The Best Afternoon Tea in York

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 visited York, a beautiful historic city in Yorkshire in the North of England, I wanted to see what I was missing out on!  I sampled two tea rooms known for having the best afternoon tea in York – Betty’s Cafe Tea Room, and the Royal York Hotel – and loved them both!  When I returned to York on my Yorkshire Foodie Adventure this summer, I decided to try a Chocolate Afternoon Tea from York Cocoa House, which was also scrumptious!

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If you’d like to see what all the fuss is about, here are my favourite options for the best afternoon tea in York, which I would also say are contenders for the best afternoon tea in Yorkshire too!

The Best Afternoon Tea in York: The Classic Option

Betty’s Café Tea Rooms

The Best Afternoon Tea in York - Betty's
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – Betty’s Tea Room has Smart & Friendly Staff

Betty’s Tea Room is probably the most famous café and tea room in England.  With branches throughout Yorkshire, Betty’s Cafe 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 Best Afternoon Tea in York - Betty's
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – Betty’s Tasty Scones & Cakes
The Best Afternoon Tea in York - Betty's Afternoon Tea
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – Betty’s Afternoon Tea

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. Betty’s 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 so you can enjoy your afternoon tea at Betty’s sooner!

The Best Afternoon Tea in York - Betty's Delicious Cakes
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – Betty’s Delicious Cakes

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 or call 0800 456 1919.

The Best Afternoon Tea in York: The 5 Star Treatment

The Principal York (Formerly the Royal York Hotel)

The Best Afternoon Tea in York - The Royal York Hotel
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – The Royal York Hotel

This is luxury tea time at its best.  I visited when the hotel was the Royal York, and although it has re-branded as the Principal York I hear it is just as delicious.  Here 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 in York city centre next to the train station, you can also treat yourself to an overnight stay here if your budget allows!

The Best Afternoon Tea in York - The Royal York Hotel Savouries
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – The Royal York Hotel Savoury Nibbles (Now the Principal York)
The Best Afternoon Tea in York - The Royal York Hotel Afternoon Tea
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – The Principal York Hotel Afternoon Tea

The Principal York sources their tea from the Rare Tea Company, who supply the world’s best tea direct from farmers and their tea gardens, or 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 menu has changed, but the plain and sultana scones remain, and I love the addition of a children’s afternoon tea menu too.

The price is £29 per person, or £39 including a glass of champagne.

For more information and bookings visit the Principal York website

The Best Afternoon Tea in York - The Royal York Hotel Delicious Cakes
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – The Royal York Hotel Delicious Cakes

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The Best Afternoon Tea in York: Afternoon Chocolate

York Cocoa House

As I don’t drink tea, I usually order hot chocolate with my afternoon tea anyway, so when I heard about an afternoon chocolate, I couldn’t resist!  York Cocoa House used to offer an afternoon tea where everything on the menu has some kind of chocolate ingredient – hence the ‘afternoon chocolate’ name.  While they are now running their chocolate workshops again, COVID appears to have put a stop to the chocolate afternoon teas, unfortunately.

Chocolate Afternoon Tea at York Cocoa House - The best afternoon tea in York
Chocolate Afternoon Tea at York Cocoa House – The best afternoon tea in York

Savoury items included the York Cocoa House Rarebit made with York Chocolate Stout, chilli peppers filled with goats cheese & white chocolate, and a chicken pesto wrap with chocolate dressing.  I was pleasantly surprised by all of the savoury nibbles, as they really were savoury, with just a hint of chocolate – my personal favourite was the cheesy rarebit.  The sweet items were a chocolate and cherry scone, a raspberry & macaroon chocolate cup, and a square of incredibly soft and gooey chocolate goodness – I’m afraid I didn’t write down the name of it, but it was heavenly, they all were in fact!

