Everything in this honey-stoned country house hotel on the fringes of Bath is preserved as it has been for decades, from the ticking clocks and carefully plumped sofas in the library to the starched white tablecloths and synchronised cloche flourishes in the dining room. You’d be more likely to bring your partner or parents here than perhaps a first date – the dining room is formal rather than funky and there’s a noticeable lack of music. The bonus at lunchtime, though, is the dreamy views over four acres of gardens. Traditional afternoon tea is served from 3-5pm every day in The Pantry, lounges or on the terrace. Opt for the full afternoon tea at £34 pp, or £46 pp with champagne. Expect classic finger sandwiches such as ham and mustard, creamy smoked salmon and egg mayonnaise; homemade British cakes including zesty lemon drizzle, moist carrot cake and fresh raspberry tart. Finish off with fluffy, warm plain or fruit scones with thick clotted cream and local jam.
The Royal Crescent Hotel has carved out a niche as one of the best afternoon tea stops in Bath thanks to its range of five imaginative and decadent tea menus. From the classic Royal Crescent (largely sweet) to the Duke of York (largely savoury) and a vegetarian selection, most tastes are catered for.
It’s the nod to local flavours that takes the Royal Crescent’s afternoon tea up a level. Bath chaps is a local delicacy – brine-pickled pork cheek that’s boiled and coated in breadcrumbs – and The Royal Crescent’s bite-sized reworking of it is a triumph. Look out too for the perfectly sticky take on a Bath bun (complete with ready-to-smear whipped cinnamon butter) and kaffir lime panna cotta topped with Bath Gin gel and a tiny crescent-shaped juniper biscuit.
olive editor Laura’s favourite tea is the Duke of York (£37.50 pp), which eases back on the sweet treats and goes big on awesome savoury bites, including Bath chaps beignet; mushroom croquette with mushroom ketchup and aged parmesan; and hay-smoked salmon, horseradish yogurt and caviar. The smoked Chinese tea is a good earthy partner for such rich and meaty morsels.
Afternoon tea served everyday from 1.30-6pm
Price: traditional afternoon tea from £37.50 pp
Address: The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, 16 Royal Crescent, Bath BA1 2LS
Think of a typical English tearoom and you’ll probably conjure up floral china teapots, gilt-edged, triple-tiered cake stands and tablecloths draped over tightly packed tables for two. Comins Tea House in Bath is nothing of the sort. The pared-down décor is light and airy, with white walls, clean lines and simple blonde woods. The menu offers traditional afternoon tea, including tartines with coronation chicken and cheddar and chutney, along with a selection of cakes including caramel shortbread, ginger cake and blueberry scones.
But the focus is on teas. Sit at one of Comins Tea House’s tables and one of the first things you’ll notice is the little chirrup of alarms going off around you as customers’ infusions are ready. Depending on which tea you order you might have a little clay teapot or a lidded bowl to infuse it in but every tea comes with a recommended brewing time – and little timers to help you get it right.
Afternoon tea is served in this stylish, 18th-century townhouse in the centre of Bath in the hotel’s contemporary ArtBar. The menu offers traditional afternoon tea with a selection of finger sandwiches including chicken and stuffing, and honey-glazed ham, seasonal cakes such as carrot and walnut, and freshly baked fruit scones. You can add champagne or a classic cocktail at an extra cost.
Afternoon tea served everyday between 12-5pm
Price: traditional afternoon tea from £23 pp, cocktail afternoon tea from 33 pp, champagne afternoon tea £32 pp
Great for a posh Bath bun, as well as all manner of other baked goods, this sustainably minded bakery and baking school focusses on seasonal, hand-crafted breads and cakes. It has been known to barter its bread for homegrown or locally foraged ingredients brought in by regulars, and is brilliantly imaginative (one of its signature inventions is a little egg box filled with tiny flavoured breads and dipping oils flavoured with wild garlic).
Afternoon tea served Tuesday-Saturday 8am-5pm, Sunday 9am-4pm