Bath is arguably the most beautiful city in England – a country that has no shortage of beautiful cities. Filled with wonderful Georgian architecture and the best kept examples of Roman bathhouses in the world, Bath is a major destination for tourists who have flocked there in great numbers since the Romans came to town. Bath’s popularity among the wealthy pleasure seekers of the 18th century is thanks to the foresight of the men who designed and built the Circus and other famous Georgian landmarks. The sophisticated, some might say snooty, Regency air of Bath is bound to have you seeking out a splendid afternoon tea, and since this is the town that lays claim to the origins of the tea bun, there is no shortage of options.
Searcy’s at The Pump Room
The Pump Room is a must-see hall and museum on the site of former Roman baths in the square at the base of Bath cathedral. Your celebrated afternoon tea is accompanied by classical music from Pump House Trio who play daily. The Pump Room is a recipient of the UK Tea Council’s award for excellence and is sought out by Jane Austen fans in search of authentic regency ambience, so bookings are advised. This elegant venue offers three kinds of tea: Traditional; Champagne; and Celebration Champagne, with a Besserat Tasting Tray; a selection of their finest house champagnes. You can expect polite, impeccably efficient staff, glamorous chandeliers and tables adorned with starched linen and lovely tableware. The traditional menu offers the usual sandwiches and scones as well as goats cheese crostini. The champagne menu adds smoked salmon and cucumber blini to the mix. The selection of pastries is highly praised and includes the likes of a lovely lemon curd macaroon or a delicious fruit tart. Cocktails are available, and you can also sample local delicacies, the Bath bun, and the spa water – said to be an acquired taste
The Bath Priory
The Bath Priory hotel brings its Michelin-starred mastery to bear on a superb afternoon tea served in the flower-scented elegance of this luxury Gothic mansion. Clad in wisteria the hotel is a short walk from the Bath city centre. The Bath Priory restaurant with its high-backed leather chairs, worn carpet and oil paintings of fancy ladies, overlooks the beautiful gardens. Executive Chef Sam Moody draws extensively from local produce, including what is grown in the priory gardens to create his award-winning menus. The full afternoon tea includes a selection of freshly cut sandwiches and warm scones served with West Country clotted-cream and local preserves. The cake selection includes fruit tarts and home-made lemon drizzle, carrot and chocolate cakes. A good selection of teas and coffees are also available and the restaurant has an excellent wine list. For a little more indulgence, add a glass of Perrier Jouët Champagne, the excellent staff will happily fulfil your every desire.
Bailbrook house is a small boutique hotel with a fine dining restaurant called Cloisters. Although it is in the cellar, the dining room is a spacious and open room with golden Bath stone ceilings, imposing pillars, tall windows framed by wisteria and feature lights modelled on those used in Warwick Castle. There were two teas available – a savoury and sweet version. With the savoury you can expect freshly baked bread sticks, smoked salmon Caesar salad, parma ham, seafood vol au vents and a croque monsieur as well as sandwiches made with home-made bread in multiple flavours. The sweet version sticks to traditional lines with finger sandwiches, scones with fresh clotted cream and jam, and a sumptuous cake selection that includes tiny strawberry and mint cupcakes, Bakewell tarts, a Peach Schnapps sorbet and Madeira cake. Twinings teas are presented in a box in their loose leaf form in jars, for selection and served with gracious efficiency, with a little timer to get the perfect brew. Afternoon tea is a speciality of Bailbrook House and what better place to unwind for a decadent afternoon?
Ston Easton Park
Dress up in your finest clothing and savour an afternoon of luxurious indulgence as you tuck into afternoon tea at Ston Easton Park. Set in 36 acres of beautiful West Country parkland, Ston Easton Park is unique. The country house hotel is adorned with original antique furniture, sumptuous fabrics and sparkling chandeliers. Their Georgian oak-panelled Sorrel Restaurant is regarded as one of the best restaurants in Bath, and their afternoon tea is a grand and elegant affair. They offer a traditional menu, a lighter ladies version as well as a the Gourmet Full Afternoon Tea served with a glass of champagne. The staff are young and energetic, and their service cannot be faulted. You can sink into the comfort of an armchair in one of their drawing rooms, or enjoy your tea on the sunny terrace. You can expect finger sandwiches, crumbly fresh scones with array of sweet and savoury treats served on beautiful tiered cakes stands. After tea you can explore the lawns that slope down to the river and the gardens that contain a host of interesting historic features.
Royal Crescent Hotel
For now at least, the Royal Crescent hotel and spa is one of Bath’s best kept secrets. This beautiful Georgian haven has a prime location in the historic heart of Bath at the centre of the famous Royal Crescent, overlooking a huge lawn with great views of the city beyond. You can linger over a beautifully presented traditional English afternoon tea in a magical secluded garden or in colder weather, overlooking the winter garden from the comfort of the highly acclaimed The Dower House restaurant. The Royal Crescent is a boutique hotel with five star facilities, decorated elegantly in low key shades that evoke luxury throughout. In winter the roaring fires in the drawing room and the library create the ideal ambience to enjoy a sumptuous spread that includes the famous Bath Buns alongside an array of lovely eats prepared from the finest local ingredients. The in-house chef has created a very fine seasonal selection of finger sandwiches, melt-in-your-mouth scones and fine sweet temptations (such as rose and raspberry meringues) that you enjoy with a worldly range of teas, coffee or champagne.