There are very few dishes that conjure up Dorset quite like a good old fashioned afternoon tea. Miriam Phillips scoured the county to bring you 20 to try…
Church Green, Wareham, BH20 4ND
www.theprioryhotel.co.uk; 01929 551666
Best for leaving your options open
To really enjoy an afternoon tea, the right surroundings are crucial. Therefore the Priory’s options of the cosy drawing room, compete with a log fire, or the river terrace watching the ducks is perfect. Alongside the Priory Cream Tea (£6.50) you can choose from a selection of fruit cake, warm apple cake and clotted cream. Or you can go for the Ritzy option with a glass of champagne at £19.95 per person. It is served between 3.30pm-5pm, booking is essential.
The Eastbury Hotel
Long Street, Sherborne, DT9 3BY
www.theeastburyhotel.co.uk; 01935 813131
Best for country house style in the town
Sat in the heart of historic Sherborne, it has a certain charm that is hard to find elsewhere. You can head to this boutique hotel to sit in their picturesque walled garden or in their terraced bistro. The afternoon tea, served between 10am and 10pm, includes locally made jam from Alweston and if you are really pushing the boat out, go for the Indulgence Afternoon Tea. This offers a selection of cakes, too, at a reasonable price of £16 per person.
9 Fore Street, Evershot, Dorset, DT2 0JR 01935 48 2000;
Best for a luxurious treat
For a really special treat the Summer Lodge is hard to beat. Within the 5 star country house hotel you will experience perfection. Take your pick of rooms from the Conservatory, the cosy Whiskey Lounge, the Drawing Rooms and the outdoor terrace. Afternoon tea is served from 4pm to 5.30pm on the weekend or 3pm until 5.30pm in the week. You will receive a smart selection of finger sandwiches, tartlets and cakes fresh from the kitchen and a wide choice of teas. At £28 per person it is a real treat but you will leave impressed.
Fleet Road, Weymouth, DT3 4ED
www.moonfleetmanorhotel.co.uk; 01305 786948
Best for literary tea lovers
Made famous by J Meade Falkner’s novel Moonfleet, the iconic hotel retains an atmosphere of grandeur every time you visit. The 18th Century building was converted into a hotel in 1945 and benefited from a £1 million refurbishment in 1997. It is now a holiday destination for families wanting to unwind. If it is nice weather head out to the terrace to enjoy an afternoon tea, served with lashings of local clotted cream. Participating in the ritual of afternoon tea feels so fitting with the opulent surroundings here.
Moreton Tea Rooms
The Street, Moreton, Dorchester, DT2 8RJ. 01929 463647
Best for escaping the city
Nested in the beautiful village of Moreton, the old school house is a real hidden gem. Inside the historic building is light and pretty and there is a big outside seating area, which is perfect to soak up the sun. Their award winning afternoon tea (£11.50 and served after 2.30pm) offers a variety of scones, including ginger and treacle scones as well as cakes and finger sandwiches. They also offer a Savoury Cream Tea – cheese scone, cream cheese and chutney. Booking before 5pm on the previous day is essential.
The Heights Hotel
Isle of Portland, DT5 2EN
www.heightshotel.com; 01305 821361
Best for the view over your tea cup
The view from the Heights is breathtaking, overlooking Chesil Beach and Lyme Bay. The traditional afternoon tea is £26 for two or a champagne version is £36. During December the hotel offers a Festive Tea which includes smoked turkey and cranberry sandwiches, homemade cranberry scones with brandy butter, clotted cream and homemade fig preserve, mince pies and homemade Florentines. A perfect way to see in the festive season.
The Bull Hotel
34 East Street, Bridport DT6 3LF
Best for the Great Bridport Bakeoff!
This friendly boutique hotel doesn’t do formal afternoon tea but it will feed you fine tea and cakes. The cream teas cost £5 each and include scones and jam homemade by the much-loved Chrissy. She’s been baking at the hotel for over 20 years and is the only person trusted to get their range of classic cakes – from Carrot to Lemon Drizzle – just right. There are also speciality teas and coffees to enjoy in the vintage interior or outside in the pretty courtyard.
