Pictured above: Tea at the Royal Crescent hotel
The Royal Crescent, Bath
We're happy to share our new discovery, the holy grail of afternoon teas, at the Royal Crescent hotel in Bath. During the summer (blankets at the ready for those chillier days) you can have tea in this picturebook garden (a green, tree filled acre here in the centre of Bath) or by a blazing fire in the library in winter. It's a proper Downton-esque affair, tiny sandwiches, scones and clotted cream, cakes and macaroons to make you weep, glasses of pink fizz or perhaps a martini. Word has spread and you'll want to book ahead. Forget lunch or dinner, this is the date you're looking for. Make like Jane Austen for a few hours in this hidden oasis.
Bumble and Bee, Exmouth, Devon
Glorious new discovery, we think you'll thank us, this organic tearooms in Devon, specialises in outrageous cakes, American pancakes and food cooked 'the way our grandmothers taught us.' It works as a breakfast stop off - everything including the baked beans is handmade (they come in a smokey sauce) - or a sneaky lunch destination with a glass of Mimosa thrown in. Best thing is the beautiful location in Manor Gardens, which also happens to be a stone's throw from the beach. Open April to September (or check website for details of winter opening).
The Scarlet Hotel, Cornwall
Afternoon tea reimagined as an exercise in ultimate pleasure - we'd choose this one for birthday celebrations. Handmade cakes, pastries and macaroons like miniature works of art, delicious tea from the nearby Tregothnan estate, scones with the Scarlet's home-made jam and clotted cream and a glass of pink fizz. With spectacular views over Mawgan Porth beach, melt in the mouth cakes and perfectly cold champagne this feels like the definitive treat. From £25 pp and worth every penny.
Cole Manor Tearooms, Bruton, Somerset
Newish tearooms in an old Millhouse with a river running through the bottom of the garden. Seriously good home baked cakes, lemon drizzle, Victoria sponge, classic scones, jam and clotted cream the usuals, with pots of delicious tea and a laid back vibe. Head here for a laid back afternoon after a dash of culture at Hauser & Wirth.
Comins Tea House, Dorset
And now for something entirely different. The Japanese styled Comins Tea House in Sturminster Newton takes tea drinking very seriously. Offering only the finest, loose leaf single estate teas, Comins combines the ritual of Eastern tea drinking with a laid back Dorset vibe. This is the place to come and unwind and sample truly delicious tea that will put you off PG Tips for life. You can choose authentic gyoza dumplings to go with your Japanese green tea (the real thing bears no comparison to the tea bags) or opt for home-made scones, clotted cream and jam. You can pick up the most beautiful teaware and packs of tea to take home. We love it here.
Slader's Yard, Dorset
If you like your cup of tea with a slice of culture there's nowhere better than Slader's Yard in West Bay, a wonderful gallery and restaurant rolled into one. Speciality teas here and an inventive ever changing menu of cakes including scones freshly baked every day for your cream tea. Upstairs you'll find beautiful contemporary furniture from Peter Southall to covet. Wonderful.
The Lido, Bristol
Ask any Bristol-ite where they'd go for tea and they're going to choose the Lido. A swim, first, of course, in this wonderful Victorian bath-house, which reopened with a brand new outdoor pool (and hot tub) four years ago. Never mind the exercise, regulars come for the cakes, apparently, great, fat wodges of jam and cream sponge that Queen Victoria would been delighted to snack on. Non members Monday to Friday 1-4pm.
A small and laid-back room right on top of a cliff overlooking the Atlantic. Park up here for a reviving mug of tea, a wedge of cake and one of the best clotted cream teas you'll ever taste. Take your tea out into the tiny garden and soak up those breathtaking views (even in winter walkers sit out here, gloved fingers clutching hot tea). Somewhere to forget the world. Open daily Easter to end October, call for winter openings. 01637 860701
Pythouse Kitchen Garden, Wiltshire
You'll often find us here knocking back an exquisite cup of fresh lemon verbena tea (with vintage cup and saucer of course) with a slice of orange polenta cake. The garden is the thing, so it's the perfect spot for summer but we love it in winter too, holing up by the log burner and agonising over our cake choices. It works as a breakfast or lunch destination (dinner too at the weekend) but it's the ultimate spot for tea.
Soulshine Cafe, Bridport, Dorset
Beautiful cakes, locally roasted coffee (Extract in Bristol), exquisite herbal teas from Austria and that's before we get to the immense breakfasts and lunches. It's small but all the better for being so. Small children are welcomed with a cute play area (with constantly changing toys), adults will love to linger over the rack of independent magazines. The kind of place that is perfect when you're craving an afternoon alone.