Have you ever wondered:
‘Where’s the best afternoon tea in Brighton?’
‘How many calories in a typical afternoon tea session?’
What’re the booziest options?’
Well ponder no more!
In this article, we’ll answer these questions and many more – providing a comprehensive overview of today’s afternoon tea climate in the sunny seaside town of Brighton and Hove.
The Ivy in the Lanes Queens Hotel Brighton Regency Routemaster Café Rouge Malmaison West Beach Bar and Kitchen (Formerly Belle Vue Brighton) Bill’s Brighton Harbour Hotel Hotel du Vin The Old Ship Hotel The Salt Room Bohemia Rendezvous Tea House Cherry Tree Cakes The Difference
The concept of afternoon tea is a simple one:
A clever person in the mid-nineteenth century concluded that the period between lunch and dinner was simply too long, and they needed a source of sustenance to keep them going.
They decided on delicate finger sandwiches, sweet pastries, cakes, and – of course – a well-deserved cup of tea.
As with the majority of ‘nice things’ in the past, afternoon tea was reserved for people of high society and members of the royal family.
For several decades, the consumption of this light and dainty meal was restricted to small parties behind closed doors.
Queen Victoria herself brought afternoon tea to the masses with the introduction of ‘tea receptions’ – according to AfternoonTea.co.uk (the unofficial governing authority on all things tea-related).
Fast-forward a hundred years, and afternoon tea is still going strong!
Interestingly, given that scones with clotted cream and jam generally come to mind when thinking of traditional afternoon tea, these were not actually added until the twentieth century –
Eternal thanks to the person who had that bright idea!
After a brief hiatus in popularity towards the end of the 1900s, afternoon tea is back on the menu.
Check out this Google Trends graph:
It clearly shows a 100% increase in search frequency over the last five years – plus the yearly spike around Mother’s Day.
Afternoon Tea is now old enough that it's no longer a societal standard, but rather a novel way of experiencing the pleasantries of a bygone era.
And we all know how much Brits love their nostalgia!
According to Vicky Clifford Sanghad, from Ideal Magazine, the popularity of afternoon tea stems from:
This rings true for Patisserie Valerie:
They doubled their afternoon tea revenue from 2015 to 2016 – agreeing that the reason behind the increase was the variety of sweet treats on offer.
Even Taran Bassi, from the Metro – who thinks afternoon tea is overrated – agrees that the selection of mini cakes are the best thing about it.
Of course, there are countless academic papers, journal articles and scholarly findings on how novelty drives value within a range of industries.
And it appears afternoon tea innovators are jumping on the band-wagon too.
Gone are the days of cucumber sandwiches and Earl Grey!
We're now presented with vegan rice buns filled with Szechuan marinated tofu at Brighton's Terre a Terre, cheddar scones with bacon jam at The Harbour Hotel, and mini beef burgers at Malmaison Brighton.
What a time to be peckish!
Like the tradition of Afternoon Tea, Brighton once owed its popularity to royal patronage.
That’s right – just as aspirational hostesses sought to imitate the Duchess of Bedford’s daily ritual, so too the wealthy flocked to the seaside after the Prince of Wales’ 1783 visit.
George IV loved it so much he built his outlandish summer residence here, the Royal Pavilion – securing the town’s reputation as England’s premier holiday resort.
200 years later…
Brighton continues to flourish, and its Regency architecture, vibrant seafront, and eccentric spirit still attract visitors from far and wide.
It’s also a fabulous place to enjoy afternoon tea.
As you’ll see, there are an astounding variety of venues – from the traditional to the contemporary – offering their own take on the national institution.
What’s more, the majority are found within easy distance of its most popular attractions – so even time-pressed visitors can afford a moment’s delightful pause.
Those with an appetite could even sample more than one, before walking off the day’s indulgence on the sunlit promenade!
The choices on offer reflect Brighton’s eclectic charm, though navigating such variety can be tricky.
Fear not, however!
We’ve undertaken the (not so) arduous task of trying as many as possible – to give you the lowdown on afternoon teas to suit all tastes, occasions and budgets.
Read on to discover more…
In this section, we’ve listed EVERY Brighton afternoon tea we could find and provided a summary of each venue.
Here goes…loosen your belts.
The Ivy collection is iconic for class and British dining. Since 2014, the restaurants have continued to multiply, each holding the unique interior design and high-quality service that The Ivy, West Street is symbolic of.
Opening in May 2018, The Ivy in the Lanes created much excitement, especially for those who live in the Brighton seaside town itself. As we walked down Ship Street, it wasn’t hard to miss the grand stone building with green canopies. The entrance made for the perfect Instagram backdrop, with a wall of flowers and a circular pendant hanging from the tall ceilings.
