fosters and Partners.
This is not your typical museum cafe. It’s a refined escape from the crowds. This is the type of place you go to treat yourself.
If you don’t want to have afternoon tea, they also offer cream tea, sandwiches, cakes, and even a three-course lunch.
The Food and Drink at Afternoon Tea at the British Museum
Shortly before our reservation time, we decided to make our way to the Great Court Restaurant. We followed the signs up the curved staircase. Once we were at the top we headed to the hostess stand and were promptly seated at a table for two.
We decided to treat ourselves to the Prosecco afternoon tea which was £30 per person. The menu was a bit different than your average afternoon tea. The chefs had definitely put some thought into it.
Along with our glasses of Prosecco, we each had our teapots. As usual, Russell got English Breakfast tea and I had Earl Grey. They also had a few other tempting options including Ginger and Lemon, Oriental Sencha, Peppermint, Chamomile, Rooibos & Orange, and Strawberry & Mango.
Our food came out quickly on a tiered-tray that matched our teacups and pots. The sandwiches were on the top level and the scones were on the bottom. The middle layer had the pastries.
We each had four different sandwiches. Some were the standard sandwiches you might expect at afternoon tea but made to a high standard and some had a bit of a twist. The breads were also quite colorful.
The cucumber sandwich had a black truffle creme fraiche. I know some people are not fans of truffle, but it’s one of my favorite flavors. It was subtle here so I think everyone will enjoy it.
I enjoyed the crunch of the carrot and celeriac slaw in the roast beef sandwich. It was also a good flavor combination.
The cheese and chutney sandwich used cheddar cheese from Keen’s, which is a traditional artisan cheese maker in Somerset. The farmhouse chutney complimented the cheese well.
I think the best sandwich was the crab. It had just the right amount of mayonnaise. Not your plain mayonnaise either as it had dill and seaweed which worked well with the seafood.
Then it was time for the scones. Some afternoon teas come with only one scone, but this one came with two. There was the Somerset butter scone and the Earl Grey tea-soaked raisin scone. While both were delicious with the clotted cream and jam, the Earl Grey one stood out, I liked the gentle spiced flavor.
Finally, we turned our attention to the pastries. It was hard to decide where to start because everything looked amazing. There was a Yorkshire rhubarb burnt meringue tart, hazelnut proline and clementine choix, spiced carrot cake with cream cheese frosting, and chocolate ganache almond and coffee sponge.
Carrot cake is one of my favorite desserts, so I decided to start there. I loved how the cream cheese frosting balances the spice and the pistachios were a pleasant addition.
The choix looked different than anything I think I have eaten before. It had a creamy filling with a fresh citrus taste which was light and refreshing.
The meringue tart reminded me of a mini lemon meringue pie in both the way it looked and how it tasted. The rhubarb flavor was sweet with just a touch of tartness.
Chocolate is always a nice way to end a meal. It was satisfying and not too rich. We were pretty full but were able to finish everything.
While we wanted to enjoy our break from the museum and not be rushed, we did have more that we wanted to see. It took a little effort to get the staff’s attention to get our check, then we were back exploring more of the British Museum.
The British Museum Afternoon Tea FAQs
Do you need to book afternoon tea at the British Museum in advance?
It’s a good idea to book your afternoon tea in advance as the Great Court Restaurant is popular. If you wait until your visit you could be disappointed.
How much is the British Museum afternoon tea?
Afternoon tea at the British Museum is £24 or £30 if you would like to add a glass of prosecco like we did.
Can they cater to dietary restrictions for afternoon tea at the British Museum?
They can do afternoon teas for some special dietary needs (i.e. vegetarian, pescatarian. and nut free) but you will need to give at least 24 hours notice. Unfortunately, they don’t generally offer gluten-free, dairy-free, lactose-free, Halal, or vegan afternoon tea.
How do you get to the Great Court Restaurant without climbing stairs?
The main way to get to the Great Court Restaurant is the stairs in the center of the Great Court. If you aren’t up for doing those stairs, you can take the lift by the North Stairs to level 3 where there is a bridge that takes you right to the entrance of the restaurant.
Overall Review of the British Museum’s Afternoon Tea
We enjoyed our afternoon tea at the British Museum. It was a nice break from our day browsing more of the museum’s collection.
The menu was creative and the quality (and quantity) of the food was excellent. The setting was unique because you are close to the amazing roof of the Great Court.
Considering you are in Central London, the price is reasonable. The service could have been better but it didn’t detract from the experience.
Overall, it’s definitely one of the best meals I have had at a museum.
(Another memorable one was lunch at The Modern at MOMA in New York and that was quite a bit more expensive.)
Is Afternoon Tea at the British Museum Worth it?
Yes. When you compare the price of afternoon tea at the British Museum to other afternoon teas in London it is actually pretty affordable. Plus, the location is quite special. You can feel good that the money you spend at the Great Court Restaurant supports the British Museum.
The other consideration is time. Afternoon tea should not be rushed! If you only have a few hours and its your first visit to the British Museum, it might be better to grab a quick bite so that you can have more time to see the museum’s treasures.
Have you had afternoon tea at the British Museum or any other museum? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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Last Updated on March 6, 2023