Tea for two and two for… afternoon tea? I admit it, this is a specialist subject of mine – I love nothing more than afternoon tea (except perhaps champagne afternoon tea). If you’re looking or somewhere to enjoy a relaxed catch up with friends or celebrate a special occasion, here are some of my recommendations for places to try in the Moray, Speyside and Inverness areas.
Boath House, Auldearn
As I wrote in a previous blog post on luxury dining at Boath House, I love the indulgent afternoon tea at this gorgeous Georgian Mansion. You can choose from a selection of handmade sandwiches (my favourite is the smoked chicken, basil oil and parmesan cheese sandwich) and then follow with a home-baked scone, gateau and macaroons – all washed down with tea, coffee, hot chocolate or champagne with elderflower syrup. Afternoon tea costs £17.50 per person, or £27.50 if you opt for champagne. The restaurant looks out onto the gardens and the atmosphere of this country house is perfect for a luxurious afternoon tea.
The Walled Garden Cafe at Gordon Castle, Fochabers
Just outside Fochabers you’ll find the lovely Gordon Castle Walled Garden Cafe, located on the site of a 19th century greenhouse. You can drink in the pretty garden view out of the restaurant’s ceiling to floor windows and choose from a number of different options for a scrumptious afternoon tea: traditional afternoon tea with sandwiches, scones and a selection of homebakes (£9.95); bubbly afternoon tea with a glass of Prosecco (£15.95); and indulgent afternoon tea with a glass of wine (£12.95).
Knockomie Hotel, Forres
Located on the outskirts of Forres, just off the A940, Knockomie House Hotel is set in peaceful surroundings and is another picturesque place for a spot of afternoon tea. Afternoon tea at Knockomie House Hotel starts from £10.95 and includes a sandwich, scone, a selection of cakes and tea or coffee, or you could treat yourself to a full afternoon tea option, at £14.95 per person, with a 20cl bottle of Cava, two sandwiches, lemon drizzle cake, a rich dark chocolate brownie and pot of tea or coffee (is anyone else’s mouth beginning to water?!). There is also the option of full afternoon tea with Champagne (£29.95 per person).
The Strathspey Railway, Boat of Garten
For something a bit different why savour an afternoon tea experience on board a steam train, with the beautiful backdrop of the Cairngorms National Park rolling by? The Strathspey Railway serves afternoon tea on the 2.45pm journey from Aviemore – so whilst your eyes feast upon the stunning scenery during the stream train journey, you can tuck into sandwiches, scones with jam and cream, cakes and tea or coffee. Booking is essential.
Culloden House Hotel
The historic and luxury Culloden House Hotel is another idyllic place for a leisurely afternoon tea. The 16th century mansion, located in 40 acres of private gardens and woodland just outside Culloden, was used by Bonnie Prince Charlie as headquarters and lodgings during the Jacobite uprising of 1745 and 1746. Afternoon tea is served between 2.30pm and 4.30pm, and booking is essential. It costs £14.95 per person and includes a selection of sandwiches, homemade scones with jam, butter and cream, homemade shortbread, a selection of mini desserts and homemade cream cakes, plus tea and coffee. To add some sparkle to your afternoon, a glass of Prosecco with your afternoon tea costs £19.95 per person and a glass of Champagne £24.50 per person.