Christchurch Harbour Hotel
95 Mudeford, Christchurch, BH23 3NT
www.christchurch-harbour-hotel.co.uk; 01308 422878
Best for looking at boats
On a beautiful day there are few places in the county with a view as picturesque at the Christchurch Harbour Hotel. Sat on their upper desk you can enjoy a traditional afternoon tea (£15.95 per person) which includes a selection of cakes, fresh scones with jam, Dorset cream and finger sandwiches. If it’s a special occasion you can opt for the Fizz option from £20.50 per person. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the views over the harbour.
Arbor Restaurant at the Green House Hotel
4 Grove Road, Bournemouth, BH1 3AX 01202 498900;
Best for saving the planet!
If you are feeling a little guilty about indulging in an afternoon tea, then why not relieve some of that guilt by eating at the greenest hotels in the UK. Here their commitment to sustainability extends to every last detail – even the wallpaper. From 12pm until 5pm you can have a delicious afternoon tea, served on a three-tiered wooden ‘tree’. From £18.50 per person you can enjoy the freshly sourced finger sandwiches, warm scones, and chef’s fancies – which change daily.
Dot Teas Vintage Tea Boutique
31a Seamoor Road, Westbourne, Poole, BH4 9AE
Best for vintage cool
Nestled in the foodie heaven that is Westbourne, everything in Dot Teas Vintage Boutique is a real breath of fresh air. From the décor, the bunting-clad walls, the mismatched china and linen, this is vintage at its very best. Afternoon teas are served all day long so you can participate in this ritual at any time of the day. A choice of afternoon teas start at £4.95 and the luxury option is £9.95. It does get busy so book if you can.
Hotel Du Vin
The Quay, Thames Street, Poole, BH15 1JN. 01305 819027
Best for Every day and cosy winter venue
Inside the refurbished mansion house (originally built in 1776) you’ll find a beautifully decorated and welcoming hotel. Catering for both weather situations either in their garden, with a sail as an awning or sat by the cosy fireplace, it is a great place to go for afternoon tea. Served in the afternoon from 3pm – 5pm, the traditional afternoon tea is £15.50 per person and includes your usual offering, plus tea breads and savouries. You can spruce it up to make a champagne afternoon tea at £21.50 per person.
East Overcliff Drive, Bournemouth, BH1 3AL. 01202 556581
Best for great Dorset views
The country house hotel offers you a fantastic location to sit an enjoy an afternoon tea in style. From its spot on the East Cliff the view is spectacular, stretching from the whites of the Needles to the chalk cliffs of Old Harry Rocks on your right. As well as the traditional (and delicious) afternoon tea – priced at £27.90 for two people – the hotel also offers a Champagne Tea by the Sea and also a Wimbledon Tea by the Sea which glasses of Pimms
Aroma Coffee House and Kitchen
6 Bridge Street, Lyme Regis, DT7 3QA. 01297 445914
Best for laid back tea and cakes
This quirky independent café receives the tick of approval from food judges at the Taste of the West and also rave reviews on Trip Advisor. Owners John and Jodie pride providing lots of ‘free from’ options, they even make all their own cakes using a secret family recipe for gluten free flour blends. Although they don’t serve a ‘traditional’ cream tea, people love their homemade scones and cake selection. The café’s Dorset Cheese on Toast is a winner, served with the legendary Dorsetshire sauce.
2 Market Place, Blandford Forum, DT11 7EB. 01258 269515;
Best for enjoying a good book
Beaton’s High Tea is served on a pristine table inside this converted bank, inspired by the style of Cecil Beaton. The selection of delicious cakes, fresh finger sandwiches, big homemade scones and jam is always impressive. Equally impressive is their range of over 25 loose leaf teas, brewed to perfection. What’s more, if you can’t finish it they will box it up for you to take and enjoy at home. Beatons incorporates a book shop, too – perfect to while away an afternoon in the covers of a good book, with tea and cake to sustain you.
