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Sipping tea and eating scones is extra British. But there’s no such thing as too British. So if you find yourself feeling as peckish as the 7th Duchess of Bedford (who invented afternoon tea), then this is the thing for you.

“Afternoon tea” vs “High tea”
We should probably clear up that afternoon tea refers to the mid-day luxury of drinking tea and eating scones, mini sandwiches, and cakes. High tea was for the working classes who ate a heartier meal after finishing work at high dinner tables. So no, high tea does not mean it’s a “special tea” (you could probably get that in Colorado). Sometimes the tea terms are used interchangeably but could lead you to very different experiences. In any case, be sure to keep your pinkies down as you sip your tea.

Over the centuries, the practice of taking afternoon tea has relaxed. Many Brits drink cups of tea throughout the day but consider the tradition of afternoon tea to be more of a treat. While the storied tearooms of The Ritz and Fortnum & Mason are magnificent and worth a visit, in summer we love to do our steeping out in the sun (it’s not always foggy). Here are some of the best places to enjoy afternoon tea outside:

We recommend pre-booking afternoon tea.

London

The Orangery at Kensington Palace
Want to take tea at the royal residence where Princess Diana once lived and where Kate and Will now call home? Then pull up a throne on the Portland Stone Terrace and look over the royal gardens while you sip your earl grey.  

Sip tea like a royal at Kensington Palace.

Sip tea like a royal at Kensington Palace.

The Ivy Chelsea Garden
Take a break from shopping and the bustle of Kings Road in this beautiful courtyard garden at The Ivy Chelsea Garden. Choose from a cream tea (scones, clotted cream, and jam) or full afternoon tea. There’s also champagne if you need a little more kick than caffeine.

Sit amongst the flowers as you take your tea. Photo: The Ivy Chelsea Garden

Sit amongst the flowers as you take your tea. Photo: The Ivy Chelsea Garden

Sanderson Hotel
Indulge your imagination with the Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea in the courtyard garden at Sanderson Hotel. The menu here is inspired by Alice in Wonderland – fancy a Tweedle Dee’s lemon curd financier, or a “Drink Me” potion? Traditional scones, cream, and jam are also served, just don’t be late.

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea. 

Mad Hatters Afternoon Tea. 

England

Lime Wood
Soak up the sunshine while sampling éclairs and enjoying the view of gorgeous gardens at Lime Wood. They even have a G&Tea, which comes with gin specially selected for you. From here you can head out to explore the New Forest National Park, once the royal hunting grounds of William the Conqueror, where horses, cows, donkeys, pigs, and other wildlife roam free.

Afternoon tea at Lime Wood.

Afternoon tea at Lime Wood.

The Royal Hotel
Treat yourself to a Royal Tea on the Isle of Wight where Queen Victoria once also took her tea. The Geranium Terrace is a beautiful place to enjoy homemade strawberry jam, from berries grown in the Royal Hotel’s gardens.

Take your tea on the Geranium Terrace at The Royal Hotel.

Take your tea on the Geranium Terrace at The Royal Hotel.

Cherwell Boathouse
Cross off two British traditions in one afternoon: go punting in true Oxford style (punts are types of row boats, see the sport guide if you’re looking for some NFL action), then treat yourself to tea by the River Cherwell at the Cherwell Boathouse Terrace.

Go punting and have tea at Cherwell Boathouse Terrace

Go punting and have tea at Cherwell Boathouse Terrace

The Royal Crescent Hotel
After visiting the Roman baths, be spoiled for choice with four different afternoon tea menus and sample classic Bath treats in the stunning gardens at The Royal Crescent Hotel.

Delectable teatime treats at The Royal Crescent Hotel

Delectable teatime treats at The Royal Crescent Hotel

Harewood House
Enjoy tea on the outdoor terraces against a backdrop of sophisticated Georgian architecture (named for the kings, not the state). The award-winning parterre, expansive grounds and surrounding Yorkshire scenery are as stunning as Harewood’s state rooms – all of which you should explore. On weekends, you can take a boat tour of the Lake after.

Sophisticated Georgian design and rolling parkland at Harewood House

Sophisticated Georgian design and rolling parkland at Harewood House

Wales

Lake Vyrnwy Hotel
Come to the Lake Vyrnwy Hotel for tea and finger sandwiches above a fairytale-tower fitted lake. Afterwards, you can spend some time wandering the surrounding nature reserve thinking about princess charming (which may or may not be you).

Look out over this breathtaking view at Lake Vyrnwy Hotel

Look out over this breathtaking view at Lake Vyrnwy Hotel

Gliffaes Country House Hotel
There’s a place where you can get buffet tables of scones, cakes, and sandwiches. It’s the stuff of dreams, but you can experience this afternoon tea on a sunny Brecon Beacons terrace in real life.

Outdoor tea at Gliffaes Country House Hotel

Outdoor tea at Gliffaes Country House Hotel

Scotland

Prestonfield House
A 20-acre parkland and 18-hole golf course will give you a chance to work up a thirst for this tea service. You can take yours with cream, sugar, or overlooking Prestonfield House’s rose-filled garden.

Afternoon tea at Prestonfield House

Afternoon tea at Prestonfield House

The Carlton George Hotel, Glasgow
Dine up amongst Glasgow’s rooftops over homemade cakes and scones at the Carlton George Hotel.

Dine up high at the Carlton George Hotel, Glasgow

Dine up high at the Carlton George Hotel, Glasgow

Glenapp Castle
Reminisce about castle life as you stir your tea and take in Glenapp Castle’s beautiful grounds and gardens.

The grounds at Glenapp Castle

The grounds at Glenapp Castle

Posted in Food & Drink

Cover Photo: The Royal Hotel