The afternoon tea dates back to the early 1800s, with many believing it was created by Anna Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford. As most people of in the 1800s only ate twice a day, afternoon tea started as a small meal to tide high society over until dinner time. Nowadays, afternoon tea is synonymous with sophistication and elegance, with hotels offering ever daintier and fancier platters of cakes, sandwiches, tea and champagne.
With so many options to choose from, Travelzoo have created a useful map detailing the best places in the UK to visit for a spectacular afternoon tea.
1. THE LOWRY RIVERSIDE RESTAURANT, Manchester
The Lowry serves up a beautiful afternoon tea, perfect for purists looking for a traditional yet chic spread. The menu typically includes finger sandwiches filled with smoked salmon and dill crème fraîche and cucumber with cream cheese. For something sweet, guests can try Pimm’s jelly, salted caramel and chocolate bites and a blackcurrant with mint mousse. The teas are light and refreshing, with a choice of organic jade sword green tea, organic chamomile, peppermint leaf infusion and Assam with Darjeeling Afternoon blend. Afternoon Tea Experts Laura and Caroline from the Afternoon Tea Club recommend the Lowry, saying: “There’s a lot to be said about a tea room that not only looks special but makes you feel special and The Lowry definitely ticks both boxes. I applaud The Lowry for their unique presentation. A stylish tea stand, loaded with plenty of fabulous treats for us to sample. The impressive selection of miniature sweets were just amazing. Prepare yourself: You will drool.” Champagne afternoon tea at the Lowry is available from £33 per person.
2. MARI VANNA, London
With outlets in London, Moscow, New York and Los Angeles, the quirky Mari Vanna cafés serve up unforgettable afternoon teas with a delicious Russian twist. The Knightsbridge Mari Vanna in London has an extremely detailed interior, designed to make you feel like you’ve stepped into a classic Russian home, with Cheburashka dolls, Russian bears and bookshelves filled with works from famous Russian authors. Combining pre and post Soviet Union Russian, there are layers of different wall paper to depict the different ages and a wood burning oven for the colder months. The food is delicious, focusing on traditional Russian flavours and dishes, with the afternoon tea featuring rye bread topped with beetroot and salted herring, giant marshmallows and honeycake. Katherine from Lady Loves Cake highly recommends Mari Vanna: “Mari Vanna is one of the most atmospheric places I have ever eaten and quite frankly the place I’m now going to take guests who are in town and want something different. It is exotic, dark, full of pictures, stunning decor, fabulous service and excellent food.” Mari Vanna photo courtesy of Lady Loves Cake
3. THE G&V ROYAL MILE HOTEL, Edinburgh (formerly the Missoni Hotel)
Although located in the ancient Scottish city of Edinburgh, the G&V Royal Mile Hotel can offer its guests an Italian take on afternoon tea. Tasty morsels such as salted caramel macaroons and frozen mocha ganache, and finger sandwiches filled with “chutney di zucca e formaggio cheddar” and ciabatta with “rucola e cipolline all’aceto balsamico” can all be perfectly washed down with a chilled glass of prosecco (for non-Italian speakers, that’s pumpkin chutney and cheddar cheese sandwiches and ciabatta with balsamic baby onions and rocket). Cake and tea experts Katie and Chelsea recommend the G&V, saying: “This afternoon tea would be a perfect birthday treat, a sophisticated hen party stop or an intimate catch up with friends.” Afternoon tea with prosecco starts at £26 per person.
4. THE CADOGAN HOTEL, London
Another recommendation from afternoon tea experts Katie and Chelsea is the one at The Cadogan Hotel, a sumptuous 5-star boutique hotel in Knightsbridge, London. Situated within easy reach of Hermes, Cartier, Harrods and Harvey Nichols, it’s perfectly located when you need a break from an afternoon of shopping. The hotel is opposite the beautiful Cadogan Gardens; so what could be more sophisticated then following up an afternoon tea with a gentle stroll through one of London’s most scenic estates? The Cadogan afternoon tea is ideal for those looking for a classic cream tea with modern twist, with treats like warm freshly baked apricot scones with a subtle infusion of Jasmine yogurt and champagne and strawberry jelly. Afternoon tea with champagne starts at £44 per person.
5. THE PRÊT-À-PORTEA AT THE BERKELEY, London
Inspired by fashion, the Prêt-à-Portea at The Berkeley is famed for its three tiers of delicately created cakes, all inspired by a designer piece or fashion collection. The menu changes every six months to reflect the changing fashions and styles that are currently à la mode, but expect a menu that will surprise and delight with treats like a Christian Louboutin chocolate biscuit Pigalle Spike heel with fresh turquoise icing and signature red sole and a Miu Miu exotic skin tote bag with chocolate pecan moelleux. Prices for Prêt-à-Portea start at £41 per person and booking in advance is recommended.
Find out more: Travelzoo have launched a new map showing over 100 of the best hotels and properties for afternoon teas all over the UK, with recommendations from the UK’s afternoon tea bloggers.
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