As we walked in, we were taken back by the variety of vibrant colours! From the bright orange and green seating to the array of artwork which filled the walls, matching the quirky Brighton reputation. A square cocktail bar took centre stage in the middle of the room, and with sparkling glasses, masses of liquor and employees dressed in pristine uniforms, I felt as though we had jumped into the Tom Cruise movie Cocktail!
It wasn’t long before our choice of teas, infusions or coffee arrived, shortly followed by our afternoon tea priced at £18.95. Truffled chicken brioche rolls occupied the bottom tier, and they were truly exquisite. They were followed by smoked salmon on dark rye bread with cream cheese and chives, which were delicately placed next to cucumber and dill finger sandwiches. The top tier consisted of crème brûlée doughnuts, lemon tarts decorated with raspberries and—saving the best until last—chocolate and salted caramel mousse, displayed in miniature plant pots with real flowers. The attention to detail was remarkable, so much so they were almost too pretty to eat!
On a separate stand were warm fruit scones with strawberry jam, Dorset clotted cream and fresh strawberries. The lively atmosphere is a clear correlation to the delicious food that was presented to us, which we sat and enjoyed for a couple of hours before asking for the bill. Our waiter, although in a demanding environment, was attentive and more than happy to spend time chatting with us.
After a quick picture on the famous pink stool situated in the female toilets, we left feeling full and content! The option to upgrade to the Champagne Afternoon Tea for £26.50 is available if you wish to make the experience even more lavishing.
Located on Brighton Seafront, Queens Hotel boasts one of the best views in Brighton. After a warm welcome from staff, we were shown to our window seat table, overlooking Brighton pier. The 19th century regency building, although slightly outdated, holds a certain charm.
Despite the hotel offering a selection of smaller afternoon cream teas, there was nothing holding us back from ordering their High Tea option, which includes a sandwich of your choice, homemade scone (fruit or plain), and one of their cakes of the day. To drink, there’s a small selection of teas, coffee and even a glass of champagne for a £6 surplus charge - if afternoon tea didn’t quite feel fancy enough!
We were happy to see the traditional three-tiered stand arrive, making the experience feel all that more special. The portion sizes were generous, with several layers of smoked salmon in each of the three finger sandwiches, one scone accompanied with clotted cream, jam and strawberries, and a giant slice of New York cheesecake - all this per person!
Queens Hotel may not serve up a wide variety of small savory treats and extravagantly decorated cakes, but their afternoon tea and impeccable service will leave you feeling full and well looked after. At only £11 per head, this afternoon tea allows a small indulgence without breaking the bank!
We knew we had arrived for the Brighton Regency Routemaster experience as soon as we turned the corner and saw the huge red double-decker bus waiting for us. Colin and his team were suited up ready for the occasion, and welcomed us onto the bus to be seated. The vintage upper deck décor fitted incredibly well with the beautifully restored Routemaster bus, which holds up to 42 passengers. You can sit in groups of two or four as you wine and dine, travelling through the city and taking in the glamorous landmarks of Brighton and Hove.
Our waiter politely greeted us and asked for our preference of tea from the list on the menu. Both of us decided on traditional English breakfast tea to compliment the upcoming afternoon tea! The bus had now set off on its journey, firstly heading up towards Brighton Pier. 60’s music played softly in the background, which matched the scenic journey perfectly. As we approached the iconic pier, live commentary by Colin played alongside the music to inform us about what we were seeing. We passed the pier, and drove up the seafront towards the West Pier and newly built i360, before heading up Grand Avenue.
As the bus drew up to the traffic lights, we were delighted to see our afternoon tea appear at the top of the Routemaster stairs! It was mouth-watering to see the variety of flavours and colours on the stand, and we couldn’t wait to tuck in!
The bottom layer was jam-packed with finger sandwiches and bagels. From smoked salmon, to ham and mustard, to cheddar cheese, there was plenty to choose from. We then happily dived straight into the sweet treats on the top stand. Again, there was something for everyone: pistachio cake, red velvet sponge, carrot cake, little filled pastries, macarons, and a ‘surprise pot’. Yum!
Driving past Brighton Station and into the popular bustling Brighton Lanes, it was lovely to see how many people waved at the bus and took photos! Colin was still brilliant on the commentary, relaying some wonderful facts about the Pavilion and Royal Crescent.
After a top up of tea, our scones arrived. They were deliciously soft and paired perfectly with clotted cream and strawberry jam provided. Our final two stops included the Saltdean Lino and Brighton Marina. We then headed back to where we began, just off Brighton Pier.
We had a fabulous time, and came away not only full of good food and armed with leftovers for the office, but with a few more fun-filled facts about our hometown of Brighton. All in all this makes a delightful experience, perfect for spoiling a loved one!
