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Herts afternoon tea tour

PUBLISHED: 19:08 30 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:42 02 June 2016

Afternoon tea at its best (Photo: Ruth Black, Getty Images)

Afternoon tea at its best (Photo: Ruth Black, Getty Images)

Getty Images/iStockphoto

We’ve compiled 25 of the best afternoon tea venues in the county, covering north, south, east, west and central, so whether you fancy a special occasion close to home or further afield, you have plenty of ideas to munch on

Whether it is a traditional afternoon tea served in butler fashion or tea with the tigers, there are plenty of places to choose from (Kerin Forstmanis Last, Getty Images)Whether it is a traditional afternoon tea served in butler fashion or tea with the tigers, there are plenty of places to choose from (Kerin Forstmanis Last, Getty Images)

NORTH

Grand

Offley Place, Great Offley

Set in 27 acres of parkland in the village of Offley, Offley Place is an elegant country house hotel which has been sympathetically restored to its former manor-house glory with all the benefits of modern-day comforts. The venue won TripAdvisor’s Certificate of Excellence in 2014 and 2015, and it’s easy to see why. Visitors can enjoy afternoon tea in any of the hotel’s lounges, on the terrace overlooking the grounds, or in the conservatory.

Something different

The Sheene Mill, Melbourn

The Sheene Mill sits on the River Mel and is a magnificent 16th-century mill house where afternoon tea is served while guests can take in the views over the old mill pond and surrounding countryside.

Steeped in history, the mill was originally part of Sheene Manor and stopped operating as a mill only in about 1930, although the waterways still flow under the building.

Village

The Lavender Tearoom, Hexton

Situated in the quaint village hall, the Lavender Tearoom is like a collection of all the best grandmas’ front rooms, with cosy armchairs, a real fire, paintings on the walls and books to hand. It prides itself on homemade food freshly prepared using locally-sourced produce where possible, and invites customers to bring their own alcohol to enjoy with their food. As a bonus, the tearoom shares the building with the Country Matters company – a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of all things crafty and quirky – so visitors can do a spot of shopping while there.

Historic

Needham House, Little Wymondley

With a nod to nostalgia, visitors can enjoy afternoon tea in the elegantly-restored rooms of this Edwardian building, tucking into ‘Needham style’ Battenburg among a range of other goodies put together by the award-winning head chef. A perfect hideaway from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the venue also has the added advantage of housing a spa for those who want to take their pampering that little bit further, and a sweeping terrace for outdoor dining on sunny days.

Vintage

Westmill Tea Room, Westmill

A vintage tearoom in the pretty village of Westmill near Buntingford, where visitors can enjoy classic home-made scones with clotted cream and jam while sitting outside on sunny days for views of the village green. If the weather is chilly, eat inside and then browse the vintage jewellery, homewares, jars of jam, sweets and cards for sale.

EAST

Grand

Fanhams Hall, Ware

This Jacobean manor house with stunning gardens and 27-acre grounds offers a quintessentially English setting in which to enjoy sandwiches, freshly-baked scones and a range of delicate pastries in either the drawing room, library or on the terrace. Guests can also take their afternoon tea as a picnic hamper with added rug to wander off into the gardens.

Something different

Paradise Wildlife Park, Broxbourne

Visitors can take a walk on the wild side and take afternoon tea with the tigers at Broxbourne’s Paradise Wildlife Park. There’s a walking tour of the Big Cat Territory, where guests will see white lions, tigers, jaguars and cheetahs from a raised platform – a cat walk, if you will – boasting aerial views of the enclosures. The finale is afternoon tea at the Tiger Tree Tops Cafe overlooking the tiger enclosure.

Village

We R Cakes, Datchworth

We R Cakes is a 1940s-style vintage tearoom in a converted barn surrounded by fields and an ancient bluebell wood. The operation specialises in cake-making on-site and the venue also caters for afternoon tea for vegetarians, vegans and diabetics as well as meat-eaters. Visitors can expect vintage china, generous servings and endless tea and coffee. Afterwards, they can wander into the barn next door, which is a gallery with original work by local artists.

Historic

Hanbury Manor Marriott Hotel & Country Club, Ware

Built in 1890 by Edmund Hanbury, this imposing red-brick country house became a hotel and restaurant in the 1990s. Guests can indulge in a touch of grandeur and elegance and choose to take afternoon tea in the Oak Room, the Library or the cocktail bar. With a highly-regarded spa and views that stretch over the surrounding golf course with lake and specimen trees, it’s easy to while away an indulgent day here.

Vintage

South Street Pantry, Bishop’s Stortford

South Street Pantry is a family-run vintage-style tearoom which opened in 2013, ‘born from a love of good food simply made’. Visitors can choose a Devonshire cream tea or a Pantry afternoon tea, and all the cakes are baked daily on-site using locally-sourced ingredients. An institution in Stortford, the Pantry is a homespun escape in the heart of town.

SOUTH

Grand

The Grove, Watford

The Grove is set in 300 acres of Hertfordshire countryside and guests find it hard to believe they are only 20 minutes from central London as they relax at this luxury five-star hotel.

The former home of the earls of Clarendon, the property has been lovingly restored and effectively fuses contemporary design and original period architecture. It now boasts a championship golf resort (it’s where Tiger Woods won the World Golf Championships in 2006), and award-winning spa.

Visitors can curl up in front of a real log fire and feast on afternoon tea in the 18th-century mansion’s lounges or library, and there’s also a children’s menu for a full family lunch. A luxurious experience in a relaxed atmosphere.

