Heading to the Cotswolds and in search of the best afternoon tea in the area? Having been born and bred in the Cotswolds, luckily for me I’ve tried and tested some of the best establishments in the area. Read on for my tips on finding the best afternoon tea in the Cotswolds.
It doesn’t really get more quintessentially British than an afternoon tea in the Cotswolds, does it? Beautiful surroundings, delicate finger sandwiches, and freshly baked scones accompanied by an obligatory pot of tea. The tradition of afternoon tea first came about in the early nineteenth century by a close friend of Queen Victoria, Anna the Duchess of Bedford. Afternoon tea was considered the perfect treat when she got hungry in the late afternoon. Anna would ask that a tray of tea, bread, butter, and cake be delivered to her room. It soon became a habit and her friends soon joined in the tradition. While once a chic social event for the aristocracy, even today afternoon tea is an iconic part of English food. And where better to enjoy a classic English afternoon tea than the beautiful Cotswolds? Having been born and bred in the Cotswolds, I share my recommendations for the best afternoon tea in the Cotswolds below – enjoy!
Quick tips for visiting the Cotswolds
Get this: affordable car hire from Cheltenham. Cheltenham is the gateway to the Cotswolds, and having a car is a huge help for enabling you to travel between the villages as public transport here isn’t great.
Don’t miss: a small group tour of the Cotswolds from Oxford. A local tour guide can show you all the prettiest villages in the Cotswolds so you get the most from your trip.
Bucket list experience: a guided walking tour of the Cotswolds so you can see the best of the beautiful Cotswold countryside before enjoying a lovely afternoon tea.
Stay: Find the most affordable hotels in the Cotswolds on Booking.com.
Lords of the Manor, Upper Slaughter
Lords of the Manor is the most beautiful Cotswold manor house in the heart of the idyllic little village of Upper Slaughter. As well as being a beautiful spot to enjoy afternoon tea in the Cotswolds, I also love visiting here for a Sunday roast after a long walk in the countryside nearby. I’d recommend booking afternoon tea here in the summer months – you can enjoy it on the super picturesque lawn with views to the manor house. If not, it’s no problem – snuggle up with a pot of tea next to a crackling log fire inside. Available seven days a week, enjoy your afteroon tea with all the trimmings. Highlights for me were the smoked salmon, garden herb, and lemon cream cheese finger sandwiches, and the chocolate, orange, and Grand Marnier Opera gateau which was to die for. There’s a decent selection of teas, or you can choose a hot chocolate instead. Or why not level up and add a glass of fizz to the occasion?
Charingworth Manor, Chipping Campden
There aren’t many settings more beautiful for an afternoon tea in the Cotswolds than Charingworth Manor. I was taken aback the first time I visited – the manor itself is so adorable, and the gardens are perfectly manicured with lavender shrubs and rose bushes wherever you look. Charingworth Manor considers afternoon tea to be ‘one of the joys of life’, and this is especially true when it’s at this venue. Served from Friday to Sunday, you’re presented with an afternoon tea menu. Choose from unlimited tea or coffee, and feast on deliciously dainty sandwiches including honey roast ham and piccalilli and chicken with herb stuffing. You’ll also receive a selection of the team’s favourite homemade cakes which are changed seasonally with flavours and ingredients to match.
Looking for somewhere to stay nearby? Check out my guide to the best hotels in the Cotswolds.
Ellenborough Park, Cheltenham
As well as being a fabulous 5* hotel in Cheltenham, Ellenborough Park is one of the most luxurious venues for afternoon tea in the Cotswolds. Serving a quintessentially English afternoon tea in the beautifully historic hotel, Ellenborough Park serves afternoon tea daily. I love that you can also add on a mini afternoon tea for the kids if you fancy coming as a family. Choose from a wide variety of teas and coffee, or opt for a gin and tonic or a cocktail if you’re something a little more indulgent. Something that’s quite refreshing is the savoury options in this afternoon tea. Feast on pork and sesame sausage rolls, caramelised red onion and goat’s cheese quiche alongside a delicious selection of sandwiches – perfect if you have savoury tastebuds! Finish it all off with fresh scones and a plethora of mini cakes and desserts.
Looking for a cream tea in Cheltenham? Check out my guide to the best places for afternoon tea in Cheltenham.
Lygon Arms, Broadway
You can’t visit the gorgeous village of Broadway without stopping for an afternoon tea in the Cotswolds at the Lygon Arms. The Lygon Arms itself is steeped in history, and was once an inn for highwayman and royalty. Nowadays, it prides itself on its traditional afternoon tea – and where better than the hotel that’s home to The Grill by James Martin for some excellent food and drink? Choose from English Tregothnan tea or freshly brewed Mozzo coffee, and tuck into delicate finger sandwiches, seasonal savouries, and fluffy, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and Wendy Brandon preserves. For a little extra decadence, opt for a glass of house champagne or a champagne bellini.
