A Teatime Experience
Here, we present our selection of four of the Cotswolds’ most characterful settings in which to enjoy afternoon tea…
Aston Pottery’s Country Café, near Bampton: 01993 852896 / OX18 2BT / astonpottery.co.uk
Aston Pottery offers visitors an award winning shop, café and gardens as well as boasting one of the few remaining working potteries in the country. It is without doubt one of the area’s unique destinations, where the experience is as impressive as the service. Built in 2008, the pottery’s Country Café is open seven days a week, serving a fine selection of freshly cooked food. Tea time offerings include scones, cakes and biscuits, with gluten and dairy-free offerings that are just as delicious. The café provides a light and airy space in which to enjoy a light snack, lunch or – throughout the summer months – delicious Cream Teas (advance bookings are requested). All of the pottery is designed, hand-made and hand-decorated on site using Aston Pottery’s own stencilling techniques. If you visit during the week, you can take a short tour around the workshop to see how everything is made.
Pump Room Restaurant, Bath: 01225 444477 / BA1 1LZ / romanbaths.co.uk
Regarded as the social heart of Bath for more than two centuries, the Pump Room is a striking neo-classical salon with a fountain where you can still sample the hot spa water. But be warned, it is very much an acquired taste! With its historical connections and period features, the Pump Room Restaurant offers one of the city’s finest backdrops for afternoon tea. Live music is provided courtesy of either the Pump Room Trio or resident pianist Jools Scott. The three options for afternoon tea are the Traditional Pump Room Tea (£22.50 per person), Searcys Champagne Tea (£31.50 per person) and the Pump Room Celebration Tea and Bubbles (£40 per person). All offer very generous portions so remember to arrive hungry and/or factor in time for a hike around nearby Victoria Park afterwards. Bookings can be made for Monday to Friday, but there is a queuing system in place at the weekend. It is worth the wait, although we’d advise a weekday visit if you are not a natural queuer. Bear in mind that the Pump Room is one of Bath’s most popular destinations with tourists, especially over the summer months.
The Daffodil, Cheltenham: 01242 700555 / GL50 2AE / thedaffodil.com
Situated inside one of Cheltenham’s most iconic buildings – a 1920s former Art Deco picture palace in the Suffolks – The Daffodil retains much of this original feeling of opulence. There is still a sense of occasion, which is perfectly suited to the most elegant meal of the day. There are several choices of afternoon tea on the menu, including the Cream Tea (two homemade scones, clotted cream and homemade preserves; £5.50); the English Tea (two hot buttered English muffins with homemade preserve; £5.50); and The Daffodil Afternoon Tea – a firm favourite – which includes the full whammy of freshly prepared sandwiches and cakes, homemade scones, clotted cream and homemade preserves (£15 per person). Head Chef Tom Rains prides himself on expert preparation of the scones, cakes and delicate finger sandwiches. All options are accompanied by your choice of tea, which includes Green, Earl Grey, Darjeeling, Chamomile Flowers and English Breakfast. If you prefer something sparkling with your afternoon tea, the Champagne Tea is served with a glass of Brut Champagne (£22 per person). Afternoon teas are served on Friday and Saturday, from 2:30pm–5pm. On Saturdays, live Jazz adds to the Roaring Twenties setting.
The Painswick Hotel & Restaurant, Painswick: 01452 813688 / GL6 6YB / thepainswick.co.uk
As a 16 bedroom restaurant-with-rooms, food is central to what The Painswick is all about. It was recently relaunched as the latest addition to The Calcot Collection and aims to offer a relaxed take on the traditional country house hotel: it is far more relaxed and affordable, overlaid with a contemporary take on luxury. In The Restaurant, formality has been swept aside – think parquet flooring, leather, glass and wood textures, with banquette seating along one side of the room and chunky, stripped pine tables. Afternoon tea is served daily from 3pm–5pm and, as you might expect, offers up some surprises. Head Chef Michael Bedford (formerly of The Chef’s Table in Tetbury) presents a traditional English cream tea of scones, clotted cream and jam (£16 per person) but also a Savoury version – afternoon tea ’with a twist’. This includes a ham and cheese toasty, Scotch egg, beer battered smoked haddock, mini-pork pies with pickled vegetables, and pork scratchings, all washed down with half a pint of stout or hot drink of your choice (£16 per person). Michael describes his intent for all the dining options at The Painswick as “eclectic”. He adds, “Don’t expect anything austere but look out for the fun
Advance reservations are recommended for all venues.