Afternoon tea is a fabulous British tradition. Sarah turner loosens her belt and goes in search of the nation’s top ten…
1. ENJOY AN EXTRA SPLASH OF BATH FLAVOUR
Royal Crescent Hotel, Bath
On Bath’s most famous street is a tea that incorporates the local specialities. Tiny Bath buns with cinnamon butter appear alongside scones, sandwiches and cakes, while a savoury option includes miniature sausage rolls and salmon tartare. Served in the garden in summer.
From £37pp. royalcrescent.co.uk, 01225 823333
2. TAKE YOUR TEA AMONG THE PALM TREES
The Ritz, London
Lavish affair: The Palm Court at The Ritz is one of the most famous places for afternoon tea
The most famous place to take afternoon tea and where the trimmings include pianists and palm trees. Breaking with tradition, however, serving starts at 11.30am and continues into the evening. There are 18 types of tea, and a generous supply of cakes.
From £57pp. theritzlondon.com, 020 7493 8181
3. ESSENCE OF YORKSHIRE IN A TEA CUP
Pure Yorkshire in a series of scones, sandwiches and fancy cakes. There are now six branches but this is the largest and most evocative. The Lady Betty tea brings a few extra treats, including pork pies. Teas are blended by Taylors of Harrogate.
From £32.85pp. bettys.co.uk, 01423 814070
4. A GENEROUS SLICE OF HOME-BAKED HEAVEN
Scrumptious: A feast, above, at The Angel
The Angel, Abergavenny
When a hotel has its own bakery, it’s likely the tea will be memorable. This former coaching inn, in the Brecon Beacons, Wales’s foodiest area, breaks out the linen tablecloths and china each afternoon in its Wedgewood room. There are award-winning teas, the scones come with clotted or whipped cream, servings are big and the hotel will send you home with anything you fail to finish.
From £25pp. angelabergavenny.com, 01873 857121
5. CAPITAL FUN WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK
The Wolseley, London
Very good value for London, this is a few doors down from the Ritz on Piccadilly, and features high, vaulted ceilings and lots of charm. The tea is very traditional, with a good supply of sandwiches, the cakes usually include Battenberg, and the dome on the top layer of the cake stand has freshly baked scones.
From £29.75pp. thewolseley.com, 020 7499 6996
6. SAVOUR THE AUTHENTIC CREAM OF CORNWALL
The Nare, Cornwall
In Cornwall, it is customary to put the jam on your scone before the cream, but no one will judge you at The Nare if you don’t conform. At its Quarterdeck restaurant, sandwiches include Cornish crab, and the cream for the scones is clotted in the county. The tea is local, too, grown on the Tregothnan estate.
From £18pp. narehotel.co.uk, 01872 501111
7. SIP YOUR WAY INTO THE TWILIGHT ZONE
Mid-afternoon may be the established time to hit the cake stand, but the Principal in Edinburgh also has a twilight version that runs until 10pm. It is held in the Garden restaurant, in the centre of this Charlotte Square hotel.
From £22.50. gardenedinburgh.com, 0131 341 3718
8. SCRUMMY SCONES PILED HIGH WITH TRADITION
The Goring, London
Sweet moments: Two women tuck into an afternoon tea
This family-owned hotel is in the shadow of Buckingham Palace and produces a most traditional afternoon tea. On weekdays, there’s only one sitting in the dining room (3.30pm-4.30pm) and no gimmickry but the scones and setting make it truly memorable.
From £49pp. thegoring.com, 020 7396 9000
9. TREAT WITH A STRONG WELSH ACCENT
Lake Country House Hotel and Spa
This former hunting and fishing lodge in Powys now allows for lazier pursuits but you may want to schedule a walk before enjoying this tea. It has a truly Welsh flavour too, with Welsh cakes and bara brith.
From £17.95. lakecountryhouse.co.uk, 01591 620202
10. TEA WITH LASHINGS OF LAKELAND ELEGANCE
One of the best views in the Lake District with a backdrop of an Arts & Crafts mansion. In winter, tea can be taken by a log fire; in summer, there’s a terrace. All cakes are cooked the same day. Served 2pm-4.30pm.
From £27.50pp. holbeckghyll.com, 01539 432375