Best afternoon tea in Cambridge: 10 irresistible places for dainty cakes and luxury teas

Prepare those pinkies, it’s time to devour doll-sized cakes and load-bearing scones at the very best afternoon tea spots in Cambridge.

Updated on • Written By Aoife Silke

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Best afternoon tea in Cambridge: 10 irresistible places for dainty cakes and luxury teas

Picture this: the aroma of freshly brewed piping hot tea, the delicate jingle of fine china, and the soft murmur of conversation. Now, throw in some crustless sandwiches, a good dose of English etiquette, and a selection of fine cakes and pastries - what do you have? The most British dining convention: afternoon tea. It’s a form of escapism, a chance to indulge free from guilt and call it self-care.

Let’s be honest. Afternoon tea is all about indulging in perfectly formed delicious treats - who can resist those adorable bite-sized delights? But as afternoon teas in Cambridge demonstrate, a stunning location is part of the experience. So, whether you fancy a formal afternoon in a central Cambridge hotel, takeaway tea for two on Jesus Green, or a spot for post-punting afternoon tea by the River Cam - we’ve compiled the very best afternoon teas Cambridge has to offer.


With a reputation for cutting-edge academia and intellectual prowess (sorry Oxford), the fervent competition for the title of the best afternoon tea in Cambridge may be surprising. Yes, the almost cultish obsession with pretty little cakes and itty bitty sandwiches does seem frivolous, but what if we told you the academic community owes its international standing to the great afternoon teas of Cambridge?

Admittedly, that's a bit of a stretch. But lazy afternoon indulgence and cheerful sugary treats have their benefits - after all, a dopamine deficit can stunt creativity. In fact, during the 1910s afternoon tea provided the social space for intellectuals - including poet Rupert Brooke and writer Virginia Woolf - to converse, debate, and ultimately contribute towards Cambridge's rich cultural and academic heritage.

So, now we've provided you a perfectly rational excuse - you’re welcome - take a closer look at our top picks for afternoon tea in Cambridge, from riverside manor houses to rooftop restaurants.

Six Restaurant Cambridge

open air terrace with tables and afternoon tea stands

What: Served - you guessed it – on the sixth floor of the Varsity Hotel, Six Restaurant afternoon tea with panoramic views over the Cambridge skyline. Indulge in a variety of classic finger sandwiches like coronation chicken, cheese and cucumber, and egg and black pepper, while taking in the sights of Cambridge landmarks and enjoying speciality teas. You’ll move on to fresh warm scones with Cornish clotted cream, and finish with an array of patisseries. This is a great spot for vegetarian and gluten-free guests. Plus, if you’re feeling a little fancy, you’ll have the opportunity to upgrade and include a glass of prosecco or champagne.
Where: 6th Floor The Varsity Hotel, Thompson's Lane, CB5 8AQ
Book now: Six Restaurant Cambridge

The Orangery at Old Hall Ely

Arial shot of blue macarons on slate, scones below

What: This one’s slightly further out of Cambridge, and all the better for it. Set in a remarkable 15th-century Jacobean manor house just near Ely, afternoon tea at The Orangery at Old Hall offers the most idyllic accompaniment to dainty cakes and scones: floor-to-ceiling views of elegantly manicured topiary gardens. But the beauty of The Orangery isn’t just skin deep. Expect a proper feast of smoked salmon, roast beef, and truffle egg sandwiches on homemade bread; two types of scones; and picture-perfect desserts. Complete with delicate china, antique furniture and crisp linen, afternoon tea at The Orangery is a polished affair. And what’s more polished than afternoon tea with a glass of Vilanau organic Cava?
Where: The Old Hall Ely, Stuntney, CB7 5TR
Book now: The Orangery at Old Hall Ely


tiers of scones, cake, and macarons with blue tile background

What: One of the best afternoon teas in Cambridge city centre, Fitzbillies Trumpington Street, serves traditional mid-afternoon fare every day of the week. This is one of Cambridge’s more affordable afternoon teas, but don’t let the simplicity fool you. Old-school afternoon tea is their speciality - along with Instagrammable Chelsea buns. Every baked good at Fitzbillies, from bread and cake to scones and macarons is crafted in-house with freshness guaranteed. Found opposite King’s College, this branch dates back to 1920 and is one of the oldest most well-known spots for afternoon tea near Cambridge University. And, if you’re in the mood for punting in Cambridge with afternoon tea refreshments, you can order it as a picnic.
Where: 51-52 Trumpington Street, CB2 1RG
Book now: Fitzbillies

Garden House

champagne coupes, plate of tarts, and salmon sandwiches

What: You might struggle to find a better contender for a riverside afternoon tea in Cambridge than The Garden House. Set within the restful calm of the banks of Coe Fen, The Garden Room overlooks punters on the River Cam from a quaint tea room with chevron parquet flooring and bentwood chairs that lend a rustic atmosphere. Best of all, weather permitting, you can take your afternoon delight al fresco to the garden and people-watch to your heart's content. Seasonal afternoon tea menus at The Garden House champion East Anglian produce; such as hot smoked salmon and garden pea sandwiches, buttermilk scones, and elderflower and raspberry Battenberg cakes.
Where: Granta Place, Mill Lane, CB2 1RT
Book now: Garden House