Café Rouge was founded in 1989 with a mission to “bring a taste of France to the UK”. With restaurants in Brighton Marina and the Lanes, we had a choice of which Brighton based restaurant to visit. Only a short walk away, we decided on the Café Rouge situated on Prince Albert Street. I was intrigued to see how Café Rouge would put their own spin on the British tradition of afternoon tea.
The burgundy red and unique character made the venue easy to spot. As we walked through the quirky, semi-circle doors, there was a friendly, lively ambiance. A smartly dressed waitress was quick to welcome us and gave us the choice of where we would like to sit. Once comfortable Willow and I ordered English breakfast tea and enjoyed the atmosphere. As part of Café Rouge’s Afternoon Tea for Two (£25.00), we were given the option of their famous croque monsieur or their vegetarian equivalent. This was a no brainer for Willow and I who both loved the sound of their speciality.
The charismatic waitress brought us over a pot of tea each, shortly followed by a three-tier stand filled with treats! On the bottom tier was the warm croque monsieur, which if you were wondering is gammon and melted cheese, layered in thick tiger bread. To make it even more tasty, there was an extra layer of toasted cheese on top of the sandwich, garnished with cress. This was absolutely delicious! Having recently been on many afternoon teas, I enjoyed eating hot food in contrast to the stereotypical triangle shaped sandwiches, with an array of fillings. However, I appreciate the multiple fillings may be what customers are looking forward to, when going for afternoon tea. Therefore, Café Rouge’s two options won’t be for everyone.
The second tier consisted of two fruit scones dusted with icing sugar, clotted cream, strawberry conserve and strawberries. The top tier had several cakes, including red velvet, carrot, lemon, chocolate raspberry coconut cake and finally two chocolate mousses. At this point we were very full; my personal favourite was the lemon cake with cream cheese icing. However, the chocolate mousse flavouring left an aftertaste which wasn’t my cup of tea.
Overall, the service and setting were friendly, the sandwich choice was minimal, and this won’t suit everyone, however I loved the French inspired cuisine and thought it made their afternoon tea memorable. Lastly, there was a good selection of cakes, full of flavour, but I would have enjoyed a slice of basic victoria sponge!
Malmaison Brighton is the newest hotel in the Malmaison catalogue, situated on the marina waterfront overlooking luxury yachts.
When we arrived, the restaurant was still undergoing a few renovations, but we could tell by the fancy décor and great location that this was bound to be a popular spot for afternoon tea.
After half an hour, we asked a waitress when our food would be arriving, to which she replied we had to order it at the bar – even though we'd made a reservation. This was strange but we went along with it, and the result was well worth the wait.
The Malmaison afternoon tea is a new take on the traditional spread – there were mini burgers and tortilla wraps for the savoury, salted caramel brownies, strawberry pavlova, trifle, polenta cake for the sweet, and of course some classic scones with cream and jam.
A delicious strawberry milkshake accompanied our food, and there was also a choice of hot drinks from the extensive menu – it’s not all Earl Grey!
At £17.50 each, this was all great value for money. If you’re feeling extravagant, you can upgrade to a Champagne afternoon tea for an extra £7.50 per person, and they even cater for vegetarians and gluten free!Malmaison Brighton Afternoon Tea Gift Vouchers
At the foot of the British Airways i360 observation tower, the contemporary West Beach Bar and Kitchen is in prime position for beach-lovers. Experience breath-taking views of the cityscape and beyond, before enjoying a seasonally inspired selection of finger sandwiches, mini pastries and scones on the restaurant’s beach-front terrace.
The observation flight and afternoon tea combo ticket makes a grand day out for tourists, or locals celebrating a special occasion.
Since opening in 2005, Bill’s Brighton has built a reputation as one of THE places to go for a great meal and a great time. The outfitted old bus depot has a distinctively ‘Brighton buzz’, with guests seated amid floor-to-ceiling produce and an ethos that champions delicious, home-grown goods.
There is no better place to get together with friends and enjoy traditional British fayre with the classic Bill’s stamp. Cream teas and cakes available only.
Upon arrival at the Harbour Hotel, we were greeted warmly and quickly shown to our table. The newly-refurbished dining room was simple with modern touches, and the quiet period meant we could enjoy its pleasant ambience and music.
When our tea stand arrived, we were amazed by the amount and variety of food!
The delicious sandwich fillings included smoked chicken and mango, braised ham hock and mustard, and smoked salmon with lemon and caper butter.
Of course, there were fresh scones (filled with as much clotted cream as possible), before my massive sweet tooth was indulged even further with dark chocolate praline eclairs, cherry Bakewell tarts, and passion fruit trifles.
The hotel’s drinks menu featured an impressive list of options, including – to my delight – a selection of my favourite bottomless Teapigs blends.
Throughout our meal, the staff were very attentive, and special care was taken over one of our group’s dietary requirements.
