A quintessential part of English culture, afternoon tea, or high tea has become a favourite pastime for many across the country.
With origins stretching as far back as the nineteenth century, high tea has long been an indulgent way to enjoy a cup of tea and the company of your loved ones. And it’s one that still endures at home and even further afield.
Today, afternoon tea has evolved into something that anyone can enjoy anywhere. So if you’re searching for ‘the best high tea near me’, or for an utterly unique dining experience, we’re here to help. We’ve selected the best afternoon tea spots from around the UK and Ireland, so all you have to do is gather your family and friends for an afternoon to remember.
The Salon at Kimpton Blythswood Square, Glasgow
If you ever stay at the Blythswood Square Hotel in Glasgow, be sure to take advantage of their afternoon tea. The classic Georgian townhouses have undergone a multimillion-pound restoration while managing to retain all of their Scottish charm and original elegance.
Enjoy high tea in the Salon, which has been labelled as one of the “best bars in the world.” Featuring plush interiors that are perfect for socialising, you’ll be served a classic afternoon tea menu of sandwiches, scones and other sweet treats.
The Colonnades at the Signet Library, Edinburgh
You won’t find a more impressive afternoon tea location than at the Colonnades. Set within the Signet Library in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town, the Colonnades offers an exquisite selection of sandwiches, savouries and cakes. Sip the Signet’s own blend of tea as you sit amongst the grandeur of the restored Georgian building.
While the afternoon tea is said to be “Edinburgh’s best”, the ornate balustrades and Corinthian columns will ensure this is a tea room like no other.
Running Fox Bakery, Northumberland
A bakery and tea room that perfectly fits the historic feel of the rural village it is situated in, the Running Fox Bakery serves up delicious food that’s made fresh by their very own “Foxy Bakers” and is delivered to the bakery daily. Open seven days a week, this village bakery even has a small paved garden seating area that boasts scenic views of the River Coquet.
Unlike traditional afternoon tea, the Running Fox Bakery swaps typically “dainty portions” for ones that are “rustic and filling.” And you get to choose exactly what you want to eat, making this the perfect choice for any fussy eaters.
Cloud 23 at The Hilton, Manchester
Wish you could drink tea among the clouds? Visit the glitzy Cloud 23 bar at the Hilton in Manchester. Set on the 23rd floor of the Beetham Tower, this cocktail bar has floor-to-ceiling windows for an impressive view of Manchester’s skyline. The contemporary décor and stylish soundtrack make for a luxurious atmosphere.
Afternoon tea features the traditional offerings: delicious savoury bites and a selection of cakes, as well as a full range of limitless tea and coffees. And free-flowing champagne for the adults.
Oh Me Oh My, Liverpool
A beautiful tea house and café by day, and an event space by night (and weekends), Oh Me Oh My is situated within a Grade-II listed building and former bank. Its famous fairy-lit space sets a sparkling and cosy atmosphere for high tea goers. Here you can enjoy a range of delicious sandwiches, sweet cakes and Parisian-style pastries.
Bettys Tea Room, York
For the ultimate high tea experience, book a table at Bettys Café and Tearoom in Harrogate. An acclaimed chain of tea rooms that were first established in 1919, Bettys have had plenty of time to perfect their afternoon tea. Their Harrogate location is housed within a beautiful and impressive historic building, with elegant décor that takes you back to a time gone by.
A high tea icon, Bettys’ menu is comprised of only the finest savouries, sandwiches and cakes. Book your table in The Imperial or The Belmont Room to avoid the queues that usually wind well past the side of the building.
Countess of York at the Railway Museum, York
Try high tea from the comfort of the beautifully restored rail carriage at the Countess of York. A must for any rail enthusiasts and history lovers, the Countess of York is a fine dining experience for those looking for a unique and sophisticated setting. Take in classic furnishings, vintage style and an unbeatable ambience.
Indulge in a spread of dainty sandwiches, fine leaf teas and homemade sweet bites. The menu changes seasonally, ensuring that the chefs make use of only the best local produce.
Llanerch Vineyard, Cardiff
Set in the luscious Welsh countryside, Llanerch Vineyard is a stylish farmhouse that’s perfect to spend time on a warm summer’s day. Afternoon tea is served in the farmhouse restaurant that looks over the ground’s vineyard, with bi-folding doors that can be opened in the summer months.
High tea is made onsite, from scratch, every morning for unbeatable freshness. The menu is seasonal, but you can expect things like lavender sugared Welsh cakes, ham hock and piccalilli open-sandwiches and coffee & caramel cake with candied almonds.
The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel, Birmingham
Nestled just moments away from Birmingham’s city centre, The Edgbaston Boutique Hotel & Cocktail Lounge is described as a “unique refuge of timeless elegance, unwavering taste and unrivalled care and courtesy.” Its food and drink menu is inspired by European and British influences to suit a full-bodied and diverse taste.
The lavish interior makes it the perfect place to enjoy an indulgent treat. The afternoon tea menu offers artisan savouries and sumptuous desserts accompanied by Organic Loose Leaf Jing Tea.
Mallory Court Hotel, Leamington Spa
Self-titled as the “epitome of a quintessential English country house,” Mallory Court Hotel and Spa is a picturesque house set in ten acres of green grounds.
