Ask the Concierge: Afternoon Tea

Brunch and afternoon tea are my favourite meals of the day; they come at a time when I’m most hungry, 11am and 3pm and arrive as a pick-a-mix of treats rather than one plateful of the same thing. With afternoon tea, the kid in me – which frankly never went away – takes delight in that I can eat everything in the sweet shop as it’s all delivered delectably in small portions.

I take pleasure in the fact that the meal was also invented in my home town by the Duchess of Bedford, who also, it seems, couldn’t go more than two hours without eating.

Hotel La Tour

The newest kids on the block brings us afternoon tea with a twist. Served while you’re seated on deep sofas or high backed ‘Alice in Wonderland’ chairs, Tea at HLT is on the ‘must do’ list of many  a local.

It’s the place that’s recommended to anyone who wants to impress visitors into the city. Your tea comes in floor standing three tier trays; dainty sandwiches, followed by scones and then the cakes HLT are famous for. The menu is varies seasonally so you can go back more than once a year enjoy anything from trifles and Welsh Rarebit to their take on Jaffa cakes and walnut whips. 

  • Take: your visiting best friend
  • Look out for: the inside out sandwiches
  • Location: Albert Street, Birmingham B5 5JE
  • Days and times: 2-5pm daily
  • Cost: £19.95; £29.45 with a glass of champagne 

Hotel Du Vin

Taking tea in the Hotel Du Vin almost feels like going back to the prohibition era. You are seated low on the sofas that look could be in the drawing room at an Aunt’s who inherited old money 

As the large napkins are unfolded and placed on your lap, the courteous staff start laying out the food in low square table in front of you. This is a classic case of eyes bigger than your belly as you want to devour every beautiful creation placed in from of you from the sandwich classics to the soft scones and the bite size cakes that you have to have a break before you tackle this final course.  

The staff will bring more food, coffee or tea as you require. Of course you won’t need any more food as the spread that starts to unfold in front of you is vast but this is the only place I’ve been to that offers this.

  • Take: your parents or anyone that want’s to join the Tea Set
  • Look out for: canapé sized cakes that you’ll need to take a break for
  • Location: Church Street, Birmingham, B3 2NR
  • Days and times: 2-5pm daily.
  • Cost: £14.50; £21.50 with Fizz, £20.50 for Cocktail Afternoon Tea, £19.50 for “G & Tea”. Or £7.50 for Cream Tea.

 Hyatt Regency

Talking of bygone eras, there is only one place to go for silver service afternoon tea. From the outside, the city’s most established 4 star hotel looks very modern, although now over 20 years old. As soon as you are helped through the door by the doorman, you enter old school charm.

Staff pull out the chair for you to take a seat in the light and airy Aria restaurant while the piano tinkles in the background. Once they have taken your order, they come back to gently place a linen napkin on your lap. I feel the Hyatt are just one step away from a bell on your table to draw attention to your staff and white gloves.

The two bite crust-free sandwiches are what you’d expect, the mini scones perfect for the dainty fingers and the cubed brownies exactly what you need when dining with chatty guests. As long as you are served bottomless tea or coffee, which has varied on my visits, this place is perfection.

  • Take: your nearest and dearest to celebrate an occasion
  • Look out for: the Patissiers selection & the setting; it’s pure old school charm.
  • Location: 2 Bridge Street, Birmingham B1 2JZ
  • Days and times: 12-5pm daily (12.30-5 Sunday)
  • Cost: £19 per person; £28 for Champagne Afternoon Tea, £30 for the Rose Champagne Afternoon Tea

Please note: The Hyatt is currently undergoing a major refurbishment and will be back with a new menu and photos soon. Please check all the details when making your reservation.

Boston Tea Party

Bang up to date but it still feels like it’s a forgotten time as BTP bring their west country charm – and clotted cream to Birmingham. Order at the till and bag yourself a diner style comfy booth to  enjoy a tea or coffee while you wait for your tea to be prepared.

Finger sandwiches included smoke salmon or cucumber and cheese and arrive on traditional tiered serving dishes along with cakes and of course scones with Cornish clotted cream.

This tea is for the everyday occasion and rather than white linen napkins and silver service, there is homemade charm and the knowledge that all the ingredients are sourced from the west country. Now, does the cream go on first or jam? Are you going for the Devon tradition or Cornwall?

  • Take: all your mates
  • Look out for: Actual Cornish Clotted Cream
  • Location: 190 Corporation St, Birmingham, B4 6QD
  • Days and times: Open Monday to Saturday 7am-7pm, Sunday 9-6pm.
  • Cost: £9.50 per person (min 2 people); £4.50 per person (minimum 2) Cake Plate; £4.50 per person Cream Tea. (Advise check availability of afternoon tea in advance, especially for larger numbers)

I have had other afternoon teas but these are the ones I recommend. Please add your favourites to the comments below and I will make it my priority to get there all in the name of research.

Words & photos* by Rickie J, editor & founder and Birmingham's Chief Cake Taster @BrumFaves @RickieWrites

*With thanks to Hyatt Regency for their Afternoon Tea photo.