Tisanes Tearooms, Broadway
Another spot in Broadway, it shows just how popular this idyllic Cotswold village is for enjoying a truly British experience. Set in a seventeenth century Cotswold stone building full of charm, Tisanes Tearooms also has a lovely manicured garden that’s perfect for having afternoon tea during the spring and summer months. On the menu, you’ll find over 40 delicious leaf teas and freshly ground coffee for starters. Afternoon tea at Tisanes begins with a serving of freshly prepared sandwiches, followed by a home baked scone with jam and cream. You then get a delicious slice of cake, all washed down with coffee or a pot of tea. It’s one of the most reasonably priced afternoon teas in the Cotswolds, and they cater for those looking for non-gluten options.
Old Bakery Tea Room, Stow-on-the-Wold
The Old Bakery Tea Room has been owned by husband and wife team, Jackie and Alan, since 2005. Located in Stow-on-the-Wold, one of my favourite spots in the Cotswolds, it’s a great place to stop for delicious homemade food after a morning of exploring local sights like St. Edward’s Church. Of course, when in the Cotswolds you should opt for the Old Bakery cream tea – they claim visitors from around the world have told them it’s the best they’ve tried. Jackie makes all the scones fresh each day from a traditional recipe which features a special ingredient. All the preserves and jams are made on the premises too, and you’ll also be served a deliciously rich clotted cream from Blackmore Vale Dairy. The Old Bakery Tea Room happily accommodates for gluten free diets if you need also. Wash it all down with a pot of fairtrade loose leaf tea.
Rixy’s Cotswold Tearoom, Moreton-in-Marsh
You can’t visit the Cotswolds without a wander about the idyllic little town of Moreton-in-Marsh. Located in a beautiful honey coloured building, Rixy’s Cotswold Tearoom delivers some of the best afternoon tea in the Cotswolds. Served Thursday to Monday, booking is advisable here as your afternoon tea is prepared freshly each day. It’s super accommodating, with gluten free, vegetarian, and vegan alternatives no trouble for the staff to cater to. You’ll start off with a delicious selection of sandwiches, from smoked salmon with cucumber and cheese through to ham, tomato, and mustard. Next up is a round of mouthwatering savouries. Think red onion and cheddar quiche, sausage rolls, and vegetable samosas. The savoury section is my absolute favourite so I loved this place! Round three is homemade scones with jam and clotted cream, followed by a selection of incredible cakes. We had lemon drizzle, Bakewell tart, coffee and walnut, and chocolate brownie.
Painswick Hotel, Painswick
Views don’t get much more beautiful than the Painswick Hotel, with sprawling vistas over the nearby Cotswold hills. As chance happens, the Painswick Hotel also serves some of the best afternoon tea in the Cotswolds. I really recommend visiting in the spring or summer months so that you can enjoy your afternoon tea on the terrace to enjoy the view. There’s a great choice of teas on the menu, all of which are handpicked and traded from ethical plantations in Sri Lanka. You can opt for a freshly ground coffee if you’d prefer. I love the concept of afternoon tea here – you choose from nice or naughty. Nice options include the classic – “The George” – an afternoon tea complete with Scotch egg, pork pie, a selection of sandwiches, a freshly baked scone, and a cake of the day. The Painswick Hotel is another Cotswold spot that gets its balance between savoury and sweet just right. There’s also a choice of cream tea, and vegetarian and vegan afternoon teas also. Then for the naughty options – a full afternoon tea served with either champagne, a glass of prosecco, or a cocktail of your choice.
The Close Hotel, Tetbury
The most beautiful place for a retreat in the Cotswolds, The Close Hotel also happens to be a breathtakingly beautiful building in the heart of Tetbury. Here, you’re literally hobnobbing with royalty (King Charles III’s favourite home, Highgrove, is just round the corner). It’s also a stone’s throw from gorgeous Westonbirt Arboretum which is well worth a visit during the autumn for a whole rainbow palette of leaves and trees. The Close Hotel changes its afternoon tea menu with the seasons, although whenever you visit it will be delicious. Grab a seat in one of the historic rooms or outside in the garden in the summer. Tuck into a tasty selection of finger sandwiches first of all – chicken and tarragon mayonnaise; cheddar, tomato chutney, and watercress; and smoked salmon with lemon and dill butter. Move onto sweet with warm scones, Devonshire clotted cream, and strawberry jam, and afternoon tea cakes. It’s definitely a great afternoon tea in the Cotswolds.
