It’s Afternoon Tea Week: is your group marking the occasion with any tea-and-cake-filled trips? These attractions serve afternoon tea all year round, so don’t worry if you haven’t made plans already.
Every year, National Afternoon Tea Week, running this time from 14th until 18th August, is celebrated across Britain, encouraging eateries of all sizes to bring out their fluffiest scones, sweetest jams, precision-cut cakes and speciality teas. The national week celebrates something delicious, quintessentially British, and a winning concoction for all ages: tea and cake.
The tradition of afternoon tea is said to have begun around 1840 as an idea of the Duchess of Bedford, to deal with the problem of being hungry between lunch and dinner. Groups today can visit the Duchess Tearooms at Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire to get to grips with the history of it. There’s also the option to take a fine selection of teas, coffees, cakes and biscuits in the Bedford Tea Room.
Also in Bedfordshire is the Swan Hotel, where groups can enjoy dining on the establishment’s finest finger sandwiches and scones in opulent surroundings. Think gilt-framed mirrors, high ceilings and dainty china, in the 18th century hotel’s River Room Restaurant. Visitors can pair a trip with the hotel’s Lotus Spa where a pool and sauna, plus a variety of treatments can be enjoyed.
Hop to the next county and delve into the sweet treats of Cambridge, where, in Grantchester, on the outskirts of the city, the Orchard Tea Garden is a must for those seeking afternoon tea during the summer months. This sprawling orchard, complete with fruit trees heaving under the weight of apples, is jam packed with tables and deck chairs where you can enjoy everything from tea and cake to main meals. Groups can walk straight from here into the centre of Cambridge, taking around 40 minutes alongside the picturesque River Cam.
Head from one University City to another and experience afternoon tea in Oxford – on the river itself. Open from 1st February to 30th of November each year is The Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, which offers sandwiches, wine and champagne on board its punting boats on the River Cherwell. Groups can book out a number of punts at a time, and travel in convoy past some of Oxford’s most beautiful and famous sites, including the Botanic Gardens and Magdalen College School fields.
Continuing with the theme of tea and cake on the move is the BB Bakery Bus Afternoon Tea Tour in London (pictured above). Groups of between 20 and 32 can book to take afternoon tea on a double decker vintage bus, where pistachio macarons, mini cupcakes, vanilla choux, and fruit tarts are all on the menu. Enjoy sampling these while spotting sights such as The London Eye, The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, and Buckingham Palace.
Carry on scaling the ladder of first-class afternoon tea options and you’ll find yourself at the likes of The Ritz or The Waldorf in London. Both of these famous hotels offer options for groups. The Ritz has a number of beautifully decorated rooms that can be hired out for group dining, while the Waldorf offers special packages like gin-themed afternoon tea. These experiences can be at the higher end of the price range but are very suitable for special occasions.
For those groups further up the country, northern tea rooms include Annie’s Tea Shop in Manchester, where loose leaf tea and special hot cholate can be paired with the likes of cheese and onion sandwiches and crumpets.
And if you’re heading to Scotland any time soon, make sure to pop into the beautiful Signet Library in Edinburgh. Ornate neo-classic decor can be enjoyed while sampling an extensive list of teas, champagne, cocktails and even gin.
For more inspiration for where to take afternoon tea in the UK, visit www.afternoontea.co.uk.