There is something really special about an Afternoon tea. It is a quintessentially English thing to do – a relaxing experience, chatting, drinking tea and sampling a fabulous choice of sandwiches and cakes. I have to say Afternoon tea is a real treat for us. We don’t get to do it very often, and up until now we have always saved the occasion for just the two of us, and have never chosen to take the kids along with us. Surely kids would not be welcome for Afternoon tea right?
This weekend we headed over to York and spent two nights in a Camping and Caravanning Club site in Sherriff Hutton. It was an ideal base to explore the surrounding area and only a few miles outside of the beautiful city of York. We visited York a few years back when our eldest was just one, and I fondly remember queuing to get into Betty’s Tea Rooms for a bite to eat on a cold winters day. When we were invited along to Betty’s York to sample their signature, luxury Lady Betty Afternoon Tea – I won’t lie – I was just a little bit excited.
Bettys Café Tea Rooms
The story began over in Harrogate in 1919 when its founder Frederick Belmont opened the first Bettys Café Tea Room. There are now six Betty’s cafe tearooms over a number of locations. Over 100 years on and Bettys is somewhat of a phenomenon.
Bettys York : 6-8 St. Helen’s Square
As you walk to St Helen’s square you will immediately notice the queues outside Bettys café. Bettys is renowned for its afternoon tea and impeccable service, and it’s popularity is evident. Away from the hustle and bustle of the main café you can reserve a table for their signature Lady Betty Afternoon Tea upstairs in the exquisite Belmont room. In 1936, Frederick Belmont travelled on the maiden voyage of the Queen Mary. He was so enamoured by the Queen Mary that he wanted to create his most sophisticated branch yet inspired by this luxurious cruise liner. This is apparent as you sit in Bettys as you can’t help but notice the high ceilings, curved windows, wood panelling and ornate mirrors. .
The Belmont Room is accessed by stairs (we did have to lift the pushchair up the flight of stairs). As you enter the room, the art deco elegance of the Belmont Room instantly hits you giving you a sense of glamour and opulence. On arrival we were greeted with a warm and friendly smile, and shown to our table which was already set up with four chairs and a high chair. A lovely touch. The girls were particularly excited about the experience, sporting their favourite summer outfits, and glitzy headbands. The little man…well he was just hungry and ready to tuck in to his dinner.
There is an extensive choice of teas, served in a silver teapot with a tea strainer and a stand. Mr S was delighted with the coffee options enjoying a flat white or two. If you prefer a champagne, then this is also an option. The table clothes were white and pristine, the champagne flutes sparkled, and the silver teapots gleamed. The service was wonderful and the waitress was extremely knowledgable, helping to pick a suitable tea before discussing the menu options – all of our requirements catered for. The girls were given a choice of sandwich fillings, although I have to say they were eager to move on to the sweets. Baby S had his own little choice of sandwiches and they went down a treat.
As for the adults, well we started with the appetiser – a pea, cucumber and tomato cocktail which we really enjoyed – it was refreshing, light and delicious. We chose the vegetarian menu with the savoury selection of frittata and sun blushed tomato and basil roulade. Finally there came a great assortment of sandwiches, all served on a traditional silver tiered cake stand. All sandwich fillings were explained by the waitress, and additional sandwiches were also available on request. Obviously we had to have a couple more of the goats cheese and caramelised onion as these were particularly delicious! Finally on to the cakes; the best part right? With a choice of lemon scones, macaroons, fresh berry meringues, and a lemon religieuse there is something there for everyone’s taste.
Sitting enjoying sandwiches, tea and cake with the pianist in the background made for a very relaxing and enjoyable experience. The children loved the music, and even recognised a few firm favourites. The girls were also given colouring activity sheets and crayons to keep them occupied, which I also thought was a lovely touch. I was sceptical about taking the little ones to afternoon tea. Of course they are nearly always impeccably behaved. But I agree that afternoon tea is a special occasion of luxury and sophistication, and not something that you would associate with children and a family day out. I am so pleased that we visited as a family, we love to give our children as many opportunities as possible and try to take them everywhere. I feel privileged that they had the opportunity to experience this fine English tradition – an experience of history, culture and charm. Tea should be enjoyed over conversation with friends and loved ones, and that is just what we did.
**Disclosure – our Lady Betty Afternoon Tea was complimentary in exchange for a review. All opinions and views are of mine and my family. **