10 of the best local afternoon teas
More scones, madam? Nibble your way through petit fours and finger sandwiches with our round up of the best afternoon teas in the area - Champagne with ours, please.
It’s indulgent, soothing, better value than lunch or dinner and involves a LOT of cake. What’s not to like about afternoon tea? Here are some of the best places in Berkshire to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week…
Cliveden Dining Room, Cliveden House Hotel Taplow
Whether you fancy yourself as Meghan Markle taking tea with the Queen or Christine Keeler swinging from the chandeliers, afternoon tea at Cliveden House is a bit spesh (from £40pp). You’ll be seated in the Cliveden Dining Room or the Great Hall and served delicate finger sandwiches, scones with homemade jam and clotted cream with delicate pastries and red velvet cakes (a nod to Cliveden’s very own special relationship with the US). Yes, you can choose from the menu of teas but popping the cork on a bottle of Veuve Clicquot sounds more fun. Taaaaaxiiiiii!
The Drawing Room, Coworth Park Ascot
One of Prince Harry’s favourite spots, Coworth Park is elegant and romantic with an award-winning afternoon tea to match. You’re more likely to find Hazza on the polo field, but Head Pastry Chef, Jonas Plangger’s precision pastries, finger sarnies and scones will lure you into The Drawing Room like the Bisto kids. From £55pp. Available on Eat Out To Help Out and also as a takeaway.
Hurley House Hotel, Hurley
Hurley House Hotel has become a foodie destination in its own right. The perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, then – and the afternoon tea is a culinary food tour of Great Britain (useful in a post-Brexit world). Smoked Loch Duart Salmon, Horseradish Cream, Caviar; Waterloo Cheese, Plum Tomato, Cucumber and Cumbrian Air-Dried Ham, Grain Mustard Sandwiches, served alongside Cornish potted mackerel and strawberry & cream choux bun, salted popcorn & caramel macaron and scones… not forgetting the scones. Foodie heaven. £42pp (including Champagne).
The Vineyard, Stockcross
Pinkies perfectly poised, it’ 5-star all the way. The Vineyard nr Newbury is one of the finest wine hotels in the UK with 30,000 bottles snuggled up in the cellar, 100 of them available by the glass. Woohoo! Throw in a quintessentially English afternoon tea and it’s practically perfect in every way. This is the Pastry Chef’s playground, serving exquisite cakes, scones and the neatest finger sarnies ever. Choose the Champagne wine flight (is there anything else?) or a tea flight experience and your drinks will be paired to each course. *Dabs napkin and starts on the 100 wines*. From £29.75pp.
7 Flowers & Tea, Reading
Is it a florist? Is it a tea room? It’s both, people, and 7 Flowers & Tea is a Instaworthy fragrant hangout. Settle in for a decadent afternoon tea in the blissful surrounded by fresh blooms and a faux plant wall. It’s an utterly quirky setting, and the cakes and sarnie stack are a very reasonable £18.99pp. It’s not a huge space, so book in pronto.
Chez Mal, Malmaison Reading
Tea with a twist. Malmaison gets full marks for the city slicker vibes, serving hot smoked salmon & creme fraiche and chipotle chicken wraps, fruit smoothies in diddy glass bottles with retro stripy straws and your choice of our speciality teas. They also do a ‘tipsy’ version with cocktails – hello Hendricks G&Tea (gin, elderflower liqueur, blackberry & elderflower tea syrup, lemon juice, tonic). From £27pp.
The Terrace, Oakley Court Hotel Windsor
A simple, classic afternoon tea in a jaw-dropping gothic mansion on the banks of the river in Windsor that’s played hooky as the school in the original 1954 St Trinian’s films. Oakley Court’s afternoon tea swerves the fuss for flavour. It’s all about quality seasonal ingredients and the fruit and veg used is dug up from Oakley’s kitchen garden. The standard tea is £29.50pp, but we’re getting ready for take off and will be adding the sparkling wine flight for an extra £12.
