Afternoon tea stops in the Lake District holiday cottages

Afternoon tea stops in the Lake District

Jemima Kirkwood 17 January 2020

Have you ever been to a hotel restaurant and seen an elegant set up of finger sandwiches, delicate home baking and fancy tea?

Quite often you will see it presented on a three-tier cake stand alongside china teapots and teacups – an indulgence that modern society has left behind. If you are unfamiliar with this concept, it is called ‘afternoon tea’, which was introduced in England by the seventh Duchess of Bedford in 1840. The story goes that the Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock, and her dinner was always served around 8pm, so to satisfy that hunger she asked for a tray of tea, bread and butter, and a cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This pause for tea then became a fashionable social event!

In the 1880s, British upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats to enjoy afternoon tea in the drawing room between four and five o’clock. They would gossip and bond over delicate cups of tea and dainty finger sandwiches. Nowadays it’s a bit different, we grab a quick cuppa and a chocolate biscuit giving ourselves a short break before getting back to our everyday routine, whether that be at home or at work (and doubtful we would all be in long dresses!).

However, when on holiday we have more time, so it makes sense to slow it all down and experience a traditional British afternoon tea. After all, you do need a break from all that adventuring! The Lake District has many hotels, restaurants, cafes and patisseries that have delicious afternoon tea on offer, which is the perfect way to chill out or mark an occasion with your family and friends. Here are some of the best…

Macdonald Leeming House

Macdonald Leeming House is set in tranquil surroundings on Lake Ullswater and provides an oasis of calm that is perfect to relax and indulge in the great British tradition of afternoon tea. You can enjoy it in either the Lake View Lounge, a warm relaxing room with open fire and elegant furniture, or the outdoor terrace which boasts superb views.

The menu consists of an array of sweet and savoury items such as finger sandwiches and warm scones with jam. If you are feeling extra indulgent, then you can upgrade to include a glass of Champagne, which seems only sensible seeing as you will be on holiday.

Top taster: The freshly baked plain and fruit scones served with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

Address: MacDonalds Leeming House, Watermillock Ullswater Nr. Penrith Cumbria, CA11 0JJ

Served: 12pm – 5pm every day

Things to note

  • Smart casual dress code
  • Gardens and outdoor seating
  • Gluten-free, vegan & nut-free options
  • Disabled access
  • Children welcome

Stay close by: Rockery House Cottage, sleeps 4

Lakeside Hotel

This lovely hotel is located right on the shore of Lake Windermere and its delicious afternoon tea is served in the elegant conservatory, or outside on the days where the sun is shining, taking advantage of the beautiful setting and amazing views.

Head Chef Richard Booth has assembled a modern yet classic assortment of afternoon tea nibbles, ranging from delicate finger sandwiches, a refreshing cucumber soup and an array of mouth-watering cakes - the passionfruit eclair and chocolate and vanilla cake are just two favourites. It all sounds ideal to us! Afterwards, you could take a stroll through the hotel grounds and the forest that surrounds it or spend some time down at the lakeside taking in the peace and quiet.

Top taster: The chocolate and vanilla cookie and the white chocolate and mango mousse.

Address: Lakeside House Hotel, Lake Windermere, Newby Bridge, Cumbria, LA12 8AT

Served: 12pm – 6pm every day

Things to note

  • Smart casual dress code
  • Gardens and outdoor seating
  • Guide dogs only, small dogs welcome outside
  • Gluten-free, vegan & nut-free options
  • Disabled access
  • Children welcome

Stay close by: Middle Floor, sleeps 6

BAHA cafe & lounge bar

This café and lounge bar is a stylish and trendy establishment with its main focus being on Pacific street food which can be eaten and enjoyed in a really sociable way. The team believes that fantastic and exotic food should be for all and not just for the heights of fine dining. They make simple, small plates that are packed full of flavours and use local suppliers to make them. This would offer an alternative setting to your traditional afternoon tea.

