12 best afternoon teas in Cambs
It's National Afternoon Tea week and to celebrate here's our round-up of the best places to scoff scones in Cambridgeshire
It’s that time of year when we celebrate one of the greatest and most quintessential of all the British traditions – the classic afternoon tea. National Afternoon Tea Week (of course there’s a week to celebrate it!) runs this year from Mon 12 – Sun 18 Aug.
So let’s get our pinky fingers out and gorge ourselves silly on doll-sized cakes, crustless sarnies and load bearing scones in this round up of the best places to enjoy afternoon tea across Cambs (oh and I couldn’t resist sharing a few themed option from the capital, drag queen tea anyone?). Have we missed off your favourite? Let us know in the comments box below!
To help you on the carb0filled quest, we’ve got a competition to win an afternoon tea for two at Elsie May’s Electric Lounge. Enter here.
Else May’s Electric Lounge, St Neot’s
The name alone should be enough to get you across the threshold of this new St Neots Cafe and Bar! Elsie May was the current owner’s grandmother, and she always dreamt of owning a tearoom. Well, voilà, Elsie May would be proud because it’s a cracker. Afternoon tea is one of the specialities and it’s a beautiful space to enjoy it in. On the menu you’ve got all the things you could hope for: perfectly soft sandwiches, melt-in-the-mouth scones and cute-as-a-button cakes. Plus, you can take those weirdos who don’t like sweet stuff as there’s a savoury version too.
Elsie May’s Electric Tearoom, Ground Floor, 58 Market Square, St Neots, PE19 2AA, elsiemays.co.uk
Parker’s Tavern at The University Arms, Cambridge
Parker’s Tavern inside the newly refurbished University Arms has a delightful take on afternoon tea from Chef Tristan Welch’s – he was inspired by Cambridge and the long list of legendary academics that have made their mark in the city. So every little dish on the menu has an interesting story behind it, or pays homage to an exciting moment in the history of Cambridge – so you might want to take a minute to reflect on all this greatness before inhaling it!
We’re talking about a trio of sandwiches inspired by the 4th Earl of Sandwich, who studied at Trinity College; then there’s Crayfish Pastry Boats, inspired by the Oxford vs. Cambridge boat race; Parker’s Football Truffles, celebrating the fact that the rules of football were invented on Parker’s Piece, as well as a delicious glazed apple mousse with a compote centre named Sir Isaac Newton’s Apple. We could go on and on…but that’s your history lesson for the day, now it’s time to dig in!
Parker’s Tavern, The University Arms, 52-42 Regent St, Cambridge CB2 1AD, parkerstavern.com
The Rupert Brooke, Grantchester
One of our favourites for all occasions, this Grantchester-based brasserie only entered the arena of spoonfuls of lemon curd and doll sized pastries in 2017, but have firmly put themselves on the afternoon tea map. The restaurant now serves the three-tiered confection from Mon-Sat from 12noon – 6pm. It’s a nice classic take and you can add a glass of G&T from neighbouring The Cambridge Gin Distillery for a fiver.
The Rupert Brooke, 2-4 Broadway, Grantchester, Cambridge, CB3 9NQ, therupertbrooke.com
Flock Cafe, Burwash Manor, Barton
This café is set up in the artisan quarter of Burwash Manor – a collection of shops housed in converted farm buildings set in a peaceful countryside. Flock Cafe is open seven days a week and serves brunches, lunches and delicious freshly baked cakes, scones and meringues accompanied by a pot of afternoon tea. It’s not a huge cafe but there’s a courtyard area that you can spill out onto when the sun is out.
Flock Cafe, Burwash Manor, Cambridge, CB23 7EY, flockcafe.co.uk
SIX Brasserie at The Varsity Hotel, Cambridge
Cambridge settings don’t get much more spectacular than the rooftop SIX restaurant with panoramic views across those dreaming spires (yes yes I know that’s Oxford, but using a bit of poetic licence!). You can see for miles as you devour tea and cakes here and pick out all the famous city landmarks. After afternoon tea in the restaurant, get on the hard stuff and enjoy cocktail hour on the stunning roof terrace.
SIX Brasserie, The Varsity Hotel, 24 Thompson’s Lane, Cambridge CB5 8AQ, thevarsityhotel.co.uk
The Houghton Mill Tea Rooms, Houghton
Muddy came across this teeny tiny cute-to-the-max brew house after a walk at Houghton Mill and what a find. It’s worth a visit, if only to watch your children dribbling at the cake counter – all home made by owner Linda Prentice who clearly knows a thing or two about making a sponge rise. There’s also a small gallery attached if you still have any energy left to mooch. It’s open Wed – Sun (12 noon-4pm) – if you’re after lavish afternoon tea you’ll need to book ahead but if a slice of delicious cake and a cup of tea is what you’re after just pitch up.
