The Best Places to Enjoy Afternoon Tea in the UK and Ireland
A few months ago, we published our Informed Luxury Guide to the Best Places to Enjoy Afternoon Tea in the UK and Ireland. It proved very popular, so our Informed Luxury Ambassadors have visited even more locations to find delightful venues in which to take Afternoon Tea. As before, all venues were unaware that they were being rated, and our Ambassadors applied strict criteria and minimum rating checklist. Here are the best of their discoveries.
Fairmont St Andrews , Fife – Afternoon tea
Afternoon Tea at Fairmont, St Andrews is taken in the stunning Atrium, with a soaring ceiling from which hangs a glorious art installation. The tea menu is extensive, but the expert staff guides you to make the best choice. The dainty sandwiches were a delight – each one more delicious than the one before. Scones come with not only clotted cream and strawberry preserve, but with a wonderful homemade lemon curd. The pastry course was exceptional – of particular note were the Passionfruit Meringue Tart with a hidden dot of mango and chilli jam, and the Salted Caramel Macaron. The final cake course is a fine way to round of the afternoon’s delight. The staff is discrete but attentive, and should you be unable to finish, will happily box up your treats for you to enjoy later.
Fonab Castle Hotel & Spa, Highland – Afternoon tea
Fonab Castle boasts a delightful location, nestled on the banks of Loch Faskally, so when booking, be sure to request a window table to take in the stunning views across the Loch. Taken in the beautiful Lounge or The Brasserie, Afternoon Tea at Fonab Castle is elegant and indulgent. An Amuse Bouche opens the proceedings – our was haggis bonbons – a real treat. The sandwiches were tasty – our ambassador particularly enjoyed the egg mayonnaise with shallot confit. The scones were served warm, with a delightful home-made strawberry jam. The patisserie course was a joy – brought to our table on an impressive cake stand – all beautifully presented and exceptionally tasty. The staff is friendly and attentive, on hand to replenish tea as required – all in all, a wonderful way to spend an afternoon.
The Ampersand Hotel, London – Afternoon tea
The Ampersand Hotel draws on its neighbour, the Science Museum, as inspiration for this delicious yet fun Science Afternoon Tea. A unique experience set in the beautiful contemporary Drawing Rooms, our IL Ambassadors thoroughly enjoyed their afternoon. The savoury course was very fine indeed, for both the vegetarian and non-vegetarians of the party. The white chocolate and cranberry scones were scrumptious, as were the plain, served not only with the usual accompaniments of clotted cream and lovely preserves, but also unusual toppings such as freeze-dried raspberries and crunchy caramel to sprinkle on. The pastry course was a real joy, from excavating a chocolate fossil hidden within chocolate soil to a prosecco mint jelly served in a petri dish. Staff were attentive but unobtrusive, the presentation was exquisite yet quirky and the interactive aspect of the treats made for a memorable experience.
Jesmond Dene House, Newcastle – Afternoon tea
With a range of elegant rooms in which to take Afternoon Tea, Jesmond Dene offers an excellent location to treat yourself. You can choose between the Billiard Room or the Garden Room, but if the sun is shining, opt for the Terrace, and while away the afternoon. The atmosphere is relaxed, but the staff are solicitous and friendly. The tea selection was good, and the savoury treats lovely – in particular, the Broccoli and Stilton Quiche was a real melt-in-the-mouth delight. The three types of scones are heavenly and served with tasty home made jam along with clotted cream, and the sweet treats to follow are beautifully presented and truly delectable – our Ambassador particularly enjoyed the Raspberry and Coconut Sundae, and found the Strawberry and Lemon Balm Macaron to be exquisite. A wonderful way to celebrate a special occasion or simply to treat yourself with sumptuous delicacies.
The Midland Hotel, Manchester – Afternoon tea
Served for over a century, in a setting specifically designed for the occasion and recently refurbished, taking Afternoon Tea in the opulent surroundings of The Tea Room is a unique and decadent experience. Staff are polite and professional, guiding you to the perfect choice of tea. The sandwiches are dainty and delicate but with flavourful fillings. The scones in particular were a highlight – absolute perfection, served warm and fresh from the oven. As for the sweet treats – absolutely blissful. The Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel Tart was sublime, and the Pannacotta with Rhubarb Compote was delightful. Guests were even able to see one of the pastry chefs preparing delicious morsels at the Chef’s Counter, a treat in itself. Our IL Ambassadors are looking forward to a return visit.
