Looking for the best places to get afternoon tea in York?
The quintessentially British dining concept of afternoon tea peaked in popularity during the Victorian era. Members of high society would, more often than not, have their evening meal after 8 pm, meaning they often felt hungry between lunch and dinner. Afternoon tea was introduced as a means of satisfying their hunger between meals but also, as an opportunity to socialise with their peers.
No longer a dining concept reserved for the upper classes, afternoon tea is now more accessible than ever and can be enjoyed in settings other than stately drawing rooms and luxurious hotels. Hotels, pubs, restaurants, cafes, cocktail bars and more are offering their versions of afternoon tea to diners and they vary considerably in cost and composition.
Traditionally, afternoon tea comprises finger sandwiches, petit fours and scones with preserves. This is still the most popular and widely available offering but some establishments are modernising the concept and filling 3-tiered platters with all manner of tasty components. If you’re looking for an afternoon tea with a difference, check out our guide to quirky afternoon teas in Yorkshire.
Steeped in history and brimming with beautiful landmarks and iconic attractions, the city of York is one of Yorkshire’s most loved tourist destinations. If you’re heading to this magnificent city, then what better way to break up a day of sightseeing than with a delicious afternoon tea? Traditionally, afternoon tea is served at around 4 pm, giving you plenty of time beforehand to walk the city walls, marvel at the Minster or explore one of the many fascinating museums in York. The city boasts a diverse foodie scene and you’ll undoubtedly be spoiled for choice when it comes to booking an afternoon tea. To help you narrow down your options, we’ve put together this list of the best places for afternoon tea in York.
These are the best places to get Afternoon Tea in York…
2 St. Helen’s Square, York YO1 8QP
If you’re seeking a traditional afternoon tea in York reminiscent of the concept’s elegant origins, look no further than The Ivy. Established more than a century ago in London’s Covent Garden, The Ivy brand now boasts numerous venues across the UK, each one offering the unrivalled glamour and exceptional service synonymous with its flagship London restaurant.
The Ivy St Helen’s Square offers sophisticated all-day dining and afternoon tea is by far one of its most popular offerings. Served Monday to Sunday between 3 pm and 4:45 pm, afternoon tea at The Ivy is priced at £26.95 per person (£35.95 with champagne) and includes all the expected components, thoughtfully prepared and beautifully presented. The menu changes with the seasons but expect to be served an array of delicate sandwiches, fruited scones and a tantalising tier of decadent desserts. This season, you can indulge yourself in Red Velvet Raspberry Cake, Madeline Cake with Lemon Curd and a divine chocolate milkshake.
6-8 St. Helen’s Square, York YO1 8QP
A visit to Bettys Tea Rooms should be on every foodie’s bucket list! The iconic tea rooms boast the most delightful decor; inspired by the Queen Mary ocean liner. Like the offering at The Ivy, afternoon tea at Bettys is a traditional affair but slightly more formal as regards setting and service. Bettys offers a number of different afternoon teas and some are available to walk-ins. The most exquisite option, however, is the bookable afternoon tea served in the historic Belmont Room and priced from £34.95 per person. This stunning afternoon tea beautifully epitomises what Bettys is all about.
Begin with dainty finger sandwiches featuring fillings such as Smoked Salmon, Prawn and Saffron Mayonnaise before satisfying your sweet tooth with miniature scones and dreamy desserts like Caramel & Chocolate Pillow and Apple & Vanilla Custard Tart. Pay a little extra and you can pair your perfectly presented platters with a glass of prosecco or pink champagne. They’ve done a fantastic job at making their afternoon tea experience accessible to people with special dietary requirements by creating equally delicious vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free afternoon tea menus too. If dining with children, you can also put together a smaller version by choosing sandwiches and sweet treats from the dedicated Little Rascals menu.
Station Rise, York YO1 6GD
The Grand is one of the UK’s top five-star hotels so expect nothing less than exceptional service and exquisite food, prepared by culinary masters! The fact that is has its own cooking school speaks volumes about how good the food is so afternoon tea at The Grand is bound to be a delicious experience.
Served in the timeless setting of The Rise restaurant, this is often considered to be the very best afternoon tea in York and it has won numerous awards to support this. Most recently, it was awarded ‘Best Afternoon Tea 2022’ by Condé Nast Johansens Awards for Excellence.
