Grab a slice of the action and tuck in to a deliciously decadent afternoon tea.
There's no better way to spend a leisurely afternoon than in the company of your favourite person and faced with a tower of home-made cakes, fluffy scones, and sticky pastries. This traditional treat comes in numerous forms and can be enjoyed in beautiful locations all over the UK. Choose from cream teas with devilish clotted cream, high teas with dainty finger sandwiches, indulgent Champagne afternoon tea, or combine it with another experiences such as wine tasting or sightseeing. Whatever tickles your fancy, this is a seriously tasty experience that really is the icing on the cake.
Types of afternoon tea
There are many wonderful things about an afternoon tea, and not least its variety.
Traditional afternoon tea (or high tea if you're posh)
This delightful and quintessentially English tradition varies according to the tastes and traditions of the host, and in this sumptuous experience you can take your pick from one of many beautiful locations all over the UK. The menu will also vary from one location to another but a typical array of treats would include scones with jam and cream, cakes, macaroons, and various sandwiches.
Cheap afternoon tea
On the lookout for a bargain? There are deals to be had on afternoon tea, particularly if you are willing to forgo the pomp and ceremony. Cheap cream tea deals may not be as glitzy as their luxurious counterparts, but they are still an enjoyable affair.
Luxury afternoon tea in London
Head to the capital and enjoy an afternoon tea experience in a top department store like Harrods or in a swish hotel like the Ritz. Expect exemplary service and luxury nibbles paired with the finest of teas.
Quirky themed afternoon tea
The traditional experience is turned on its head in some establishments.
Chocolate afternoon tea - a chocoholic's delight - pairs anything from chewy macaroons to fluffy white chocolate éclairs and sumptuous brownies in an indulgent experience. Expect creamy hot chocolate to take pride of place instead of a pot of tea. Another quirky experience swaps out the dainty finger sandwiches for takeaway-inspired alternatives.
Afternoon tea combos
The experience can often be combined with other elements such as entry to a historic landmark or a sightseeing tour. It's a great way to enjoy two different experiences in one convenient package.
There are many different activities to choose from. Why not take in a West End matinee – does a musical suit, or perhaps a scary play? – and then take tea in the sumptuous surroundings of a top London hotel. Or if you don’t want to be inside all day, then you could always spend your afternoon cruising up and down the Thames, and enjoy your fabulous cream tea in the open air. If you're into art and creative endeavours, then you could always pair your delicious foodie treat with a spot of ceramics painting – and you can come away with a perfectly painted teapot.
It could be that you prefer a drop of wine to a spot of tea. Well, that’s fine too because you can match your lovely, traditional afternoon cuppa and cake with some wine tasting in a fabulous English vineyard. History buff? Then it will be the afternoon tea and a castle tour will be perfect for you.
It might be that you're after a proper pamper day. Well, never fear. Allow yourself to be looked after, and choose a spa treatment to go alongside your wonderful crustless sandwiches, thick clotted cream, and delicate petits fours.
Time for tea - What You Need To Know
- WHEN: Afternoon tea experiences take place throughout the year. Each venue may have their own calendar of dates but many host daily events.
- WHERE: You'll find afternoon tea experiences right across the land, in the highlands of Scotland right down to the Cornish countryside.
- WHO: Everyone loves afternoon tea. Even if you don't care for tea, you are covered with a range of alternative drinks. Not keen on finger sandwiches? Edgy caterers have got you covered with themed experiences and quirky alternatives based on the traditional British pastime.
- OCCASIONS: This is a great go-to experience perfect for birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, Mother's Day, and those 'just because' occasions. It is a great excuse for a family day out or get-together as it is relatively inexpensive.
- PRICES: Prices start from around £10 a head for a basic experience, and rises steadily as you add in quirks or booze. Top brand afternoon tea experiences come in at around £50 a head. Combine afternoon tea with other experiences and you start heading into three figure territory - in these experiences, afternoon tea is usually the icing on the cake. (correct at the time of writing)
- QUESTIONS: Need help? Ask questions here and I'll try to help as best I can
- TRIED THIS?: Would you recommend it? Share your thoughts here
Afternoon tea ins and outs
The phrase goes: “Let them eat cake!” - and I wholeheartedly agree. Celebrate this awfully British tradition by indulging in a variety of sandwiches, tasty cakes, and luscious scones, complete with your favourite fragrant tea or a good old breakfast brew. The cherry on top? There are many wonderful settings to enjoy your afternoon tea - so why not combine it with a visit to a historic manor house or a sun-filled orangery to really set the scene? There must be 'hundreds and thousands' of reasons to enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea; perhaps none more so than the chance to dunk a biscuit in one of the UK’s most cherished landmarks. Go on - treat yourself!