The seafront location offers great views of the pier and new British Airways i360, and we all agreed that £15.95 per person was a reasonable price given the quality of everything served.Harbour Hotel Afternoon Tea Brighton Gift Vouchers
This stylish French bistro, just off Brighton’s seafront, offers the classic indulgence of afternoon tea, in an elegant and inviting setting.
Amongst soft lighting, restored fireplaces, and art-adorned walls, guests are treated to classically prepared, seasonal produce – with a French twist. Expect pastries, tapenades, quiches and scones, plus a great selection of Twinings tea.
Brighton’s Bistro du Vin provides the sophisticated service you’d expect, and its central location ensures easy access to nearby landmarks.
A historic feature of Brighton’s vibrant seafront, the Old Ship Hotel benefits from excellent access to the Pier, Pavilion Gardens, and Lanes shopping district – not to mention fantastic views of the beach itself.
The restaurant serves traditional British and European fayre, and its three-tiered afternoon tea pays homage to 19th Century tradition with Victoria sponge, fruit cake, and cucumber finger sandwiches.
As we made our way to The Salt Room, we couldn’t help but admire the incredible view of Brighton’s seafront. We took our seats in the restaurant’s south-facing terrace, which overlooks familiar landmarks, like the crumbling West Pier and new British Airways i360 viewing tower.
Unfortunately, the ambience was somewhat affected by heavy traffic and temporary construction work – but then this is one of the busiest parts of town!
A quick glance at the menus and classy décor made clear this would be an upmarket experience.
When our three-tiered tea stand arrived, we were instantly impressed by the presentation and variety of food – some of which just looked too good to eat!
This was Afternoon Tea with The Salt Room’s own unique stamp. In place of the usual finger sandwiches, we enjoyed an ocean-inspired selection of crab on squid ink croutons and mackerel pate finger bites.
The truffle, bacon jam and grilled cheese toasties also deserves a special mention as our absolute favourite element – so crispy and delicious!
The sweets were just as impressive. These included delicate peach and cream macarons, raspberry and milk chocolate teacakes, and a delightful Asian-inspired citrus and matcha custard – we even managed to squeeze in a scone!
I must say, though service was a real positive from our waiters, the management could have been friendlier. We weren’t disheartened, however, and all in all found The Salt Room a good value option for afternoon tea.
Tucked away in the midst of the winding Lanes, Bohemia is one of Brighton’s most eccentric eateries and late-night hang-outs.
After dark, the venue hosts a great over-25s drinking scene and regular Jazz nights. By day, however, you’ll find some seriously delicious food.
During the summer months (if you get in quick), you can enjoy the full menu on the cobbled terrace, or treat yourself to a classic afternoon tea of fruit scones and finger sandwiches in the Library.
Since the first restaurant opened in 1973, Browns has become synonymous with refined interiors, great food and a special touch of class – and the well-established Brighton branch delivers as you’d expect.
Afternoon tea is served in Browns’ signature style, which still remains true to the traditional treat.
Swap finger sandwiches for brioche and crostini, and Victoria sponge for red velvet cake, and perhaps add a glass of bubbly for extra special occasions.
Kemp Town’s Metrodeco transports its customers to the 1930s with a unique afternoon tea. This vintage venue is creatively furnished in the style of the decade’s glamourous Parisian tea salons, and we couldn’t wait to pay it a visit.
We were seated in a pair of very comfortable, king-sized chairs, which immediately made us feel very special! Although quiet initially, every table was soon taken, and we could really sense the thriving atmosphere.
Within minutes, we were shown a very impressive tea menu, which – without exaggerating – must have featured over twenty blends. What’s more, all of them were unlimited – so we needn’t make the impossible decision of which to go for!
Our food arrived on a delicate, three-tiered stand, and our server talked us through exactly what was included. Grateful though we were for this explanation, I couldn’t help but impatiently eye the wonderfully-presented rolls, cakes and scones right in front of us!
Sed fringilla iaculis justo eget sagittis. Suspendisse at diam dapibus, tempor dolor ut, scelerisque leo. Cras luctus ac nisi vitae commodo.
Our rolls were topped with cream cheese and cucumber, ham and tomato relish, and brie and onion marmalade. There were macarons, fruit tarts, mint chocolate marshmallows, and – of course – what afternoon tea would be complete without an oven-fresh scone?
We were very impressed by the generous portions (two scones per person!) and the variety of flavours on display. Our leftovers were boxed for us, before we finally left Metrodeco, and returned to the present day.
This small, family-run Patcham bakery, on the outskirts of Brighton, is one for informed locals. Although Cakes the Difference are best known for their vibrant, bespoke celebration cakes, they also do a fine afternoon tea.