The Egerton House Hotel, London – Afternoon tea
Our IL Ambassadors had heard great things about Afternoon Tea at this luxurious boutique townhouse hotel in Knightsbridge – in particular for their vegetarian and vegan options – and were not disappointed! Our party had a range of dietary requirements and each was offered a superb Afternoon Tea to suit them. All of the guests sampled the finest loose leaf teas, and fruit and plain scones served with a variety of different preserves, as well as clotted cream for those who partake. The sandwiches were delicious, our vegan particularly enjoyed the Coronation Chickpeas, the vegetarian noted that the grilled vegetables on granary baguette was wonderful, and our traditionalist enjoyed the organic smoked salmon on seeded bread in particular. The range of sweet treats for the whole party was exceptional, with several delicious treats for each dietary requirement, including decadent vegan chocolate brownies, divine miniature apple and blackberry crumbles, luscious toffee caramel cupcakes and delicate blackberry macarons. Our ambassadors all agreed that the food was delicious and the alternative menus are excellent; in addition, the atmosphere is convivial and the staff are friendly and helpful. It is often difficult to find a special place to take afternoon tea with such a wide range of dietary requirements, and for all members of the party to feel equally catered for; however The Egerton has truly set the standard for all others to reach. We have featured ‘Doggy Afternoon Tea’ picture as it is quirky, but we didn’t have this or see it.
Llangoed Hall, Brecon, Wales – Afternoon tea
Welcomed at the door and escorted to our table by our butler, this set the tone for a luxurious and elegant Afternoon Tea. Our Ambassadors were seated in the beautiful Drawing Room and tea was served on exquisite china. The sandwiches were fresh, tasty and generously filled, the scones were delicious as were the home-made preserves, and of course the clotted cream. The pastries and cakes were simply stunning, beautifully presented and utterly scrumptious. The battenburg was moist and the trifle was decadent, whilst the fruit pastries were delicate and the chocolate treats were divine. Service was excellent, impeccable yet friendly. Our Ambassadors were even offered a tour of the Hall afterwards, though they chose to wander round the beautiful gardens instead. Afternoon Tea at Llangoed Hall is a traditional affair, charming and elegantly served, a wonderful way to enjoy a special treat.
Glenlo Abbey, Galway, Ireland – Afternoon tea
A true gem in the West of Ireland, Afternoon Tea at Glenlo Abbey is a memorable occasion. Seated in the elegant Kentfield Suite, our Ambassadors were served by professional yet welcoming staff and enjoyed a truly indulgent afternoon. The food was exceptional, using the finest local ingredients, particularly in the savoury options. The Connemara Smoked Salmon was delectable, and the local Goats Cheese mousse was also noteworthy. The selection of teas was good, the coffee excellent and the scones were delightful, light and fluffy and served warm. The sweet treats were also exquisite, with the Raspberry Mille Feuilles achieving absolute perfection. The luxurious surroundings and relaxed yet refined atmosphere, along with the stunning cuisine, combined to ensure that our IL Ambassadors enjoyed a remarkable experience.
The Merchant Hotel, Belfast – Afternoon tea
Set in the splendid and opulent Great Room, Afternoon Tea at The Merchant is an utterly delicious experience. With the house pianist playing in the background, service was discrete yet efficient. The exquisite food was beautifully presented on a three-tiered silver stand. The delicate sandwiches were very tasty indeed, especially the Smoked Salmon and Artichoke and the Egg with Smoked Mozzarella. The scones were delightful, as was the banana bread. The patisserie was exceptional- each treat seemed more beautiful than the one before. The Passionfruit Meringue Tart was luscious, the Dark Chocolate Coupe was decadent, but all were absolutely heavenly. The grandeur of the surroundings provides a perfect backdrop to a delightful experience.