With many group-friendly attractions celebrating the tradition of afternoon tea, Elissa Hill takes a sip of Earl Grey at some of the UK’s more unusual venues

Afternoon tea is quintessentially English – even Henry James wrote about it when he penned: ‘There are few hours more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea’.

So it’s no surprise that the UK’s tourism industry has cottoned onto this and now celebrates the afternoon tea in the style it deserves, complete with a hint of decadence and luxury that’s usually only fit for royalty. From castles to ultra ultra modern venues, GTW takes a quick sip of tea at the classiest venues around the UK.

Tea with a theme

The Bridge Tea Room is a wonderful Victorian-themed cafe that was crowned the top tea place in the UK by the people in the know, the UK Tea Guild. The Blacksmith’s Cottage that dates back to 1502 is nestled in the streets of Bradford-Upon-Avon in Wiltshire.

Enjoy a range of afternoon teas served by staff dressed in Victorian costumes. They regularly cater for large groups and coach trips and will work with you to ensure your group has the perfect afternoon tea.

To discuss your requirements contact Roy or Alison on 01225 865537 or email info@thebridgetearooms.co.uk

SPECIAL READER OFFER!

GTW readers can get 10% off the total cost of their group’s afternoon tea at The Bridge Tea Room if they mention ‘Group Travel World’ when they book before June 30, 2015.

Glam it up

If you want to jump forward into history to the glory years of the 1960s and 70s then why not try Glam Rock at K Wes Hotel?

Traditional afternoon tea just got well and truly rolled over by Beethoven and replaced by some real rock ‘n’ roll refreshments. The Hotel in Shepherds Bush has glammed up the tea by throwing in some cocktails along with their rolling scones!

You can enjoy a Glam Rock Afternoon Tea from 2pm-6pm in the newly launched studio Bar and Kitchen priced at £22.50, or add some fizz for £29.50. But for the proper wannabe rock stars who  feel like hamming it up into the early hours can try the ‘Rock ‘n’ Cocktails Midnight Tea! For £32.50 they offer selection of five tea infused cocktails between 10pm and 1am.

To book or for more information call 0208 008 6600 or visit www.k-west.co.uk

 Soiree with a view

Ever fancied taking tea in the sky? At the Hilton’s Cloud 23 you can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea in a very surreal atmosphere…up in the clouds. With floor to ceiling windows you can just sit back, sip tea, eat cakes and enjoy the ever changing view over the UK’s second biggest City.

Prices start from £20 per person for a traditional afternoon tea, but of course you can add some fizz and a touch more luxury (which seems only fitting in such a glamorous place) and opt for the ‘Nostalgic’ speciality, which is £38 per person or  £15 for under 11s.

There are also lounges available for private hire – for more information email cloud23.manchester@hilton.com or visit www.cloud23bar.com

 Off the beaten track

For something a little bit different and off the beaten track, take your group to Falling Floss Tea Garden. A delightful little cottage nestled at the top of Falling Floss Waterfall in the grounds of Midge Hall, near Whitby, North Yorkshire.

You can leave the coach at nearby Sneaton Forest Car Park and then follow the paths to the cafe. Please note though, this is not suitable for buggies or wheel chairs. The Tea Garden is available for private hire and is a nature lovers delight. Homemade bread, yummy cakes, including eton mess and wonderful teas are all on offer. Find out more about this hidden gem at www.fallingfossteagarden.co.uk

High Tea in an 18th Century Glasshouse

ct_from_fountain2The Conservatory Tea House is a new addition to Warwick Castle this year and is only  for visitors to the Castle. While enjoying tea and cake in the beautiful conservatory, guests can enjoy uninterrupted views across  mazing gardens to the River Avon.

Prices start at a very affordable £12.95 per person for High Tea and £21.95 for Champagne High Tea. If you want a very stately affair then opt for the Afternoon Tea in the State Dining Room, where no less than seven monarchs have been entertained! From £59 per person your group can enjoy a selection of fine teas, pastries and champagne, but this is only available on certain dates. There are some great offers for groups, so for up to date incentives visit www.warwick-castle.com for more information.

