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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
The Carlton George Hotel, Glasgow
Dine up amongst Glasgow’s rooftops over homemade cakes and scones at the Carlton George Hotel.
Reminisce about castle life as you stir your tea and take in Glenapp Castle’s beautiful grounds and gardens.
Posted in Food & Drink
Cover Photo: The Royal Hotel