Sweet treats at Bettys

Afternoon tea has been an English custom ever since its beginnings in the early 19th century and it's now served in all guises, from the traditional to the contemporary – but most with a hefty dollop of charm, charisma and clotted cream. We round up five of the best to celebrate the 60th year of the Queen’s coronation and the imminent arrival of a new, younger royal next month.

Keeping it classy

afternoon tea athenaeumSample The Athenaeum's award-winning Evergreen tea
The Athenaeum

Relax in luxury at the The Athenaeum hotel’s Garden Room, where you sink in comfy chairs as you indulge in a wide array of teas and treats, such as traditional egg mayonnaise with mustard cress sandwiches or heavenly lavender and honey macarons – you’re also given a free pot of Regents Park Honey to devour at leisure. The Tea Guild, which has been ranking London hotels and tea rooms for nearly 30 years – so it clearly knows its stuff – put the hotel at the top of its 2012 list for its exceptional service, great quality tea and staff.

Address: 116 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London, W1J 7BJ
Tel: (020) 7640 3333.
Afternoon tea: Three sittings: 12.30pm, 3pm and 5pm.
Price: From £29.50 per person.

A novel experience

afternoon tea austen 2Be waited on by Austen characters
WTG / Saba Hamedy

Located on top of the Jane Austen Centre in one of Bath’s beautiful Georgian townhouses, the Jane Austen Regency Tea Room can often go unnoticed by visitors to the museum. But for Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility lovers, this café is the best way to get your fix of Austen while also satisfying your sweet tooth. Enjoy the luscious Champagne Tea with Mr Darcy beneath a portrait of the dashing character, or nibble on Crawford’s crumpets and Mr Bennet’s ‘rich tasty toasties’. The staff, who sport bonnets and Austen garb, add to the ambience and make you feel like you've been transported back to the 19th century.

Address: 40 Gay Street, Queen Square, Bath, BA1 2NT
Tel: (01225) 443 000.
Afternoon tea: 9:45am-5:30pm (hours vary according to the season).
Price: From £25.95 per person.

Get quirky

afternoon tea volupteEnjoy cakes and cabaret at Volupté

The words cabaret and tea do not usually go together – except at Volupté, that is. This London lounge bar, which has been hosting “afternoon tease” since 2006, boasts that it is “like tea at the Ritz, only more intimate”. Here, soft piano serenades are replaced by performances from vibrant cabaret singers and burlesque artists. Munch on finger sandwiches and warm scones, sip on bubbly, and substitute a pot of tea for a ‘pot of cocktail’ featuring a heady mix of tea or coffee and spirits, as you watch the 90-minute performance unfold.

Address: 7-9 Norwich Street, London EC4A 1EJ
Tel: (020) 7831 1622.
Afternoon tea: 2:30pm (Saturdays only).
Price: £49 per person (excluding cocktail pots).

Country feel

afternoon tea bettysDine amidst art deco elegance at Bettys
Bettys Café Tea Rooms

Full of old-fashioned charm, Bettys in York features elegant art deco design inspired by the luxury 1930s RMS Queen Mary cruise liner. Admire the huge curved windows with wood panelling on the ground floor before heading upstairs to the grand Belmont Room. Here, you can nibble on freshly baked sultana scones smothered in Yorkshire clotted cream and delicate finger sandwiches while being beguiled by lashings of live piano music.

Take time to marvel at the café’s history – a few years after Bettys opened in 1937, its basement became a hotspot for airmen stationed in York (some of their signatures even remain engraved on the mirror).

Address: 6-8 St Helen's Square, York, YO1 8QP
Tel: (01904) 659 142.
Afternoon tea: 12.30pm-6pm (Friday, Saturday and Sunday only). Reservations essential.
Price: From £18.30.

Tea with a view

afternoon tea quarterdeckAdmire the views from The Quarterdeck
The Nare Hotel

With its coastal view and sailing décor, sitting on the terrace of The Quarterdeck at the Nare Hotel feels more like you are on a super yacht than in a hotel. Order Captain’s Tea – which includes a pot of tea, smoked salmon sandwich, glass of champagne, scones with clotted cream and jam, as well as that very ‘British’ of summertime treats: strawberries and cream. Sit back and gaze at the glimmering bay and pristine Carne Beach below.

Address: Carne Beach, Veryan-in-Roseland, Cornwall TR2 5PF
Tel: (01872) 500 000.
Afternoon tea: 3pm-5:30pm.
Price: £28.

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