Britain's Top 5 Tea Shops

Where to find the best, authentic, afternoon tea in the UK

Afternoon tea at Bettys tea room in York.

2. Not strictly a tea room... OK, not a tea room at all but Quayside Lawrenny deserves a visit for its location as much as its outstanding cakes, scones, and tea. Tucked deep in the Pembrokeshire Coastal National Park, you’d have a hard time finding a prettier — or more out-of-the-way — place in Britain. It’s a long, long drive to this part of southwest Wales, but worth every liter of petrol (that’s gas, and incredibly expensive by American standards). Dramatic coastlines give way to gentle inlets of turquoise surf but Lawrenny — just down the winding road from the remarkable Carew Castle — sits quietly alongside a scenic estuary with sailboats bobbing gently in the tide. Inside, gooey banoffee pie competes with the "Quayside Lemon Thing" for your cakey affections, while more substantial offerings (local crab, lobster, and mackerel) are equally delicious.

1. In Britain, the National Trust is synonymous with immaculately maintained historic or otherwise significant properties, and its Sandleigh Tea Rooms are a stunning example. Perched above the gloriously sandy stretch of Croyde beach and surrounded by carefully tended flower and vegetable beds, Sandleigh’s location would be recommendation enough. But combined with its top-notch cream teas, it’s quite heavenly. For the uninitiated, cream teas are a particular specialty of the West Country, where the key ingredient, clotted cream, is produced. Now I know what you’re thinking: clotted cream does not sound very appealing, but trust me, the first time you taste this sticky cousin of butter spread thickly on a lofty scone with a dollop of strawberry jam... well, all doubts will be overcome. Add a pot of tea, a sea breeze, and views over the sunny Atlantic and all will be right with the world.