The Best UK Cities for Afternoon Tea

The great British pastime – sitting down for a spot of afternoon tea – is only growing in popularity. But where in the UK are the best places to have it?

Going for a good old fashioned afternoon tea is a much loved British pastime. From themed meals to traditional outings, more people are searching online for the best afternoon tea locations than ever. In fact, there has been a 395% increase in Google searches for ‘afternoon tea near me’ since this time last year, demonstrating the growing popularity of the event. 

Whether you just want to enjoy a lovely meal that you didn’t cook yourself, or are gifting a trip to someone you love (Mother’s Day is coming up, take note), we wanted to find the best spots for afternoon tea around the country. 

We’ve analysed TripAdvisor data to reveal the best cities around the UK for tea lovers, as well as the best rated afternoon teas both outside and inside London. Inspired by this information, our experts have also shared some top tips for how to create your very own luxury afternoon tea from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Cups of tea have become a big part of British culture. Around 84% of Brits enjoy at least one cuppa every single day, and as a country, we consume around 36 billion cups of tea per year

Since we’re drinking so much of this beverage every single day, it’s always useful to know where’s best to go if you’re after a brew in the UK. While you can’t beat a good homemade cuppa, there are establishments up and down the country that can offer you a comforting cup of whatever you fancy. 

To find the best UK cities for tea (and coffee) lovers, we analysed TripAdvisor data for every tea and coffee establishment across the country. Each city was then scored on their range of establishments' offerings, including wheelchair accessibility, dog and child friendliness, free wifi, outdoor seating and catering for certain dietary requirements. 

The 20 best cities to find great British tea

For the best tea-offering establishments in the country, Bath is the place to go. There are 56 in total around the city, 66% of which are child-friendly, and 36% of which are wheelchair accessible. Additionally, 30% have free wifi and outdoor seating, and 43% have vegetarian options. Only 7% are dog friendly, so if you have your pup with you while you enjoy a brew, you’ll have to search a bit harder for somewhere that will let them in - but they definitely exist.

Chester is second, with 51 places serving tea and coffee dotted around the area. Many more establishments are wheelchair accessible and offer free wifi than in Bath, 47% and 30% respectively, but the places don’t cater to dietary requirements quite as well. 37% offer vegetarian options, 29% offer vegan options (the same as Bath), and 18% offer gluten free options. Fewer cafes accept children (61%) and dogs (4%) too, putting Chester in second place overall.

In third place, we travel way up north to Aberdeen. There are 57 tea and coffee-providing establishments in the city, and a large 58% of these are wheelchair accessible. Like in Chester, only 4% are dog-friendly and 61% are child friendly - and only 18% have outside seating, so don’t expect an alfresco cuppa in the area. However, a fairly high 33% have free wifi, 40% have vegetarian options and 26% have gluten free options. You can get your diet-appropriate brew and snacks on Instagram in no time.

The top 10 best rated restaurants for afternoon tea

To determine the top spots for afternoon tea in the UK, we pulled together a list of all the restaurants in the UK with reviews including the words 'Afternoon Tea' on TripAdvisor. We then ranked the restaurants based on the number of 5* reviews to reveal the best rated afternoon teas in the country. We focused on both London spots and the highest rated spots outside London, so no matter where you are in the country, there’s an afternoon tea to get your mouth watering. 

While most of the country’s top afternoon tea options are in the capital, there are plenty of restaurants serving up a storm elsewhere in the UK. These are the places with the most 5* ratings that serve afternoon tea outside of London.

The top 10 best rated afternoon teas outside of London

In first place is the iconic northern eatery, Bettys. With six locations dotted around Yorkshire, the famous tea room is always busy, and serves one of the best afternoon teas in the country. The restaurant chain has received 4,645 5* reviews so far, and costs £28.95 per person for a delicious afternoon tea, in which you’ll receive delicious sandwiches, specialty teas and irresistible cakes and scones. Even better, you’ll be serenaded by an expert pianist as you eat. Now that’s the high life.

In second place is The Dome in Edinburgh. Afternoon tea here is a real treat, taking place in the extremely grand building, walking past Corinthian columns and exquisite marble as you enter. The luxury doesn’t end there. For your meal, you’ll receive a selection of teas, an array of sandwiches, a savoury choux bun, freshly baked scones and an assortment of sweet treats. It’s so good that it’s received 4,316 5* reviews to date, and it only costs £22 per person.

Edinburgh takes another of the top spots with its afternoon tea offering at The Witchery by the Castle. If you’re after a traditional Scottish high tea in a beautiful location, this is the perfect choice. Offering afternoon tea in one of two rooms: the Secret Garden room, full of light and luxury, or the candlelit, baroque Original dining room. The restaurant has received 3,073 5* reviews so far, and costs £35 for a delicious array of luxury sandwiches and sweet treats, accompanied by your choice of tea - or you can upgrade to champagne for an extra cost.