Book ahead and enjoy a generous slice of cake, two rounds of sandwiches and unlimited tea or coffee. The homely café offers a warm welcome, and all goods are hand-baked on the premises.
Built in 1864 as an upper-class getaway, The Grand can still claim to be among Brighton’s most luxurious hotels.
With its imposing Victorian façade, sea-facing balconies and a well-earned reputation for fine dining – a visit to The Grand makes any occasion extra special. Indulge in ‘Afternoon Tea by the Sea’, in the opulent Victoria Terrace, and enjoy traditional sandwiches, pastries and scones, plus bespoke options.
Although pricier than its competitors, the quality of service, setting and food are sure to impress.
If you’re planning to spend some time at Brighton Marina, be sure to pay the Cherry Tree café a visit.
Experience peace and tranquillity – away from the bustling re-developed waterfront – and enjoy a traditional cream tea in the sunlit courtyard.
Whilst full afternoon tea packages are not available here, there is a lovely selection of cakes, baked goods, and deli sandwiches to choose from.
Stood outside Duke Street’s Rendezvous Café, Bar & Gallery, peckish browsers could be forgiven for turning to their companion with a frown that says, “let’s keep looking”.
The unassuming black and white exterior does little to sway the indecisive. However, as we discovered one sunny Thursday afternoon – it’s what’s inside that really counts.
Forgoing the cramped outdoor seating area, we headed upstairs and eventually chose two comfortable window seats overlooking the street below.
Here, we found ourselves amid a kaleidoscopic display of pot plants, flowers, and curiosities. The walls were hung with art for sale, and a glittering silver mermaid cast her serene gaze over the room’s eclectic furnishings.
Service was friendly and efficient. The menu was explained, and we’d soon selected the sandwiches and cakes that would accompany our fresh scones.
Within minutes, an ornate pot of tea arrived, followed closely by the well-laden tea stand.Rendezvous’ afternoon tea is far from Brighton’s most refined. Yet, over the next hour or so, we happily declared it among our favourites.
The sandwiches were tasty and substantial (with crusts left on), the scones were buttery, and each slab of cake could have been shared between twice as many. Though it perhaps lacked the variety of more sophisticated offerings, everything served felt honest and wholesome – and we were left fully satisfied.
Despite its more garish décor, our room turned out a surprisingly tranquil place to while away the afternoon. We were alone mostly, but I could well imagine the tables occupied by creative types – quietly reading, or looking up from laptop keys to search the walls for inspiration. Before departing, we investigated further upstairs and found another room, even glitzier than our own. This was closed today, but worth revisiting – if only to secure Brighton’s most OTT chair.
Back outside, Rendezvous’ modest façade had taken on a different light. This charming café guards its gaudy secret, but generously rewards those curious enough to cross the threshold.
Nestled just off St James’ Street, in vibrant Kemptown, you’ll find the cosy Leman Tea Room. This independent family-owned business offers a welcome break from the soulless coffeeshop chains.
Generous pots of tea, healthy portions of cake, retro crockery and a welcoming atmosphere make the short walk worthwhile. Within easy reach of the pier, it’s the perfect place to relax after the arcade.
Since the first cafe opened in 1926, Patisserie Valerie has become a fashionable high street staple – instantly recognisable by its 1950’s continental décor.
The Hove branch offers everything you’d expect of the brand – high-quality artisan pastries, flawlessly handcrafted celebration cakes and a welcoming café atmosphere.
Afternoon tea includes six savoury items and an assortment of patisseries to fight over.
Conveniently, Julien Plumart is just opposite our office. We had only to cross the traffic-clogged Queens Road, and we were there!
Inside this quaint café, the colourful assortment of cakes and macaroons immediately caught our attention, and I couldn’t wait to see which we’d be served for afternoon tea.
Once seated, the details of the menu were explained and we were left to ponder. After quite a wait, we were eventually able to catch a staff member’s eye and place our order.
When our tea stand arrived, I was very impressed by the quality of the food presented. Our savoury options included cheese and ham finger sandwiches and – the real showstopper – a roasted tomato, melted mozzarella, pesto and rocket bun.
It seemed impossible to choose two sweets, but I got there in the end – opting for an apple tart and a salted caramel macaron.
As time passed, we never once felt rushed and were free to savour the spread and enjoy the café’s relaxing atmosphere.
After finally settling payment with our friendly waitress, there was just time for one more glance at the wonderful displays. The sight of freshly made sweets would stick in my mind for the rest of the day.
Bonus Review By Get Jaunty
“Afternoon tea at Julien Plumart Cafe in Brighton had a really relaxed atmosphere which I enjoyed and the selection of cakes and macaroons was incredible and colourful. After being seated we got to tailor our food and could pick from any of those on display. It felt very special to have this choice and there were lots of flavour combinations so none of us had the same.
