Afternoon tea is a special treat, perfect for birthdays, Mother’s Day or a great way to spend some lovely quality time together. As there is only so much cake one person can eat in the name of research, I rounded up four other local Mumblers to help me review some of the very best locations in York to enjoy afternoon tea.
Find out what I and my Miniest Mumbler Megan thought of our afternoon tea at Cakes d’licious
Read about Holly and her families afternoon tea experience onboard City Cruises York
Jane and her six-year-old daughter Polly stepped back in time for their afternoon tea at The Countess of York
Discover what Leanne and her seven-year-old daughter Elsie thought of their afternoon tea at Crumbs Cupcakery
Finally, read all about Claire and her daughter Ellie’s afternoon tea at The Principal Hotel
Cakes d’licious is a gorgeous vintage tea room in Clifton which is independently owned and, as its name suggests, has a cake selection to die for! It’s family-run and brings you a truly ‘vintage’ experience – one of the first things you’ll notice on entering the tea rooms is the fabulous uniform that all of the staff wear – 50’s style dresses complete with a cute head scarf… it really is like going back in time!
I think the speciality of this place has to be all about the cakes – just a HUGE selection of amazing looking sweet treats… Meg thought she’d died and gone to sweet-tooth heaven. The place has a very chilled out feel to it. We got settled in easily, ordered our drinks and chose our sandwiches. Ham & homemade chutney for me while Meg went for the very traditional cucumber sandwich. She loved perfecting her tea finger ‘this is how the queen drinks her tea’ and feeling like a proper grown-up with her own china plates and cups. Although it’s not huge in terms of space, it’s super family-friendly – there are high chairs and there is a lovely selection of toys and colouring books etc for the kids as well as high chairs if you have younger ones.
They have a set afternoon tea option for £14.95 (£15.95 for GF- must be pre-booked) – there aren’t specific children’s menu so you can either just share your adults one or order one and take home anything that is left. We took 3 boxes home with us and they couldn’t have been more helpful about it! You can choose your sandwich type and you get 4 quarters of the same type.
Gluten-free afternoon tea is available if pre-booked in advance and is priced at £15.95 per person.
“Probably Meg’s face when the cakes came out! But I have to say I loved the crockery – the fact that even the crisps and cream came out in a tea cup – also the tea timer was a nice touch”
“All of the Cakes!! Especially with the glitter! And I loved the colouring too”
Vintage Afternoon Tea Served between 11am and 4pm, Monday to Saturday.
Vintage Afternoon Tea is £14.95 per person. There isn’t a specific children’s menu here. We could have easily fed 2 children and an adult with the 2-afternoon teas – but as there was just 1 child, we ended up taking a lot home which was no problem at all so we enjoyed a second-afternoon tea later too!
Other tips – you can park just across the road for up to 2 hours for free… this is just outside the ‘Birdie’s Perch’ Gift shop & Boots.
We were greeted by the friendly skipper on Kings Staith before boarding the boat. We were shown to our table which was laid out ready for afternoon tea with a sunny, yellow gingham tablecloth. Relaxing music was playing in the background and brightly coloured bunting adorned the outside of the boat.
After we were seated at our table we were brought drinks and made to feel very welcome on board. Once the boat has set sail, much to the kids delight, sandwiches, cakes and scones were quickly brought out to us.
The captain welcomed everyone on board and gave commentary on local sights as we passed them. The boat travelled down past the Millenium bridge and out to Bishopthorpe Palace then back into the city. The kids enjoyed spotting boats and local fishermen as we travelled along the Ouse. The overall tour lasted one and a half hours.
The boat was very cosy with covered top and sides making it a very relaxing experience, all the staff were very welcoming and the kids even got to sit in the captain’s chair at the end of the tour!
As well as a guided tour down the river Ouse, the afternoon tea included a selection of 4 different sandwiches, 2 cakes, a macaroon and of course a fruit scone with jam and clotted cream accompanied by unlimited drinks.
If you require a vegetarian meal, you can do so at the time of booking. City Cruises are unable to guarantee that products are free from nuts or traces of nuts. For any other dietary requirements, you must provide at least 48 hours’ notice.