Although served in a traditional manner on glamorous silver platters, you’ll find that afternoon tea at one of the most romantic hotels in York has been given a contemporary twist. Alongside a selection of sandwiches, savoury treats and obligatory scones, you’ll be served the most impressive array of miniature desserts expertly created by The Grand’s talented pastry chefs, such as a Salted caramel choux bun, a Bergamot custard tart and a most heavenly sounding Pistacho creation comprising pistachio mousse, pistachio praline, pistachio croquant wafer and vanilla cremeux. Exquisite!
Prices for afternoon tea at The Grand start at £34.50 per person.
3 St. Helen’s Square, York YO1 8QN
Those seeking an afternoon tea in York with a quirky twist will adore the one at Impossible Wonderbar & Tea Rooms. This relatively new addition to York’s hospitality scene is located in the city’s iconic Terry’s Chocolate Orange building. Afternoon tea at Impossible is priced at £26.95 but you can upgrade to include prosecco (£34.45) or champagne (£36.45) rather than the standard pot of tea. Although, a pot of tea at Impossible is a delicious experience in itself as the specially designed artisan blend features notes of milk chocolate and orange, as a way of paying homage to the history of the building.
Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free afternoon teas are available upon request and each afternoon tea at Impossible includes sandwiches, pastries, scones and sweet treats made with their own unique twist. Kick back, relax and tuck into three tiers of tasty treats in their art-deco-inspired tea rooms which provide the perfect backdrop for those all-important Instagram selfies. Impossible also have a superb cocktail bar so it’s well worth venturing into there afterwards to sample a few of their creative concoctions.
Aldwark, Alne, York YO61 1UF
With its meticulously manicured 185-acre grounds, sumptuous suites and opulent dining rooms, it’s easy to see why The Aldwark Manor Estate boasts a reputation for luxury and elegance. This stunning independent hotel promises guests unforgettable stays and memorable dining experiences.
Elements at Aldwark Manor is a stylish restaurant offering spectacular views across the countryside estate and unique al fresco dining experiences due to its fully retractable roof and windows. A truly magnificent venue for afternoon tea in York, particularly during the warmer months when one can fully appreciate the scenic setting.
Afternoon Tea at Aldwark Manor is priced at a rather reasonable £24 per person or £34 with a glass of champagne. A traditional affair, it includes the expected finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with cream and preserves plus a skillfully prepared selection of miniature cakes and fancies.
Countess of York
National Railway Museum, Leeman Road, York YO26 4XJ
If you’re looking for a more unique setting for your afternoon tea in York, you should consider making a reservation at The Countess of York. One of the most popular alternative afternoon teas in Yorkshire, it’s a beautifully restored rail carriage located at one of the best museums in Yorkshire; the National Railway Museum.
Few settings are as reminiscent of Victorian refinement and elegance as the characterful Countess of York. Embark on a delicious journey through platters of perfectly presented sandwiches, scones and desserts and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Most dietary requirements can be catered for if the team are notified 24 hours ahead of your arrival. They also do an excellent afternoon tea for children so this is an afternoon tea in York that will delight people of all ages.
Bishopthorpe Road, York YO23 2GB
Set in 20 acres of gardens and parkland, Middlethorpe Hall is a stunning William III country house. Just two miles away from York city centre, it’s one of only three Historic House Hotels of the National Trust. This remarkable hotel with its elegant interiors, luxurious accommodation and boutique spa was once home to famous diarist, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.
Afternoon tea at Middlethorpe Hall is served in one of its grand drawing rooms and is priced at £35 per person, or £41 per person with prosecco and £46 with champagne. Available daily, it includes a selection of finger sandwiches with your choice of white or brown bread and tasty fillings like Smoked Salmon with Cream Cheese and Mature Cheddar with Grape Chutney. You get an additional savoury element with this one, in the form of an Apple and Black Pudding sausage roll. Then follow the obligatory scones plus an array of desserts such as Mango and Coconut Pavlova and a Sticky Toffee Pudding Cake. Served on fine white china in a grand country house setting, this is an afternoon tea in York for those who appreciate refinement and tranquillity!
