Elegant finger sandwiches with the crusts neatly cut off. Puffy scones oozing with rich cream and sticky jam. Fragrant pots of exotic tea served in pretty bone china teacups. In the UK, this can only mean one thing: Afternoon Tea. For those looking to experience this most quintessential of British traditions, here are some of the finest places to enjoy afternoon tea in the UK.
BATH: The Royal Crescent
Located at one of the most prestigious addresses in the historic spa town of Bath, The Royal Crescent’s afternoon tea is the best in England’s West country. Their regally named Duke of York selection is savoury, while the Elizabeth Montagu is sweet. Expect British classics like roast beef and English mustard sandwiches alongside Eastern-inspired treats such as spiced lamb kofta with Asian glaze and kaffir lime leaf panna cotta at this distinguished Georgian hotel. And the tea? Theirs is from prestige brand, Ronnefeldt.
It doesn’t have to even be afternoon to sample afternoon tea at Betty’s in York. Serving its afternoon tea all day, every day, Betty’s is a Yorkshire institution that opened back in 1919. Today, it retains its vintage charm and their afternoon tea is widely considered the benchmark in this part of the UK. Old school all the way, you’ll find egg mayonnaise & cress and Scottish smoked salmon sarnies sitting pretty next to Battenberg and fresh fruit tarts in their Lady Betty Afternoon Tea. Enjoy it with their own tearoom blends – and a glass of pink Champagne.
After dark, it’s a swish restaurant and cocktail lounge, but during the day, Bonbar in Newcastle is a delightful parlour serving irresistible ladies and gents afternoon teas. Sandwiches have a Mediterranean bent (think; pesto chicken and cheese & red onion focaccia) while pastries are a decadent blend of macaroons, brownies and tarts. For the gentleman, their masculine AT offers sausage rolls, fish fingers and Scotch eggs, washed down with a pint of local ale.
EDINBURGH: Collonades at the Signet Library
What location could be more atmospheric than a grand, Georgian library? Tuck into seasonal sandwiches and internationally inspired bakes alongside Signet Library’s neo-classical grandeur and row-upon-row of historical tomes. So beautifully executed are the pastries, that each dainty item is its own work of art. Complement your afternoon tea with a Signet Gin & tonic, crafted on site in their own distillery.
LONDON – Rubens at the Palace
Few hotels boast a view as noble as Buckingham Palace. At Rubens at the Palace you can take a regal-inspired afternoon tea overlooking the Royal Mews gates – and even catch a glimpse of The Queen if you’re lucky! Their Royal Afternoon Tea comes complete with Coronation chicken and cucumber & cream cheese sandwiches, freshly baked scones, fruity pastries and divine red velvet cupcakes. Toast HRH herself with a glass of Lanson Black Label Champagne.
Want to indulge in the elegance of afternoon tea in the UK? Click here to discover a fantastic Trafalgar trip.
Image credits: Main image © Collonades at Signet Library. Betty’s © Betty’s. Bonbar © Bonbar. Rubens at the Palace © Red Carnation Hotels. Royal Crescent © Royal Crescent.