Top 10 afternoon teas
We don’t need any encouragement to scoff cake, but we like to go the extra mile for afternoon tea. Do we know anywhere nice? Of course we do!
Pinkies poised? Then let’s loosen the belt and demolish the scene of pastry perfection. We’ve sunk our gnashers into many melt-in-the-mouth scones (cream first people), pretty cakes and diddy sandwiches to bring you the best afternoon teas Berkshire has to offer… with plenty of time for you to book in for Mother’s Day (Sun 31 Mar, in case you didn’t know)! *Draps napkin onto lap* Come to mama.
THE FOODIE ONE: 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 the 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 CHIC ONE: 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 legendary 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 £31.50pp.
The Vineyard Hotel, Stockcross, Newbury RG20 8JU The-vineyard.co.uk
THE FANCY ONE: Cliveden ’66 Traditional, Cliveden House, Taplow
Whether your fancy yourself as Meghan Markle taking tea with the Queen, her gym-honed tush perfectly perched on plush velvet or Christine Keeler swinging from the chandeliers, afternoon tea at Cliveden House is a bit spesh (from £37pp). You’ll be seated in this neo-classical pile’s Great Hall and served delicate finger sandwiches, scones with homemade jam and clotted cream with delicate pastries and cakes, washed down with a choice of teas – or go for only ‘T’ I know (tiddly) and knock back Cliveden ’66 cocktails – shot of vodka, Grand Marnier, rose liquor, topped up with Champagne and gold leaf. Oh, go on then and keep ’em coming, garçon.
Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire SL6 0JF. clivedenhouse.co.uk
THE FUNKY ONE: Malmaison, Reading
If you’re looking for a tea with a twist, then pull up a chair at Malmaison. It 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 specialty teas. They also do a ‘tipsy’ version with cocktails – hello Hendricks G&Tea (gin, elderflower liqueur, blackberry & elderflower tea syrup, lemon juice, tonic). Book in for Mother’s Day and your ma will get a glass of Champers and a gift. Winning. From £27.95pp.
Malmaison, 8-20 Station Rd, Reading RG1 1JX malmaison.com
THE VINTAGEY ONE: Vintage Cream Tea Whittington’s Tea Barge Reading
Now this is a truly unique experience – eating scones al fresco on a narrow boat 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, £19pp.
Whittington’s Tea Barge, North bank of the River Thames, alongside Christchurch Meadows, Reading, RG4 8BY whittingtons-teabarge.co.uk
THE ROMANTIC ONE: Coworth Park, Ascot
One of Prince Harry’s favourite places, Coworth Park is elegant and romantic with an afternoon tea to match. You’re more likely to find Hazza on the polo field, but Head Pastry Chef, Lucy Jones’ precision pastries, finger sarnies and scones will lure you in to The Drawing Room like the Bisto kids. There is a special Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea on offer with a bubblicious glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne (and a cheeky gift – useful if you forgot), but I’d also recommend the Garden Afternoon Tea with its floral-inspired pastries and views of the meadow. From £55pp.
Coworth Park, Blacknest Road, Ascot, Berkshire SL5 7SE. www.dorchestercollection.com.
THE ROYAL ONE: The Bel & The Dragon Windsor
Can you believe nearly a year has passed since we went Union Jack mad, hung the bunting and slapped Meghan and Harry’s face on anything ceramic? Ah, happy days. The good news is that The Bel & The Dragon Windsor is still offering its Royal Wedding Afternoon Tea and you’re 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 Harry and Meghan’s wedding cake, House of Windsor scones, Scottish salmon, cucumber and egg sarnies, plus a large selection of teas. Shall I be Ma’am?
Bel & the Dragon 1 Datchet Rd, Windsor SL4 1QB. belandthedragon.co.uk/windsor
THE SIMPLE ONE: Rosebourne, Aldermaston
Sometimes it’s good to keep it simple. No bookings required just rock and tuck into a spread of tried and tested flavours and desserts that whisk you back to your childhood for a dose of ‘there there’. Rosebourne in Aldermaston is a modern garden centre (ticking boxes for Mums who can spend hours titivating there borders and tidying their bushes) with a rather lovely table service restaurant, serving fuss-free but fabulous food. Plus you can choose whatever drink you want – the gin fizz sounds rather fabulous. From £13pp.
Rosebourne, Basingstoke Rd, Aldermaston, Reading RG7 4LD rosebourne.co.uk
THE FUSS-FREE ONE: Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Reading
If our mighty National Trust properties can’t get a cream tea right then it’s time to leave the country. I can confirm (having eaten my fair share of cream teas at Basildon Park) that they do a cracking one. Enjoy a stroll in the 400 acres, the kids can let off steam. You can accidentally on purpose lose them for half an hour up a tree (er, joke), and then eat all the cakes. Although the cream tea is a showstopper.
Basildon Park, Lower Basildon, Reading, Berkshire, RG8 9NR. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/basildon-park
THE HAPPY ONE: Oakley Court Hotel, Windsor
Nope, your afternoon tea doesn’t come with a Prozac chaser, but it will keep everyone happy. Ladies first: Are you ready for take off? Because your alongside the traditional dainty finger sandwiches and pretty pastries and cakes, you can add a sparkling wine flight. It would be rude not to. For the fellas? Oakley Court offers a Gentleman’s Tea that’s a bit butch with its pork scratchings, tarts and sausage rolls, served with beer. And finally the hungry ankle biters can enjoy a Children’s Tea – smaller, simpler but equally delicious. And a riverside setting should seal the deal.
Oakley Court Hotel, Bray, Windsor SL4 5UR oakleycourt.co.uk