The current recession has curbed spending for a lot of people, and taking “afternoon tea” (tea served with sandwiches, scones and sweets) can appear to be an out-of-reach luxury.
But is it?
Afternoon tea can be expensive because the best known teas are often served in fancy hotels. Hotels cater to tourists and those with expense accounts, thus inflating the price. These hotels can offer magnificent settings and elegant service, but the price tag (which can be upwards of $35 per person) can be daunting.
But there are alternatives, many of them offering delicious tea and food in charming surroundings, at a fraction of the price of a hotel tea. Here are some tips for finding good, affordable, afternoon teas in your area:
Check Out Local Tea Rooms and Tea Shops
- Some tea rooms and tea shops serve a traditional afternoon tea, some don’t. But in most cases, a “set” afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones, and sweets will cost you half, or less, than the prices at downtown hotels
- Some tea rooms and tea shops don’t regularly offer traditional afternoon tea, but will provide one upon request: Call and ask.
- Ask what an afternoon tea includes: Some tea rooms and shops don’t offer a full afternoon tea menu, but might, for example, offer scones with jam and cream.
- For a great tearoom directory, visit: www.teamap.com
Check out Ethnic Restaurants, Pubs and Bars
- Some English and Irish -themed pubs and bars will offer an afternoon tea on certain days of the week.
- Asian restaurants will likewise sometimes offer an afternoon tea: The menu may have a Western influence with traditional sandwiches and sweets, or it may include Asian foods.
Keep an Eye on Community and Church Event Calendars
- Afternoon teas are popular activities for women’s church and civic groups, and in some cases they serve as fundraisers that welcome everybody.
Chocolate Shops, Wine Bars, Bake Shops , and Even Coffee Shops
- Surprisingly, non-tea specialty stores sometimes offer afternoon tea service, particularly since many of them may not have a lot of business mid-afternoon. Keep your eyes peeled for notices on websites, in the store, or in brochures/flyers.
Bed and Breakfasts
- Some bed and breakfasts/small hotels offer afternoon tea service in their parlor, breakfast room, or garden.
Bonus Tip: Saving on Hotel Afternoon Teas
- If you are traveling and want to enjoy a “fancy” afternoon tea at a fine hotel, check out package deals before booking: You might find one that includes afternoon tea with the price of your room.
- Particularly in the UK, but in other places as well, afternoon tea is sometimes available in the concierge/executive lounges of hotels. Ask about this.
- Afternoon tea in grand hotels is often more expensive on the weekends and during the holidays. Check for mid-week price reductions.
[Editor’s note: Our blog is chock full of great articles on this topic. Use our search feature to find them!]
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3 thoughts on “Afternoon Tea Bargains”
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One of the best ways to enjoy all the frills of afternoon tea without the expense is DIY. We have been reviewing hotels and tearooms on our website for the last 3 years but still some of our best experiences have been in people’s homes:
Invite a few friends round, either informally over the phone, or make special invitation cards and post them with themed stamps, or tea-stained envelopes.
Dust off your old tea set from the attic or buy a mismatched assortment of pots and cups from a charity shop. Ask around and see if anyone has got three-tiered cake stands, silver sugar bowls, or fancy teapots.
Decorate the table imaginatively – don’t be afraid of the Kitsch, the Naff and the downright ridiculous. Gingham, flowers, bunting, silverware, portraits of the Queen. Anything goes.
Ask your friends to make or buy cakes, scones, sandwiches, strawberries, clotted cream, crumpets etc. etc.
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