“A stress free afternoon tea with the kids. The relaxed atmosphere of the boat and plenty of entertainment passing us by made for a very pleasant trip. The macaroons were a delicious treat”
“She absolutely loved the Coronation Chicken Sandwiches, not something I would have tried to give her before but she was delighted with them, ‘they’re my favourite, I love them’. He enjoyed the scone with raspberry jam and drinking squash out of a grown up tea cup.”
Sails every day from Saturday 15 February to Sunday 1 November 2020. The boat leaves at 2.45pm (boarding at 2.30)om from King’s Staith Landing and returns to King’s Staith Landing at 4.15pm
Traditional Afternoon Tea is £26 per person
Afternoon Tea for children aged 3-12 years old is £18 per child
Under 2’s are free
The Countess of York is located at the National Railway Museum in a carriage built in 1956 for British Rail. Previously the carriage had been part of the Orient Express Northern Belle, used as a movie prop but now has been fully refurbished to replicate 19th-century dining and so you can enjoy a relaxing and luxurious afternoon tea in York.
The atmosphere inside the carriage is like stepping back in time and very relaxing. As afternoon tea is at set times, there isn’t the hustle and bustle of people coming and going. Instead, there is gentle jazz music and efficient, yet relaxed service on board.
After deciding on one of the many teas available and an apple juice for Polly, we relaxed into our comfy seats and pretended we were travelling to London on the train! A delicious soup and savoury pastry start were brought to us, literally the second my daughter announced she was staving. Following our soup course, an impressive cake stand arrived for each of us! We started with the sandwiches on the bottom tier and worked our way up. A nice touch was the waitress coming round to ask if we wanted more sandwiches – I must confess I couldn’t resist saying yes to another brie and grape chutney one!
We enjoyed every minute of our relaxing afternoon tea on board the Countess of York. The food was delicious, the service was excellent and we really enjoyed a wander around the Railway Museum afterwards in an attempt to burn off some cake. We couldn’t quite manage all the cakes, so the leftovers were beautifully boxed up for us to take home – yummy!
When we visited the winter menu was available, which meant we enjoyed a seasonal soup and winter berry preserve. The menu is changed every season and there is also a special Christmas menu.
Included in my afternoon tea was:
The children’s menu was brilliantly adapted for kids with a sausage roll, plain sandwich fillings and a chocolate brownie & flapjack replacing two of the more grown-up cake. Plus the fruit juice served in a teacup went down a treat and made my daughter feel very grown-up.
Dietary requirements can be catered for as long as you provide the Countess of York with full details 24 hours before your visit. Our waitress also double-checked if we had any special requirements once we were seated.
“The range of deserts on the final layer of the cake stand were amazing! Each one was so different and so delicious, especially the rhubard crème brûlée!”
“I absolutely loved the sausage roll at the start. I could have eaten two of those Mummy!”
The Countess of York is open year-round and Afternoon Tea is served daily at 12noon, 2pm and 4pm. The menu changes depending on the season.
Traditional Afternoon Tea is £25.50 per person
Champagne Afternoon Tea is £35.50 per person
Afternoon Tea for Children is £15.50 per child
Also, car parking is free if you are having Afternoon Tea, saving you £10 per vehicle. As your ticket is valid all day you can have a wander around the Railway Museum before or after you’ve eaten too. Simply let your host know you’ve used the car park and you’ll receive a ticket which you can exchange for a parking token at the front desk.
A cosy little café tucked away in a quirky little building by the beautiful York Minster. It’s a really friendly place with the girls making every visitor feel so welcome. It’s a popular little spot with several regulars popping in for their weekly cupcake fix whilst we were there. After having the cupcakes I TOTALLY get why they return each week!
Once we arrived our drinks order was taken straight away. I, of course, went for a pot of tea, which came with a beautiful little floral teacup. Elsie said this is what the queen would drink her tea in, I agree. Elsie had some apple juice but was given lots of choice including mini hot drinks. As we had pre-booked afternoon tea, it was with us within minutes! Super when you have a younger one with you VERY keen to eat some cake asap after seeing all the cupcakes by the counter!