My favourites were the sweets - a hazelnut praline macaroon in particular, as well as a warm brownie. We went to celebrate a birthday and would definitely go back again to sample more of the delights on offer. If you're planning a trip to Brighton and fancy a treat, it's worth looking to book yourself in!”
On the outskirts of Brighton sits the Proud Country House known as Stanmer House. Boasting acres of greenery, Willow and I couldn’t help but take in the beautiful landscape before heading inside. As we walked in, we were greeted by a friendly and assistive gentleman. We were a little early, so were asked to sit in the cosy and very nicely decorated waiting area. The room was full of unique furniture, including some very inviting tall velvet chairs. A short amount of time passed before we were called and our table was ready. As we walked through to the dining room, there was a busy environment, filled with laughter and conversation. Lots of stands filled with cakes, scones and petite sandwiches made our eyes scan the room with anticipation. The tables were laid with white pristine table cloths, serviettes, cups ready for tea, and glasses for water. All the waiters and waitresses were dressed in formal, matching uniforms and were very polite and smiley when asking if we wanted to know their selection of fruit tea or if we would like English breakfast tea.
Our tea pot arrived, and as we sipped, we enjoyed the gorgeous view through the long Victorian windows. After a short wait, our tower of treats was in sight! The attention to detail in the presentation was amazing, from the watercress on the sandwiches, to the cut strawberries in between the cakes. My personal favourite was the ham sandwich. Before this experience, I didn’t like mustard, but combined with the ham and salad, it was very yummy!
After devouring the sandwiches, we moved onto the second tier of two freshly baked fruit scones, which were bigger than my fist! The scone was still warm as I cut through it, and I started to spread the strawberry jam from its own little glass pot - I must be Cornish at heart! Willow, however, went for the Devonian method, and decided to spread the generous scoop of clotted cream first. The cake selection was exquisite, featuring coffee and walnut cake, lemon cake, chocolate squares, and macaroons. Willow and I – both having a sweet tooth - were in heaven. The strawberries were a great touch to finish off the experience, leaving us with a refreshing taste.
Overall, the afternoon tea was delightful, and the remarkable interior design meant that we could talk and enjoy our assortment of food for hours. We definitely took advantage of the constant refilling of tea, and left Stanmer House feeling like queens. This is an enjoyable experience to be shared with a friend or loved one as you catch up over tea and cake.
Slap-bang in the centre of Brighton’s weird and wonderful North Laines, you’ll find Merkaba bar. Despite being voted "Best Drinking Venue 2017" in the Brighton Restaurant Awards, Merkaba has a lot more to offer than just futuristic décor and artisan cocktails. Their Afternoon Tea is truly unique and draws inspiration from the city itself.
Think life-like chocolate pebbles, open-top sandwiches, and popcorn to celebrate the local picture house – all at a very reasonable price.
Unfortunately, due to a rather convoluted booking process we didn’t get around to trying this particular tea. After trying to make a reservation by phone without answer, we contacted Merkaba via email. In response (admittedly within the hour) we were emailed a two page booking form (with the wrong name at the top). This needs to be completed along with credit card details to confirm the booking. At this point we gave up. In the era of online booking this seemed a little antiquated and unnecessary.
Travel to Hove, and you’ll be surprised to find this little gem of a café. Set on a busy street, amongst the hustle and bustle of local businesses, Treacle and Co make it their mission to share the beauty of homemade cakes and locally-sourced treats.
Fragrant loose-leaf teas and seasonal baked goods are served from opening time until close, so there’s always time for afternoon tea, no matter what your schedule.
Terre à Terre has been at the forefront of British vegetarian cooking for over two decades, and we arrived with high expectations for afternoon tea.
We were greeted at the door by a friendly waitress, who showed us to our table and took our order. Though afternoon tea is rarely the most carnivorous affair, I loved the fact not only vegetarian, but also gluten-free and vegan options were so readily available – this can be such a hassle in other venues!
Soon, we received our savouries – all bright colours, fresh ingredients and mouth-watering smells. We tucked in to tapioca seaweed crackers with pickled vegetables, and steamed rice buns stuffed with all manner of goodness – think Szechuan marinated halloumi, kimchi Chinese cabbage, and lapsang souchong pickled watermelon!
Even that didn’t compare to my showstopper, however – warm, homemade mini muffins, served with peppered Sussex slipcote cream cheese and pear perry chutney.Once we’d polished off those wonderful savouries, our teas were brought over with the sweets, as we’d requested. It was the perfect time for tea, and I was amazed by the quality and presentation of the treats before us.
To start, we had an orange and almond polenta cake, served with strawberry sorbet, pomegranate molasses, pink peppered meringue, toasted coconut and baby sorrel.
