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scones at an afternoon tea

Afternoon tea: 7 UK cities for the best cream tea

We don’t need much persuading to tuck into juicy scones, finger sandwiches and lashings of tea on any day of the year. But when it’s National Cream Tea Day, it would be incredibly rude not to. So, we’ve cherry-picked 7 of the best locations across the UK to sit down to a proper cream tea or afternoon tea. From traditional tea rooms in Plymouth and York, to cream tea aboard a ferry in Bristol or a bus in Edinburgh, we’ve done the hard work for you – so all you need to do is book your coach tickets.

Biddy’s Tea Room, Norwich

Norwich has a huge selection of tea rooms where you can get a hearty cream tea, especially around Elm Hill. But Biddy’s Tea Room has got to be one of the best if you’re after a traditional touch. This welcoming tea room on Lower Goat Lane has a homely atmosphere with comfy sofas, books and games. Plus, their afternoon tea is all about big portions with huge scones and cakes made at their Aylsham bakery. We particularly like the fact it’s build-your-own, so you can choose every delicious bite.

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B-Bakery, London

You’ve got no end of super-swish options for cream tea in London – from The Ritz to The Savoy. But if you fancy something a bit more low-key we’d highly recommend B-Bakery’s Afternoon Tea Bus Tours. You’ll be treated to afternoon tea with a French twist aboard a vintage Routemaster bus, which will take you on a tour of London’s best sights while you eat. We tried this one out and can vouch for how good it is, but be warned – it books up quickly.

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Bettys Café Tea Rooms, York

We couldn’t write a list of the UK’s best afternoon tea locations without including Bettys Café Tea Rooms – this place is an absolute institution, after all. The first one, in Harrogate, opened in 1919 and there are now six Bettys tea rooms in the UK including St Helens Square in York. You can just turn up for their Traditional Afternoon Tea, which includes delicate sandwiches and cakes served up on a tiered stand, or get treat boxes to take out. If you’re eating in, just be prepared to queue – it’s so popular there’s almost always a line around the building.

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Cream tea cruise, Bristol

Fancy combining a cream tea and a cruise? Bristol Ferry Boats has you covered. Their cream tea cruise sets sail from the city and takes you over to Beeses, a riverside pub and tea room wrapped in gorgeous gardens. The journey over there takes an hour, and there’s a bar onboard the ferry. Once you’re there you’ll have two hours to tuck in before sailing back across the river.

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Red Bus Bistro, Edinburgh

That’s right – it’s another bus tour – but this one will show you the iconic Edinburgh sights whilst enjoying delicious food and drink. Yummy! You'll see sights like Scott Monument, Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh Castle, Greyfriars Bobby and many more.

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Malmaison, Cheltenham

Gloucestershire is awash with pretty tea rooms and quaint cafés serving afternoon tea, so you’re spoilt for choice in this neck of the woods. If you’re visiting Cheltenham, try the Malmaison – they do a fantastic cream tea as well as a full afternoon tea with wraps and sandwiches as well as cakes and brownies, plus the option to add Champagne or a cocktail. It’s right in the heart of the city, so you’re in the best place to explore – if you’re not too full up from over-indulging.

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Tudor Rose Tea Rooms, Plymouth

Devon is a dab hand at cream teas, and if you head to Plymouth you’ve got lots of options to choose from – including posh hotels and tucked-away cafés. For a traditional take on afternoon tea, it’s got to be the Tudor Rose Tea Rooms on the Barbican, one of the oldest streets in Plymouth. Their Devonshire Cream Tea is available all day and includes two fat homemade scones served warm with strawberry jam, West Country clotted cream and a pot of Drake blend Plymouth tea. They do vegan and gluten-free options too, and you can take it in the pretty walled garden.

Book the megabus to Plymouth