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File This For Your Next Trip to London: Take Afternoon Tea On a Vintage Routemaster London Bus As it Tours London – Review Inside

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When I first heard about this I knew I had to try it. I don’t know why it hadn’t been thought of before: combining a love of tea and cakes with the adoration of the old London Routemaster bus into a London Afternoon Tea Bus Tour.

BB Bakery have a bakery in Covent Garden and started the BB Afternoon Tea Bus Tour in April 2014. I tried the tour when it was still relatively new (they had only been running for ten weeks) so things will continue to develop and the team were really open to feedback.

The seating plan is available on their website and there are 11 tables in total for 2 or 4 guests. Larger parties can sit opposite each other as a group of 8 did when I was on-board. Do note that means some guests are facing backwards.

There is space between the backs of the seats so you won’t be leaning against other guests. And there is background music although this was drowned out by the happy chatter of the guests.

As there is table allocation at booking, the tables are prepared with your order before you sit down. You can order gluten-free and vegetarian options in advance. Children are welcome and get a slightly reduced rate.

Our table when we arrived.
Our table when we arrived.

My order got slightly muddled as I wanted gluten-free and vegetarian but I got one of each which meant some of the gluten-free sandwiches had meat and fish. As I was only trying the gf version and don’t have any allergies so it wasn’t difficult for me to swap some of the savouries with my daughter but do confirm your booking well if you need these options.

Vegetarian cake stand.
Vegetarian cake stand.
Gluten-free cake stand.
Gluten-free cake stand.

While the cake stand is ‘real’ we had plastic cutlery (fork, knife and dessert spoon), a paper napkin and a paper tablecloth so it felt a little like inflight dining or a picnic. There is a small mis-matched vintage-style plate each and a small bottle of orange juice was very welcome as it was hot on-board. Each table has four sunken cupholders which is very useful while travelling.

My daughter found it really hot on the bus but we did try this on one of the hottest days of the year. There was a portable air-conditioning unit but it didn’t seem to be very strong as we were closest and didn’t feel the benefit.

During boarding. The bus was full when we left.
During boarding. The bus was full when we left.


Once everyone was seated the rules for the journey were explained:

  • No walking on the bus while it’s moving.
  • No jumping off.
  • There are no toilets.

Then the tea and coffee menu was read out; I think it was five tea varieties and three coffee options too.

A member of staff came to take our tea order and then a large branded ceramic cup of hot water, covered with a rubber lid, is delivered with a teabag, milk carton and sugar sachet. It’s not classy but it’s definitely safest on the journey. More tea was offered twice during the tour.


The tea is by Betjeman and Barton, so a respected French brand. Once we’d brewed our tea there was nowhere to put our teabags though and we had a plastic dessert spoon rather than a teaspoon. This meant drippy teabags plonked on the cake stand which was a shame.

The Route

The bus left on time and it was, initially, a wobbly ride. We got the giggles watching our cakes wobble but we soon got used to the bumpiness.

You board the bus right by the London Eye so it’s an excellent, central location. Within minutes we were heading over Westminster Bridge and saw Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.


We went by Buckingham Palace and then over to Harrods and then the South Kensington museums. We saw Notting Hill and Hyde Park before Trafalgar Square and back to the London Eye.


There is no sightseeing commentary provided but there is a postcard map available for you to see the route.

We enjoyed waving to people walking by as lots stopped to look at the bus. When we pulled up beside a normal London bus many passengers on the upper deck waved back to us too.


Each cake stand had five savouries. The gluten-free choices included salmon on crispbread that my daughter thought was the best of all. I thought the gluten-free bread, on the cream cheese sandwiches, was exceptionally good as I’ve been trying lots of gf afternoon teas lately and I’d say this was the best for the sandwich bread.

The vegetarian savouries included a mini-quiche and a cream cheese & tomato blini.

Sweet Treats

There are four for each guest. The gluten-free options included two meringues with cream and fruit topping, a chocolate brownie and a coconut-based cake.

Excuse the blurry photo but it was a bit of a bumpy ride. But you can tell which is the gluten-free scone?
Excuse the blurry photo but it was a bit of a bumpy ride. But you can tell which is the gluten-free scone?

As we reached South Kensington, the scones were brought to the tables. There was one each plus a sealed pot of Rodda’s clotted cream and a small jar of Bonne Maman strawberry conserve (jam/jelly).