The top 10 best rated afternoon teas in London

There are more than enough afternoon tea spots to choose from in London, but only a few can make our top ten. These are the ones you want to set your sights on if you’re after some true luxury.

Both the top rated and the physically highest afternoon tea spot in London, Aqua Shard offers a unique afternoon tea experience that’s currently Peter Pan themed. It costs £52 per person, and for this you’ll receive a delicious selection of savoury delights and sweet treats. There’s an option to make it boozy, too, for an extra cost. People love this offering, with the restaurant receiving 7,458 5* reviews so far. 

The OXO Tower restaurant at Harvey Nichols is in second place, having received 4,574 5* reviews. There’s a great selection of both savoury and sweet food included in the £35 per person you’ll pay, including a selection of sandwiches, cakes and pastries, scones and, of course, tea. The backdrop of The Thames and St Paul’s is something you won’t be able to take your eyes off - and you can add a glass of champagne upon arrival for an extra £10 per person, to make it extra fancy. 

In third place is The Wolseley, in Piccadilly. This location offers three tiers of afternoon tea, from the more affordable Cream Tea with scones and tea to the lavish Champagne Afternoon Tea for the most special of occasions. The restaurant has had 3,630 5* reviews online, and the classic Afternoon Tea costs £33 per person, so you don’t have to break the bank for a great experience. 

If you want to splash out on a more expensive treat, book yourself in at The Foyer At Claridge’s. It’s a whopping £75 per person, and includes a luxurious spread of sandwiches, scones and pastries, all made with the finest ingredients and by expert chefs. It has far fewer 5* reviews than the restaurants in top spots, though, with 2,019 in total. 

Quirky afternoon tea experiences

Many afternoon tea spots are offering exciting, unique experiences, lending a quirky edge to the traditional British event. The highest rated restaurant in London, Aqua Shard, puts on a great Peter Pan themed afternoon tea, but this isn’t the only themed event on the market. Some of our current favourites in London include:

 

No matter what you’re after, there’s probably a themed afternoon tea to match it. So, next time you have a free afternoon, why not try something a bit different?

Michelin recommended afternoon teas

For those of you who have a taste for the finer things in life, there are various afternoon tea spots around the country that have been recommended by the Michelin guide - and we’ve picked out five that you’re sure to love.

How to recreate your own luxury afternoon tea at home

Want to host your own afternoon tea? Once you’ve invited your guests and prepared the space, there’s not much to creating the perfect afternoon meal. 

Choose the perfect location

Find a cosy corner in your home, or a light open space - whatever you fancy. Make sure wherever you pick is the perfect place to host the afternoon tea of your dreams, and make sure it’s comfortable enough to sit there for a couple of hours, and that there’s space for all your guests to sit.

Set the mood

Find a nice tablecloth, set the chairs around the table, and use flowers and candles to brighten up the space. Unearth your finest plates and cutlery - this is a special meal, it calls for the best crockery! If you have a cake stand, even better.

Plan the meal in advance

Decide the food you’ll serve in advance so you can be sure you have all the ingredients necessary. You can spruce up the menu in any way you like, but at the very least you’ll need sandwiches, scones and cakes. And, of course, tea.

Prepare the food

Now it’s time to bring your menu to life. Get your kitchen ready and start making the food well ahead of time. The good news about this type of food is that it doesn’t have to be served fresh out of the oven - you can make it a couple of hours before your guests arrive, giving you plenty of time to prepare everything else.

Pour the tea

One thing that does have to be done while the guests are there is prepare the tea. Use a large teapot to make it easier, and you can even offer a selection of teas to please each and every guest. Earl grey, breakfast, chamomile - the choice is yours.

Sit back and enjoy!

One the food is served and the tea is steeped, it’s time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Sit back, relax, and prepare to get extremely full from all those tiny sandwiches you made.

 

Want to upgrade your kitchen to fit the afternoon teas you’ll be hosting there? Book a consultation with Magnet to find out how we can create your dream kitchen.

Methodology 

Magnet analysed TripAdvisor data to rank over 50 UK cities on their offering of ‘tea and coffee’ establishments. Each city's collection of establishments was reviewed to reveal the percentage that offered different services or amenities. This included wheelchair accessibility, dog-friendly, child-friendly, free WiFi, outdoor seating and catering for certain dietary requirements, such as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free. These were then scored and ranked to create The Great British Tea Index.

To reveal the best restaurants for afternoon tea, TripAdvisor data was also analysed. The list of restaurants serving afternoon tea in the UK was created by filtering establishments that had been left reviews including the words 'Afternoon Tea'. These were then ranked based on the number of five star reviews the restaurant had received to reveal the best rated afternoon teas in the country

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