Next, was an indulgent chocolate hazelnut truffle cake, served with whipped dark chocolate mousse, alongside a crème de cacao Brandy Alexander shake, and boozy rum truffle.
Finally, we found room for Maddie’s highlight – tea-soaked sultana scones with peppered strawberry jam and clotted cream.
Nothing epitomises Brighton like the Royal Pavilion – its onion domes, flamboyant oriental interiors and overall sense of grandeur draw hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.
Visitors also gain access to the eccentrically decorated Royal Pavilion Tea Rooms, where they can enjoy a local Sussex blend, whilst overlooking the beautiful public gardens.
Afternoon tea pairs your drink selection with a choice of traditional sandwiches, cakes, and scones.
Since 2012, Talk of Tea have made it their mission to open the public’s eyes to the wonderful world of tea – with more blends and infusions than anywhere else in the city.
The shop provides a homey atmosphere in which to catch up over a cuppa, and ticks all the boxes if you’re after a simple afternoon tea with a classic selection of sandwiches and scones.
Afternoon tea here also comes with a very modest price tag!
Tucked away, in the heart of the South Laines, Choccywoccydoodah is a Brighton institution.
As we approached, it wasn’t hard to spot – a large crowd was gathered around the shopfront and cameras jostled before the eye-catching window displays. The excitement was contagious as we entered the shop.
Inside, I was immediately impressed by the creativity, colour and beauty on show. Upstairs, we were greeted by a bubbly staff member and shown to the ‘garden’ – the decadent setting for an afternoon tea like no other.
Once seated, I soon realised we had the entire space to ourselves. This meant we could explore a little and get a closer look at the wonderful hidden ornaments, before the arrival of two strawberry Champagne milkshakes brought us back to the table in a hurry!
These were followed by a milk, white and dark chocolate dipping plate surrounded by perfectly ‘dip-sized’ strawberries. I couldn’t believe my eyes when a massive selection of cake slices was also served – all this for just two people!
After slowly making our way through the treats, we were asked to choose a drink, plus another cake or sundae. As I neared chocolate capacity, I opted for a delicious pink lemonade (instead of a milkshake) and a sundae – chocolatey, of course.
Despite my best efforts, the scale and sweetness of the food was a little much in the end. I never thought I’d see the day I meet my chocolate match! Luckily, we were given a box to take away leftovers – for which we were very appreciative, as it really was too delicious to leave behind!
A final surprise came by way of a tote bag filled with goodies. All in all, the experience was excellent value for money, and guaranteed to satisfy even the sweetest tooth!
This little gem does exactly what it says on the tin!
Nestled inconspicuously in the winding Lanes, That Little Teashop provides welcome relief from the chaos of shopping and sightseeing – transporting you to an era of tea maids, floral patterns, and sugar cubes.
Since 2013, they’ve been serving wonderful, freshly baked goods (including gluten-free options) at a very modest price and consistently feature in Top 10 articles.
In its prime seafront location, the Hilton Brighton Metropole is one of the city’s most popular and recognisable hotels – home to the Waterhouse Bar & Terrace.
Though the bar’s best known for creative cocktails, it also has a decent menu of British favourites. If the weather allows, you can soak up the sun on the terrace, whilst sipping Twinings tea and enjoying a selection of locally sourced sweet and savoury treats.
There’s even a dedicated gluten-free afternoon tea menu for those who’d prefer.
On Hove’s stylish Second Avenue, the five-star Claremont Hotel offers grand Victorian architecture, quaint walled gardens and even its own art collection.
Whether you’re staying for a romantic getaway, or celebrating a special occasion, the hotel is sure to charm.
The vintage afternoon tea is prepared using locally-sourced ingredients and includes a selection of traditional sandwiches and cakes – all at a fraction of the price of Brighton-based competitors.
Tucked away in Pool Valley, you’ll find Brighton’s oldest tea shop, The Mock Turtle. Here, time stands still, and regulars note that little has changed in 60 years.
Guests are transported to the Victorian heyday of afternoon tea – with a great selection of homemade cakes, a wide range of loose leaf teas, and blue & white china adorning the walls.
Seating is limited, but it’s well worth the wait for a table.
It’s safe to say we’ve overindulged in recent weeks, and it’ll be some time before we fancy another scone –
Give it a day or two!
A traditional afternoon tea can contain well over a thousand calories per person. In fact, if you take a typical serving of:
We reckon this adds up to around 1500 calories! Of course, this varies from venue to venue – and depends on how immoderately you spread the clotted cream!
Still, we’re clearly overdue some exercise.
The average person burns about 100 calories per mile during a brisk walk. That means – to work off even a modest 1000 calorie sitting – we’d need to walk all the way from Brighton Pier to Worthing Pier!
Alternatively, we could cycle 55 laps of the Preston Park velodrome, or spend two hours swimming lengths of Saltdean Lido.