Delicious Rarebit on the Chocolate Afternoon Tea at York Cocoa House - The best afternoon tea in York
Delicious Rarebit on the Chocolate Afternoon Tea at York Cocoa House – The best afternoon tea in York

You can choose from a selection of hot chocolates to accompany your chocolate afternoon tea, or add a chocolate wine or a chocolate stout for an extra price.  I chose the chocolate wine, but I have to admit I found it a bit bitter.  Perhaps a hot chocolate with a shot of whisky in it would have gone down better (also an option if you fancy!)

To see if they are offering delicious afternoon chocolate teas again check the York Cocoa House website.

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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

The Best Afternoon Tea in York - The Countess
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – The Countess.   photo credit

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 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 the Railway Museum website or by phone +44 (0) 1904 686295.

The Best Afternoon Tea in York: Explore the City while you Eat

City Cruises York

The Best Afternoon Tea in York - The Yorkboat
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – City Cruises York

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 desserts, 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 during the spring & summer, so check the departure schedule online.  Cruises board at 2.30pm, and last for an hour and 45 minutes.

The price starts from £28.50 per person.  Check the City Cruises York website 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

The Best Afternoon Tea in York - The Grand
The Best Afternoon Tea in York – The Grand.  photo credit

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 £25.50 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 – a Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea Party!  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 £39 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 Grand York website or phone +44 (0) 1904 380038

For afternoon tea in Yorkshire, York city centre has some of the best afternoon tea options, whether you’re looking for a champagne afternoon tea or a more simple afternoon tea for two then you will be spoilt for choice!

Where is your favourite afternoon tea shop in York?  And what do you think is the best afternoon tea in Yorkshire?  Let me know in the comments, I’d love to read your stories!

Where to Stay in York

Hostels in York

Hostels are opening up again now, and with the right safety protocols in place can be a great way to enjoy York on a budget, whether you are ready for a dorm room or prefer to book a private room.  Check the details of what new procedures have been brought in and make sure you feel confident in the hostel before booking. 

Astor York

Astor York is a lovely hostel in a listed building about 10 minutes walk from the centre of York. It gets great reviews for the staff, amenities and social activities.

The Fort Boutique Hostel

The Fort is in a great location right in the centre of York.  It gets great reviews for the location, comfy beds and cleanliness.  It’s above a bar so could be noisy at the weekends, but a pair of earplugs should sort that out.


Hotels in York

There is no shortage of great hotels in York. I especially love the smaller independently run bed and breakfast style hotels in York, where the owners really go out of their way to take care of guests.  

No.21 York

I stayed at the award-winning No.21 York Bed & Breakfast and loved it!  Owners Simon and Andrea are so kind and welcoming it felt like home.  The Bed and Breakfast is located close to the Museum Gardens, and the rooms are comfortable and spotlessly clean.  Simon and Andrea use local ingredients for their delicious breakfast and homemade bread, and source as many of their produce & services as possible from within a 20-mile radius of York. 


Tower Guesthouse

Tower Guesthouse is another popular choice when visiting York.  It is slightly further out of the city than No. 21, about a mile away from York Minster, but the boutique style and luxurious decor makes up for the walk.  Guests also loved the great breakfast and friendly staff.  


If neither of those takes your fancy, you can browse all hotels in York here.

Airbnb in York

There are also lots of options for Airbnbs in York.  If you are looking for a private room, how about this gorgeous loft in a townhouse or this lovely suite with private bathroom.

For a whole place to yourself, this riverside studio has onsite parking and gets great reviews for cleanliness and for its location 5 minutes from the Shambles.  Of if you’re really looking to push the boat out, this stunning flat could be the one for you!

Alternatively, you can check out all the options for Airbnb in York.


If you have never used Airbnb before, use this link to sign up & get up to $52 credit to use on your first trip!  Read more about the Airbnb first time discount code and my full Airbnb guide or click below for your Airbnb coupon.


If you’re looking for travel insurance for your trip to the UK, get a quote now from World Nomads.

