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This week is Afternoon Tea Week – a whole week dedicated to crust-less sandwiches, melt-in-the-mouth pastries and sweet treats. To toast the glorious occasion (taking place until 16 August), we've rounded up six of our favourite tea spots from around the country. Pinkies up!
Most regal: The Orangery, London – from £26 each
Our reporter Jess spent last Sunday being treated to a dose of royal treatment at The Orangery, nibbling her way through three majestic tiers of orange-scented scones, mini coronation chicken wraps and bite-sized pastries (in what was once Queen Anne's greenhouse). She then attempted to walk it off with a stroll around Kensington Palace's verdant gardens.
Most picture perfect: Sharrow Bay Hotel, Cumbria - £25 each
Our former intern, Bryony, recommends the hotel's tea party for its magical views of Lake Ullswater. Here, she feasted on scones, freshly made sandwiches and rainbow-bright pastries after a long walk across the Cumbrian fells. In case you're not already sold, Cumbria is also the birthplace of sticky toffee pudding!
The maddest: Mews of Mayfair, London - £50 each
Bryony also took a gastronomic tumble down the rabbit hole at Mews of Mayfair's Mad Hatter's Tea Party. Think giant clocks, playing cards and extravagant bowls overflowing with berries. There is, of course, a lovely selection of sandwiches, scones and cakes (the key lime pie in particular is wonderful), served with your choice of tea and Champagne. Best enjoyed with a gang of friends or family (minimum group size is 14 people); until 31 August.
The ultimate: Bettys Tea Rooms, Harrogate – from £26.95 each
We couldn't do an afternoon tea round-up and not include Bettys. This Yorkshire institution has been mastering the traditional etiquette since 1919. We're talking lavender and sultana scones, dinky sandwiches from its award-winning bakery, sweet little Battenbergs and berry-topped meringues. If you don't fancy a whole afternoon tea, plump for a giant Fat Rascal or their incredible Yorkshire curd tart. Mmm.
For the vintage lover: The Hidden Lane Tea Room, Glasgow - from £12 per person
Feel like the cat who got the cream (tea) at this Glaswegian gem. It promises to please even the most ardent cake aficionado: the tea is piping hot, the crockery is wonderfully mismatched and slices of cake are served in pleasingly large portions. Trust us, you won't go hungry after sampling this afternoon delight.
Most unique: Sketch, London – from £39 each
Jess (our reporter) celebrated her birthday at Sketch's Gallery room and loved the Instagram-worthy plates and amazing decor. The space is a zany oasis famous for its powder-pink parlour and Michelin-starred spread. Here you can tuck into tiers of salmon on soft Swedish bread and mini mozzarella and pesto toasties, topped with opera cakes, tarts and éclairs. The magic goes beyond the dining room, too (a trip to the toilet will prove out of this world).
The wow factor: Cloud 23 at The Hilton, Manchester - £23 each
The Hilton's Cloud 23 bar is situated 23 floors up – not for the vertigo sufferers among you. There's something pretty special about sipping champers and feasting on a scrumptious mix of belt-busting fodder while overlooking the city. It's the perfect go-to if you're looking to impress.
We want to hear from you, tweet us your favourite afternoon teas @Tried_Tasted