Enjoying a spot of afternoon tea is a British tradition that has most certainly stood the test of time and if anything, has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity over the past few years with more and more venues putting their own twist on the historic past time.
While a pot of piping hot tea is still top of the menu in some places, others serve up prosecco, gin and cocktails to help a bevvy of sweet and savoury treats go down well. Read on to discover some fantastic places for afternoon tea across the UK and Ireland.
Seaham Hall, County Durham
Seaham Hall offers a sumptuous Champagne Duchess of Bedford Afternoon Tea, which is rather special and includes hand-made finger sandwiches; smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg and cress, honey roast ham and mustard and cucumber and sour cream. House-made fruit and plain scones are served with house-made strawberry jam and Devonshire clotted cream. Plus, there’s a selection of desserts, cakes and pastries from the hotel’s pastry chef and all is served with free-flowing teas and coffees of your choice. Afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the hotel’s cosy lounge, or on the outdoor terraces overlooking the beautiful grounds and gardens.
The cost is £34pp with a glass of Taittinger brut reserve.
For more information, call 0191 516 1400 or visit seaham-hall.co.uk
Ballygally Castle, County Antrim
Ballygally Castle is beautifully located on the scenic Antrim coast facing the soft, sandy beaches of Ballygally Bay and only 26 miles from Belfast. The castle dates back to 1625 and is unique in that it is the only 17th-century building still used as a residence in Northern Ireland today. The hotel, with 54 rooms is reputedly haunted by a friendly ghost and brave guests can visit the ‘ghost room’ in one of the towers to see for themselves. It underwent an extensive £3m refurbishment in 2014.
For more information, call 028 2858 1066 or visit hastingshotels.com
Alexandra Hotel & Restaurant, Lyme Regis, Dorset
Served every day on the beautiful garden terrace, in the award-winning orangery, or by the fire in winter, afternoon tea at the elegant clifftop hotel, the Alexandra, is an indulgent affair. A traditional Dorset Cream Tea is made extra special with home-made scones, locally-produced jam and Devonshire clotted cream, whilst the sumptuous Alexandra Champagne Tea provides an added level of luxury. The historic hotel setting, with sea views across glittering Lyme Bay, provides the perfect backdrop, making it easy to see why the Alexandra issaid by many to be one of the most beautiful hotels on the British coast.
The full tea is £19.95pp and the Alexandra Sparkling Full Tea (with Champagne) is £29.95pp. Each must be booked at least 24 hours prior. Afternoon tea is served daily from 3.00pm-5.30pm.
For more information, call 01297 442010 or visit hotelalexandra.co.uk
Culloden Estate & Spa, Belfast
The 5 star Culloden Estate & Spa in Belfast stands on the forested slopes of the Holywood Hills, overlooking Belfast Lough and the glorious County Antrim coastline, offering idyllic surrounds for an Autumn break. Deemed ‘The Ritz of Northern Ireland”, the Culloden is a grand estate originally built as a Palace for the Bishops of Down. Guests can explore the glorious, autumnal colours of Northern Ireland with nature at their doorstep, whilst admiring the maples at Mount Stewart, which is located just minutes from the Culloden Estate & Spa.
For more information, call 028 9042 1135 or visit hastingshotels.com
The Chester Grosvenor, Cheshire
The hotel offers a Traditional Afternoon Tea priced £33.50pp and an Indulgent Champagne Afternoon Tea (£47.50pp) which includes a chilled glass of Champagne plus strawberries and clotted cream in addition to the traditional tea.
The hotel also serves a very popular Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea (£33.50pp) – a far cry from dainty cakes and finely-cut cucumber sandwiches, The Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea at The Chester Grosvenor is a hearty affair for the discerning man-about-town. Crusty doorstep sandwiches – filled with beef and horseradish, chicken or egg mayonnaise – chunky chips and local Appleby Cheshire cheese will quell the manliest of appetites, as will the filling fruit cake, rich brownie and pot of tea. Intersperse tea-sipping with games of backgammon and newspaper-reading. Afternoon tea costs £33.50pp. A night’s B&B costs from £165 for a double room, two sharing.
