There really is nothing more British than a proper afternoon tea time. And while idyllic, cottage core settings of floral china, lace doilies, and clotted cream and scones may come to mind, these tea times are more...glitzy. These three posh tea times drip diamonds and gold (sometimes literally) and are the perfect luxurious way to spend an afternoon while traveling in the United Kingdom.
Of course, you can still enjoy a cup of classic Earl Grey and a biscuit or two, but these teas may also come with a side of gold-flaked eclairs and perfectly baked blinis adorned with caviar. What can we say? We enjoy the best of both worlds.
The British Pullman, A Belmond Train
Yes, one of the poshest tea times in Britain occurs on board a moving train! Departing from Victoria Station in the heart of London, the British Pullman is a vintage dream come to modern-day real-life for the price of about £350 per person for afternoon tea.
The train itself has been meticulously restored back to its 1920s glory; you'll be surrounded by beautiful and opulent finishes from the art deco period while sipping on tea or champagne...or both. Many of the carriages are steeped in rich history, including Sir Winston Churchill's funeral car and the car that has been known to carry the royal family.
The Afternoon Tea on the British Pullman includes a roundtrip train ride to and from London through the British countryside, Veuve Clicquot champagne, and a collection of sweets and savories designed and prepared by world-renowned pastry chef Claire Clark MBE. While you may recognize Chef Clark from a spot or two on MasterChef, she is a twice named Pastry Chef of the Year by the Craft Guild of Chefs. Her work, especially on the British Pullman, are small works of posh art.
Sometimes, for special occasions, this afternoon tea experience levels up even more, with specialized menus and additional gifts to celebrate yearly holidays or milestones, like the Queen's Jubilee.
If it's good enough for Meghan Markle, the Queen Mother, and Winston Churchill, then Cliveden House's accommodations are certainly enough for us! Situated among the lush landscapes of the Berkshire countryside, Cliveden House is a very posh 5-Star hotel that also hosts a decadent Champagne Afternoon Tea.
Cliveden House, which dates back to the 17th century (the 2nd Duke of Buckingham allegedly built this opulent manor of his mistress--oh, the scandal!), is a National Trust Property and is currently leased as a hotel. The hotel often hosts many high-profile guests, including Meghan Markle on the eve of her royal wedding to Prince Harry. Therefore, Cliveden House is not actively open to the public to visit except for certain tour times throughout the year hosted by Cliveden House volunteers... and afternoon tea!
A Champagne Afternoon Tea will set you back about £62 per person and includes a glass of Laurent-Perrier La Cuvée, Brut Champagne, and picturesque pastries (some in the shape of flowers!) that, rumor has it, are adored by the Queen herself. In fact, for the Platinum Jubilee, Cliveden House curated a "queen-themed" Jubilee Afternoon Tea offered for a limited time.
The Signet Library
While a law library doesn't quite sound like a place that would host a fabulously decadent tea, then let the Signet Library surprise you in all the best ways. Here, Outlander fans rejoice! Because you'll be getting a twofer-- a lovely, delicious tea time in one of the show's most luxe filming locations.
Serving as the set of the Governor's mansion in Jamaica in the famous highlander, time-traveling series, the Signet Library's menu offers some of the most non-traditional and yet delightful fixings. You'll find classics like clotted cream and scones on the menu, but there are also plenty of fun twists like the peach and cream ice cream sandwich and the Hoisin duck taco.
Priced at £50 per person, not inclusive of drinks, it's a relatively inexpensive price tag for the experience of dining among the tall columns and stacked books steeped in both history and television fame.
If you're feeling brave and want to channel your inner Claire Fraser adventurer, then travel from this posh tea time to the Scottish Highlands, where you can find some of the most mysterious castles in the country. Or stay behind and enjoy some of the Signet Library's signature gin. Or both! We highly encourage it.