A crowd-pleaser, for sure. No dainty finger sandwiches, the sarnies are a bit more robust with classic flavours – ham, smoked salmon and cream cheese, egg mayo and coronation chicken and grated smoked cheddar, tomato and spring onions bound with mayonnaise, with crisps. That’s right, people, CRISPS! I’m quite partial to a posh potato chip, but if you’re a sucker for starched table cloths and patisseries then you’ll be reaching for the smelling salts. But with tea for two costing just £26 (Vegan and Gluten-Free available £13pp), it would be rude not to splash out on a bottle of bubbles… or two.
Whittington’s Tea Barge Reading
Now, this is a truly unique experience – eating scones al fresco on a narrowboat on the north bank of the River Thames alongside Christchurch Meadows in Reading. Afternoon teas don’t come quirkier. Be warned though – it’s only open Friday to Sunday. But, don’t just rock up unannounced, as it can be booked up for private parties. Expect mismatched vintage china, homemade cakes, sarnies and scones. Go for the Special Occasion Vintage Tea, £20pp.
Royal Afternoon Tea, The Bel & The Dragon Windsor
Royal Weddings are like buses in Windsor. Two come along at once, and then Princess Beatrice at the last minute swaps her grand Buckingham Palace for a bijou Windsor bash for her I dos. No need for FOMO, we can all jump on the bunting bandwagon with a Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea at The Bel & The Dragon Windsor. It’s a stylish gastropub that’s so close to Windsor Castle you can practically boast the queen is sitting opposite you. For £17 pp (£24 with English sparkling wine) you’ll get cake, House of Windsor scones, Scottish salmon, cucumber and egg sarnies, plus a large selection of teas. Shall I be Ma’am?
FAB FIVE… FURTHER AFIELD
Glass House, Heckfield Place Hook
Worship at the eco luxe altar that is Heckfield Place. It attracts a celebrity crowd who want to polish their sustainability halo (shh, without compromising on luxury). Take a pew in the Glass House surrounded by lavender, wisteria and peonies and sample the diddy sarnies and pretty cakes made from produce grown on the hotel’s farm. It’s under the culinary stewardship of Skye Gyngall (ex Petersham Nurseries) so expect something really special. Open for afternoon teas from 5 Sep.
Café Wolseley, Bicester Village
If you usually just whizz into Pret for a coffee while at Bicester Village, there’s now a whole new level of refreshment indulgence to enjoy. This is the little sister outpost of the gorgeously elegant Wolseley on Piccadilly (where I spent about 90 per cent of my working day in ‘meetings’ in a previous life). Afternoon tea is decent value at £29.75pp and it’s available anytime from 11.30am – 6.30pm so you can definitely fit in some ruinous designer shopping around it.
The Orangery, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock
The new ‘Let’s Misbehave Afternoon Tea’ by Searcys will bring to life some of the decade’s iconic and all-time favourite dishes. Classic finger sandwiches with a twist, handmade pastries, scones, plus a selection of teacakes (I’ve got my eye on the apple and gin jelly – yum!). And if you really want to misbehave, add a Gin Rickey cocktail or Champagne to your order. From £28pp, booking advised.
The Ivy Marlow Garden, Marlow
I’ve had afternoon tea here with girlfriends a couple of times and it’s the perfect atmosphere for the occasion – grown-up, glam and indulgent. Served 3pm – 5pm daily, you can order Cream Tea for £7.95, full afternoon tea for £18.95 or have it with Champagne for £26.50. Top tip: ramp up the alcohol levels with an English Spritz cocktail on the side. It involves Earl Grey gin so that’s technically tea, right?
Danesfield House, Marlow
This exquisite Grade II-listed, late Victorian five-star country house hotel serves a classic afternoon tea with petite sandwiches, scones, homemade cake, Cornish clotted cream, plus stunning views of the Thames if you eat out on the terrace. Afternoon tea in £30pp, or you can upgrade to Champers or tea-inspired cocktails for an extra £10 (there’s a kiddie offering for £15 too). If it’s good enough for George and Amal Clooney’s wedding party, it’s certainly good enough for us.