The Mount, York YO24 1GE
Elmbank Hotel is a unique Art Nouveau boutique hotel in York with a fascinating history. Built during the 19th century, the Grade II listed mansion has been a home for York’s upper classes, a high society party venue, a gentleman’s club and a WII army officer billet. Step through the doors of this handsome property, immerse yourself in the splendour of its elegant interiors, and marvel at one of the most complete Art Noveau collections in the UK. Beautiful stained glass, magnificent murals and intricately detailed stencil designs blend effortlessly with the hotel’s contemporary facilities to make this one of the most beautiful places to stay in the city.
Served in the sophisticated and glamourous on-site restaurant, Leetham’s, there are three different afternoon teas to choose from at Elmbank Hotel. Teetotalers and designated drivers can enjoy a three-tiered platter of carefully crafted culinary delights alongside tea or coffee for just £22.95. Those seeking something a little stronger can choose the Sparkling Afternoon Tea for £27.50 or the unique York Gin Afternoon Tea for £29.50. Each version comes with a selection of sandwiches, freshly baked scones and sweet treats such as Chocolate Opera Gateaux and Mango & Passionfruit Dacquoise.
No.1 by Guesthouse
1 Clifton, York YO30 6AA
Another gorgeous boutique hotel offering superb afternoon tea in York is the stunning No.1 by Guesthouse. Set in a Grade II listed Regency townhouse, No.1 York is a truly splendid accommodation offering just a short walk away from York Minster. If its handsome facade, grand architectural features and charming public spaces aren’t enough to tempt you over for a visit then its food offering undoubtedly will.
Served in The Marmalade Lounge every day from 12 pm until 5 pm, afternoon tea at No.1 York is a creative adaptation of the centuries-old tradition. Priced at £27 per person or £25 with a glass of fizz, the menu changes quite regularly but always includes a tasty sandwich selection, an additional savoury treat such as Pork Pie or Vegetable Quiche, sumptuous homemade scones with clotted cream and jam plus a tantalising line-up of delectable desserts. A regular feature of this afternoon tea in York is a chocolate bar created in association with Andrew Thwaite Chocolatier.
Fenwick Department Store 2 St. Marys Square Coppergate Centre Yorkshire, York YO1 9WY
You’ll find Cafe 21 in the Fenwick Department Store at York’s Coppergate Centre. A more contemporary setting than most on our list, Cafe 21 is a stylish and modern dining space offering delicious daytime dining menus. Its convenient central location makes it ideal for tourists and those visiting the city to indulge in a spot of retail therapy.
Served daily from 2 pm, the Classic Afternoon Tea at Cafe 21 is priced at £50 for two people or £60 with champagne. On your traditional 3-tiered platter you’ll find an impressive selection of sandwiches with five different fillings, both fruited and plain scones served with the expected accompaniments plus an assortment of handmade pastries. The sweet treats at Cafe 21 are meant to be extraordinarily good so work your way through your dainty servings of Battenburg, Raspberry and Rose Macaroon, Cherry and Almond Tart plus more until you’ve found your favourite! Those with a predominantly sweet tooth can choose a Confectioner’s Tea rather than a full afternoon tea and pay a considerably lower price of £35 for two people.
6 Stonegate, York YO1 8AS
Plush Cafe is a family-friendly eatery on Stonegate that has deservingly secured a rather excellent reputation. With three incredible themed dining rooms, a boutique store and creative menus of Instagrammable treats, this independent and family-run eatery is a must-visit! If quirky and colourful is your thing then get yourself to this city centre cafe and prepare yourself for an afternoon of indulgence in one of York’s most vibrant settings.
Afternoon tea at Plush Cafe is steadily becoming one of the most sought-after in the city with influencers and Mummy bloggers flocking there regularly to get a selfie or two alongside their creatively presented and oh-so-calorific treats. The afternoon tea menu changes with the seasons but as Christmas is slowly appearing over the horizon, it currently has a festive theme. It’s priced at £25.95 per person and includes both sweet and savoury items that are packed with festive flavours.
Begin with savoury offerings like Turkey & Cranberry sandwiches and a Brie & Mango Puff Pastry Parcel before sinking your teeth into a seasonal scone and filling your tummy with festive-themed mini cakes and pastries. The Festive Afternoon Tea comes with Mulled Wine or your choice of tea and coffee. They also do a fantastic vegan/vegetarian version for the same price plus a miniature version for children which costs just £17. For an additional £3 per person, you can upgrade your afternoon tea to include one of their signature freak shakes. An additional £15 will get you an entire bottle of Prosecco!