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Afternoon tea is the quintessential British treat. If you’d like to try it for yourself, here are my 5 favourite options for the best afternoon tea in York #Yorkshire #York #AfternoonTea #Food #Foodie #England

Thank you to Visit York for hosting my visit to York.

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.

Just to let you know, this post may contain paid or affiliate links, which help to maintain Tales of a Backpacker and give me the chance to keep travelling, and to keep creating awesome content for you!

Tales of a Backpacker is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to  I only recommend goods and services I believe are useful and reliable.


21 thoughts on “The Best Afternoon Tea in York

  1. Danial says:

    York Cocoa House with its chocolate-themed afternoon tea seat should be a hit with my son and me – who are both chocolate lovers!

  2. Ami says:

    I love the cruise option. And those food options look really lip smacking. Am hungry right now for some of those desserts.

  3. clairesturz says:

    I love the idea of themed teas too, I didn’t get to try the Mad Hatter tea party when I went but will do next time! Or perhaps the gin one 😉

  4. clairesturz says:

    I suppose for an every day meal it is quite expensive – but it is a treat after all 😉 and the cakes are delish!

  5. Joanna says:

    I would really like to try The Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea Party at the Grand hotel. I actually have a friend that would love it too as she is madly in love with Alice in Wonderland. What a great idea to develop themed afternoon teas. I have only had cream tea once, in the New Forest, and I really liked the selection of cakes and nibbles.

  6. Christina says:

    The cakes at Betty’s look absolutely scrumptious and lavender scones sound like a real treat. The price seems a bit on the high side though. I love the British tradition of High Tea.

  7. clairesturz says:

    Oh yes you should definitely treat yourself! I’m sure the macarons won’t be as good as in France but they’re still pretty delicious! 😉

  8. Harsh Gupta says:

    I am actually craving for some tea and macrons in the middle of night now, thanks to your blog. :p
    would love to try this tradition of afternoon tea when I make it to England.

  9. Liana says:

    I have an absolute love for tea, and being French, I love having an afternoon tea. When you’re mentioning both of those institutions I was so extremely pleased! I’ve heard about Betty’s and since I’ve seen your photos, it seems like an amazing place. Although, you’re just making me hungry! So when I will step by England, I will make sure to have this kind of break and treat!

  10. Samantha Elisabeth says:

    This is so cute! I’ve never actually experienced afternoon tea, much less in England (I was too poor as a student to justify it haha). I’d love to have it while cruising the river!

  11. Faith Coates says:

    I love the whole ceremony of afternoon tea and hubs and I have spent many hours in London experiencing afternoon teas. The scones the clotted cream and jam are the things of dreams.

  12. Sasha says:

    I have been wanting to visit York for months, everyone always says how it is one of the most beautiful cities in England. I also really love afternoon tea so I will definitely be using this guide when I do eventually get to visit.

  13. mark wyld says:

    looks amazing and so tasty. My wife has always wanted to take our girls to a high tea. It would be so special in York

  14. clairesturz says:

    Ooh thanks for the recommendation, it’s now on my list!! Although the harpist sounds a little ott 😉

  15. clairesturz says:

    Hehe oh yes you have to do it in England 🙂 I’d like to try it in Japan too, I think they have lovely tea ceremonies as well!

  16. Anne says:

    I love afternoon tea even though it is ridiculously indulgent. Chocolate afternoon tea at the Landmark in London is definitely worth splurging in next time you are in town. It’s so pretty you almost don’t want to eat it and your tea is accompanied by an harpist. Too cool

  17. Chantell - Adoration 4 Adventure says:

    Yay! I love English high tea! And all these options look incredible. It would be almost impossible to choose. I had High Tea once in London at an old hotel and absolutely loved it. I chose the option with champagne to be decadent. I love the look of the cakes at The Royal York Hotel too!

  18. Candy says:

    This is absolutely something I want to experience some day especially in England. I have been to tea rooms in other countries, but I imagine England is THE place to do it. The Countess of York sounds like an interesting tea room 🙂

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