Tea in the Vale?

In the beautiful Vale of Glamorgan sits a glorious 800-year-old castle and gardens, which is open for the public to enjoy. It’s ideally situated for coach tours as it’s just outside Cardiff and close to M4.

For a group of avid historians, this castle is perfect. Its Georgian interiors and antiques are fascinating. For groups of 20 or more you can enjoy a tour of the castle and grounds along with Afternoon Tea for a very reasonable £15. They have produced a whole brochure especially for tour groups called Tours and Teas. To download this brochure visit www.fonmoncastle.com or contact them on 01446 710206, email fonmon_caste@msn.com

Tea with the Prime Minister?

Ok, well not quite with the Prime Minister..but you can hang around his place of work! Along with a tour of the Houses of Parliament, groups can also enjoy afternoon tea in the Terrace Pavilion looking over the River Thames, discussing politics or just admire the architecture!

The room can cater for up to 70, so is plenty big enough for a coach party. The tour group rate per person for groups of over 10 is £19 per adult and £10 for children under 15. The afternoon tea is £27.50 (in addition to the tour price).

Find out more at http://www.parliament.uk/visiting/venue-hire/venues/terrace/

A Gardener’s Dream Tea at Savill Gardens

Private afternoon tea at Savill Gardens has got to be the perfect way to spend an afternoon for keen gardeners!

For £22.50 your green fingered group can chat to the gardeners while enjoying tea in bone china cups, surrounded by the most beautiful flower displays you can imagine.

Alternatively if the history of the Magna Carta is of interest, then your group can enjoy a historic boat cruise down the Thames. From £28.50 per person the cruise includes  fascinating commentary about the historic event, entrance to Savill Gardens, lunch, cream tea and also free coach parking on both sides of the Thames.

To book either of these or for other  group offers at the gardens contact Helen Buckham – 0845 603 6228 or email groups@theroyallandscape.co.uk

Tea and cake by the lake!

Who doesn’t want to enjoy tea and cake looking over one of the UK’s most beautiful lakes? Holbeck Ghyll Hotel, Winderemere offers a very luxurious Afternoon Tea for £25 per person or add some champagne for £35 per person. Guests can choose to sit in on of the Arts and Crafts lounges, by the fire or if the sun is out then out on the terrace enjoying the magnificent views. After tea why not book your party onto one of those lovely steamers which tour the lake… there can’t be a lovelier day!

For more information call 01539432375

Tea queen of the north!

BettysHow can we feature Afternoon Teas without mentioning Bettys?

Bettys of York and Harrogate has been brewing tea and baking cakes since 1919 and is one of the best tea places in the UK. The venue is completely comfortable serving large groups and you can even book a room for private hire. A day’s shopping in York would be topped off perfectly by afternoon tea put on by the professionals. They even lay on a pianist!

Prices start from £26.95 per head. Coming in May will be a spectacular new addition to the menu called Lady Betty Afternoon Tea – gloriously luxurious fair served on silver platters and fine teas in bone china.

Contact Bettys at York on 01904 659142 for all their latest group offers.

Add a stay to your afternoon tea at Ampersand Hotel

The Ampersand Hotel, London have put together a very clever ‘welcome pack’ for guests staying in their deluxe rooms, studios and suites. Not only are they offering Afternoon Tea for two, they are also providing enough entertainment and essentials to ensure their guests are fed, comfortable, relaxed, occupied and have even included an umbrella to make sure you keep dry too! The pack includes: an umbrella, a mini rose plant, two cocktails, some gingerbread decorated with London landmarks, a British novel to read, Explorer tickets to the Science Museum, tickets to the Royal Albert Hall Grand Tour, postcards and pen and finally Afternoon Tea which even includes a glass of champagne! A nights stay for two in a deluxe room with the welcome pack is £185 (subject to conditions) Contact the hotel via telephone – 02075895895 or email stay@ampersandhotel.com.