Top five best afternoon teas in Britain

Country Life selects some of the best places to take afternoon tea.

It doesn’t matter what the weather’s like outside – afternoon tea is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion all year round. We’ve picked some of the best places to have it in Britain.

Great Fosters

This country-house bolt-hole in Egham, Surrey gets the thumbs up from the Tea Guild for its lavish afternoon offering: the sandwiches are deliciously inventive (think marinated cucumber and crème fraîche on basil bread), the scones are baked fresh daily, and gluten-free choices are available. Tea is served outside on the terrace when it’s warm, or you can choose a fireside table on a wintry day. There are six two-hour sittings between 2pm and 5pm, and it’s definitely worth booking ahead.


Claridge's Tea

This London hotel has been serving afternoon tea for 150 years, so you’re in safe hands. The Art Deco foyer makes the perfect backdrop for elegant jade-and-white-striped plates of finger sandwiches (you’ll be fighting over the Severn & Wye smoked salmon, brown shrimp butter and rock samphire one), patisseries and scones, accompanied by a selection of teas from around the world. There are eight servings each day from 2.45pm to 5.30pm, and you can book up to 90 days ahead.

Brown’s Hotel

Even the fussiest eater will be over the moon if you take them for tea at Brown’s. If you opt for the traditional afternoon tea, you’ll be presented with cake-stands groaning with sandwiches, fruit and plain scones, pastries and cakes. The ‘Tea-Tox’ tea, on the other hand, is a daintier affair, with lettuce wraps, flourless chocolate cake and seasonal fruit sorbet. The handsome, wood-panelled English Tea Room is world-famous and gets booked up, so call ahead in plenty of time.

Sanderson Hotel

Sanderson Tea

Children will love tumbling down the rabbit hotel at the Sanderson’s Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. The famous scene from Lewis Carroll’s book has been recreated with wonderful attention to detail – the menu is tucked inside a vintage book and the sugar cubes are hidden in a music box. Treats served include Victorian moulded jellies, marshmallow ‘mushrooms’, a carrot meringue on a bed of pea shoots and a sponge-cake clock. Grown-ups can enjoy a pear-and-elderflower bellini or a scarlet martini.


Gershwin on the piano, a glass of Champagne and gold-dusted macaroons – afternoon teas don’t get much more elegant than the ones served in Bettys tearooms. The Yorkshire institutions specialise in Continental-style patisseries, accompanied by one of their 18 speciality teas. People from all over the country make pilgrimages here, so make sure you book ahead.