We’re bound to regain our appetite after all that!
If you’d like to throw an afternoon tea party in the comfort of your own home, you could easily put on a spread of shop-bought cakes and supermarket sandwich platters.
However, if you’re feeling ambitious and believe – like us – that homemade always tastes best, why not try preparing your own?
A few homemade treats will elevate your selection tenfold, and your lucky guests are sure to appreciate the extra effort. With any luck though, there’ll still be leftovers to snaffle once they’ve departed!
Of course, before you begin whipping up elaborate cakes and confections, it’s important to get the basics right. It’s Afternoon Tea after all, so brewing the perfect cuppa is an essential not to be overlooked!
Most importantly, however, remember the spirit in which this delightful meal has been enjoyed throughout the ages – relax and enjoy your moment’s sweet repose.
We’ll look forward to our invite!
If baking isn’t really your thing, there are mobile afternoon tea services that provide everything from tablecloths to crockery to freshly made scones. Ideal for weddings, baby showers or hen dos, you can combine the comfort of your own home with the luxury of a bespoke afternoon tea!
Q: Please tell us a little about Carly's Afternoon Teas; how/why did you start your business?
We started after it was my friend’s birthday but she was under the weather so we weren't able to go out for dinner. We wanted to order something a bit nicer than take out so found a company that offer this service in another county. We used it and it was a lovely experience. A few months later my sister-in-law had a baby and I wanted to order from the same company but they didn't operate in Sussex so that's where the idea came from!
Q: What made you decide to do delivery rather than have fixed premises?
We wanted to offer a delivery service rather than have a premises as this is much more unique. We also wanted to be able to cater for people that may not be able to get to a premises such as the elderly, new mums etc. These types of customers have ended up making up a big section of our customer base.
Q: What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a client?
The strangest request we have had was to cater for Big Brother! They wanted to reward their housemates with our Afternoon Teas but unfortunately we were fully booked!
Q: How many cakes do you think you produce in a year?
It's very difficult to work out how many scones we produce each year but last year it was around 2,000!
Q: Do you feel the popularity of afternoon tea is on the rise?
Afternoon Tea has become very popular in recent years and we predict (and hope!) that this continues! It is a British institution and with companies like ours making it more accessible, this can only mean that popularity increases!
And for Carol...
Q: Please tell us a little about what Tilly The Travelling Tea Room is, and how it all began.
Tilly the Travelling Tea Room is the vintage party venue that comes to you!
I set up this business two years ago as I wanted to sell my own home baking direct to my customers in a fun and unique way. The vintage caravan gives me the opportunity to do this, without having the massive property overhead and everything that comes with it.
Tilly (a late sixties Thomson Mini Glenn Caravan) has been completely refurbished, and choosing the colours and fabrics was so much fun, as was planning the interior layout to provide my tea room requirements.
I bring a traditional afternoon tea to my clients homes and gardens, along with a regular pitch at a local wildlife park every Sunday.
Q: Do you feel the popularity of afternoon tea is on the rise?
Definitely….the business is going from strength to strength. Afternoon tea parties appeal to all ages and I have had bookings across the age range, from hen parties to 90th birthdays!
Q: How do you differentiate yourselves from other catering services?
I offer a bespoke service, so every party is planned individually with my client, ensuring that they receive a memorable, fun afternoon, with the most delicious, traditional afternoon tea, all served on beautiful vintage china and fine table linens, with Tilly in attendance!
Q: How do you make yourselves stand out amongst similar services?
Tilly the caravan is a real star of the show! She becomes a major talking point at parties and also when we’re at events, people will come over just to see her (then buy cake!). We are also quite unique because I bake everything I sell.
Q: Have you noticed a change in the requirements and requests of your customers?
No, I would add that as it is a traditional offer of afternoon tea, that is exactly what my customers are looking for.
Q: Do you have any fun or interesting stories you could share with us?
Yes! Our most unusual venue for a 90th birthday party was on a lake, which had its own pirate island. It had been constructed to look like something straight of the set of Pirates of the Caribbean. I was taken across the shallowest part of the lake to the island on a JCB digger……very exciting and one of life’s surreal moments!
Q: Please include anything else you’d like to add!
This is the most brilliant way to have my own business…..being in my gorgeous, cute little caravan, serving my home baking and meeting some lovely customers is everything I had hoped it would be!
Big thanks to Carly and Carol for taking the time to speak to us, and if you’re looking to add a unique and creative element of catering to an upcoming event, be sure to check them out!
We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to afternoon tea in Brighton, and we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.
Perhaps you’ve visited one of the listed venues and have your own opinion, or maybe we’ve completely overlooked your favourite spot?
Hidden gems, special occasions or disastrous home bakes – we want to hear about them all!
So, go ahead and join the discussion now…