The luxury afternoon tea for two includes finger sandwiches, chocolate truffle torte, cheesecake, profiterole stacks, scones and much more. Served with tea or coffee, this lot goes down a treat and is only made better by a glass of prosecco on the side! This is where you can really indulge.

Top taster: The delicate selection of yummy finger sandwiches

Address: BAHA Cafe, 18 Ash Street, Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3EB

Served: 12pm – 4.30pm every day

Things to note

  • Smart casual dress code
  • Outdoor seating during the summer
  • Guide dogs only
  • Disabled access
  • Children welcome
  • Contact with dietary requirements

Stay close by: Quarry Brow, sleeps 5 

Rothay Manor Hotel

Just a short stroll from Ambleside town centre, and at the head of Lake Windermere, you will find Rothay Manor - a lovely Regency building in the heart of the Lake District. This would be the perfect spot for rest and relaxation, and something to look forward to during your holiday. Afternoon tea is served in the bright and airy lounges and the friendly staff will help you enjoy it to the full.

Enjoy a leisurely afternoon, sipping a selection of Jing loose leaf teas and savouring a delicious array of home-made sandwiches, scones (with clotted cream and home-made jam) and delectable delicacies. 

The location is great for being able to enjoy all that the Lake District has to offer, before and after you stop to indulge!

Top taster: The amazing selection of patisseries – opera cake, white chocolate éclair and calvados crème brulee.

Address: Rothay Manor Hotel, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0EH

Served: 1pm – 4pm on Sunday

Things to note

  • Outdoor seating
  • Dogs in the drawing room only
  • Children welcome
  • Disabled access
  • Dietary requirements can be catered for

Stay close by: North Cottage, sleeps 2 and Brae Cottage, sleeps 2

The Daffodil Hotel and Spa

This stylish, impressive and luxurious hotel set on the lakeside is a place that certainly needs to be visited. Combining stylish contemporary interiors with the stunning natural beauty of its surroundings, The Daffodil provides an elegant experience for visitors to the Lake District and Grasmere itself.

You can enjoy the luxury afternoon tea in the sophisticated lounge or peaceful dining room; both are equally lovely and have charming views out over the lake. The in-house pastry chef has created a generous and modern take on the traditional afternoon tea featuring a the very best selection of local produce and freshly baked delicious cakes.

Top taster: The selection of fruit and spiced teas from the trendy brand Teapigs.

Address: The Daffodil, by The Lake, Keswick Road, Grasmere, Cumbria LA22 9PR

Served: 12pm – 5pm every day

Things to note

  • Vegetarian options available
  • Disabled access
  • Dog friendly - pups are allowed in the Lobby Bar and outside on the terrace

Stay close by: Hole House, sleeps 6 

The Fizzy Tarte

This is a luxury patisserie, champagne bar and café all rolled in to one. Set on a quaint street in the bustling tourist town of Bowness-on-Windemere, this establishment rarely sleeps! Stepping away from the traditional roaring fires and dining room setting, you can expect a stylish and contemporary approach to the typical afternoon tea. But for those of you who like tradition, you can still expect finger sandwiches and delicious cakes!

Upgrade to the Ultimate Indulgence option, complete with handmade patisserie, sumptuous sandwiches and a glass of fizz if you so wish. However, the Classic & Cream Tea selections are just as delicious.

Top taster: Homemade scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam, with a cuppa on the side!

Address: The Fizzy Tarte, 18 Ash Street, Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria, LA23 3EB

Served: 12pm – 4.30pm Monday to Friday

Things to note

  • Relaxed dress code, no fancy dress!
  • Outdoor terraced area
  • Speak to the staff if you have a specific dietary requirement
  • Full gluten-free afternoon tea
  • Children under 18 welcome until 5pm

Stay close by: The Pavilion at Applethwaite Hall, sleeps 4

We hope you aren’t feeling too peckish after reading this! If you are interested in booking a stay in the Lake District, make sure you check out our range of holiday homes that are in reach of these different establishments. If you are interested in finding out more about food in the local area, check out our guide on Lake District food and drink – it’s always good to know what there is to eat before you get there!

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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