Afternoon tea in terrace setting in the Cotswolds

Imagine this: rolling green hills dotted with honey-coloured stone cottages, their thatched roofs peeking from behind vibrant flower gardens. A gentle breeze carries the sweet scent of freshly baked scones, and the only sound is the soft chirping of birds. This isn’t a scene from a storybook, although you would be forgiven for thinking it is. It’s an afternoon in the Cotswolds, a region in England renowned for its timeless charm.

Enjoy Afternoon Tea in the Cotswolds

And what could be more quintessentially British than afternoon tea? Afternoon tea is a tradition that is as stereotypically British as rainy days and double-decker buses. This delightful tradition, a symphony of finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with clotted cream, delicate pastries, and steaming pots of tea, is the perfect way to immerse yourself in the Cotswolds’ slow pace and idyllic beauty. In this blog post, we will uncover the best spots to indulge in this beloved ritual. Whether you are a seasoned afternoon tea connoisseur or you simply want to see what all the fuss is about, the Cotswolds offers an incredible experience.

Table set up with tea and cakes for afternoon tea in the Cotswolds.
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The Allure of the Cotswolds

The Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), is a region steeped in history. Any visit to the Cotswolds is like stepping back in time, with picture postcard villages, chocolate box houses, winding narrow lanes, ancient stone churches with weathered stone facades, and grand manor houses whispering tales of bygone eras. Every corner exudes a sense of timelessness.

Old footbridge and traditional Cotswold cottages, Bibury,  England, UK.

This idyllic part of England, renowned for its rolling hills and charming villages bursting with honey-coloured thatched cottages, captures the hearts of travellers from all over the world. The Cotswolds offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of modern life. Beyond its visual charm, the Cotswolds boasts a rich culinary heritage. Local producers take pride in their craft, offering fresh, seasonal ingredients that make their way onto afternoon tea menus in the region. From artisan breads and farmhouse cheeses to homemade jams and locally produced honey, every bite celebrates the bounty of this area.

Charming cottages of Arlington Row in Bibury during a summer day in the Cotswolds.
Arlington Row, Bibury, Cotswolds in summer

Whether you prefer a traditional spread with scones topped with clotted cream and jam or fancy something a bit more unique like lavender-infused tea or homemade lemon drizzle cake, there is something to suit every palate here. Afternoon tea in the Cotswolds is the perfect way to relax and unwind after exploring all that this beautiful region has to offer. Plus, its a great excuse to indulge in some delicious treats while soaking up the scenery of the idyllic countryside. Cheers to that!

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If you are exploring the Cotswolds, be sure to check out our guide on the best villages to visit in the Cotswolds. The Cotswolds at Christmas and Bath Christmas Markets are also a magical experience.

Bourton on the Water, United Kingdom:  Father with two children looking at the ducks on the River Windrush with tea-rooms to the rear, Bourton on the Water, Gloucestershire, England, UK, Western Europe.

The Art of Afternoon Tea

The tradition of afternoon tea is a much loved aspect of British culture that dates back to the early 19th century. Its origins can be traced back to Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, who is credited with making the practice of afternoon tea popular.

In the 1800’s, it was customary for people to eat two meals a day, breakfast and dinner, with a long gap in between. Feeling hungry and weary in the late afternoon, the Duchess began to order a tray of tea, bread, and butter for her room to tide her over until dinner was served. This simple act evolved into a social ritual, as she began inviting friends to join her for tea and light refreshments.

Finger sandwiches served during Afternoon Tea in the Cotswolds.

As the Duchess’s gatherings became more elaborate, so too did the spread of food and drink. Tea was served in delicate china cups, accompanied by finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and jam, cakes, and pastries. The tradition of afternoon tea soon caught on among the aristocracy and upper classes, spreading throughout England and beyond.

By the mid-19th century, afternoon tea had become fashionable, providing a way for people to get together and socialise in a relaxed environment. It was also during this time that afternoon tea became synonymous with refinement, etiquette, and sophistication.

Afternoon tea in a terrace setting in the Cotswolds

Today, afternoon tea remains a much loved tradition in Britain and has even spread to other parts of the world. Whether enjoyed in grand hotels, cosy tearooms, or even in the privacy of your own home, it continues to symbolise a moment of elegance, indulgence, and conviviality. It is a timeless ritual that celebrates the simple pleasures of life.

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Afternoon Tea in the Cotswolds is an art form

Afternoon tea in the Cotswolds is a delightful ritual that transcends a simple meal. It’s a chance to slow down, savour the moment and indulge in a truly sensory experience. The presentation itself is a feast for the eyes. Three-tiered stands are adorned with delicate china, glistening silverware and a vibrant tapestry of colourful treats. Every detail is meticulously curated to create a sense of occasion.

