A much loved tradition that dates from the 19th century, when tea imported from the empire began to gain popularity in Britain, ‘Afternoon Tea’ was dreamt up by the 7th Duchess of Bedford in 1841. Having complained of feeling low in the long gap between lunch and supper, the duchess began the practice of taking a pot of tea and a light snack in her boudoir. Much to the delight of her friends, she brought back the idea to London after a summer at her county seat, Woburn Abbey, and the fashion took the fancy of society ladies all over the capital. Before long it had been transported from private rooms to drawing rooms. Today in the 21st century Afternoon Tea is served at any good hotel and tea room. To make it easy for you to discover a selection of the best on offer we have put together a list of Afternoon Teas at some of our favourite Ampersand hotels…

Cup of Tea

1. If you are looking for a classic Afternoon Tea experience in London, it has to be Claridges. Taken in the Foyer and Reading Room and served on jade and white striped china in the Art Deco gem of London, Afternoon Tea at Claridges is a must do for any discerning tea taker.

Afternoon Tea at Claridges

2. A fashionista favourite, The Berkeley’s Pret-A-Portea is an original twist on this classic British meal. Cakes and fancies are inspired by the latest catwalk creations from fashion greats such as Yves Saint Laurent, Prada, Lanvin and Marc Jacobs and are served on Paul Smith crockery in the hotel’s sumptuous Caramel Room.

Pret-a-Portea at The Berkeley

3. Perfect for art lovers, The Merrion’s ‘Art Tea’ in Dublin provides guests with a unique insight into one of Ireland’s largest private art collections. Set in the hotel’s beautiful drawing room where log fires burn all year round, cakes and pastries are  inspired by some of Ireland’s literary greats, from J.B Yeats and William Scott to Robert Ballagh. For those with a real passion for all things art, a private tour of The Merrion’s entire collection can be arranged with a member of the National Gallery.

Art Tea at The Merrion, Dublin

4. The most glamorous and glitzy of all London hotels, Corinthia’s Afternoon Tea is served in the hotel’s gorgeous light and airy Lobby Lounge, under the Baccarat chandelier. In addition to the traditional finger sandwiches, cakes and scones, also on offer are beautiful English Fancies and a selection of ‘Best of British’ cakes including Battenburg, Bakewell Tart and Victoria Sandwich.

Afternoon Tea at Corinthia

5. Cosy and inviting, Brown’s Hotel serves their Afternoon Tea in the traditional English Tea Room. With its original wooden panelling, open fires, tinkling piano and original art work adorning the walls, Brown’s is the perfect place to while away an afternoon as you tuck in to their delicious cakes, scones, pastries and sandwiches.

Afternoon Tea at Brown's Hotel

6. Re-opened by the Queen, Duchess of Cambridge and the Duchess of Cornwall in 2012, Fortnum & Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, designed by David Collins, is the height of class and sophistication. With over 150 different teas on its tea menu, you won’t be short of options!

The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason

7. Just outside London, Coworth Park is a luxurious country-house hotel set over acres of parkland. Taken in the Drawing Room, Coworth’s Afternoon Tea comes with gorgeous views over the hotel’s many terraces and gardens. In addition to their classic Afternoon Tea, Coworth Park also hosts a special Mother’s Day Tea which comes with a glass of Laurent Perrier Champagne. While you’re there, why not pop into their award-winning spa?

Afternoon Tea at Coworth Park

8. A grand-dame hotel dating from the heyday of Victorian railway travel, The Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh is one of the city’s most popular places to take Afternoon Tea. Served in the hotel’s Victorian-era Palm Court you can expect Scottish beef, smoked salmon and honey-roasted ham in your sandwiches all washed down with a glass of Bollinger champagne.

Afternoon Tea in the Palm Court, The Balmoral, Edinburgh

9. Located on Bath’s world-famous Georgian crescent, The Royal Crescent hotel serves an Afternoon Tea that will be loved by mother’s nationwide. In homage to the city of Bath, on top of a selection cakes and scones, Afternoon Tea at The Royal Crescent includes delicious home-made Bath Buns. Normally taken in the hotel’s gorgeous gardens or lounge area, hotel guests can even indulge aboard the Princess Sophina Thames River Launch, which dates from the 1920s.

Afternoon Tea on Princess Sophina Thames River Launch

10. Elegant and timeless, Afternoon Tea at The Connaught is where the cool crowd gravitate to. Served in the hotel’s Espelette restaurant, overlooking Tadao Ando’s ‘Silence’ water feature, The Connaught’s afternoon tea is traditional but not stuffy, discreet but perfect for a special occasion and the service is fantastic. As well as finger sandwiches and scones, you will have the opportunity to try jam by Christine Ferber, known to many as the ‘Queen of Jam’.

Afternoon Tea at The ConnaughtWe hope this provides you with plenty of inspiration for the perfect Mother’s Day! Please contact Ellie Boulstridge on +44(0)20 7289 6100 or email ellie@ampersandtravel.com to start planning your tailor-made tour or browse our suggested UK & Ireland itineraries.

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