Quy Mill Hotel & Spa

red sofa and marble table with tea pot and tiers of cake

What: Far more than a cuppa and a couple of sarnies, afternoon tea at Quy Mill Hotel & Spa offers an experience of tranquillity and indulgence with a menu crafted by an award-winning kitchen team. To be enjoyed within a historic watermill on the fringe of the city, this traditional afternoon tea selection includes seasonal dainty sandwiches, fresh-baked scones, and handmade cakes and patisseries. It’s the kind of place you could lounge on velvet banquettes, sip loose-leaf tea from vintage china teacups, and natter with friends for hours. And with spacious grounds, there’s plenty of opportunity for a digestive walk across the garden - or a trip to the spa if you’re feeling extra.
Where: Church Road, CB25 9AF
Book now: Quy Mill Hotel & Spa

Parker’s Tavern at The University Arms Hotel

2 glasses of fizz with tea stand, sandwiches and pertty cakes

What: Parker’s Tavern is best known for its whimsical redefinitions of classic British dishes and use of English produce - it’s a match made in afternoon tea heaven. Complete with arched stained glass windows and vistas over Parker’s Piece, afternoon tea at Parker’s Tavern is a themed affair typically imbued with Cambridge character. Whether it’s a symphony of flavours inspired by the city’s musical heritage, or a literary affair paying homage to the colleges of Cambridge, sweets and savouries are spotless and refined - just as they should be. Picture perfectly formed cubes of blueberry cheesecake, dinky rose roulades, and choux buns with rhubarb craquelin.
Where: Regent Street, CB2 1AD
Book now: Parker’s Tavern at The University Arms Hotel

Tamburlaine Restaurant at Clayton Hotel Cambridge

tableside tea stand with a champagne bucket

What: The Clayton Hotel is not just a great spot for afternoon tea near the station after a day trip to Cambridge, but it also boasts one of the most stylish dining rooms in the city - The Tamburlaine Restaurant. Every inch of the restaurant is considered and cohesive, from plush Cambridge blue seating to dark wood panelling, marble tabletops, and Art Deco lighting - it's the kind of setting that demands indulgence. And the Tamburlaine afternoon tea menu certainly fits the bill. Along with your choice of loose-leaf Newby teas and fruit infusions, expect seasonal finger sandwiches, meringues, macarons and scones with Devonshire cream. It also offers a children’s afternoon tea menu to keep little fingers off your plate.
Where: 27-29 Station Road, CB1 2FB
Book now: Tamburlaine Restaurant at Clayton Hotel Cambridge

Carriages Tea Room

woman looks over a tea stand through train window

What: Nostalgic history buffs and train-loving ‘steamies’, this one’s for you! Carriages Tea Rooms offers a glimpse into the bygone era of opulent 1920s train travel with a contemporary twist. The historic Oakham station in Fen Drayton is one of the more unusual locations for afternoon tea but it’s a first-class setting in both senses of the word. Dine in decadence on board a Pullman-style carriage and be transported (if only in your imagination) to the heyday of luxury British dining. There are varied menus, each incorporating ingredients from the on-site Victorian kitchen garden and a choice of single-estate teas.
Where: Huntingdon Road, CB24 4SD
Book now: Carriages Tea Room

The Orchard Tea Garden

left: raisin scone with cream. Right: fruit laden cakes

What: Arguably one of the most revered Cambridge afternoon tea destinations, The Orchard Tea Garden comes complete with a 125-year-old legacy in the business of miniature cakes, English sandwiches and perfectly fluffy scones. Whether you settle down by the riverside amidst garden fruit trees or nestled up under the old pavilion, The Orchard presents the chance to escape from the hectic machinations of Cambridge city centre. It’s not just a summer spot. In the chillier months, this very English affair is conducted in the comfort of the Rupert Brooke Room - named for the poet who visited frequently with his intellectual and literary companions.
Where: 47 Mill Way, CB3 9ND
Book now: The Orchard Tea Garden

Gonville Hotel

table crowded with champagne flutes, tea cups, and cakes

What: Another of Cambridge’s finest hotels, Gonville’s classic take on afternoon tea is a perfect location for dainty sandwiches and sweet treats after a day walking the cobbled streets. Along with an air of sophistication, anticipate traditional combinations and exceptional service. Finger sandwiches include cucumber with cream cheese and dill, smoked Scottish salmon with lemon butter on granary bread, and Burford Brown egg mayonnaise on pillowy brioche. The selection of loose-leaf teas includes all the hard hitters, along with lesser-known options like a Japanese Cherry tea and a Chinese ‘Gunpowder’ green tea.
Where: 2 Gonville Place, CB1 1LY
Book now: Gonville Hotel

Searching for a little more excitement from your sweets and savouries? Take novelty teas to new heights at one of the best themed afternoon teas in London.

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