As you would expect, the gf scone was slightly drier tasting than the standard but both were good.


When we reached Marble Arch, macaroons were brought to the table with a choice of Vanilla, Pistachio or Citron.

And at Trafalgar Square little boxes were brought to the tables in case we’d like to take any of the cakes home. We packed them ourselves.

Saw it again on the way back. :)
Saw it again on the way back.

Towards the end of the journey, lemon-fresh wipes were offered which was a nice touch although it did feel a bit like we’d had KFC at that point.

Heading back over Westminster Bridge.
Heading back over Westminster Bridge.

When it’s time to disembark, the nearest toilets are at the Royal Festival Hall or in County Hall, under the London Eye ticket office.


I hope BB Bakery continue to do well with this Afternoon Tea Bus Tour. I would recommend changing the plastic cutlery and paper napkins and maybe providing a small bowl for the teabags and general mess that soon accumulates on the table. I’d also prefer a hot towel to wipe my hands but can see that this may well be difficult on a bus tour.

If you have a choice, I’d also recommend not booking on a super-hot day. My daughter thinks this would be even more fun on a rainy day as you’d feel even more blessed to be travelling along with tea and cakes.

Official Website: www.bbbakery.co.uk

Disclaimer: As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary services for review purposes. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

Laura Porter
Author: Laura Porter

Laura Porter writes AboutLondonLaura.com and contributes to many other publications while maintaining an impressive afternoon tea addiction. You can find Laura on Twitter as @AboutLondon, on Instagram as @AboutLondon and @AboutLondon Laura on Facebook.

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  1. Interesting concept, but I think £45 is a touch expensive, even for London. Interesting that the Routemaster is considered ‘vintage’. I can remember when Routemasters were new and replaced the old RT model. Guess that makes me vintage too.

    • Dave, I’m vintage too! I think the cost reflects the price of a sightseeing tour, the afternoon tea and something quite unique. It does seem like a high price but they are having no problems with bookings and most buses are going out full three times a day.

  2. I reckon £45 is extravagant but not excessive. It sounds like a lot of fun. Agree about the plastic cutlery. If it has to be disposable, wooden is less offensive! How long did the whole trip last for?

    • The journey is about 1.5 hours and takes in many landmark sights so could tick a lot of boxes for many visitors. There were moments when I felt as if I was trying to dine on a roller coaster as it was bumpy but it was also a lot of fun.

  3. Interesting idea but expensive for plastic spoons and tea bags. My first tea at the Ritz cost less . I would never go back there, not because of the food or the ambiance . A pair of young Japanese girls were seated nearby to our table, beautifully dressed up and obviously so excited to be having this experience at the Ritz which had to be booked way in advance back then . One got up to take a photograph of her friend holding her teacup and the maître d’ rushed, practically grabbed the camera and snarled at them & was so discourteous! I was appalled. I have always been sorry I did not sneak over and take a photo of both of them when his snooty back was turned. Yes, it was the Ritz but they presented themselves as practically the highlight of your London visit and then they treated guests like that. If no souvenir photos were allowed it should have clearly said so upon entering. That left a bad taste in my mouth and I never had a desire to return or to stay there as a guest.

    • Most afternoon tea venues, including five star hotels, are much more accepting of photographs these days. I’ve often found staff have offered to take photos as they know afternoon tea is often for a special occasion.

    • But you wouldn’t be travelling on a London iconic bus, past many of the sights, so that’s what the cost is covering. This isn’t hotel afternoon tea – it’s something very different. I don’t drink champagne or Champagne so don’t look for it with tea and cakes.

  4. I have booked this bus for a private party for 22 friends to celebrate my 50th Birthday, we all thought it sounded quite quirky and having had many afternoon teas at various hotels in London, this isn’t much more expensive to include a bus tour of London. So I am looking forward to it. I am bringing some bottles of Prosecco/champagne so my guests will have a champagne afternoon tea and a £5 corkage fee is charged, which still makes the champagne cheaper than a couple of glasses would normally cost in most London hotels.

    Is it easy to find where to meet the bus as I have been told it is on Belvedere Road, and see this is just beside County Hall not far from the London Eye?

    • How exciting! Yes, the meeting point for the bus is very easy find. It’s beside the park (Jubilee Gardens) next to the London Eye. You can see the London Eye from the bus meeting point. I hope you all have a wonderful trip.

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