Melissa Blease picks six venues where you can enjoy a quintessentially English afternoon tea in Bath…
Surrounded by picturesque gardens and with views over Bath, Bailbrook House – originally a rather grand 18th century private mansion – offers a peaceful, pastoral experience tucked away off London Road West. Those of us who like to think of ourselves as To The Manor Born will most definitely approve of taking tea in one of the hotel’s elegant lounges.
Bailbrook sure does know how to put on an afternoon tea spread, with options including the classic Somerset Cream Tea (£8.95pp for fully-laden scone affair), the Traditional (with sandwiches, mini trifles, tarts, bath buns, delice and homemade cakes) or the enticing Savoury option, which includes teatime tantalisers such as a mini Caesar salad, Italian bread sticks, Parma ham, homemade harissa-spiced hummous and seafood vol au vents (both of the latter for £21.95pp). A gluten free option is also available. Add a glass of fizz to that for £8.75 and the whole affair becomes positively sparkling.
Eveleigh Avenue, London Road West,
Bath BA1 7JD
Tel: 01225 855100
The Royal Crescent
The Royal Crescent Hotel lies in the centre of Bath’s most iconic street: an imposing town house just like all the others in the row, except this one has a uniformed doorman and a lush sprawl of greenery creeping over the lower windows, allegedly with the sole purpose of making life miserable for the paparazzi when there’s a celebrity in residence.
Should you fancy sampling a taste of the red carpet, A-list lifestyle, afternoon tea at the Royal Crescent can be taken in either the secluded, private garden (recommended on a warm afternoon with the scent of roses and lavender in the air) or by a roaring fire inside the recently-refurbished drawing room or library on the other 350 days of the year. The quintessentially English Full Afternoon Tea (£34pp) can be upgraded to include three glasses of fizz for a total of £55pp.
The Royal Crescent Hotel, 16 Royal Crescent,
Bath BA1 2LS
Tel: 01225 823333
The Bath Priory
If the Royal Crescent is the Bath version of LA’s Chateau Marmont, the Bath Priory is our very own Beverly Hills Hotel: a long-standing grand dame of the glamorous getaway scene tucked away in a quiet residential enclave. Nothing disturbs the peace in this tastefully refurbished Gothic mansion surrounded by acres of beautiful and award-winning gardens, which can be enjoyed at this time of the year from a table on the terrace at teatime.
Afternoon tea menus offer various combinations of sandwiches, cakes, tartlets and fresh scones served with local clotted cream and preserves, priced at £30pp, and £44pp for the Champagne affair. If there’s one good reason why not to indulge in a spot of afternoon delight here, I’ve yet to discover what that reason might be.
The Bath Priory Hotel, Restaurant & Spa, Weston Road,
Bath BA1 2XT
Tel: 01225 331922
The Pump Room
The impeccably presented neo-classical salon in the Roman Baths complex has been at the epicentre of the Bath afternoon tea scene since the 18th century – and it’s easy to see why.
The supremely elegant environment, with its sparkling chandeliers, live string quartet and unobtrusively efficient staff in pristine uniforms, provides the perfect backdrop for a selection of Afternoon Tea menus including the Traditional (£22.50pp), the Special Champagne (£31.50pp) and the Celebration (£40pp) packages, all of which include variations on the dainty sandwich/oven-fresh scones/cream cake theme and your choice from a posh selection of tea blends (although you can opt for coffee if you must).
Other classic Brit-trad afternoon delights include Somerset Rarebit and smoked salmon pikelets. We do not advise, however, that you accept a complimentary sample of the original spa water drawn from the pump, unless you have a penchant for sipping tepid dishwater.
Abbey Church Yard,
Bath BA1 1LZ
Tel: 01225 444477
Indulgence Café and Patisserie
One occasionally needs to take oneself off Bath’s beaten track to remind oneself that the glory of the Heritage City is as much about the charms to be found on our side streets as it is about the grandest thoroughfares. This delightful sanctuary in Bathwick Street thrums along to an unselfconsciously stylish, welcoming beat – the perfect place to chillax after a stroll around nearby Sydney Gardens or Henrietta Park?
At teatime, a variety of options costing between £6.95-£23.50pp depending on how indulgent an experience you feel you deserve (and whether or not you can handle a glass of fizz at that time of day) all serve to turn a humdrum afternoon into a proper treat. Proprietor (and patisserie supremo) Katherine Small is happy to turn teatime into a party, offering bespoke menus for groups, with a suggestion of theme – Champagne, Savoury, Zesty or Chocoholic, to whet your appetite.
31 Bathwick Street,
Bath BA2 6NZ
Tel: 01225 316265
Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms
With its dainty floral teacups, wartime posters and ration book themed menu covers, it’s like stepping back into the 1940s in Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms. Their attentive staff even adorn ration book patterned aprons and style their hair in the vintage ringlet look that defined the style of the wartime-era. Located next to the Assembly Rooms, the tea room serves a wide range of delicious homemade sandwiches and cakes throughout the day.
Their afternoon tea selection includes finger sandwiches, a buttermilk scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream and homemade cakes, all presented on a pretty tired cake stand. These treats are served with either English Breakfast of Earl Grey tea for £15.45pp or £29.95 for two people.
6-8 Saville Row,
Bath BA1 2QP
Tel: 01225 464552