The star of the show is, without a doubt, the food! The bottom-tier is usually made up of delicate finger sandwiches, often featuring smoked salmon, cucumber and cream cheese, or roasted ham and mustard, offering a delightful symphony of textures and flavours. On the mid-tier, you will find warm scones, served with dollops of clotted cream and tangy jams. They are a quintessential part of the experience. Finally, the top tier contains a selection of dainty cakes and pastries, each a work of art. Make sure that you save room for them because they make the perfect sweet ending.

Three-tiered cakestand full of cakes and pasteries served during Afternoon Tea in the Cotswolds.

But, afternoon tea isn’t just about the food. It’s also about the setting and atmosphere. Quaint tearooms nestled in charming Cotswolds villages, elegant lounges in grand hotels, or even a sun-drenched terrace overlooking rolling hills. Each setting offers a unique ambiance. You can easily imagine yourself in a cosy armchair with the gentle clatter of china providing a soothing background melody. As you sip on your tea, the aroma of freshly brewed leaves fills the air, and the warmth of the cup radiates in your hands. It’s a moment of sheer indulgence, a welcome respite from the everyday hustle.

Cotswold cottage in the popular tourist destination of Bibury, Gloucestershire, England.
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A Tailored Tea: Options for Every Dream

The beauty of afternoon tea in the Cotswolds is in its diversity. Whether you have dietary requirements or simply have a preference for a specific experience, there is an option to suit everyone. During a fabulous Laura Ashley Afternoon Tea in Cornwall, Ronan was delighted to find that you could select a full savoury menu rather than a sweet one. Unlike me, he doesn’t seem to have much of a sweet tooth.

Traditional Afternoon Tea

There is no shortage of tea rooms in the Cotswolds offering traditional afternoon tea. Classic menus feature a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with cream and jam and a variety of cakes and pastries.

A Touch of Luxury

Several hotels and manor houses in the Cotswolds offer an elevated afternoon tea experience. Think champagne pairings, exclusive finger food selections, and a more opulent setting for an extra touch of indulgence.

A Modern Twist

For those with allergies or specific dietary requirements, like coeliacs, many tea rooms offer vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options so that you don’t have to miss out on the fun.

Indulge your Sweeth Tooth

If you are a dedicated dessert lover (like Nicola), consider booking a cream tea experience. This delightful afternoon tea indulgence features lashings of clotted cream and jam on freshly baked scones, accompanied by a pot of tea.

China teacups and a china milk jug set out on a table for afternoon tea in the Cotswolds.

Beyond the Scones: Pairing your Tea

You can’t have afternoon tea without the tea, right? So it is no surprise that tea takes centre stage in this ritual. The Cotswolds offers a wide selection of loose leaf teas, like Earl Grey and English Breakfast to fragrant floral teas like jasmine and rose. Don’t hesitate to ask staff for recommendations based on your taste preference. You will be surprised by just how much they know about tea and they will be the best ones to advise you.

For an extra touch of decadence, some establishments offer champagne, prosecco, or sparkling wine pairings. This is our favourite accompaniment. The crisp bubbles perfectly complement the sweet and savoury flavours of the afternoon tea spread.

Luxury afternoon tea setting beside a pond in the Cotswolds countryside.

The Dream Itinerary: Planning Your Perfect Afternoon Tea Escape in the Cotswolds

Here is how to curate a dreamy afternoon tea escape in the Cotswolds:

1. Choose your dream location

The Cotswolds boasts an abundance of fairytale villages and towns, each offering a unique setting for your afternoon tea experience. We have a full guide on the best Cotswolds villages, but here are a few ideas to get you started.

  • For a quintessential Cotswolds village experience: Bourton-on-the-Water, also known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”, with its picturesque bridges and canals.
  • For a touch of grandeur: Afternoon tea at a grand hotel like Lords of the Manor Hotel in Upper Slaughter or Cowley Manor in Cheltenham provides an opulent setting. For us, the dream location is the Manor House Hotel in Castle Combe.
  • For history lovers: For a taste of history, why not immerse yourself in history at a historic manor house like The Slaughters Manor House Hotel, Buckland Manor, or even the Elizabethan manor, Billesley Manor, where Shakespeare himself penned As You Like It in 1599. Check out our full review of staying at Billesley Manor, an Elizabethan manor house in the Cotswolds.
  • For a scenic escape: Enjoy breathtaking views of the rolling Cotswolds hills from a hotel with a terrace or a tearoom with panoramic windows.
Boutique hotel in the Cotswolds serving afternoon tea.
Cosy afternoon tea setting in a Cotswolds hotel.

