tate modern cafe

The Best London Museum Cafe for Afternoon Tea – Instagrammed

There are very few things I like to do more than wandering inside a museum in a couple of hours followed by afternoon tea with a piece of scone or cake. Mmmmm it’s truly London at its best.

As both a museum and an afternoon tea junkie I’m always on the lookout for great museum cafes. While most of them are good, some are rather below standard (I’m looking at you British Library… although I guess strictly speaking it’s not a museum).

So what is my favorite?

National Gallery Cafe

National Gallery is both my favorite museum and its cafe my favorite place for afternoon tea. There was a period of time when I just went almost every single week. The gallery is fantastic to get lost in, the sitting cafe is never too crowded, the waiters are nice (they even started to recognize me), the tea is proper, the scone is great – even the clotted cream and jam is top notch!, and on the weekend there’s real piano playing in the room.

national gallery cafe

I would stay for an hour or two, just drinking, eating, reading, listening to the piano player, and just generally enjoying the atmosphere very much.

National Gallery heart cake

the Victorian sponge cake to share for two

National Gallery was my to-go place for a long time. It is still an old favorite, but recently I have also loved going to:

Tate Modern Cafe

tate modern cafe

OMG look at that view. Need I say more?

Tate Modern top floor cafe view overlooking Thames, Millennium Bridge, and the gorgeous, the majestic, the iconic St Paul is really hard to beat! The tea and scone are good (though National Gallery’s is still better). They have cake of the day which you can ask about in advance and order if it takes your fancy, instead of the usual scone.

Tate Modern unfortunately is located rather awkwardly in the middle of a few stations, that it’s not the most convenient museum/cafe to go to. And for me personally, the east location is less attractive than the west museums (National Gallery, and all South Kensington museums) as I live in the west. Also I prefer classical art compared to modern art.

If you intend to visit Tate Modern, the best itinerary is to go via London Bridge station, drop by at the Borough Market (said to be the best market in London), walk to Tate Modern (around 15 minutes), spend a few hours at the museum, then walk back home via Millennium Bridge (again, fantastic view of St Paul along the bridge) to St Paul station (around 20 minutes).

millennium bridge

Walking on a bridge doesn’t get much better than this, no?

Do you have a favorite museum cafe?

The Traveling Reader
I left home when I was 17 and never stop exploring the world since. Most days I'm a digital technician at one of the London's biggest visual effects studio. My alternate persona writes and travels and dreams of doing these as a living. I alternately call myself Indonesian or Australian whichever is more beneficial at the time, and I've been a Londoner since 2011.