Planning to indulge in a decadent afternoon tea in Oxford? Here are the places that should be at the top of your list.
Mmmn, afternoon tea.
There’s something gloriously self-indulgent about the very British pastime of taking time out of your afternoon to relax and have a gossip over a steaming pot of tea and some fresh, crumbly scones accompanied by lashings of jam and clotted cream.
Luckily, afternoon teas happen to be a thing that Oxford does very well (along with say… creating a world-class university, some very gorgeous architecture and many, many places to see).
Ready? Here’s where you need to go to find the best afternoon tea Oxfordshire has to offer…
Best Afternoon Teas in Oxford
The Grand Cafe
The Grand Cafe has long established itself as one of the best places to go for afternoon tea in Oxford.
The decadent interior, reminiscent of continental coffee houses of days gone by, is the perfect setting for you to relax and feast on a few tasty tidbits. And while it’s based on the past, The Grand still retains that atmosphere of total indulgence today – one that turns a humble snack into a comforting ritual.
Fluffy scones as light as a feather, come with mounds of dense jam and clotted cream – ready to melt in your mouth as you take rather unfeminine but satisfyingly large bites and sip on your tea of choice.
You can opt for the full High Tea, which comes with additional finger sandwiches and small cakes if you so wish. We advise you to skip lunch and go very hungry if you do.
The Rose Cafe
Two words. Fresh scones.
The afternoon tea aficionados among you will know that a scone can (and will) make or break an afternoon tea. Nothing quashes the sense of excitement you’ve had about your afternoon tea than biting into a dry and stale scone that’s clearly been left on the shelf for too long.
You will never encounter that problem at The Rose as with any of the Oxford tea rooms worth your cash, they bake a fresh batch of scones every two hours.
These scones – buttery without being oily, a slight crust on the outside, giving way to a finely textured crumb – ensure The Rose’s inclusion on any list of the best afternoon teas in Oxford.
Of course, the scone is only part of the story – however large a part that is. The Rose sources its teas from around the world, handpicking each one based on quality and flavour.
Together, they make an afternoon tea to be reckoned with. Add in the finger sandwiches for that touch of OTT deliciousness that we all crave from time to time.
Read More: 24 Hours in Oxford
The Old Parsonage
The Old Parsonage is one of our favourite hotels in Oxford – it treads the line between luxury and comfort – all without the stuffiness of many high-end hotels.
That same balance between quality and cosiness extends to their afternoon tea.
If you run the full gamut – that is scones, finger sandwiches, cakes and tea (and even champagne if you’re in the mood), you can expect to come away with a rather full stomach and some truly tickled tastebuds.
At £25 for the Very High Tea (sandwiches, cakes, scones and beverages) or the Savoury Tea, which has the pleasing substitution of blue cheese scones and no cakes – afternoon tea at The Old Parsonage is not the cheapest option – but it is totally fabulous, sooooooooo…..
We’re willing to take a punt that this is the best afternoon tea in Oxfordshire.
Vaults & Garden Cafe
Inside, you can feast on your afternoon tea under a series of pretty arches.
Even better, on warm days, you can grab one of the outdoor tables for tea in the shadow of Radcliffe Camera – a.k.a the building that launched a million camera clicks. It’s no wonder that it’s one of our favourite places to eat in Oxford.
Anyway, setting aside, the afternoon tea is scrumptious. Vaults & Garden Cafe has always emphasised the importance of good-quality ingredients – sourcing locally and focusing on organic produce wherever possible – and it shows.
This Oxford Cream Tea is decidedly unfussy – a scone, loose leaf tea and the obligatory jam and clotted cream is a wallet-friendly £6.40, but sits on a par with many of Oxford’s pricier afternoon teas. Highly recommended.
Read More: The Best Coffee Shops in Oxford
Afternoon tea in an actual drawing room? It just sounds too E.M Forster for words right?
The Randolph Hotel is one of the poshest hotels in Oxford, a quintessentially English retreat in the heart of the city. So it should come as no surprise that their Oxford high tea is suitably lavish.
Snuggle into your armchair, order and get ready for a rather elegant afternoon. The traditional afternoon tea sticks to a tried and tested formula. Instead of introducing anything new, The Randolph satisfies itself with doing the classic very, very well.
With a setting this luxurious, you might as well go the whole hog and add that glass of champers.
Whichever city you’re in, afternoon tea at The Ivy is bound to be a dreamy experience – think finger sandwiches served amongst floral decor and vintage style accents.
But the Oxford brasserie has a special place in our hearts… and in our guide to the best afternoon tea Oxford has to offer.
If you’re after something really magical, push the boat out and opt for the Champagne Afternoon Tea at £35.50. Yes, it’s obnoxiously overpriced, but one bite of the grilled chicken and truffle mayonnaise brioche roll and you’ll be glad you splurged on bubbly to wash it down with.
Alternatively, the simple cream tea Oxford’s Ivy offers is (still, a rather eye-wateringly) £8.50, though the scones are fluffed to perfection and there’s a wide selection of tea to choose between.
Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant
Fancy afternoon tea perched atop the Ashmolean building? Of course you do.
This offering is probably our favourite afternoon tea Oxford has to offer on a warmer day – sure, it’s less showy than some of the rest (*cough, cough*, The Grand Cafe) but the gorgeous views more than make up for it.
The tea is Pisarro-inspired and costs £25 per person, though this includes a rather hefty assortment of sandwiches and a tower of cakes – of which, we cannot get enough of the lemon and raspberry choux.
Go hungry and leave totally stuffed. No regrets.
Afternoon Tea Boat Cruise
Ditch land and take to the water on this relaxing afternoon tea boat cruise.
Set sail from Folly Bridge and explore the length of the River Thames in Oxford, all whilst an indulgent afternoon tea is served, consisting of finger sandwiches, scones, cakes, and petit fours.
On the way, you’ll pass by the likes of Christ Church Meadow, Iffley Lock, and the University Boat Houses. You’ll also get to hear about Oxford’s strong links to some of the most famous examples of British literature, including Lewis Carroll and Harry Potter.
We can’t think of a better way to spend and afternoon chowing down on cake.