Everything stops for afternoon tea

    Nothing could be nicer this Mother’s Day than a feast of warm, plump scones and clotted cream, dainty finger sandwiches and delicious cakes. But where’s best to indulge your tastebuds? The Times reveals its top spots

    THE SPA HOTEL: Classic – if you want to really push the boat out, then this is the place to go. Starched white linen tablecloths are laid out on the tables before a luxury assortment of homemade scones, indulgent cakes and delicate finger sandwiches are offered up with a selection of aromatic teas – or if you prefer a glass of Champagne
    – in the elegant lounge area. Prices start from £21.50 per person. Served daily from midday to 6pm.

    ONE WARWICK PARK: Contemporary – Tunbridge Wells’ newest hotel is the place to be seen, and its afternoon tea selection, served in its Seventeen restaurant, reflects its chic clientele. For something special, a Prosecco (£22) and Champagne (£28) afternoon tea are on offer, boasting a variety of mouthwatering savoury bites and an array of sweet treats created by the hotel’s talented pastry chefs. Prices start from £16 per person. Served daily all afternoon.

    JULIET’S: Vintage chic – This cool little café in Tunbridge Wells High Street focuses
    on providing its customers with fantastic homemade cakes and specialist teas, and is a hot-spot for afternoon tea. Sandwiches are served on artisan bread, while scones brim with French butter, Devonshire clotted cream and Bonne Maman jam. You can swap tea for coffee, or upgrade your feast with a glass of raspberry Bellini for £5.50 more. Prices
    from £15.50 per person. Served from 2.30-3.30pm. Booking in advance required.

    THE IVY: The luxury treat – since it opened in the High Street in November last year, The Ivy restaurant has caused quite a stir in Tunbridge Wells. Echoing the popularity of its London counterpart, it’s beautifully decadent and the place where you go to see and be seen. So what better time to pay it a visit than Mother’s Day? There is a classic afternoon cream tea available for an affordable £8.95, which comprises a pot of tea (or coffee) with freshly baked fruit scones and homemade preserve, or you could treat your tastebuds to its proper afternoon tea (£19.75 per person) and enjoy a tantalising feast of truffle chicken brioche rolls and marinated cucumber and dill finger sandwiches before indulging in
    scones, chocolate and salted caramel mousse and crème brûlée doughnuts. To make it a day to remember, upgrade to the Champagne menu (£27.50)

    SALOMONS ESTATE: Great for a stunning view or being outdoors – if you want to head out of the urban sprawl and feel at one with nature, then pay a visit to the elegant Salomons Estate on the Tunbridge Wells/Southborough borders. Here, they are offering a delicious Prosecco afternoon tea, complete with a selection of fresh sandwiches, scones and traditional sweet treats which can be enjoyed while you dine in the stunning  conservatory and admire the impressively grand grounds and lake.


    • Dates back to the 19th century, when it’s believed that Anna, the 7th Duchess of
      Bedford, and other ladies of the upper social classes would get a little peckish ahead of dinner.
    • The solution was to have a cup of tea and a light snack mid-afternoon to keep hunger pangs at bay. This soon became part of a daily routine and the duchess began to invite friends to the house for refreshment.
    • Queen Victoria made it the more formal affair we enjoy today as, during her reign, tea service became increasingly grand. Etiquette played a big part, from the dress code to the way that tea was poured and stirred.
    • Today there are no strict rules when serving an afternoon tea, but traditionally it will consist of an ornate three-tiered cake stand displaying a selection of dainty finger sandwiches and other small savouries, warm scones with accompanying pots
      of clotted cream and preserves, and a variety of visually appealing bite-sized cakes
      and pastries.