Afternoon Tea at the British Museum: Is it Worth It?

white teapot from the British Museum afternoon tea
by Anisa // 0 Comments

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.

Note: This post contains affiliate links.   Please see disclosure for more information.

two levels of the tiered afternoon tea with glass of proseco
We were excited to try the 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.  

exterior of the british museum, large building with columns
The British Museum is huge with so much to see inside.

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

view of people sitting at tables inside the great court restaurant
You can dine close to the iconic Great Court roof.

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. 

tiered tray of the afternoon tea that is served at the british museum great court restaurant
The British Museum Afternoon Tea looked delicious!

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.

the tier tray with afternoon tea, tea cup and glass of proseco
We decided to treat ourselves and get the glass of prosseco.

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 four different sandwiches we had at our afternoon tea at the british museum
These are not your average sandwiches.

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.  

roast beef sandwich - the bread has an orange tint to it
You can tell by the color of the bread, this is not your typical roast beef sandwich.

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.

cheese and chutney sandwick with a bite taken out of it
Good quality ingredients can make simple sandwiches special.

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.

close up of 4 scones and two little jars of jam
They are generous with the scones for afternoon tea at the British Museum.

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.

all the desserts that came as part of the afternoon tea on a floral plate
The pastries were almost too pretty to eat.

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.

small piece of carrot cake topped with a ribbon of white frosting and pistachios
I liked how they did the icing and added some pistachios to the carrot cake.

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.

close up of the choix dessert with one bite taken out of it so you can see the cream inside
The choix was creative, different, and tasty.

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.

close up of meringue tart on floral plate
This tart reminded me of lemon meringue pie but it has rhubarb.

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. 

small chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting and pieces of nuts on top
You can’t really go wrong with chocolate (in my opinion).

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.

scone cut in half with cream and jam
The scones with clotted cream and jam are my favorite part of afternoon tea.

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.

view looking across the glass bridge into the great court restaurant
There is a bridge to the Great Court Restaurant that connects it to Level 3 of the British Museum.

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.

empty table inside the great court restaurant
The setting and the food make the afternoon tea at the British Museum appealing.

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.

close up of tea cup (with tea) on saucer with teapot next to it. There are scones in the background
We enjoyed our afternoon tea at 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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view of the great court restaurant at the british museum where you can enjoy afternoon tea

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Last Updated on April 2, 2024

About the Author

Anisa is an experienced international traveler with extra pages in her passport and stamps from 41 different countries across 5 continents (and counting). She was born and raised in Texas. After a 13 year stint in NYC, she moved to England to live with her husband.