Afternoon tea is the quintessential British treat. Contrary to popular belief outside the UK, not all English people “take tea” in the afternoon. I don’t even drink tea myself, but I’m pretty sure that the most extravagant thing most people have with their cup of tea is a chocolate biscuit. However, when I recently visited York, a beautiful historic city in the North of England, I wanted to see what I was missing out on! I sampled two restaurants known for having the best afternoon tea in York – Betty’s Cafe Tea Room, and the Royal York Hotel – and loved them both!
If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, here are my five favourite options for the best afternoon tea in York
The Best Afternoon Tea in York: The Classic Option
Betty’s Café Tea Rooms
Betty’s is probably the most famous café and tea room in England. With branches throughout Yorkshire, Betty’s has become an institution, and is consistently popular with tourists and locals alike. The staff wear delightfully traditional outfits and are very attentive, and the delicious selection of cakes, sandwiches and the ever-important scones all lived up to the hype.
The menu includes a selection of handmade sandwiches, a sultana scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream, and some delicious miniature cakes. As I don’t like tea, they brought me a yummy hot chocolate instead. The afternoon tea is served all day, and costs £18.95 per person, or £26.85 including a glass of champagne.
Top Tip: There are two Betty’s Tea Rooms in York; the smaller one on Stonegate tends to be quieter than the larger on St Helen’s Square so you have a better chance of getting a table without waiting for hours in the Yorkshire weather. Choose your tea time well too; a mid-morning ‘brunch’ time visit should see you avoid excessive queues too.
For something a little more extravagant, you can reserve a Lady Betty Afternoon tea in the Belmont Room at the St Helen’s Square Betty’s, for £32.95 or £39.95 including champagne. This includes a wider menu selection, including an appetiser, savoury selection and two types of freshly baked scones – sultana and lavender – as well as more scrummy cakes.
For more information and bookings visit their website www.bettys.co.uk or call 0800 456 1919.
The Best Afternoon Tea in York: The 5 Star Treatment
Royal York Hotel
This is luxury tea time at its best. At the recently refurbished Royal York Hotel you can enjoy your afternoon tea in the Garden Room, a light-filled dining room with views of the gardens and the York Minster beyond. Conveniently located next to the train station, you can also treat yourself to an overnight stay here if your budget allows!
The Royal York offers a selection of loose-leaf teas as well as the traditional Earl Grey (and hot chocolate), and you can upgrade your tea to include a glass of champagne to really push the boat out!
The setting here is lovely, and the afternoon tea is served in stages; first came savoury nibbles – we had a smoked salmon mousse, a blue cheese scone and ham & leek tart before the waiter brought out our sandwiches and cakes. One of my favourite parts of this tea was the plain scone – we each had a plain and a fruit scone which was perfect for those who like to pick out my sultanas!
The price is £22.95 per person, or £29.50 including a glass of champagne.
For more information and bookings visit the website http://www.
Other Options for Afternoon Tea in York
I didn’t personally try the following, but I definitely want to on my next visit to York!
The Best Afternoon Tea in York: Something a little Different
The Countess of York is a beautifully restored railway carriage in the National Railway Museum, creating a unique setting for your afternoon tea. Travel back in time to the era of high-class railway dining and enjoy a traditional English Afternoon Tea surrounded by the opulent carriage décor and elegant furniture.
The menu includes a delicious selection of dainty sandwiches, fine leaf teas and scrumptious homemade cakes and scones, as well as a serving of warming soup during autumn and winter.
The afternoon tea is served daily at 12pm, 2pm and 4pm, and costs £22.50 per person, or £29 including champagne.
Reservation is recommended through their website www.nrm.org.uk or by phone +44 (0) 1904 686295.
The Best Afternoon Tea in York: Explore the City while you Eat
Absorb the views of beautiful York from the River Ouse on a delightful two hour cruise while enjoying afternoon tea. The menu includes a selection of finger sandwiches, fruit scones with jam & clotted cream and delicious finger deserts, and is served with freshly brewed tea and coffee.
The cruise also includes the captain’s commentary on sites you pass along the way. Pre-booking is essential for this, as they only operate on certain days from May – July and September, and not on school holidays. The cruises depart on Tuesdays & Wednesdays at 12pm, and last for 2 hours.
The cost is £24 per person, and you can add a couple of glasses of prosecco for an extra £5.
Check the website www.yorkboat.co.uk or call +44 (0) 1904 628324 for more information and to book your places.
The Best Afternoon Tea in York: The Quirky Option
The Grand Hotel & Spa
Offering lovely views of the historic City Walls of York, the relaxing atmosphere coupled with attentive and unobtrusive staff, all combine to provide an unforgettable dining experience at this five star hotel.
The standard afternoon tea starts from £24.50 per person, and can be upgraded to add sparkling wine, Hendrick’s Gin & Tonic or champagne. The children’s afternoon tea consists of a different more child-friendly menu, so the whole family can enjoy afternoon tea together.
However, what really makes the Grand Hotel stand out is the themed afternoon teas – The Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea Party and the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory inspired Afternoon Tea! These are more expensive but are an extra special experience that I have to try when I go back to York! The themed afternoon teas are £36 per person, and £21 per child up to 12 years old. Children under 5 dine for £11 each.
For more information and bookings visit the website www.thegrandyork.co.
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My afternoon tea experiences at Betty’s and the Royal York Hotel were complimentary, and the fact that I loved them both clearly influenced my review! All opinions are, as always, my own.