The ultimate guide to afternoon tea in Herts & Beds
Celebrate Afternoon Tea Week, (9-15 Aug), by making your way through Muddy's definitive guide to the best afternoon teas in our counties. Don't mind if we do!
Did you know that the oh-so-English tradition of afternoon tea hails from our very own Bedfordshire? Yes, we have Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford to thank for her teatime hunger pangs circa 1840, out of which was borne this rather Middle Class affair.
I mean, crustless sarnies, lashings of clotted cream, gallons of tea from a china pot and a few bubbles for good measure – can you think of a better way of whiling away a few hours? And as it’s Afternoon Tea Week (9-15 August) there really is no excuse! Pinkies out? Let’s go!
THE FANCY ONES
Dust off your best floaty frock and pastel-hued kitten heels, assemble your sisters, and hotfoot it to one of these luxe hotels, country piles or tea parlours pronto. Not a doily in sight!
Down Hall Hotel, Bishop’s Stortford
What better setting to experience afternoon tea than the hangout of The Great British Bake Off stars? Yep, this is where it’s filmed, people, so we’re expecting baking perfection and no soggy bottoms in sight! Take it in the historic lounge, al fresco on the terrace or in your own private room. £30 for adults (£37 with Prosecco, £40 with Champagne), £15 for kids.
Sopwell House, St Albans
The gorgeous boutique hotel on the outskirts of the city puts on quite a spread. Team Muddy Herts & Beds checked it out – read the review here. But expect all the trimmings from dainty scones and crustless sarnies to the prettiest puds. From £29.95 per person Monday-Friday (£34.95 on Saturdays and Sundays). Add a glass of Taittinger Brut Reserve NV Champagne or Pimm’s for an additional cost. Children’s Afternoon Tea is £16 per head.
Blossom and Wild, Berkhamsted
The most gorgeous tea and cake parlour with its feminine décor and gilt-edged crockery, this place was made for afternoon tea. Book the signature tea for beautifully presented morsels that could fill your Insta grid. From £32 for regular, veggie, vegan or gluten-free options, to £40 with a flute of their house Champagne.
Shendish Manor, Hemel Hempstead
Everything you’d expect from an luxury afternoon tea and good value at £19.95, but we love the way that you can the tailor your package depending on how boozy (or greedy – don’t worry, we won’t tell!) you’re feeling. Add a glass of Champagne for Prosecco. Plus you can have your sandwiches, scones or cakes replenished for under a fiver. Now you’re talking. Veggies, kids and gluten free are all catered for too.
Tea at Anna’s, The Bedford Swan Hotel
This totally gorgeous new tea room is just the ticket for a spoily girls’ treat. It’s named after Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford (remember we’ve got her to thank for this indulgent tradition!), and you can opt for her namesake tea with smoked salmon roulade, prawn and bloody Mary vol au vents, with macrons, choux buns and truffles (£25), or a more trad version with ham hock and egg mayo sarnies, Vicky sponge and coconut ice (£17.50). Add Prosecco for £6 a glass. Savoury top ups are available from £5, as are veggie, free-from and children’s versions. You can even get a simple tea and scone combo.
Ashridge House, Berkhamsted (Selected dates only)
This gorgeous country pile is worth a visit for the gardens alone, but when you book afternoon tea here, you’ll get the best of both. Enjoy your finger sanwiches, scones and pastries in the glam heritage function room £39.50 per head, upgrade to Champagne for £10), then walk it off with a wander around the grounds and make like lady of the manor for the afternoon!
Luton Hoo, Bedfordshire
Dust off your Sunday best for this one. Silver cutlery, fine bone china and crisp white table cloths are the order of the day. Choose to take your tea in the regal setting of one of the hotel’s lounges, the pillared hall or the drawing room underneath the super sparkly chandeliers. From £35 per person (£40 on Saturday and Sunday), with a vegan option available. Add a glass of Champagne for £11. Plus you can even get the luxe experience at home, with a takeaway Afternoon Tea for £25. Tea is served ma’am.
