Best afternoon teas with South Western Railway

9 of the best afternoon teas in the south west

28 July 2021

There’s little more British an addition to a day out than afternoon tea. Tiny sandwiches, delicious cakes and perfectly-brewed tea coming together to create a delightful break in a busy afternoon exploring.

First invented in 1840 by the Duchess of Bedford, afternoon teas were originally conceived as a way of staving off hunger during the long afternoon gap between lunch and dinner. As a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, she’d regularly entertain her and other members of British aristocracy in her home with servings of tea, cakes and sandwiches – leading to the meal becoming a custom in middle and upper class households, and an iconic part of Britain’s culinary landscape.

These days, class and status are no barrier to enjoying the delights of an afternoon tea – and southwest England is one of the best places to experience it. Whether you’re on a romantic getaway or a group family trip, there are plenty of places to enjoy this classic English delight.

Spinnaker Tower

23-mile views over Portsmouth await you here at the Spinnaker Tower as you take tea-sipping and scone-eating to new heights. The Spinnaker Tower’s Café in the Clouds takes you 105 metres up to enjoy your sandwiches and sweet treats.

A couple enjoying afternoon tea at the Spinnaker Tower
Afternoon tea at the Spinnaker Tower comes with some incredible views

Top it off with a walk in the Sky Garden or test your mettle on the glass Sky Walk – all included with your afternoon tea. Best of all, you can save 22% when you travel by train thanks to our new rewards program – SWR Rewards.

Tylney Hall

This magnificent Victorian mansion, just a short walk from Hook and set in 66 acres of beautifully landscaped parkland, is an opportunity to step back in time for a genteel and relaxing way to spend an afternoon. High tea here is served with delectable sandwiches (our favourite is the smoke salmon with black pepper and lemon) and scrumptious cakes (try the devilish chocolate marquis).

Once you’re finished, head out to the stunning grounds to explore. Created by the renowned Gertrude Jekyll – one of the great English garden designers – more than 250,000 trees and shrubs occupy the gardens. With Italian and Dutch gardens, forests, roses, azaleas and rare orchids – it’s a paradise for lovers of classical English horticulture. Save 22% when you book with SWR Rewards!

White Hart Hotel

A perfect addition to a day in historic Salisbury, the White Hart holds claim to being one of the city’s finest hotels – for more than 400 years. Afternoon tea here leaves you just five minutes’ walk from the stunning cathedral and is ideal if you’ve taken a morning trip to Stonehenge – just 12 miles away.

The elegant Georgian building offers a charming courtyard with outdoor seating, and afternoon tea here is ideal if you’re on a budget – with SWR Rewards it’s just £6.50 per person!

Novotel London Bridge

Stylish and modern, cream tea here comes with easy access to some of London’s top attractions – including the busy South Bank, the unique Shard and the historic Borough Market. Just a short walk from the Millennium Bridge, you’ll also be a stone’s throw from the incredible St Paul’s Cathedral.

Afternoon tea here nets a saving of 34% when you buy your tickets with us, thanks to SWR Rewards - or save 22% when you upgrade with a glass of prosecco. You can even save with tickets to the Tower of London in our combined offer!

Green House Hotel

The greenest hotel in the UK, nestled between the lush New Forest and Bournemouth’s golden beaches, is a beautiful spot to enjoy the afternoon. Served in the dual-Rosette (and Michelin Plate) awarded Arbor Restaurant, you’ll enjoy seasonal treats made to order by the team of pastry chefs and served with a glass of champagne.

The Arbor Restaurant at the Green House Hotel
The award-winning Arbor Restaurant

With a focus on environmentally-friendly, ethically-produced food from local growers and sellers – making sure that food miles are kept to a minimum without compromising on quality – it’s a perfect accompaniment to a day by the sea. Save 22% when you travel by train with SWR Rewards.

The Ritz

Afternoon Tea will find no more genteel a spot than here at The Ritz. Served in the stunning Palm Court, you’ll be entertained by gentle classical music and have the chance to enjoy some remarkable tea blends – carefully curated by the only certified Tea Sommelier in a British hotel, Giandomenico Scanu.

The Palm House at the Ritz Hotel
The Palm House at the Ritz Hotel

Exclusive enough to warrant a dress code, it’s a quintessential English experience enjoyed underneath glittering chandeliers and created by some of Britain’s finest pastry chefs.

Moonfleet Manor

This luxury family hotel near Weymouth is an ideal spot to recharge after a day of fossil-hunting on the Jurassic Coast! The Georgian Moonfleet Manor overlooks Gore Cove and the stunning Chesil Beach, and sits in the village of Fleet – immortalised in J Meade Falkner’s classic smuggling tale Moonfleet.

These days – far from being a fictional hub of smuggling pirates – you’ll find delicious homemade scones, finger sandwiches, and a selection of cakes and pastries – and for a little extra, you can upgrade to some award-winning Hambledon sparkling wine, locally grown and made at the Hambledon vineyard in Portsmouth. Best of all – you can save 22% with SWR Rewards.

Dorset Cruises

An afternoon tea with a difference: a trip on the high seas in a vintage motor yacht! First launched in 1938, the then Gay Queen was intended to serve as a pleasure cruiser on the Kyles of Bute & Loch Striven. Since then, she’s served with the Royal Navy (and believed to have taken part in the Dunkirk rescue missions), the US Navy, and passenger services in Wareham & Falmouth, before being lovingly restored and renamed “Dorset Queen” as a nod to her history.

Afternoon Tea on the Dorset Queen motor yacht
Afternoon tea on the Dorset Queen

These days, afternoon tea is the order of the day, with a cruise of the stunning Jurassic Coast to enjoy while you dine on sandwiches and cakes. Departing Poole, you’ll head to the delightfully-named Lilliput, and on to Brownsea Castle, Parkstone, and the spectacular Millionaires Row of Sandbanks – it’s an unforgettable way to spend an afternoon. Add on a 22% saving with SWR Rewards and you’ve got the makings of a great day out.

Touring London

One of the most popular things to do in London is sightseeing – and thankfully, you can now combine top-deck views of the capital’s sights with a tea and cakes thanks to the Afternoon Tea Bus Tours! See London from a new perspective while gliding past beloved landmarks like Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey and the River Thames – all while sipping tea and nibbling on cakes.

Brigit's Bakery Afternoon Tea Tour on a vintage London Routemaster bus
Brigit's Bakery - touring London on a vintage Routemaster bus

There’s a few varieties to choose from too – whether it’s the classic Routemaster tour with Brigit’s Bakery or the modern – yet traditional – stylings of Golden Tours afternoon tea and prosecco.

So if you’re inspired to partake in this classic English delicacy (and there are plenty of traditional treats to try on our network) – book your tickets today. You can save when you book in advance – and when you book with us you get access to exclusive rewards and offers!