Whilst everything was delicious we couldn’t manage to finish it all, but the staff were more than pleased to pop it in a little box for us to take home. My delightful daughter licked the top of the chocolate cupcake to “reserve it” for when we got home, lovely! I do understand though, they are top-notch cupcakes! I’ll admit the leftovers didn’t last more than half an hour once we got home…
Overall a lovely friendly little spot for afternoon tea, a catch up with friends or special mother/child time (which we enjoyed today). I felt for the price they charge it was really good value with the amount of food that you get, it felt like a proper treat whilst being very affordable. If you can’t get booked in for afternoon tea then the next best option is a box of their cupcakes to take home, good luck choosing which flavours though, I don’t know where I’d start!
A delightful mix of sandwiches and goodies to share!
There was no specific children’s afternoon tea menu, but all was very appropriate for her and she left happy and full!
Crumbs are more than happy to cater for different dietary requirements including gluten-free. The afternoon tea is popular and does need booking so do mention any special requirements when booking.
“I always struggle when forced to choose a flavour or just one desert, so to have scones, cake and then 6 mini cupcakes to sample was heaven!”
“I think the chocolate cupcakes were my favourite bit and the scones and the cheese in the sandwiches!”
Afternoon tea is available at any time during opening hours (Monday to Sunday 10-4.30pm). Booking is required however and this is a popular spot especially around special occasions so early booking is encouraged.
Traditional Afternoon Tea is £25 for two people
Adults cost £12.95 & Children £8.95.
Crumbs Cupcakery is very central, so convenient to get to via public transport. The nearest public car park would be Monk Bar Car Park.
The Principal Hotel is situated next to York train station and afternoon tea is served in the very plush Garden Room. The hotel is extremely beautiful while the Garden Room is very elegant with lavish sofas, armchairs and is very spacious. If you’re looking for a really special treat in a sophisticated setting this is definitely for you.
Upon arrival, we were lead to our table for two by the window. In spite of some larger parties in the room, it felt very quiet. We quickly settled into our comfy armchairs, perused the menu and our drinks order was taken. We were offered unlimited hot and cold drinks, with a range of teas, coffee and hot chocolate as well as soft drinks. My daughter chose an apple juice while I opted for a tea and a cranberry juice. Although I soon had to trade the juice with Ellie as she discovered a new favourite drink!
I was then brought my first course which included a black pudding sausage roll, smoked salmon roulade and tomato soup. This plate is not included in the children’s afternoon tea and would be too much for a small tummy but you can share if you wish 😀. When our afternoon tea arrived it was most impressive. We were each served our own 3 tier stand of sandwiches, scones and cakes. We wasted no time tucking in!
The children’s afternoon tea was just as substantial as mine. Ellie did very well to resist diving straight into the top layer and duly commenced with her sandwiches, gradually working her way up to the cakes. We were offered more drinks so I opted for another tea and Ellie finished with a mini hot chocolate. There was more food than we could possibly eat, although we did take our time and kept returning for some nibbles. We were provided with a box to take home any leftovers which we later enjoyed.
The service was excellent throughout, nothing was too much trouble. We visited on a Saturday afternoon and the room filled up by 3pm but the tables are so spread out that you hardly notice.
Included in my afternoon tea was:
The children’s menu was very similar without the inclusion of the starter plate. The children’s sandwiches were tuna and jam, with the same selection of scones and a selection of 4 cakes/biscuit treats.
Vegan and non-gluten containing afternoon teas are available but must be booked in advance and cost £23.50 per person.
“The very plush setting and fantastic service made it very relaxing and extra special. Also, the selection of miniature scones, catering for all tastes were delicious!”
“The chocolate brownie because I liked making a mess!”
Afternoon tea is available all week from 1pm – 5pm
Traditional Afternoon Tea is £23.50 per person
Champagne Afternoon Tea is £30.50 per person
Afternoon Tea for Children is £14.95 per child
The hotel is next door to the train station and also served by all the bus stops outside of the station so getting there is really easy.
Disclaimer: York Mumbler was given complimentary afternoon tea at the above-listed venues in exchange for honest reviews. No amount of tea and cakes would ever be enough for us to write a dishonest review, therefore these reviews contain our honest views and opinions and we would only recommend something we genuinely enjoyed.
