Afternoon tea is a quintessentially British tradition, which involves stuffing your face with savoury sarnies and cutesy sweet treats while consuming endless cups of tea.
The city of Bristol is full of great places to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea, with several options on offer, including venues by the Harbour, quirky vintage shops that serve tea on the side, and restaurants which let you add a glass of fizz to your afternoon out. To find an afternoon tea in Bristol that suits you, peruse our selection of the best in the city below.
Cox & Baloney Tearoom & Bar
Why: At this rustic, old-school space, you’ll find a cutesy afternoon tea offering that is perfect for lovers of all things vintage. While enjoying pots of freshly-brewed tea, you’ll be able to tuck into a selection of finger sandwiches, alongside in-house baked cakes and fruit scones slathered with lashings of Cornish clotted cream and jam. Everything in your tea will be served on cute-as-can-be mismatched crockery, adding to Cox & Baloney’s quirky charm.
Where: 182-184 Cheltenham Road, BS6 5RB
Why: This elegant Harbourside venue serves not one, but two kinds of afternoon tea. Those seeking an afternoon delight can opt for the vintage afternoon tea which features a selection of dainty sandwiches followed by freshly-baked plain and fruit scones topped with jam and Cornish clotted cream and a variety of miniature cakes. If you fancy adding an extra touch of glamour, opt for the Champagne afternoon tea, which comes with a glass of house fizz.
Where: Narrow Quay, BS1 4QF
Why: Part of the nationwide Ivy Collection, this all-day restaurant feature’s the brand's signature colourful art-deco interiors and a menu full of crowd-pleasers which take influence from across the globe. The afternoon tea here however, is resolutely British: start with savoury sarnies filled with the likes of truffled chicken or smoked salmon, before moving on to the sweeter likes of warm fruit scones and a crème brulee doughnut.
Where: 42-44 Caledonia Place, BS8 4DN
No. 4 Clifton Village
Why: Quintessentially British, No. 4 boasts rustic chic interiors and a cosy, welcoming vibe. Afternoon tea here can be innocent or boozy, with Hendrick’s Gin and Perrier-Jouët packages available alongside the standard offering. Food wise, you can expect an assortment of miniature sandwiches, freshly-baked scones, a helping of Victoria sponge, and of course, endless cups of freshly-brewed tea or coffee.
Where: 4 Rodney Place, BS8 4HY
Why: Afternoon tea is often a post-shopping treat, but at this vintage tea room you can combine both activities. Found inside a quirky vintage shop, Heartfelt Vintage combines retro clothes with a seasonally changing afternoon tea menu. The offering here is updated every few weeks, but on your visit you might find the likes of classic cucumber sandwiches and pistachio and lime drizzle cake. A vegan version of the tea is also available.
Where: 32 Alma Vale Road, BS8 2HY
Café at the New Room
Why: Found inside what is said to be the oldest Methodist chapel in the world, Café at the New Room is a charming space, featuring a courtyard which is protected from the elements by a glass roof. Almost everything served here is made in-house and veggies and vegans aren’t forgotten about either. Sweet treats to look out for while enjoying afternoon tea include chocolate brownies and a shortbread and pecan pie.
Where: 36 The Horsefair, UK BS1 3JE
Why: Found on the top floor of this shopping mecca, the Restaurant at Harvey Nichols serves a delectable afternoon tea to tempt shoppers. Here, finger sandwiches boast traditional fillings such as egg, mayonnaise and chive or smoked salmon and cream cheese, while miniature fruit scones topped with clotted cream are followed by the oh-so-sweet likes of banana and pineapple cake, a chocolate tart and a pistachio macaron.
Where: 27 Philadelphia Street, BS1 3BZ
Why: It’s all about adding novel twists to tradition at this afternoon tea. That means you can expect your savouries selection to include the likes of smoked salmon and cream cheese on dark rye bread, and a brioche roll stuffed with egg, cress and mayonnaise. On the sweeter side of things, expect rhubarb and custard tarts and a Tutti Frutti macaron, while you can add an extra touch of glamour by enjoying a glass of Hotel Du Vin’s own brand of Champagne.
Where: The Sugar House Narrow Lewin's Mead, BS1 2NU
If you prefer to dine out earlier in the day, you’ll want to explore our round up of the best brunches in Bristol.
What different kinds of afternoon tea are available in the UK?
Classic afternoon tea
A standard afternoon tea starts with a range of savoury sandwiches cut into fingers, which is followed by scones topped with strawberry preserve and clotted cream, before finishing up with an assortment of sweet treats. Of course, cups of tea are usually served throughout or given to diners in a pot at the beginning of the meal.
Themed afternoon tea
Some afternoon teas have a theme, with the food and drink offered inspired by anything from a smash-hit musical to a famous novel. At these afternoon teas, you will normally find that the sweet selection takes its inspiration from the theme, and these teas are especially popular with children and young families.
Alternative afternoon tea
If you don’t drink tea, you can still enjoy the afternoon tea experience. Several restaurants around the UK now offer Champagne, coffee or even cocktails to enjoy alongside your sandwiches, scones and sweets. The option to add alcohol to your afternoon tea is very popular, with a glass of Champagne being the most common choice.