While the experience will usually take place in venues capable of holding large numbers of guests (such as restaurants or lounges), it is recommended that you book your preferred date as soon as possible to avoid disappointment. In most venues, tea is usually served between 11am and 6pm but some locations may vary.
Do you want to learn more about tea production and what goes into creating the perfect blend? Become a tea master with this fun gift.
Most afternoon tea vouchers are available to book for two people. Some vouchers can be reserved for 3 or 4 people but if you wish to take a larger group, check with the venue to ensure that your requirements can be accommodated. Most venues, especially hotels, require smart casual dress.
If you or your partner has any dietary requirements that you believe should be taken into account, check with the venue to ensure that your requirements can be accommodated.
The finest afternoon tea experiences in Britain
There are in excess of 1,000 afternoon tea experiences across the land, each offering their own take on this classic British tradition. To save you the pain of sifting through them, these are my favourites.
Afternoon Tea at Harrods, London
Harrods and glamour go hand-in-hand, so an afternoon tea experience here is something special. It is served in the Georgian Restaurant on the fourth floor of the department store in Knightsbridge, London. In plush surrounds you'll enjoy a fine selection of freshly-prepared finger sandwiches, pastries, warm scones, and desserts from Harrods' patisserie. You'll have a range of speciality teas to choose from. It's a great excuse for a break during a shopping trip to London, and is a must for tourists heading to the capital.
London Themed Afternoon Tea for Two at Biscuiteers Boutique
What could be better than afternoon tea at a biscuit boutique? This themed afternoon tea contains traditional elements such as finger sandwiches, scone, and English Breakfast Tea. But there's also sweet treats such as salted caramel brownies, passionfruit and white chocolate sponge, white chocolate, rose, and pistachio choux bun, and macarons. But the highlight is the selection of yummy Biscuiteers biscuits.
Afternoon Tea at the Playboy Club, London
Head to this exclusive club in Mayfair for a truly memorable experience. Playboy Bunnies serve a selection of afternoon treats which features some Playboy magic. Expect bunny-themed cupcakes and boozy iced tea. For a traditional experience with a twist, London's Playboy Club offers something a little different.
Eric Lanlard's Cupcake Decorating Masterclass and Afternoon Tea Combo
This experience combines cake decorating lessons with afternoon tea to create a unique bumper day out. Master Pâtissier Eric Lanlard hosts a four-hour masterclass at his luxury Cake Boy boutique on the bank of the River Thames in Battersea, London. Learn how to expertly decorate a dozen cupcakes which you can take home with you. Then comes afternoon tea with Champagne. Feast on mini pastries, French macaroons, and mini sandwiches, alongside organic tea or coffee.
Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea
For a manly take on afternoon tea, head to the Hillthwaite Hotel in Cumbria. Out go the delicate sandwiches and sweet treats, and in comes Higginson pork pie, Cumberland sausage Scotch egg, and a Malt chocolate Mousse. The traditional tea can be swapped for a a cold pint of local ale should you wish.
If Mother Nature allows, enjoy afternoon tea out on the terrace and drink in the views across Lake Windermere and the Lake District Fells.
5* Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House Hotel, London
If five-star luxury is what you crave, afternoon tea at the historic Grosvenor House on Park Lane in London is where it is at. Expect impeccable service as you dine in the stylish and tranquil Park Room. A live painist tickles the ivories on the Grand Piano in the corner as you relax and enjoy a range of finger sandwiches, miniature gateaux, and soft buttermilk scone alongside a range of top fragrant loose-leaf teas.
Champagne Afternoon Tea at The Ritz, London
Another glamorous option is hitting the Ritz. This world-famous hotel in Piccadilly, London, is known for impeccable service and spectacular décor, and that's what you can expect at afternoon tea. Hosted in the Palm Court, you'll sip on Champagne and choose from a wide range of loose leaf teas. To go with your tea, enjoy a selection of classic finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, pastries, and cakes.
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