Houghton Tea Rooms, Mill Street, Houghton, Huntingdon PE29 2AZ, stneotscakes.co.uk
The DoubleTree Hilton, Cambridge
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel in the centre of Cambridge doesn’t look massively exciting from the front but bear with… Inside the décor is your kind of normal formal hotel style – Jonathan Adler isn’t going to get the shakes but it’s smartly done. The USP at this place is the amazing view of the River Cam – you could dip your toes in the water if you so desired. If the weather’s looking good it’s a perfect spot for catching a few rays in the sheltered garden whilst punt-watching. Afternoon tea is always beautifully presented and there’s heaps of space both inside and out – no-one seems to get too precious about kids, so the pressure’s off there. On a practical note there’s ample parking – in a traffic-chocked city that’s a winner in my book.
The DoubleTree Hilton, Granta Place, Mill Ln, Cambridge CB2 1RT, doubletree3.hilton.com
Peacocks Tearoom, Ely
This quirky tearoom was set up in the owners home 14years ago. It has now spread to take up much of the ground floor and you really do feel as if you have been invited to tea in someone’s house. As well as a lunch menu they have a huge selection of home made cakes and they offer tea from every continent bar Antartica! They don’t take bookings for afternoon tea and if you want to make a weekend of it they have two suites upstairs that are run on a B&B basis.
Peacocks Tearoom, 65 Waterside, Ely, Cambridgeshire, CB7 4AU, peacockstearoom.co.uk
The Cafe at Gog Magog Farmshop
The cafe at the award winning Gog Magog farmshop has a relaxed and warm feel about it as well as serving some seriously good tea and cake. There’s a busy vibe and if you’re feeling sociable you can gather around the central long farm house table or pick a quieter spot to catch up with a mate. Word of warning: the scones are enormous and there’s a huge array of cakes. With a farmshop, butchers and deli on site you’ll leave with a boot full of goodies to enjoy.
The Gog Magog Hills Farmshop, Heath Farm, Babraham Rd, Stapleford, Cambridge CB22 3AD, thegog.com
The Orchard Tea Gardens, Grantchester
Another tea option based in the historic setting of Grantchester, but when a villages this pretty it’s hardly surprising that there are several watering holes. Just a short stroll, cycle ride, punt or drive from the bustle of Cambridge you’ll find the Orchard Tea Garden; a corner of England where time stands still as the hectic world hurtles by. The Orchard has been serving tea for nearly 120 years (so they’ve really nailed it by now) and is renowned for the plethora of famous bods who’ve enjoyed its genteel setting, including Rupert Brooke and his Bloomsbury set friends Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster, John Maynard Keynes and Ernest Rutherford to name but a few. Relax in a deck chair under the shade of an apple tree, enjoy the riverside setting and soak up the atmosphere of a bygone era as you scoff a scone or three.
The Orchard Tea Gardens, 47 Mill Way, Grantchester, Cambridge CB3 9ND, theorchardteagarden.co.uk
The Geographer, Histon
A cafe-cum-shop-cum-deli that is found in the village of Histon, just north of Cambridge. This quirky place has a vintage feel with stripped floorboards and vintage tables many of which have been given a make over with vintage maps. Most of the cakes are made on-site but the few that aren’t they are produced by local companies such as Gourment Brownie Ltd. Afternoon tea is served on a traditional cake stand and if you fancy a glass of something then there’s champagne and Prosecco on offer provided by the local Cambridge Wine Merchants. The Geographer is stacked high with artisan products, some locally sourced but also many of the brands that you recognise from abroad. Don’t forget to take home some of their homemade Presecco and strawberry jam.
The Geographer, 103 Station Road, Impington, CB24 9NP, Cambridge, facebook.com
Tilly the Travelling Tea Room
You’ve gotta love a wild card and if you just can’t be bothered to go and find your afternoon delight then why not grab a bunch of your bezzies and have afternoon tea delivered to you. This genuine Thomson Mini Glen caravan has been lovingly restored to her former glory, with the help of a little Cath Kidston. The Nanny McPhee of the tea wold – she gets out and about travelling to tea parties and events where you might need her help. Give Betty Crocker the afternoon off and get Tilly to pitch up with afternoon tea, ice creams and a host of homemade cakes and cookies.
And the best themed afternoon teas just a short train rise away in the capital…
London Landmarks Afternoon Tea, Town House at The Kensington
Pret-a-Portea, The Berkeley Hotel
Mary Poppins Afternoon Tea, Aqua Shard
CUTcakes & Tea, CUT at 45 Park Lane
Peter Rabbit Afternoon Tea, Le Meridien Piccadilly
Mary Quant Afternoon Tea at The Pelham hotel
Rock ‘n’ Roll Afternoon Tea, The Gore
What’s the Tea, Drag Queen’s Make-up Box Afternoon Tea, The Perception Bar, W London