There’s a well-known rhyme that says ‘at half past three, everything stops for tea!’ And I couldn’t agree more! Many moons ago Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, was feeling peckish between lunch and dinner so remedied the hunger with some tea and cake, and before long afternoon tea was born. Afternoon tea used to be a luxury that was only indulged in as a treat. But as more & more establishments are introducing afternoon tea to their menus, it has became extremely fashionable, and affordable, to spend your afternoon sipping tea, nibbling on sandwiches and indulging on yummy cakes!
As I can’t think of a better way to spend an afternoon, I have indulged in quite a few afternoon teas over the years! Mostly with my afternoon tea partners in crime and fellow cake lovers: my mum and sister! Afternoon tea is very popular in the city and there is a large selection of hotels and bars cashing in on the ‘experience’. Afternoon tea isn’t just something to pass a few hours with your granny anymore, whether it’s a traditional tearoom or trendy bar, there is an afternoon tea that caters for all ages! And it’s the perfect excuse to catch up and have a good gossip with friends! Here’s a selection of afternoon tea hotspots in Glasgow that I’ve visited recently which all offer unique qualities.
Best for stylish venue: 29
Voted most stylish venue in Scotland, 29 is a private members club located at Royal Exchange Square. The bar/lounge area where afternoon tea is served is very stylish and chic, the perfect spot to continue afterwards by sipping on a few cocktails! Served on a funky three tiered stand 29 afternoon tea includes dainty finger sandwiches such as egg & cress and creamed cheese & cucumber, fruit scones with chantilly cream & jam and sweet treats such as strawberry tarts and mini blueberry muffins.
High points – trendy, hip surrounds
Low points – a bit style over substance, relying on tea/coffee being poured by staff can be a pain
29 Royal Exchange Square, G1 3AJ, http://www.29glasgow.co.uk
Best tea selection: Cup Tea Garden/Cup Tea Lounge
Award winning tearoom, Cup, is renowned in Glasgow for its tasty treats and signature collection of hand blended loose leaf teas. The original venue on Byres Road now has two sister venues located at Renfield Street and newly opened Virginia Court. I visited the latter recently for afternoon tea with a Hendricks gin teapot cocktail (the owners are also responsible for Gin71, Glasgow’s first dedicated gin bar). Cup is proud of their extensive tea menu and to ensure your tea is brewed to perfection, many teas even come with their own timer to let you know when the perfect brew is ready. Savoury treats include smoked mackerel & beetroot pate open toasted sandwich and roast beef & wholegrain Arran mustard on a mini baguette. But the winner here is the ginormous cupcakes, with flavours such as pink vanilla, cherry cola and after eight this is a cupcake lovers delight!
High points – fantastic tea menu, perfect if your favourite sweet treat is cupcakes!
Low points – tables are small, can feel a bit cramped
(Most recently visited & pictured) 5 Virginia Court, Merchant City, G1 1TE, http://www.cupglasgow.co.uk
Best for sandwiches: Cranachan
Cranachan is a bustling cafe located on the second floor of Princes Square shopping centre on Buchanan Street. The Scottish themed interior is designed by local artists and Glasgow’s Timorous Beasties design studio. The popular afternoon tea is presented on a beautiful three tiered stand with a generous portion of freshly made, wholesome sandwiches, homemade cakes, miniature cranachan desserts and cream scones. All served with a choice of suki loose leaf tea or coffee or the choice to upgrade to include a glass of pink fizz.
High points – excellent selection of sandwiches, good value for money
Low points – restaurant can feel quite manic when busy
2nd floor, Princes Square, 48 Buchanan Street, G1 3JN, http://www.cranachancafe.co.uk
Best for setting: Corinthian
Corinthian is a leisure complex spanning over five floors in the building that was formerly the headquarters of the Union Bank of Scotland on Ingram Street. Afternoon tea is served in the grand Tellers Bar & Brasserie, possibly the most stunning afternoon tea setting in Glasgow. The beautifully restored building is my mums favourite afternoon tea spot as she loves the elaborate interior and finds the restaurant very airy and spacious with the impressive huge glass dome making the most of the natural daylight. All the elements of Corinthians afternoon tea are presented beautifully on a modern three tier slate stand. The ‘to die for’ selection of homemade scones served with fresh cream and jam almost outshine the sweet fancies such as chocolate brownies and coconut & raspberry cake.
High points – amazing scones!
Low points – the ‘pod’ chairs aren’t the comfiest (tip – book a booth!)
191 Ingram Street, G1 1DA, http://www.thecorinthian.co.uk
Best for luxury: Blythswood Square Hotel
Served in the Salon Bar located on the first floor of the hotel, Blythswood Square afternoon tea is everything you wish for in an ultimate, relaxed afternoon tea experience. Luxurious, elegant and classic, this afternoon tea is full on decadence! The unique afternoon tea menu changes regularly taking inspiration from different events such as the Chelsea Flower Show and Wimbledon (oh so very British!). This inspiration is crafted into delicious sweet treats such as raspberry and elderflower cone or Pimms fruit pavlova alongside traditional sandwiches on a selection of different breads. Washed down with your choice of fresh loose leaf tea, Blythswood Square is the perfect afternoon tea experience where you can savour the sweet and savoury delights over many hours overlooking the beautiful Blythswood Square gardens.
High points – laid back, chilled, beautiful surrounds, high quality afternoon tea
Low points – rather expensive if paying full price
11 Blythswood Square, G2 4AD, http://www.townhousecompany.com