The Langtry Manor Hotel
East Cliff, Bournemouth, BH1 3QB. o1202 553887
Best for a unique, historic tea
For a chic hotel in a historic building, Langtry Manor Hotel is perfect. As well as the traditional option (priced at £18.50 per person) you can upgrade to Lillie’s Afternoon Tea, where you will also be served a glass of bubbly for £24.50 per person. Or try the Prince of Wales’ Gentleman’s Tea for a more substantial treat. This includes Gentlemen’s relish on toast medallions, a selection of finger sandwiches, rich homemade fruit cake, a selection of teas and a Prince of Wales cocktail.
Beaminster Brasserie at the BridgeHouse
Pout Bridge, Beaminster, DT8 3AY. 01308 862200
Best for birthday teas
BridgeHouse is a peaceful haven, perfect for afternoon tea. The home-made offering costs £17.50 per person or you can opt for a savoury afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, a cheese scone with chive butter, savoury puffs and pork pie. The Celebratory Afternoon Tea includes chocolate eclairs, fruit tarts, a birthday cake with a name iced on top and a glass of Prosecco. The children’s mini tea offers finger sandwiches and a gingerbread man with a scoop of ice cream.
Bournemouth Highcliff Marriott Hotel
St Michael’s Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5DU. 01202 557702
Best for gluten free on the cliffs
The sunlit lounge at the Marriott offers a civilised spot to sit and enjoy an afternoon tea. The cliff-top location, with views over golden sandy beaches, makes this a great destination when the sun’s shining. Be tempted by a selection of fresh finger sandwiches, delicious pastries and scones smothered in jam and cream. They have just introduced a new Gluten Free Afternoon tea with a bespoke offering of gluten free cakes, scones and rolls, which is just as good as its traditional counterpart.
Worth Matravers Tea and Supper Room
Worth Matravers, Swanage, BH19 3LQ. 01929 439 368
www.worthmatraverstearoom.co.uk Best for lazy afternoons
If you are looking for a quintessentially English tearoom then this is your best bet. From their locally sourced food to their vintage china cups and saucers, this little gem is a real find. Their Glorious Afternoon tea is priced at £12.50 and includes freshly baked English muffins with smoked salmon, petit fours, scones, and a chocolate brownie. Everything is homemade in the tearoom and we love the fact that you get free tea top ups.
Athelhampton, Dorchester, DT2 7LG. 01305 848363
Best for a special day out
If you want a special day, head to this spectacular 15th century house just a few miles from Dorchester. In the coach house restaurant you can sit and enjoy a traditional afternoon tea and admire the pâtisserie cabinet. Athelhampton House is committed to only using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. There are various options for cream teas from £6. Walk off the excesses of the afternoon in the house’s beautiful grounds – the formal gardens were built between 1891 and 1899 by Alfred Cart de Lafontaine and are just as impressive today.
East Overcliff Drive, Bournemouth, BH1 3AF. 01202 290722
Best for art deco splendour
The Cumberland Hotel offers many contrasting dining areas for different occasions. On a nice day, sitting outside by the pool is like being on holiday. The Mirabelle Restaurant serves a great daytime menu and the Ventana Grand Café offers a formal destination. In their Del Mar Lounge you can indulge in an afternoon tea. Served daily from 3pm-5pm, the afternoon tea (£13.50pp) features raisin, walnut and cinnamon scones with jam and clotted cream, and a selection of French pastries.
Comins Tea House
Bridge Street, Sturminster Newton, DT10 1BZ. 01258 475389
Best for an education in tea
Owners Rob and Michelle offer an incredible selection of 26 loose leaf teas and help pair each tea with your food to make it a fun tea tasting session. The distinctively different afternoon tea (priced at £14 per person) offers you a savoury course of open tartines,
Ωwith toppings such as coronation chicken, hummus and more. The sweet course includes a selection board of miniature cakes and tea bread, infused with Assam tea, and a blueberry scone with clotted cream. It is recommended you book at least 24 hours in advance.