2. Research and Book

Afternoon tea is a popular experience in the Cotswolds, especially during peak season. Research your chosen location and book your reservation well in advance to avoid disappointment. Some tea rooms offer specific time slots that must be booked in advance. Others operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so you would need to get there early to secure a slot.

3. Plan Your Day

Don’t make the mistake of restricting your experience to just afternoon tea! The Cotswolds offers a wealth of things to see and do. Here are a few ideas to create a well-rounded itinerary:

  • Morning: Explore a charming Cotswolds village, browsing local shops and taking in the picturesque beauty.
  • Afternoon: Indulge in your decadent afternoon tea experience.
  • Late Afternoon: Take a leisurely stroll through the countryside ( to walk off all those cakes! ), breathe in the fresh air, and soak in the stunning scenery.
  • Evening: Enjoy a delicious dinner at a cosy pub or restaurant, savouring the flavours of the Cotswolds.
Cakes and baked goods on a cake stand served during afternoon tea in the Cotswolds.

4. Dress for the Occasion

While afternoon tea isn’t a formal affair, it is a nice opportunity to dress up for a bit. Opt for smart casual attire – a sundress or a blouse and skirt for ladies, and chinos or trousers with a collared shirt for gentlemen. For more ideas, check out our guide on what to wear in the Cotswolds.

5. Embrace a Slow Pace

Afternoon tea is a chance to slow down and really savour the moment. Resist the urge to pack everything in and rush through the experience. Our advice is to take your time, enjoy each bite, and relish the peacefulness of the Cotswolds.

The Best Places for Afternoon Tea in the Cotswolds

Traditional Tea Rooms

The Pump Room in Bath

The Georgian Pump Room has been the social heart of Bath for more than two centuries and boasts, among its previous patrons, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens! Nestled in the heart of the historic city of Bath, The Pump Room stands as an iconic destination for afternoon tea enthusiasts. With its elegant Georgian architecture and rich history dating back to the Roman era, The Pump Room offers a quintessential setting for indulging in this wonderful British tradition.

Afternoon tea is served daily, featuring a selection of delicious savoury and sweet treats along with homemade buttermilk scones. As you sip on a cup of fine tea sourced from the finest estates, you can’t help but be transported back in time, imagining the whispers of centuries past that still echo through the halls. With live classical music adding to the ambiance, a visit to The Pump Room promises to be a truly unforgettable experience, steeped in history, elegance, and charm.

Sign for the Pump Room in Bath.

Tisanes Tea Rooms in Broadway

In the picturesque village of Broadway, Tisanes Tea Rooms beckons you with its quaint charm and inviting ambiance. Stepping through the door, you are greeted by the aroma of freshly brewed teas and the warmth of friendly smiles. Settle into one of the cosy nooks adorned with floral prints and vintage teapots, and prepare to embark on a delightful journey of taste and relaxation. From delicate finger sandwiches filled with locally sourced ingredients to decadent cakes and pastries, each bite is a testament to the care and attention to detail that goes into every aspect of the experience. Pair your selection with a fragrant cup of loose-leaf tea, carefully curated from around the world, and let the stresses of the day melt away. With its commitment to quality, hospitality, and the art of tea, Tisanes Tea Rooms offers a quintessentially English afternoon tea experience that is as charming as it is unforgettable.

Bridge Tea Rooms, one of the top places in the UK for afternoon tea in the Cotswolds
Moreton-in-Marsh, UK : Tea Room sign in the beautiful Cotswolds town of Moreton-in-Marsh, in Gloucestershire, UK.

Unique Spots for Tea Lovers

The Painswick Hotel’s Afternoon Tea with a View

Perched atop a hill in the heart of The Cotswolds, The Painswick Hotel beckons with the promise of an afternoon unlike any other. Inside this elegant haven, a delightful scene unfolds. Sunlight dances through large windows, illuminating a cosy lounge. Or you could sit on a sunny terrace as lush green valleys unfurl before you, a breathtaking panorama that stretches as far as the eye can see.

Cosy reading nook in the Painswick Hotel in the Cotswolds.
Luxury in the countryside at the Painswick Hotel in the Cotswolds.