Moggerhanger Park, Bedford
This imposing Grade I-listed Georgian House, designed by architect Sir John Soane is a suitably stately setting for afternoon tea, with all cakes and treats freshly baked by the in-house chef. Upgrade yours with a glass (or bottle) of Prosecco, and kids are welcome too, at a reduced price of £10.50 for under 16s. Normally £21.95.
Centurion Club, St Albans
Predominantly a members’ golf club, non-members can book to dine here and enjoy a classic afternoon tea in the lounge overlooking the lake and the 18th green, from Tues-Sat between 2.30 and 4.30pm. You can even wash down your sandwiches with a pot of the club’s very own Centurion blend of loose leaf tea. From £30-£45 for adults; £12.95 for under 12s.
Pendley Manor, Tring
Head to the light and airy Peacock Lounge overlooking the terrace or the Verney Room, adorned in stained glass, for this traditional afternoon tea, served daily from 1pm until 5.30pm. Expect seasonal sandwiches (with veggie options), warm orange-scented scones and a selection of cakes. From £29.95 per person during the week to £44.95 with Champagne at the weekend.
THE RUSTIC ONES
For an on-the-hop treat or more of a local flavour, try these heartier café, farmshop and tea room takes on the tradition – you won’t be disappointed!
Pearce’s Farmshop and Café, Buntingford
Gotta love an afternoon tea that features prawn cocktail in a glass (sooo retro!). You’ll also get cheese straws, homemade sausage rolls, sourdough sarnies and blinis, choccie brownies and apple turnovers with your scones and jam – now you’re talking! And it’s a bargain at £22.50 per person. That’s our after noon sorted then!
Black Goo, Tring and Berkhamsted
Joyously named the ‘dirty’ afternoon tea, this one is a proper guilty pleasure. Known for their utterly indulgent doorstep slices of cake and scones the size of my head, this cool and quirky café doens’t do things by halves. Expect chunky sausage rolls, scones the size of your head (almost) and unlimited tea refills for just £22.50. Or switch your tea for freeflowing G&T (or Prosecco, wine or craft beer), for £38 a head. Veggie and vegan options are avaialble too.
The Farmhouse at Redcoats, Hitchin
This one falls somewhere between fancy and rustic – let’s call it farmhouse chic! Think pretty vintage crockery served on rustic farmhouse tables with posh fizz! Enjoy the farm to fork experience with locally produced and seasonal ingredients used where possible paired with rare teas from the kitchen dresser. On the menu are cute sarnies and tarlets, and sweet treats like Earl Grey profiteroles and choccie-dipped strawberries. £25 per person. Upgrade your tea with a glass of bubbly Nyetimber (add £13.50).
Cedar Cafe and Village Shop, Potten End
This café and old-school village store (we love the way these are coming back!) won a coveted Muddy Award this year, and they do a lovely simple afternoon tea to eat in or takeaway. You’ll get a variety of finger sandwiches , homemade scones, raspberry & almond financiers, salted chocolate brownies and cupcakes, washed down with a pot of Joe’s organic English Breakfast or Earl Grey tea. £35 for two.
The Cowshed at Tewin Bury, Welwyn
This award-winning afternoon tea is served in the Cowshed restaurant Wed-Sun 12-5pm. It comes with perfectly filled tiers of scones, mini desserts (Pimm’s jelly anyone?) and savouries (think chicken liver parfait on brioche) prepared by the in-house chef, with children’s, vegan and freefrom options available. £25 per person (£5 extra for Prosecco or Pimm’s; £8 extra for Champagne) and £10 extra for bottomless Prosecco – no brainer!
Foxholes Farm, Hertford
Going on a picnic or just fancy your afternoon tea to go? Pick up a hamper for four from Foxholes Farm, which includes a trio of sandwiches (fresh egg, homegrown beef & ham & mustard), 4 scones with jars of clotted cream & jam & a selection of freshly made cakes and tea bags. At £39.95 it’s under a tenner each – win! Now go fetch the gingham picnic blanket and don’t forget the fizz! Veggie, vegan and GF available. Order at least 24 hours ahead.
Have we forgotten any? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of the page.