Over the last five years, I’ve been reviewing and sampling many, many afternoon tea tiers – it’s truly a tough job, but somebody has to do it, right?!
This is a common question and I get asked it so regularly that I felt I needed to update my previous recommendations and share some thoughts on the best afternoon tea in Cambridge.
When it comes to our favourite British pastime, I am very, very particular and I can be extremely fussy at this point in my afternoon tea-based career. If it isn’t loose leaf tea in my teapot, then I can get very stroppy and start to judge a venue very quickly from there. Afternoon tea has a huge following and people want quantity not only when it comes to their food, but with their tea as well, myself included. There’s nothing more disappointing than a stewed “cash & carry” tea bag in place of a pretty leaf and please don’t get me started on cold, curled, pre-prepared finger sandwiches – you’d be surprised as to how many places offering afternoon tea get these little touches so wrong.
I must say, I’m always torn when I answer this question, as it really depends on your needs. A venue that might be perfect for a relaxed afternoon tea for two may not be suitable for a large family celebration, so it’s really tricky to answer without getting personal on why you would want it.
Hopefully this might help you to make a decision when looking for somewhere for your afternoon tea cravings in Cambridge.
One thing I would say is this, I’ve had some TERRIBLE afternoon teas in Cambridge City centre and I wouldn’t recommend many at all. In fact, there’s currently only two I would rate within Cambridge itself- I’m yet to find another one to highly rate, so I’m open to suggestions if anybody finds one worthy of a mention.
With such a modern and relaxed vibe, this hotel on the outskirts of town is perfect for a booking of any size. The seasonal treats and friendly service make this the perfect venue for a celebration of most needs, at just £ . its worthy of a mention.
This was surprising even to myself, but in the John Lewis Brasserie in Cambridge, they have a dedicated pastry chef preparing delicious & seasonal treats for the many different tiers on offer for afternoon tea. You can enjoy a full on afternoon tea, or just the cakes, or just the finger sandwiches, depending on your fancy. Did I mention the architectural views of Cambridge from their floor to ceiling window seats, no?!
Or why not go for something a little different?!
Sometimes you might just be looking for a venue that offers a great wedge of cake, a quality cup of coffee and a chilled atmosphere. These might not be “afternoon tea venues” as such, but are places I love to visit once in a while to put together my own treat menu.
Open Tuesday to Sunday, this recently new opening on King Street is the perfect venue for a slice of homemade cake and a cup of “Caravan” coffee served in vintage teacups. This is a quirky coffee shop (check out their bathroom for some fun reading material!), also open for brunch over the weekend…I’m plotting to try their “eggy bread-style” crumpets with streaky bacon & maple syrup – heaven on a plate!
Gog Magog Farm Shop
These guys do scotch eggs & sausage rolls very well indeed, this is my “go to” venue when I’m out walking with the dog as he’s welcome to basque in the sun outside over a lazy lunch within the grounds. The scotch eggs are soft boiled eggs wrapped in a crunchy and meaty coat with a choice of a traditional or honey & mustard seasoning, both are irresistible.
Two Little Cats Bakery
Based in my own village of Cambourne, Two Little Cats bakery produce large and highly addictive cupcake creations. From an Elvis-inspired toffee and popcorn cupcake through to chocolate orange and lemon meringue pie concoctions, this cupcake sorcery can now be sampled at the new street food event, #FoodPark near to Cambridge railway station.
Warming Your Cockles
This cute little coffee van can be found doing the rounds about town, with pit stops including Fridays at Clerk Maxwell Road and along the riverside behind Newmarket Road. They serve the most divine gluten free salted caramel brownies and one of the best flat white coffees I’ve ever sampled, hunt them down next time you need a quality caffeine fix!
Or better still, get out of town for a while!
I’m a country girl and I also love to visit new places, so if you’re looking for a fantastic afternoon tea that can be recommended to you personally, these are some of my favourite venues from around and about – try them out, I don’t think you will be disappointed (I hope)!
Teacake Of Shepreth
Ok, not technically an afternoon tea venue when simply calling in for a delicious homemade scone or ginger tiffin with a cup of tea within this chocolate box thatched cottage. This tearoom is a destination venue for cycling groups at weekends, complete with a picturesque tea garden for an al fresco cuppa if pooch is in tow. However, for larger bookings, you can secure an afternoon tea tier with a selection of tasty delights by simply calling ahead to book. I highly suggest you do… And tell Christine & Morris that Miss Sue Flay sent you, they’re my favourite couple working within the afternoon tea scene, they are just fantastic and can’t do enough to make you feel at home whilst visiting.
This stunning hotel near to Newmarket is part of The House Collection (the brand behind Poets House in Ely) and has a very grand feel to proceedings. Complete with butler service, you can spend a romantic afternoon there as a couple or book out their private lounge for a larger and more secluded afternoon tea event. I took my family here for my 30th birthday celebrations and the food kept coming, even satisfying my cousin who required a gluten free option on booking. My four year old nephew was also catered for, with a hot chocolate, selection of finger sandwiches and a warm chocolate brownie with ice cream, he slipped in a kip on the sofa under the windows to finish off.
This hotel & spa is situated in Norfolk and is very close to Sandringham House to make for a memorable day trip. Afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the stunning garden or in the library, which is covered, floor to ceiling, with books and atlases to keep any book work happy for days! The fresh finger sandwiches are so more-ish, using locally sourced ingredients and herbs fresh from the grounds. Not only warm scones and a cake selection to pass out to, you’re also provided with a chilled lemon posset with berry compote to tuck into. This is an indulgent afternoon tea and well worth the journey.
This is more of a coffee shop to me, as it’s been a while since I enjoyed a chunk of their classic Victoria Sponge and a cup of Darjeeling. This place, for me, is where you go for a naughty Sunday morning brunch… The “Elvis” American pancake stack filled high with fresh banana, peanut butter, streaky bacon and maple syrup, yes this is one unhealthy option, but it’s oh so worth the drive to Bishop Stortford to sample, take my word!
Bedford Lodge Hotel
This spa hotel is within Newmarket, very close to the racecourse and offers one of the best afternoon teas I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. Everything arrives individually, so freshly prepared finger sandwiches, with a refill should you so desire, followed by warm scones (both fruit and plain) and then a large tray of stunning cakes and tarts to finish. This is perfect for a relaxed family retreat or a civilised hen party, of which I’ve seen happening here. It’s done very well and there’s so much food on offer that a doggy bag had to be taken for a second wind later on, it would have been rude not to!
Where is your favourite afternoon tea venue in Cambridge?
Or do you venture further out for your high tea fix?
I’d love to hear from you below with your own experiences & recommendations.