The afternoon tea menu is served alongside a selection of fine teas that are poured from the finest china. Sip your tea in the oak-panelled restaurant in the winter, or enjoy on the terrace area that overlooks the impressive gardens in the warmer months
Josephine’s Tea Lounge & Bistro, Nottingham
Looking to support a local business? Try Josephine’s Tea Lounge & Bistro in Nottingham for a truly authentic high tea experience. The tea lounge operates an old-fashioned customer service, which means that you don’t need to book your table, you can simply walk into the tea room.
They are proud not to be constrained by a set menu, which means that what you find on their three-tiered Afternoon Tea stand will change almost daily. Instead, you’ll receive a surprise selection of sandwiches, cakes and savouries.
Salthouse Harbour Hotel, Ipswich
Tucked away in this boutique hotel is a luxurious high tea experience. Enjoy a variety of sandwiches, cakes and savouries as you take in the beautiful surroundings that this waterfront eatery has to offer. The sea view creates a relaxing atmosphere that’s the perfect backdrop for a spot of afternoon tea.
Science Afternoon Tea at The Ampersand Hotel, South Kensington
If you’re looking for afternoon tea with a twist, try the Science Afternoon Tea at The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington. Here you’ll leave the traditional lace and doilies behind as you enjoy a taste experience where physics, chemistry and gastronomy meet.
Food is served in petri dishes, pipettes and syringes are provided for mixing your desserts, and billowing dry ice makes the alchemy experience feel truly authentic. This interactive afternoon tea serves up a selection of blinis, brioche buns, scones, sweet pastries and even a dinosaur-shaped biscuit “fossil” buried within a chocolate “soil.” The Ampersand Hotel restaurant also offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free afternoon tea menus too.
London Landmarks Afternoon Tea at the Kensington Hotel, South Kensington
If you’re in the South Kensington area but fancy something more patriotic, make your way to the Kensington Hotel for their famed London Landmarks Afternoon Tea. Inside the kitchens of the Town House all-day hotel restaurant, the chefs and bakers have curated a high tea menu that’s inspired by London city’s most recognisable and historic landmarks.
This afternoon tea “pays homage to the capital’s iconic buildings” and is displayed on a London Eye modelled stand. Tuck into adorable and miniature versions of The Shard, The Gherkin and Big Ben, as well as a plate of warm canapés and mini steak and ale pie.
Traditional Afternoon Tea at the Savoy, Strand
As the heart of the country, we couldn’t help but include a traditional afternoon tea option in London. And what better setting than the world-famous Thames Foyer where a breathtaking glass dome floods the dining room with natural light for an opulent ambience. Enjoy a live piano recital as you dine at this esteemed establishment.
The afternoon tea menu is comprised of a selection of unlimited finger sandwiches, homemade scones, delicate pastries and signature cakes that are all handcrafted every morning. Afternoon tea at the Savoy has become an enduring tradition that’s occurred at the hotel since it opened in 1889, making it a solid choice for high tea goers.
Cliveden House, Berkshire
Take high tea at this Grade-I listed stately home in the heart of the English countryside. Not just a country home, this five-star hotel was a haunt for the rich and glamorous back in its heyday. With historic architecture that pays homage to the period it was built, this luxurious building is the perfect place to come to enjoy afternoon tea.
Cliveden House offers themed and celebratory afternoon teas throughout the year, but it’s Classic Red Velvet Afternoon Tea puts on a spread of savoury treats, freshly baked scones and bite-sized cakes and pastries. Enjoy alongside Cliveden’s own blend of teas.
Polurrian on The Lizard, Cornwall
Escape to the seaside and enjoy afternoon tea at the Polurrian on The Lizard coastal hotel. It was awarded the 2019 ‘Best Presented Afternoon Tea of The Year’ at the Food & Beverage Magazine awards, beating over 150 contestants.
At the Polurrian, you can expect the finest local ingredients and flavours in a spread of sandwiches, sweet pastries and desserts. Wash your food down with a cup of Cornish Smugglers Brew Tea that nods towards Cornwall’s historic roots.
Step back in time at the Titanic in Belfast. A reconstruction of the most famous ship in the world, you can take high tea in luxury and elegance in the Titanic Suite. The event space allows you access to the replica of the Grand Staircase – one of the most prominent features onboard the real RMS Titanic.
Afternoon tea offers a traditional menu of finger sandwiches, scones, savoury bites and sweet treats. What makes the service stand out is the fact that the food is served on crockery replicated from what was used onboard the original Titanic.
The Republic of Ireland
The Merrion Hotel, Dublin
Discover edible art when you take high tea at the Merrion Hotel in Dublin. The Merrion is a restoration of four Georgian townhouses and is also the grandiose home of 90 pieces of artwork. Stylish and luxurious, this five-star hotel also contains a 2-star Michelin Restaurant where the impeccable Art Tea experience is served.
The Art Tea menu features miniature sweet creations inspired by the works of J.B Yeats, William Scott, Louis Le Brocquy and more. From precision-cut sandwiches to buttery scones filled with lemon curd and raspberry jam, the Merrion also has a vast selection of teas to enjoy with your food.
Price: €110 for two
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