Afternoon Tea at The Royal Crescent Hotel

The Dower House, set in The Royal Crescent's beautiful garden
I love a good afternoon tea. When I’m looking for a real treat, there’s nothing I like more than finger sandwiches and dainty cakes, served with starched white napkins, beautiful china, and of course, lashings of tea and champagne. And if you’re looking for afternoon tea in Bath, then I can assure you that you need look no further than the Royal Crescent Hotel.

The Bath Bun, Royal Crescent style
Of course, at the Crescent, they don’t just go in for the standard scones and Victoria sponge. Instead, you may choose from four different afternoon tea menus, which range from mostly sweet to mostly savoury – a masterstroke, in my opinion, because everyone knows the savouries are the best bit. As well as a wide range of fabulous teas and infusions – there’s nothing so gauche as English Breakfast round here – you may also select not just one glass of champagne, but a champagne flight, as obviously drinking the same champagne with sandwiches and with cake would be barbaric. But you know what my absolute favourite thing about the Royal Crescent is? There are posh places, where they make you feel common, and then there are places that are so posh they endeavour to put absolutely everyone at their ease – like the Queen, copying your etiquette mistakes at dinner so you never even notice you made them. The Royal Crescent is in the latter camp. The staff are delightful, and determined to make sure absolutely everyone has the most wonderful experience. They also have an afternoon tea menu for children, which includes hot chocolate with marshmallows, miniature scones and chocolate tiffin, and I have it on good authority from a friend that small children are always welcome to turn cartwheels on the immaculate lawn.

Savouries from the Elizabeth Montagu menu
Okay, I know what you want – the delicious details on what we actually ate. I chose the Elizabeth Montagu menu, which the Crescent describes as ‘savoury meets sweet’, featuring a selection of warm canapes including my absolute favourite Bath Chaps beignet, and a very lovely mushroom croquette with mushroom ketchup and parmesan (both left). Of course, there were also some fabulous finger sandwiches – the smoked salmon & cream cheese was hard to beat, but I think the roast beef and horseradish might just have edged it. If I say that we ended up ordering not one but two extra rounds of sandwiches, that tells you everything you need to know about how good they were…

Thankfully we did manage to save some room for the sweet treats, which in my case included a dainty macaron, a lovely little pistachio and marzipan cake, and my favourite, a delicious confection of hazelnut, chocolate and airy sponge, as well as traditional scones and Bath buns with cinnamon butter. My dining companion chose the Royal Crescent Afternoon Tea, which is very classic, and includes less savouries (just the sandwiches) but more desserts, in particular a wonderful Bath Gin and kaffir lime panna cotta.

The champagne flight
Throughout, we sipped a selection of chilled Taittinger champagnes (brut, rose and sec) and some wonderful teas – a Smoked China blend for me, which had a fabulously unique smoky, earthiness to it, and Golden Assam for my dining companion, although to be completely honest with you, the champagne was more exciting. The effect was completed by the setting – although the weather was a little grey & chilly to sit outside, we had a table with a view of the Crescent’s sumptuous garden from the beautifully-appointed Dower House restaurant at the rear of the hotel.

All of the menus, if just served with tea, are £34, or £42 with one glass of champagne and £55 with the champagne flight. Of course, afternoon tea at the Royal Crescent is not something most of us could afford to do too often – but I do think that considering what’s included, it’s excellent value for money. If you have an occasion to celebrate or just want a really special treat, I can’t recommend it highly enough.