A brief history of afternoon tea…
Afternoon tea was introduced in 1840 in England by Anna Russell, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon, but the evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at eight o’clock, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner. The Duchess asked that a tray of tea, bread & butter and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This extra meal became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her.
This pause for tea became a fashionable social event. By the late 19th century, afternoon tea was a firmly established daily routine, and tea rooms had become a favourite place for ladies to dress up and meet.
With its beautiful countryside, stunning coastlines and historic cities, Devon really is the perfect setting to indulge in afternoon tea.
Dainty sandwiches, warm fluffy scones served with clotted cream and jam, a variety of homemade cakes and pastries and a pot of tea (or bottle of Champagne...), what better way to spend an afternoon?
Explore some of our top picks in the county from coastal, country and city spots:
IN THE COUNTRYSIDE...
Bovey Castle, Dartmoor
Considered the most civilised treat of the day at Bovey Castle, afternoon tea is a speciality for them. Enjoy in their lounges, the Great Western restaurant or in the summer months, out on the terrace overlooking the hotel’s stunning gardens.
The Bedford Hotel, Tavistock
Set in the heart of Tavistock, The Bedford Hotel offers stylish dining in a relaxed and traditional setting. The afternoon tea is served in one of the many comfortable lounges within the hotel, and in the summer months, guests can enjoy afternoon tea in the secret walled garden in the hotel grounds. Complete with home baked scones, local strawberry jam and rich clotted cream, each aspect of the menu revolves around seasonal produce.
Did you know the cream tea was invented at The Bedford Hotel? Read about the history of the Cream Tea here.
Two Bridges Hotel, Dartmoor
Enjoy a full afternoon tea in the stunning setting of the Two Bridges Hotel in the heart of Dartmoor. Warm scones meet dainty sandwiches and tempting cakes - all home made with love and served in the comfort of the hotel’s lounges or on the terrace outside with views of the gardens and the West Dart river.
Highbullen Hotel, Umberleigh
Experience this great British tradition in the sumptuous surroundings of the brand new tea room at Highbullen, designed in the distinctive signature Laura Ashley style. Laura Ashley The Tea Room will wow you with a delicious array of sweet treats and savoury delicacies. If you don't have much of a sweet tooth, opt for their unique savoury afternoon tea where you'll be spoilt with hot fish goujons with tartare sauce and a homemade warm duck and quail scotch egg.
Woodbury Park Hotel, Exeter
Escape to Woodbury in the Devon countryside for a relaxing afternoon away from the city grind. The Terrace Bar & Grill provides the best indoor atmosphere to enjoy a traditional afternoon tea. Better still, if you wish to fully experience the picturesque views surrounding Woodbury Park, you can take afternoon tea outside overlooking the golf course.
Ilsington Country House Hotel, Newton Abbot
This family run quintessential English Country House Hotel provides the perfect backdrop to your Devonshire afternoon tea experience. You’ll find an irresistible combination of country charm, award-winning food, friendly service and unrivalled access to the untamed moor and beautiful countryside. Choose from traditional afternoon tea or savoury.
Boringdon Hall Hotel, Plymouth
There are so many options to choose from at Boringdon! From traditional and Champagne to gluten-free, vegan and special edition options, they’ve got all needs covered. If you would like to join their afternoon tea loyalty club, simply pick up a loyalty club card from reception when you arrive, collect the stamps, and once you've completed the set of 9, receive a limited edition Boringdon Hall teacup and saucer.
ON THE COAST...
Salcombe Harbour Hotel, Salcombe
Located on the shores of the picturesque Salcombe Estuary, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Salcombe Harbour Hotel is in a prime location for enjoying afternoon tea. Relax in The Jetty restaurant or out on the terrace to take in spectacular views.
Royal York & Faulkner Hotel, Sidmouth
Served daily in either the elegant York Lounge overlooking the sea and Esplanade, or the comfortable and beautifully furnished Reading Room, enjoy a selection of the chef’s homemade cakes and freshly baked scones with Devonshire cream and strawberry jam.
Lympstone Manor, Exmouth
Enjoy the full Devon afternoon tea experience at Lympstone Manor in one of the beautiful lounges or, in fine weather, outdoors on the terrace overlooking the Exe Estuary. A flûte or two of Champagne or local Devon sparkling wine really is the icing on the cake at Lympstone!
Langstone Cliff Hotel, Dawlish
Like the sound of sipping pink sparkling wine whilst relaxing on a beautifully sunlit verandah overlooking the sea with sandwiches and cakes?
With a choice of the lounge, verandah room, drawing room and poolside room - all of which are fronted by Victorian cast iron colonial verandahs, you can take in spectacular sea views across the hotel lawns towards the Exe Estuary at Langstone Cliff Hotel.
Watersmeet Hotel, Woolacombe
Enjoy afternoon tea with stunning sea views across the waters of Woolacombe Bay at Watersmeet. With its own private steps down to the sandy beach, you’re set for a wonderful day out in North Devon.
IN THE CITY...
Reed Hall, Exeter
At Reed Hall, afternoon tea can be taken on the lawn or in the cosy surroundings of the house, both perfectly fitting for this quintessential English traditional treat. Feeling fancy? Upgrade to sparkling afternoon tea with Prosecco or Champagne!
Hotel du Vin, Exeter
This glorious Exeter city centre hotel is brimming with charm and unique personality. From Severn & Wye smoked salmon and cream cheese on dark rye bread to tutti frutti macarons, enjoy afternoon tea with a twist on traditional flavours in the elegant yet relaxed surroundings of Hotel du Vin.
These heavenly Devon Hotels have got your afternoon tea needs covered and more.
From luxury countryside stays to boutique beach hotels or weekend city breaks, explore our hand-picked collection of Devon Hotels and restaurants.