Lucy’s Tearoom, Stow-on-the-World
I’m not quite sure which is more idyllic when it comes to Lucy’s Tearoom – the adorable honey coloured grade II listed building, or the incredible homemade scones. Either way, you’ve got them both when it comes to Lucy’s. If you’re not sure which Cotswold villages to visit, make sure Stow-on-the-Wold is on your list. Open every day, Lucy’s Tearoom serves some of the best afternoon tea in the Cotswolds, with a menu that changes with the seasons. In the summer months, enjoy your afternoon tea in the charming courtyard, and when it’s cooler, take a seat in the three hundred year old tearooms and watch the world go by from the bay window. You can opt for Lucy’s cream tea, for a warm scone with clotted cream, strawberry jam, and a pot of tea, or opt for the full works. Lucy’s Stow afternoon tea is complete with a selection of finger sandwiches, a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam, and a choice of cake selection. If it’s your first time in this part of the world, Lucy’s Tearoom is a great place to start your love affair with the Cotswolds.
The Kitchen, Minchinhampton
Minchinhampton probably isn’t your first stop in the Cotswolds, but that’s why I wanted to include it. Here, you’ll experienced a part of the Cotswolds that is just as beautiful as some of the more famous hotspots, but without the crowds. Owned by married couple, Peter and Assumpta Golding, The Kitchen is a beautiful Cotswold building with a large bay window – from here, you will often see horse riders, and even the odd cow wandering down from the nearby Common. The Kitchen serves a wonderful afternoon tea in the Cotswolds. All food is fresh daily, using ingredients sourced from local suppliers. Here, you’ll discover dainty finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, homemade cakes, and pastries – all made onsite. I do recommend booking ahead as it is popular. You can always make your afternoon tea here a little more decadent and add on a bottle of prosecco or champagne. I recommend wandering along the beautiful Stroud countryside afterwards.
If you’re familiar with the Cotswolds, you’re probably aware that Huffkins Bakery and Tearoom is a bit of a rite of passage here, with locations in Cheltenham, Witney, Stow-on-the-Wold, and Burford. Dating back to 1890, Huffkins retains the recipes for its delicious homemade Cotswolds cakes. The Huffkins cafe in Burford is in the heart of the beautiful Oxfordshire village in a listed building with original beams. Huffkins offers a wide range of afternoon tea options. Choose from a simple Cotswolds cream tea with warm scone with thick clotted cream and jam, or pick the savoury option with cheese scone, farm butter, spicy tomato and caramelised onion chutney. There’s also a Burford cream tea (with a sandwich of your choice), and a Royal cream tea with a bottle of chilled prosecco. You can also go for the whole hog with a classic afternoon tea for two – a selection of sandwiches, cakes, and scones with clotted cream and jam and a pot of tea. In the warmer months, enjoy your afternoon tea outside in the lovely sun-trapped medieval courtyard.
Barnsley House, Cirencester
For a little drop of luxury to your afternoon tea in the Cotswolds, head to Barnsley House near Cirencester. Afternoon tea is served in The Potager, their very own fine dining restaurant. It’s beautiful, with floor to ceiling windows for a view of the manicured gardens. In the summer months, you can sit out in these gardens and enjoy a Pimm’s cream tea. There are a few options to choose from when it comes to afternoon tea at Barnsley House. The most popular option is their classic afternoon tea – a selection of finger sandwiches and a homemade fruit scone with clotted cream and jam, freshly made cakes, and a choice of tea or coffee. There’s also a savoury option, with a cheese scone, pork and fennel sausage roll, a chicken bake, garden pickles, and chutney for those who are less keen on sweets and cakes. You can also choose to add a gin and tonic or a glass of champagne to your afternoon tea. It’s a really beautiful place that I highly recommend.
Burleigh Court, Stroud
Burleigh Court has probably one of the most beautifully presented afternoon teas in the Cotswolds. Full of colour, it appears almost too good to eat! Served from Wednesday to Sunday with reservations required, here you can enjoy a freshly prepared afternoon tea in stunning surroundings. You’ll enjoy views across the Golden Valley – the perfect scenes for enjoying a quintessentially English treat. Burleigh Court doesn’t offer sandwiches, instead opting for freshly crafted deli treats like sausage rolls, Scotch eggs, and charcuterie which is a refreshing change. Opt for a traditional afternoon tea with freshly baked scones with clotted cream, homemade jam, and a selection of cakes. Savoury treats include a Scotch egg and charcuterie. There are also options available for those looking for gluten-free and vegan alternatives. You can also upgrade your afternoon tea with a glass of organic prosecco or champagne.
An afternoon tea in the Cotswolds might be one of the highlights of your trip to the Cotswolds, whether it’s a romantic getaway or a holiday with friends or family. This is my pick of the best afternoon tea spots to visit! Are there any other places you’d recommend? Let me know in the comments below.