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7 Exceptional Afternoon Tea Experiences In The U.S. & U.K
The first time I experienced an afternoon tea was after an 8 hour flight from Atlanta to London. It was also my first overseas flight ever. I was so, so very excited about the reality of seeing a place I had read so much about that I’m shocked I even remember anything.
But I distinctly remember, every time, I halted my sightseeing for an afternoon tea.
And maybe that’s why the tradition of afternoon tea has persisted all these years. It’s a moment for us to pause and savor. To dress up if we want, indulge a tiny bit, and connect in a moment of sharing tea and conversation.
Wherever I happen to be traveling, I keep an eye out for hotels and restaurants offering an afternoon tea experience
So, in honor of “Afternoon Tea Week,” which occurs for one week every August, here are my top 7 Afternoon Tea experiences in the U.S & U.K.
I discovered this Savannah cafe and tea house purely by accident. Centrally located next to Madison Square, Gryphon is housed in a former apothecary, which adds a historic charm to the atmosphere. Weather permitting, you can enjoy your tea and cakes outside at a wrought iron bistro table with views of the green square and passersby.
You can limit your order to scones with Devonshire clotted cream and jam ($8) to go with your pot of tea, but for those looking for a more extensive afternoon tea experience, you can order the full afternoon tea service for $20/person. In addition to the fresh scones, clotted cream, and jam, you will also receive an assortment of sandwiches, pastries, and petit fours.
When your feet are tired from walking Savannah’s historic streets and squares, take a moment to rest, reflect, and savor the tradition of afternoon tea at Gryphon.
6. The Ocean Club
Formerly a British colony, it’s not surprising that the Bahamas adopted the afternoon tea ritual. Most of the resorts, including Atlantis and Baha Mar, offer traditional afternoon tea experiences with an emphasis on fresh fruits and even local Bahamian Bush teas.
The Ocean Club (which you might recognize as one of the filming locations for the 2006 James Bond film Casino Royale) is situated on Paradise Island, a few miles away from Nassau. If you’re looking for a quiet space away from the crowds flocking to the water parks or casinos, then you’ll enjoy a tea service at this casually refined resort with beautiful views of the crystalline blue ocean beyond.
Afternoon tea service isn’t advertised on their website, so call ahead to confirm when they are offering the experience.
5. Jane Austen Centre
You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to England’s Regency era when you stop for tea at the Jane Austen Centre located in Bath, England.
Here at this museum and gift shop dedicated to informing and celebrating the famed author, Jane Austen, you can not only learn about her life in Bath, but also about what it was like living and writing during this time.
However, the can’t miss attraction of the Jane Austen Centre is having an afternoon tea in the upstairs of the beautiful Georgian building. You can choose from a wide variety of tea packages with my favorite being the “Tea with Mr. Darcy:” £19.50 OR £37 For Two; With Champagne: £65 (For Two); With Prosecco: £52 (For Two).
Anna Russell, the duchess of Bedford, is the originator of the afternoon tea tradition we still enjoy today. As the story goes, her afternoon hunger pains caused her to order tea and a little snack delivered to her room.
It wasn’t long before her friends joined in the ritual. Because the ladies reclined on low chairs and settees to enjoy their tea and cakes, the afternoon tradition was referred to as “low tea.”
4. County Hall
Enjoy a classically traditional afternoon tea in London’s County Hall with picture-perfect views of Big Ben, Parliament, and the Thames.
Every afternoon, guests can enjoy an elegant tea experience in “The Library” where oak bookcases are filled with literary classics and each row creates a private nook for the round tables.
Afternoon tea is from £41 and includes home-made cakes and pastries, scones with jam and clotted cream as well as a selection of savory bites for balance.
Savor a tropical rendition of afternoon tea at Orchids and the Veranda inside the Halekulani Resort in Oahu with open air views of the lawn and the rolling waves of the Pacific beyond.
A decadent champagne and tea experience is offered which includes sandwiches in addition to scones, clotted cream, and cakes. While it may be too rich to finish every bite, you’ll definitely enjoy sampling each beautifully crafted delight.
The classic afternoon tea experience is $44 or upgrade to the champagne tea for an additional $11.
The term “high tea” is actually associated with the so-called “lower” classes. The phrase most likely came from the fact that the working population took their tea at regular, “high,” dinner tables instead of luxuriating on low couches and chairs as the upper-class ladies did.
2. The Palm Court at the Plaza
Manhattan, New York
Dressing up and sitting down for afternoon tea at The Plaza transports you to an era where you’ll feel like F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald are about to come swinging through. The setting is not only iconic of old New York glamour, but it’s also light and refreshing sipping tea under the glass dome surrounded by deep green palm fronds.
Afternoon tea at the Palm Court is a tradition that has been carried on at The Plaza for over 100 years and is served daily between the hours of 12:00 and 4:30.
Depending on what tea experience you order, the prices range from $89 to $129 per person, or if you’re feeling extremely extravagant, you can order the Grand Imperial Tea which costs $550 for two people.
1. Ashford Castle
County Mayo, Ireland
It’s hard to top the afternoon tea experience served in the beautifully preserved “Connaught Room” at Ashford Castle. It’s a setting that invites you to linger as you take in the views of the castle grounds and savor the traditional delights. Since 1868, Ashford Castle has preserved and perfected the tradition.
The tea ritual is observed daily at the castle, but you will need to book one of their allotted times: 1:30, 2:00, 3:30, and 4:00.
The “Lord and Lady Ardilaun Traditional Afternoon Tea” includes a hearty variety of sweets, sandwiches, and scones costing £55 per person. Upgrade to a Champagne Tea for an additional £21 – £26.
When you finish your tea, don’t forget to take the opportunity to explore the rest of Ashford Castle and take a stroll past Loch Corrib and on through the ancient trees of the Estate Gardens.
Have an Afternoon Tea experience you would like to share? Drop me a comment below.