Whether you enjoy yours with scones and cream or a little champagne, indoors or out, Catherine Ross has been exploring the options for your next Afternoon Tea
Afternoon tea might seem like a decadent treat, but try hard enough and you’ll be able to find a reason to justify making a reservation. Sitting in a hotel lounge, perhaps with a newspaper, book or the latest copy of Fine Sussex, or in great company while being served with delicate finger sandwiches, scones, cakes and pastries is a gastronomic delight and a wonderful way to while away an afternoon. Here, we round up five of the best afternoon teas out there, so pick someone to join you, choose a venue and enjoy.
Head out towards East Grinstead and nestled in 120 acres of park land you will find Alexander House Hotel. A beautifully restored country house with an award-winning spa, this is a retreat for the restless. The smallest of the hotel group’s options, Alexander House provides a welcome sanctuary from modern life. Afternoon tea is served in the light, airy lounge and, on warmer days, in the garden. The traditional feast includes finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and cakes and as much tea as you can drink.
Afternoon tea is £19.95 per person or £25 including champagne.
Follow guests like Winston Churchill, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and The Queen through the doors of The Savoy and you won’t be disappointed. Beautifully and faithfully restored between 2007 and 2010, The Savoy combines Edwardian and Art Deco design and offers sheer opulence from the moment you arrive.
Afternoon tea is served in the Thames Foyer, a light airy lounge with a domed glass ceiling and the Winter Garden gazebo, from which the resident pianist tickles the ivories. The service is exceptional and the food is, well, exactly what you would expect from such an iconic hotel. Perfection.
A selection of fine teas from around the world, including the Savoy’s own blend make up the drinks menu. Finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and cakes replenished ad infinitum.
Afternoon tea starts from £40 per person or £51 with a glass of champagne.
COWDRAY FARM SHOP CAFÉ
If big hotels aren’t to your taste, but you still enjoy a cream tea, head over to Midhurst and the Cowdray Farm Shop Cafe. Offering a range of light bites, hot meals and the traditional cream tea, The Priory Cafe is a real treat. Serving fresh, local produce, much of which is sourced from the Cowdray Estate itself, the Priory Cafe offers delights for every appetite. It prides itself on its first class team of chefs, many of whom have also worked in Michelin starred restaurants. It has recently won the FARMA award for best on-farm cafe. All food, even the bread, is made on site. And if you really like what you try, well then you can treat yourself to something to take home from the farm shop.
Cream teas are just £3.95.
THE GRAND, BRIGHTON
Like a great ocean liner rising out of, arguably, Britain’s most beautiful promenade, the Grand Hotel is one of Brighton’s most iconic buildings. It also has to be best option for people watching. Sit in the Grand’s airy conservatory and watch all of Brighton pass by. Afternoon tea is served in the conservatory and the Victoria Lounge and, in warmer weather, on the terrace. Finger sandwiches, cakes and scones make up the Grand feast, but the opulent venue means the food may come in (still rather commendable) second place to the surroundings.
Afternoon tea is £19.95 per person Monday to Thursday and £24.95 Friday to Sunday. Champagne is £10.75 a glass.
Guests always enjoy the warmest of welcomes at South Lodge. A local gem, South Lodge offers the decadence of afternoon tea in a beautiful country house setting. Cosy winter afternoons in front of the fire are replaced by basking on the terrace with views over the rolling countryside when the weather improves. Either is a pleasure.
After a South Lodge afternoon tea, you won’t need to eat again for quite some time. A selection of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries are followed with a slice of one of Hayley’s delicious homemade cakes. Tea and coffee is topped up for as long as you can drink it. And if, after all that, you happen to fall asleep, well who can blame you. The furniture is so comfortable and the atmosphere so relaxed, you probably wouldn’t be the first.
Afternoon tea is £21 per person or £32 with a glass of champagne.