Bristol is a bustling creative city that has completely reinvented itself from being a centre of industry to being a centre of contemporary music and art. The city is brimming with historical interest – from the recently revamped harbour to the iconic suspension bridge. Named as Britain’s most liveable city, cosmopolitan Bristol boasts great examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture alongside contemporary developments like Cabot Circus, a new shopping and leisure quarter. It is also known for its thriving alternative social culture as well as a burgeoning food scene that is attracting attention locally and internationally. From its multi-cultural street food vendors to the award winning eateries in beautiful settings, Bristol is bristling with great stuff to see and good things to eat.
Bristol Marriott Royal Hotel
The Bristol Marriott Royal has been offering high tea in its Victorian brass, wood and polished marble interior since opening in 1863. Afternoon tea is a tradition that is taken seriously and is served with reverence in the warm and opulent drawing room just off the grand entrance hall, amid warm colours and soft textures. Served with a range of Twinings teas that arrive with a timer, you also have the choice of enjoying the traditional spread with a glass of champagne or a gin and tonic, and with 12 hours notice you can have a gluten-free menu as well. The tables are set with lovely silverware on crisp linen and the food, served in the quintessentially English style you would expect, comes on a traditional three-tiered stand. Traditional finger sandwiches line up neatly at the bottom and above them are sugar dusted scones with butter, clotted cream and strawberry jam. The top layer is the preserve of a beautiful party of cakes from gooey chocolate to strawberry cheesecake. This is a great way to while away an afternoon savouring a great British tradition in sumptuous surroundings.
For a relaxing and indulgent afternoon tea in an awe-inspiring Tudor castle, afternoon tea at Thornbury Castle, a short distance from Bristol, is a real treat. Tudor kings and queens once frolicked here but now Thornbury is a sought-after retreat that combines the historical charm of its 500-year-old architecture with luxurious facilities. Like the castle itself, the Thornbury kitchens are infused with history. In the 1970s the likes of Laurence Olivier and Sophia Loren dined here and the walls have many stories to tell about extravagant celebrity parties. This is also where the first chef outside of France earned a Michelin star so you can expect an afternoon tea menu of distinction. The Royal full afternoon tea is presented in the stately and ornate old library dining room, sumptuously decorated in rich reddish hues, served by waiting staff whose attentiveness is in keeping with the grand setting. They’ll refill your tea or coffee as often as required and if you can’t finish the wonderful array of sandwiches, cakes and scones, they’ll box the leftovers for you to enjoy later. After eating your fill, a stroll around the manicured lawns is the perfect end to a memorable experience.
The Bristol Hotel
The luxury Bristol Hotel is situated right in the middle of Bristols rich maritime history in the Old City near the lovely Queen Square and the Arnolfini – one of England’s best contemporary art centres. After exploring the area by day, or before heading into the many bars and clubs at night, what better way to unwind than with a fine feast of an afternoon tea in the River Bar Lounge? Their Vintage Afternoon Tea includes champagne or a cocktail and your choice from an excellent range of loose leaf teas and coffee blends on offer. You can watch the world go by from the comfort of an armchair, attended to by friendly staff while enjoying dainty finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with jam and clotted cream and a pretty collection of sweet delicacies. The River Lounge is known for vibrant, seasonal food and all the ingredients in their contemporary classic dishes are sourced locally. This approach can be tasted in the pastry chef’s daily selection of whimsical old-school treats such as creamy meringues, chocolate fairy and lemon drizzle cakes.
Berwick Lodge’s acclaimed Hattusa restaurant has a an elegant ambience and relaxed approach that makes for a fine afternoon of bubbly and afternoon tea. The lodge was recently restored to make the most of its unique Arts and Craft features. You can take your tea in the chic restaurant, the garden or in the lounge – a beautiful wood panelled room with a feature fireplace that looks out onto the garden. A plus for families is the special afternoon tea menu for children under 12, with jelly, muffins and sandwich fillings like peanut butter and chocolate spread. For adults the Classic Afternoon Tea offers a daily selection of fresh sandwiches, scones, home-made cakes and biscuits and local Lahloo teas. The traditional sandwich fillings reflect the chef’s attachment to all things British and fresh local ingredients. The home-made cakes include modernised classics like petit fours, macaroons, Battenburg cake and delightful fruit tarts. Those who like bubbles will be impressed by the extensive wine list boasting over 30 different Champagnes.
Cox and Baloney
Vintage enthusiasts will love afternoon tea at Cox and Baloney – a playful vintage-inspired tea room and boutique. Their indulgent afternoon teas are perfect for an afternoon of laughs with your girlfriends in a unique and colourful setting. There is one thing that is taken very seriously by Cox and Baloney, and that is the tea itself – served the old fashioned way, in the very best bone china. There are over 15 loose teas to choose from, as well as coffee, fruit juices and bubbly, not to mention the enticing teapot cocktails. Afternoon tea options range from a tea tasting session to an over-the–top vintage feast with endless finger sandwiches, home-made cakes and fruit scones. The unique home-made cakes include lavender, Somerset apple, raspberry polenta and chocolate Kit-Kat as well as gluten-free chocolate brownies (with dairy free options on request). If your appetite is more ladylike the “Cream tea’s and Tart’s” menu presents a range of sweet and savoury tarts and scones (served with thick clotted cream and fresh strawberries). The setting is delightful, whimsical and relaxed, the menus are humorous and all the delights in them are served with warmth and spirited attention to detail.