THE GREAT, THE GOOD & THE DISAPPOINTING
A good afternoon tea can be life-changing. But sometimes good food and good tea isn't good enough.
When I visit my aunt in England I never go to sightsee, or to be a tourist. I go there to eat. And specifically, I go there to consume inordinate amounts of scones, clotted cream, earl grey tea, and egg sandwiches on granary bread.
Here’s a ranking of the afternoon teas I sampled:
170 Great Portland Street,
London W1W 5QB
For a mere £18 for afternoon tea and prosecco, Villandry takes the cake in affordability, portion size, attentive service, and quality. Though you do need to make a reservation 24 hours in advance in order for them to prepare a set for you, they were quick to accommodate our same-day reservation at the last minute. The sandwiches were fresh, the scone warm, and desserts tasty. Our glasses of prosecco and cups of tea were never empty and we left the restaurant with plenty left over for later. Read on for a full review >
31a Seamoor Rd,
Bournemouth BH4 9AE
Dot.Tea’s is my favorite haunt for brunch, lunch, or an afternoon snack when I’m feeling peckish. I love their mismatched tea sets, casual setting, and friendly service. My favorite is their Dorset Cream Tea which comes with a choice of sandwich, scone, and cake of your choice with tea. I’d gush about my favorite order, but I have a whole blog post about that here >
Cumberland Hotel (☕☕☕☕)
27 E Overcliff Dr,
Bournemouth BH1 3AF
I can’t say I have the most un-biased memory of my afternoon tea at The Carlton–I was starving when I got there and could barely remember to take a photo first before shoving the finger sandwiches and scone down my throat. But here’s what I remember: solid finger sandwiches, a warm raisin scone with powdered sugar that melted on my fingertips and clotted cream that melted like butter because it was fresh from the oven, and disappointing petit fours to finish off the meal. I got my tea of preference–Earl Grey–to wash it all down and finished with a glass of prosecco and a gorgeous view of the water. A much-improved water-side afternoon tea experience from my time at The Carlton.
The Carlton (☕☕☕)
East Overcliff, Grove Rd,
Dorset BH1 3DN
The Carlton was the most-promising and least-satisfying of my afternoon teas. Right on the water, we were seated in a large sitting room with views of the ocean and open windows that let in just enough of a breeze to keep us cool while we dined. However, despite the fantastic location and ambiance, the hotel restaurant was poorly staffed with a waiter who had no idea what he was doing. We asked for two teas to split among three, and he doubled our order, giving us enough to feed at least four if not five or six people. It took forever to get our order, forever to flag him down for any of our other requests, and even longer to get our point across that the service was abysmal. He tried to have us pay for the meal even before we had received anything and refused to box up our leftovers, making us box up the meal ourselves and providing nothing but aluminum foil. The tea and food itself was great, but the service ruined it. Maybe I’d give it a second chance, but not unless significant improvements were made to the service.
Any recommendations for afternoon tea in England? Share below, I’d love to try them!