The garden of England is an apt description as Kent is famed for an idyllic countryside made up of rolling hills, bounteous orchards, picturesque farmland and elegant country estates. This region is rich in heritage and is home to Canterbury, with its famous cathedral and a celebrated coastline dotted with lovely beach towns and sleepy villages, When it comes to the food scene, Kent is a foodie paradise, overflowing with Michelin-starred restaurants, fine ciders, wines and beers, deli produce and home-made preserves. Whether you choose to soak in the surroundings of a magnificent stately home or stay warm next to a crackling fire in a gorgeous boutique hotel, Kent takes the “cream tea” rather seriously and this region provides an excellent range of luxurious options for a memorable afternoon tea.
Chilston Park Hotel (Lenham)
Chilston Park is a listed, 17th-century hotel set in 22 acres of Kentish parkland near the village of Lenham. This romantic manor house has a history of parties and was clearly built for pleasure. The building features a black-and-white stone floor, moulded plaster ceilings and cornices. Afternoon tea is served in the terribly elegant Marble Lounge where the décor is all about understated glamour. There are high backed leather upholstered chairs as well as comfortable couches, artful flower arrangements, marble fireplaces, crystal chandeliers, gilt mirrors and rich fabrics in sleek shades of grey, violet and brown.). Log fires and unobtrusive service complete the perfect setting for afternoon tea. You can choose from a variety of tea menus including: traditional, celebration (with champagne and a personalised cake), royal (with champagne) gluten free and cream. There is also savoury version that features a selection election of finger sandwiches, cheese scones with chive butter and savoury pastries including a gala pie with chutney, accompanied by a selection Twinings loose leaf teas, or champagne.
Wallett’s Court Hotel (Westcliffe)
The historical manor of Wallett’s Court is a grade II listed luxury hotel in the picturesque hamlet of Westcliffe – in the heart of the windswept white cliffs country. The whistling wind is kept at bay by the warmth of the fires in rooms sporting traditional country décor – dominated by light wood surfaces and rich fabrics. The charming manor has a history of hosting famous people and is still a favourite retreat for celebrated creatives who appreciate the good food, fine wines and discreet service. The hotel favours fine local ingredients – and grows many of them in the kitchen garden – to create the award winning food that Wallett’s Court is known for. Their afternoon tea is an elegant feast of finger sandwiches with fillings such as cream cheese, chive and watercress, English ham and mustard, roast beef and horseradish and Hebridean salmon and cucumber, accompanied by scones with clotted cream and jam and home-made cake of the day. They also offer a celebration tea menu with a glass of Henriot Brut Souverain champagne.
The Secret Garden (Sandwich)
This delightful walled garden is encircled by the old stone city walls and attached to a grand manor home. The Salutation was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens with three-and-a-half acres of ornamental gardens. After lying generations of neglect the gardens have been restored and now play host to cream teas featuring freshly baked scones are are famously crisp outside and soft inside with just the right amount of fruit, served with lots of of piping hot tea or coffee. The Secret garden is dedicated to making the most of locally produced food. They serve afternoon teas with clotted cream fresh strawberries and jam, all sourced nearby. A days notice is required for afternoon tea so that they can make sure there are enough of the home baked cakes available – these include the likes of coffee and walnut, Victoria sponge, and apricot loaf. Besides the traditional menu items, there is a children’s menu, and a chocolate version with chocolate chip scones, chocolate cakes and hot chocolate. The Kentish Garden Evening Tea has “Chintzy Seasonal Home Made Soup with Cheese Straws”, and open sandwiches along with scones and pastries. All of these are available with champagne.
Eastwell Manor (Boughton Lees)
The Eastwell Manor Hotel is a secluded country house hotel in Boughton Lees near Ashford. This grand country house pre-dates the Norman conquest and has a very old feel with lots of wood panelling, massive fireplaces, thick curtains, and classic furniture. This quintessentially English country house hotel honours its surroundings with high standards and great service. Afternoon tea can be had in the luxurious drawing room, bar or the dining room – all overlooking the beautifully manicured lawns. The cosy wood panelled Manor bar is ideal for a champagne tea, where you .can turn Champagne into something more interesting like a Kir Royale or a Bellini. If you opt to stick with tea it will be from the Kent Tea and Trading Company. The Manor lounge is a comfortable wood-panelled room perfect for afternoon tea in front of the fireplace. Menus include a traditional, champagne and celebration version as well as the interesting Eastwell Manor Pimms Tea that includes a glass of Winter Pimms alongside a fine selection of sandwiches, cakes and scones with jam and clotted cream.
Tiny Tim’s Tearoom (Canterbury)
Tiny Tim’s Tearoom is an award-winning traditional English tea room in Canterbury with a quirky 1930′s atmosphere. Number 34, St Margaret’s Street is one of Canterbury’s most beautiful and historic buildings. Originally built in the 1600′s the Jacobean building has leaded windows and is rumoured to be haunted by three children. Tea is served in bone china in old world rooms lit by chandeliers where the ambience is enhanced by a collection of period music from the 1930s (on weekends your tea will be accompanied by a piano player). Tiny Tim’s prides itself on providing a large range of loose-leaf teas, coffees and home-baked goods, including their popular scones and famous Plump Pilgrims: delightfully crumbly scone-like cakes made with currants and citrus fruit, freshly baked every morning. They also stock a good range of Kentish wines, beers and ciders. The traditional three tier cake stand is laden with finger sandwiches, including cucumber, smoked salmon and cream cheese, roast ham and egg and cress, scones with Kentish clotted cream and jam, and a tempting selection of handmade cakes and pastries.