Planning on visiting the UK? Afternoon tea is an absolute must! A great British tradition dating back to the early 19th century, and a fantastic excuse to indulge in a few sweet treats. Relax with friends over a selection of finger sandwiches, delicious cakes and of course a scone or two. In the UK you won’t be short of a tea room (believe me), as well as many top hotels also cottoning onto the reinvigorated trend of afternoon tea.
So where to seek the finest afternoon tea experiences in the UK? The competition is stiff but I’ve rounded up some of my all-time favorites to make life a little easier for you. After all, having lived in the UK for 25 years I would like to think of myself as an expert these days…
Afternoon Tea at the Foyer and Reading Room, Claridge’s (London)
For a touch of chic and fancy fine china, Claridge’s is a must-visit. Based in the heart of the West End, you can escape the hustle and bustle of Oxford Circus in favor of a relaxed afternoon. Complete with champagne, a choice of 24 teas from around the world as well as a selection of finger sandwiches and freshly baked scones. It doesn’t get much more luxurious than this! For those with particular dietary requirements, be sure to tell at the time of making your reservation, and most importantly – enjoy.
Vegan Afternoon Tea, La Suite West (London)
It can’t be denied that the vegan lifestyle is becoming increasingly popular, and more and more restaurants are expanding their menus to accommodate for this. La Suite West, a four-star hotel based close to Hyde Park offer a fantastic vegan specific afternoon tea. Sandwich fillings are anything but boring with choices such as scrambled tofu with mustard cress (my favorite) and spinach, mushroom and black olive pâté or perhaps the kale, cashew nut and spinach filo pastry will be more to your taste. The homemade scones with whipped coconut cream are just as impressive and for dessert, you’ll be spoilt for choice with options such as raw carrot cake. I would highly recommend a stop here on your next visit to London.
Gentlemen’s Afternoon Tea, Bedford Lodge Hotel (Newmarket)
When afternoon tea meets beer! The Gentleman’s afternoon tea at Bedford Lodge Hotel offers a selection of sandwiches, savories, scones, fancies and a Peroni or cider to wash it all down! Choose from delights such as club sandwiches, mini treacle tarts, and chocolate tiffin. Enjoy an afternoon in the Suffolk countryside, an hours train ride from London and close to the city of Cambridge. If you’d prefer something a little lighter then you could always opt for their light cream tea which offers a smaller choice of treats accompanied with English tea, or coffee. I recently treated my boyfriend to the Gentlemen’s afternoon tea and he absolutely loved it! If you can spare an extra couple of hours then perhaps a visit to the hotel’s beautiful spa afterward? Trust me, you won’t regret it…
Bettys Afternoon Tea (York)
If you ever find yourself in the beautiful city of York then a visit to Betty’s famous tea room must be added to your itinerary. After 96 years of experience, they’re most certainly the experts at offering a quintessentially English tea. The legendary afternoon tea includes a pot of room blend tea, delicious sandwich choice, scones and an array of hand-crafted miniature cakes. As well as their renowned afternoon tea offerings, you can also buy cakes, biscuits, hampers, and gifts from the shop! Take a slice of Betty’s home with you to enjoy, the fat rascals receive much praise.
The Pump Room Afternoon Tea (Bath)
The beautiful city of Bath is a must-visit if you’re spending time in the UK, and is very accessible from London. The Roman Baths are a huge tourist attraction, and home to a particularly quaint English tea room. The Pump Room offers a variety of both sweet and savory treats, packages, and of course, the finest champagne to wash it all down. The place is fantastic, in the center of the city, so there really is no excuse to stop off for a scone, or two!
About the author: Tilly is a UK travel blogger and freelance writer. You’re likely to find her browsing flight deals, wandering around her home city of Cambridge, or on the way to a yoga class.