Something different

De Vere Hunton Park, King’s Langley

Sandwiches, scones, cakes, pastries and of course tea, can be taken in the contemporary stylish surroundings of this Queen Anne house in 22 acres. A speciality here is to combine lunch with a tour of the Warner Bros Studio a few minutes’ walk away, where visitors can become immersed in the world of film-making and go behind the scenes of the Harry Potter series. The tour features authentic sets, costumes and props from the film series and showcases the British artistry, technology and talent that go into producing iconic British movies.

Village

The Bull Pen, Radlett

Situated in the Battlers Green Farm rural shopping village, the Bull Pen tearoom opened in 1993 in what was formerly the farm’s bull pen, built in the early 1900s.

With the rustic charm of old oak timbers and a cosy traditional tearoom ambience, the venue offers a selection of decadent cakes and creamy meringues to make for a memorable afternoon tea. The village also houses a range of independent shops providing everything from fashion to furniture and fish to flowers.

Historic

Laura Ashley The Manor, Elstree

Visitors here can sample panoramic views of the capital as they take afternoon tea in the lounge styled by home furnishing company Laura Ashley and incorporating Grade II listed features. The manor stands on the site of a Tudor house which dates back to 1540 and is today regarded as a place to see and be seen.

Vintage

Sugarloaf, Potters Bar

Home baking on the high street using locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible is a feature of the Sugarloaf tearoom in Potters Bar. The strawberry meringues, toffee popcorn éclairs and raspberry and almond macaroons, all served on an eclectic mix of vintage china, are to die for.

WEST

Grand

Luton Hoo, nr Harpenden

For hard-to-beat opulence and grandeur, head to the stately home that is Luton Hoo. Set in more than 1,000 acres of historic gardens and parkland created by Capability Brown, it has been the home of a prime minister, Russian aristocracy and a diamond magnate.

Heavy silver cutlery, crisp white linen and fine bone china all make afternoon tea at Luton Hoo a special experience, whether taken in the regal setting of one of the period lounges or the drawing rooms.

Something different

Hotel Watermill, Hemel Hempstead

Built around an old flour mill, the Watermill Hotel boasts panoramic views of the River Bulbourne and offers guest a serene, old-world retreat from the modern rush. It’s a chance to spend a relaxing afternoon on the riverside decking area or in the riverside restaurant and take afternoon tea in tranquillity.

Village

Aubrey Park, Redbourn

With a quiet woodland backdrop and in nine acres of rolling countryside between Hemel Hempstead and St Albans, Aubrey Park Hotel has a history going back to 1287 but with interiors that are bang up to date. It offers freshly-made scones and homemade cakes as part of its afternoon tea package which can be taken in the contemporary lounge, bar or on the terrace. There are Thursday ‘ladies who lunch’ specials.

Historic

St Michael’s Manor, St Albans

The original manor house dates back more than 500 years and was converted into a hotel in the early 1960s by the Newling Ward family, who still own and manage the property. The Lake Restaurant (overlooking the lake) offers a choice of cream tea, full tea or champagne tea, so there is something to suit all.

Vintage

Sanuk, Potten End

Sanuk, which means ‘to have a good time’ in Thai, lives up to its name with this cosy and eclectic little tearoom with log fire at Little Heath Farm in Potten End, near Berkhamsted. On offer are home-made cakes and treats in a converted barn that combines chintz with the Orient.

While there, visitors can browse the Sanuk shop, which displays a wide selection of furniture imported from India and Africa, as well as smaller items such as jewellery and incense. Sanuk also supports local commerce and stocks Hertfordshire honey and free-range eggs.

CENTRAL

Grand

Knebworth House, Old Knebworth

Knebworth House is offering special pre-booked afternoon teas at Knebworth Barns on June 26 and September 11, to include admission to the gardens and park. The menu includes a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with homemade jam and clotted cream, mini-fancies, tea or coffee, and a glass of sparkling wine. With a dinosaur trail and adventure playground located in the park, there’s plenty to keep the whole family entertained.

Something different

Tewin Bury Farm, Welwyn

Offering cream tea or afternoon tea with champagne as an optional extra and a children’s menu of the classic occasion as well, Tewin Bury Farm aims to keep everyone happy.

Originally a dairy farm, it has been home to the Williams family and a herd of 50 dairy cows, since 1931. The land continues to be farmed and is still worked by members of the Williams family, while many of the original 17th-century farm buildings have been incorporated into what is now Tewin Bury Farm Hotel. The Williams Bar and Restaurant, for instance, was once the old chicken shed.

Village

Laura Kate, Welwyn

Laura Kate, in the popular village of Old Welwyn, offers a quintessential English afternoon tea in its parlour. Visitors can expect delicate finger sandwiches, hand-made petit fours and, of course, scones, all served on a three-tier cake stand. Advance booking, with at least 24 hours notice, is required.

Historic

Brocket Hall, Welwyn

For a touch of elegance, this Regency stately home, with extensive views across the country estate, has it all. Afternoon tea is served in traditional butler fashion, with a pianist creating an ambience which befits the idyllic setting. Advanced booking is essential.

Vintage

Country Bumpkin, Tewin

Guests at Country Bumpkin can choose from a variety of loose tea from a local tea merchant, all served in a cosy-encased pot and poured into granny’s best china. As well as freshly-made sandwiches and homemade cakes, visitors can also buy the locally-sourced vegetables, meat, eggs, flour, jams and chutneys, pies and pates, to take some tasty treats home with them.

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