At The Painswick, afternoon tea transcends the ordinary. Their three-tiered stands are a feast for the eyes – a curated selection of culinary delights awaits. Delicate finger sandwiches, bursting with fresh, local ingredients, offer savoury temptations. Tuck into a selection of perfectly trimmed sandwiches, pork pies, their infamous Scotch eggs, and warm scones, still steaming from the oven, that promise a taste of pure comfort, best enjoyed with dollops of clotted cream and vibrant homemade jams. And then, there are the pastries – miniature works of art, each one a testament to the pastry chef’s artistry.

Afternoon tea in the Painswick Hotel, Cotswolds is a selection of perfectly trimmed sandwiches, pork pies, their infamous Scotch eggs, and warm scones.

But the true star of the show might just be the view. The Cotswolds landscape unfolds before you, a tapestry of emerald green dotted with honey-coloured villages. It’s a scene that invites you to slow down, to savour the moment, and to truly appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. Whether you choose the warmth of a cosy lounge or the sun-drenched terrace, The Painswick’s afternoon tea offers an experience that goes beyond the food. It’s a chance to indulge all your senses, to create lasting memories, and to truly understand the magic of the Cotswolds.

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Woodchester Valley Vineyard’s Wine and Cheese Afternoon Tea

Who doesn’t love a Champagne afternoon tea? That divine combination of sandwiches, mini cakes, warm scones with jam and clotted cream, and, of course, a well loved glass of Champagne. This isn’t your typical afternoon tea – it’s a delightful marriage of two beloved traditions: a celebration of local bounty and a chance to unwind amidst stunning scenery.

Woodchester Valley Vineyard’s wine and cheese afternoon tea is an experience for true gourmands. Forget the delicate finger sandwiches; here, the focus is on robust flavours and regional specialties. Imagine artisan cheeses sourced from nearby farms, each boasting its own unique character. Creamy Bries mingle with sharp Cheltenhams, while crumbly Wensleydale awaits, begging to be paired with a dollop of chutney. Local charcuterie adds a touch of savoury delight, featuring air-dried ham or cured salami.

Woodchester Valley Vineyard's wine and cheese afternoon tea is an experience for true gourmands.

But the true magic lies in the wine pairings. Woodchester Valley Vineyard takes pride in its award-winning still and sparkling wines, each crafted from grapes grown on their slopes. As the knowledgeable staff guide you through the selections, you’ll embark on a journey of flavour discovery. A crisp Pinot Gris might perfectly complement the creaminess of a Brie, while a robust Pinot Noir would stand up to the richness of a mature cheddar. For a touch of bubbly delight, a glass of their signature sparkling wine might be the perfect match for a selection of lighter cheeses.

This afternoon tea isn’t just about indulging your taste buds; it’s a celebration of the Cotswolds’ rich agricultural heritage. From the cheesemakers who take pride in their craft to the meticulous winemaking process at Woodchester Valley, every bite and sip tells a story. As you savour the flavours and soak in the breathtaking views, you’ll find yourself transported to a place of pure tranquility. So, raise a glass, enjoy the symphony of flavours, and let the charm of the Cotswolds work its magic on you.

Comprehensive list of places for Afternoon Tea in the Cotswolds

  • The Kitchen, Minchinhampton.
  • Charingworth Manor, Charingworth.
  • The Old Rectory, Colesbourne.
  • The Manor House, Moreton-in-Marsh.
  • The Lygon Arms, Broadway.
  • Thornbury Castle, Thornbury.
  • Jacks Tea Room & Kitchen, Cirencester.
  • Lavender Bakehouse, Chalford.
  • Farleigh Road Farm Shop, Bath.
  • Sally Lunn’s, Bath.
Stow-on-the-Wold, UK: Exterior of Lucys Tearooms in Stow-on-the-Wold, a market town in Cotswolds, UK, build on Roman Fosse Way.

So why not treat yourself to an afternoon tea in the Cotswolds? It’s the perfect way to relax and unwind after exploring all that this beautiful region has to offer. Plus, it’s a great excuse to indulge in some delicious treats while soaking up the idyllic surroundings. Cheers to that!

An afternoon tea experience in the Cotswolds is like stepping into a storybook setting filled with charm, elegance, and delicious treats. From quaint tearooms to grand hotels, there’s no shortage of places to indulge in this beloved British tradition. So why not treat yourself to a delightful afternoon of scones, sandwiches, and endless cups of tea while surrounded by the picturesque beauty of the Cotswolds? It’s sure to be an experience you won’t soon forget!

About us

We are Nicola and Ronan Lavin experts in finding unique accommodation all over the world. Voted as the Top 6 Travel Bloggers in Ireland by Stellar Magazine and the Top 10 Travel Influencers in Ireland by readers of the Irish Independent, we are dedicated to helping you find authentic and immersive travel experiences to help you plan your perfect vacation.

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