For more information, call 0800 089 3929 or visit prideofbritainhotels.com
K West Hotel & Spa, London
K West Hotel is swapping floral tea plates and saucers for turntables with their Glam Rock Afternoon Tea. Experience the ultimate rock ’n’ roll afternoon tea with a range of treats and delights served on a retro turntable in the heart of West London.
This unique spin on traditional afternoon tea serves up an eccentric menu including the Marc Bolan-inspired Tea Rex, Bob Marley Born to Rum Cocktail and a selection of loose leaf teas and herbal infusions. Guests can also indulge in a selection of savouries such as the beetroot gin-cured salmon with blue cheese and grapes on rye bread.
Priced at £28.50 per person the Glam Rock Afternoon Tea is available Monday to Sunday from 2.00pm-5.00pm in the Studio Bar and Kitchen.
K West Hotel & Spa’s fun and vibrant ambience is fused with ultimate relaxation in a prime location. Situated in Shepherd’s Bush, the hotel is on the doorstep of Westfield shopping centre, the largest urban retail destination in Europe with over 240 outlets. Fashionable areas such as Notting Hill, Portobello Road and Kensington are also just a short walk away.
For more information, call 020 8008 6600 or visit k-west.co.uk
The Grand, York
There’s nowhere quite like The Grand when it comes to afternoon tea. Presented on a silver stand, there’s an elaborate tower of savoury and sweet treats is a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.
Take in stunning views of the city walls in The Rise Restaurant as you indulge in one of the best afternoon tea in York, with optional prosecco, champagne and gin and tonic upgrades, perfect for special occasions.
With an Edwardian architectural twist, York’s only five star hotel emanates opulence. Afternoon Tea is served 12pm until 3.45pm. Grand Afternoon Tea is £25.50 per person and the champagne afternoon tea is £34.50 per person.
For more information, call 01904 380038 or visit thegrandyork.co.uk
The Arch, London
A luxurious Champagne Flight Afternoon Tea has just been launched at The Arch London, a boutique hotel set within seven Georgian townhouses in Marylebone.
Guests can sample a selection of seasonal cakes and freshly-made sandwiches all whilst sipping a trio of Taittinger Champagne carefully selected to accompany each round of savouries and cakes.
Available from 12 noon until 7.00pm, this decadent tea will be served with three glasses of Taittinger Champagne in the hotel’s chic Salon de Champagne or on Saturdays the Martini Library. The Champagne Flight Afternoon Tea is priced at £85 for two people.
For more information, call 020 7724 4700 or visit thearchlondon.com
The Greenway Hotel and Spa, Cheltenham
The Greenway Hotel and Spa is a 16th-century Elizabethan manor on the outskirts of Cheltenham. The hotel has eight acres of picturesque gardens which include a croquet lawn, sunken garden and ornate lily pond. Enjoy a Traditional Afternoon Tea in peaceful surroundings from £25pp midweek and £30pp at weekends including a choice of loose leaf tea, selection of finger sandwiches, scones clotted cream and jam accompanied with a selection of home-made cakes. Add a glass of prosecco for £7.50pp.
For more information, call 01242 862 352 or visit greenwayhotelandspa.com
The Woburn Hotel, Bedfordshire
The Woburn Hotel part of the historic Woburn Abbey Estate is located in the Georgian village of Woburn. The Woburn Hotel also hosts a selection of themed afternoon tea throughout the year. Afternoon tea has become such a part of our life from informal social gatherings with friends to being the popular choice for birthday and anniversary celebrations.
However, as you sit there and await the arrival of scones, sandwiches and selection of cakes and sweet delights, how much thought have you ever given to how this tradition came about ?
During the time that she was a Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria, Duchess Anna Maria, wife of 7th Duke of Bedford started the custom of 5 o’clock tea, both at Woburn Abbey, her home in Belgrave Square and in the Royal Palaces. It was traditional at this time to eat a large breakfast, light lunch and late supper.
This created a ‘sinking feeling’ in the afternoon and she felt that there was a need for something extra to eat and drink at this time. It became a popular part of the day and has, indeed, remained so ever since. Today you can enjoy a delicious afternoon tea served in the Repton Room at The Woburn Hotel.
For more information, call 01525 290441 or visit Woburn Hotel