Afternoon tea: 10 of the best places to take tea

Fancy afternoon tea? We've scoured the country to find the very best tea, scones and finger sandwiches that even the most discerning fan will

Afternoon tea at Egerton House Hotel

Afternoon tea is a great British tradition and if you're anything like the Period Living team, you'll love everything about it from the quaint crockery to the sweet treats. 

With delectable scones accompanied by lashings of jam and cream to steaming pots of tea served in the finest china, we've rounded up our favourite places to enjoy this British classic. 

If you think you're an expert on afternoon tea, check out our 10 signs you're an afternoon tea connoisseur and discover if you are up there with the best.  

Plus, this month, we've also got a special offer for all afternoon tea lovers! When you subscribe to Period Living for six issues for just £20, you'll also receive a FREE set of Emma Bridgewater Sweet Pea mugs worth £39.95.

Afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason

(Image: © Fortnum & Mason)

1. Harte & Garter hotel, Windsor

windsor castle

(Image: © windsor.gov.uk)

Journey west of London, and you’ll find the Thames-side town of Windsor – the perfect place to enjoy both city and countryside, and take in the oldest, largest inhabited castle in the world. 

Not only the home to the Queen, the tradition of afternoon tea was supposedly introduced there by Queen Victoria's Lady of the Bedchamber, Anna Maria, seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the early 1840s to ease the ‘sinking feeling’ in the long hours between an early luncheon and a late supper. She asked for a pot of water, bread and butter and cakes, and brewed her own tea. 

In a letter to her brother-in-law, sent from Windsor Castle in 1841, she writes: 'I forgot to name my old friend Prince Esterhazy who drank tea with me the other evening at 5 o'clock...’. This became a habit and she began inviting her friends to join her. The pause for tea became a fashionable social event and so the tradition was born. 

Follow in the footsteps of Anna Maria and enjoy a delicious selection of freshly cut sandwiches, warm scones with clotted cream and jam and home-made desserts at Windsor's Harte & Garter hotel.

2. Bettys Tea Room, Harrogate

exterior of bettys tea room

(Image: © Bettys)

Celebrating its centenary year, Bettys sets the standard when it comes to elegant afternoon teas. Book a table in the Imperial room to enjoy crisp white linens, gentle piano accompaniment, your choice of Bettys’ teas and, of course, silver cake stands laden with bite-size savoury treats and dainty sandwiches, and exquisite cakes, macaroons and scones. This is afternoon tea exactly how it should be: a visual and gastronomic treat with a real sense of tradition and occasion. The Lady Betty Afternoon Tea costs £34.95 per person; £42.95 with Champagne. 

3. Afternoon tea at Egerton House Hotel in Knightsbridge

Exterior of Egerton House Hotel

(Image: © Egerton House Hotel )

A selection of mouth-watering sandwiches and freshly baked scones with Cornish clotted cream with choice of preserves are some of the delights that await visitors to the Egerton House Hotelin Knightsbridge. A wide variety of homemade cakes rosewater chocolate brownie, marigold macaroons, lavender posset with poppy seed biscuit and summer fruits vanilla tart are perfectly complemented by an unlimited choice of the finest leaf teas. Vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian afternoon teas are also available.

Afternoon tea at Egerton House Hotel

(Image: © Egerton House Hotel )

4. Fortnum and Mason, London

Afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason

(Image: © Fortnum & Mason)

Nothing says afternoon tea quite like Fortnum and Mason and with the royal warrants over the doorway you know you are in good company. Afternoon tea is served in the relaxed and elegant surroundings of The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon opened in 2012 by the Queen, accompanied by  the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge.

Featuring myriad delicious teas and cakes including their famous Battenberg Cake which they have been serving alongside their famous afternoon tea since 1926.

Afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason

(Image: © Fortnum & Mason)

afternoon tea at the Birmingham museum and art gallery

(Image: © Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery)
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A trip to Birmingham is not complete without a visit to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, which first opened its doors in 1885. 

Housed in a gorgeous Grade II* listed building, it is a landmark of the city centre skyline. The gallery is famous for its pre-Raphaelite collection, which is one of the largest public pre-Raphaelite collections in the world. 

The on-site Edwardian Tearooms take the concept of a museum café to a new level. Based in the ornately decorated and Edwardian-inspired hall, it provides a unique and historic backdrop for afternoon tea. 

The tea rooms also offer a ‘Press for Champagne’ service, in partnership with the House of Piper-Heidsieck, creating a perfectly decadent experience that transforms a museum visit into an incredible day out. 

6. The Dome, Edinburgh

Afternoon tea at Bettys

(Image: © Bettys)

With plush decor, crystal chandeliers, crisp white linen, black and gold wall panelling, and cushioned ebony chairs, The Dome's Georgian Tea Room promises afternoon tea in opulent splendour. With a menu comprising of delicate finger sandwiches, scones and sweet pastries, married with nine varieties of loose leaf teas, it takes the quintessential afternoon tea to new heights. Served on bespoke Chardonnay Pattern Dudson fine bone china and a Gainsborough Sheffield silver tea service. You can just relax and be ready to be treated like royalty. 

7. Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

set table at Petersham Nurseries

(Image: © Petersham Nurseries)

No trip to Richmond would be complete without a visit to The Teahouse at Petersham Nurseries.  Far from the traditional café environment, the restaurant is a unique oasis of calm, set within a glasshouse brimming with fragrant bougainvillea and jasmine. Celebrating the beauty that nature provides, this magical venue is unlike anywhere else, whether you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of homemade cake or want to treat yourself to a delicious hot meal. 

8. Watersmeet House, Exmoor

Watersmeet House Exmoor

(Image: © National Trust)

If you are adamant that it's jam then cream when you're assembling your scone, then afternoon tea in Devon is a must! Built originally as a fishing lodge and romantic retreat, with connections to the romantic poets, Watersmeet House, located in the heart of Exmoor is a true hidden gem and has been serving teas since as far back as 1901. Served with whortleberry jam, an Exmoor speciality, rather than the traditional strawberry jam and paired with deliciously rich clotted cream, this afternoon tea is not to be missed. The perfect stopping point in an exploration of Exmoor.

9. The Fourteas, Stratford-upon-Avon

cake on stand

(Image: © Stuart Cox)

Step back in time and enjoy afternoon tea 1940s' style. The Fourteas in Stratford-upon-Avon offers an experience like no other. With the staff dressed in floral wraparound dresses and matching headscarves, the tea room is full of interesting paraphernalia and memorabilia to the backdrop of Vera Lynn and Glen Miller – perfectly setting the scene of wartime Britain; a wonderful blast from the past.

Their popular Ivor Novello afternoon tea offers a tiered stand of freshly made sandwiches, home-baked scones with strawberry jam and cream and a selection of exquisite cakes, biscuits and pastries all accompanied by their house exclusive blend tea.

10. Celtic Manor Afternoon Tea, Wales

Renowned throughout South Wales, there is something for all afternoon tea enthusiasts at The Celtic Manor. For a traditional option, try their seasonal afternoon tea, complete with dainty pastries and cakes. Including a ‘Jammie Dodger‘ inspired red berry and vanilla shortbread, their summer menu is at its best when enjoyed al fresco. Alternatively, treat yourself to the more adventurous Rib Slider Afternoon Tea which celebrates the classic flavours of the smokehouse and grill in a sophisticated bitesize format. 

Scones

(Image: © National Trust)

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