All prices and details correct at time of publication (March 2020).
Guest Review by Local Mumbler, Tanya
It was a sunny Friday morning when we visited Willow Farm Cafe in York, the perfect weather to take advantage of the free outdoor play area. We arrived at 9.30 am and had our pick of the tables.
There is plenty of space to sit inside with room for pushchairs, highchairs etc, and a craft table to keep the kids entertained, handy for rainy weather.
There is also a covered outdoor seating area next to the under-fives play area, which is gated, so perfect to relax with a coffee and cake while the little ones play safely. My 3 year old loved playing on the small slide and in the ball pit. While my 9 month old enjoyed a fab selection of toys.
While the kids were occupied I browsed the breakfast menu. There is the usual type of breakfast items including a veggie breakfast, all reasonably priced and a children’s option for £3.75.
As well as lunch, snacks and cakes, Willow farm also do an afternoon tea, at the bargain price of £10 per person, presented on a mini picnic bench which looks super cute.
The Children’s menu has something to suit every little one.
After my relaxing cuppa, we headed outside. There’s some great equipment such as a big slide and swing for the older ones, ride ons for the little ones, a sandpit and best of all a bouncy castle – great fun. Once my oldest had worn himself out we left with a visit to the goats.
We easily spent a couple of hours at Willow Farm cafe, had lots of fun without breaking the bank. Plus the staff are so friendly and accommodating. It’s definitely worth a visit.
Willow Farm Cafe is situated on Wigginton Road and can also be reached by public transport. The number 40 bus stops nearby.
Willow Farm Cafe is currently open 7 days a week 9 am – 4 pm.
There is more information about Willow Farm Cafe here.
For more Mumbler reviews of things to do in and around York visit the Mumbler Review section here.
The Building & interior
As soon as you approach The Principal, its splendour is evident, and it doesn’t let you down inside. The surroundings are just beautiful and it really added to creating an extra special experience. There’s sofas and comfy seating to choose from, so the grandness doesn’t come as a sacrifice for comfort.
The staff were smart and attentive. Our waitress took note of our dietary requirements and altered the menu accordingly. She explained all the food, was friendly and informative and available if needed (that perfect balance of helpful but not intrusive, so we could enjoy our time). It turned out our waitress was unaware we were reviewing the afternoon tea, which I love as it removes any false niceties, but put simply, she couldn’t have done anything better.
The Starter (yes that’s right, this really was no ordinary afternoon tea) arrived in cute little teacups! Ours was substituted with a little salad (to suit us), but would ordinarily contain: White onion velouté (a tasty onion soup), Severn and Wye smoked salmon, parsley, lavish crisps and a Yorkshire Blue and chive tart.
It quickly became evident this was not the sort of afternoon tea even a competent person could knock up at home, this contained top chef prepared delights and was truly decadent.
The afternoon tea contained: Free-range egg mayonnaise and watercress sandwiches, Yorkshire ham and chutney sandwiches (alternatives were given for vegetarians). A trio of mini scones: plain, fruit, cherry and almond with raspberry jam and clotted cream. Deserts included: A chocolate and pistachio tart, vanilla panna cotta, a mint chocolate macaron, a lemon meringue éclair, apricot cheesecake and carrot cake. Apologies to anyone sticking to their New Year diet, but the cherry and almond scones were hands down the best scones I’ve ever tasted and each desert was, well, just amazing! I’m writing this desperately craving more!
A children’s afternoon tea is available (yes, we ditched the little ones and indulged and I have no regrets). However, a mummy daughter treat will definitely be planned (both of us getting dressed up so she feels all grown up and special!) The children’s afternoon tea menu (designed by local children) is available to view HERE along with the full afternoon tea menu.
So, if you haven’t guessed by this point WE LOVED IT! We would definitely recommend for a variety of occasions: a child free treat (like we had), a special mummy daughter (or daddy daughter/son experience), valentines date, mother day treat, an excuse to meet those friends you haven’t seen for a while (basically, think of any reason you can to get yourself there – you won’t regret it). They also cater for larger groups so perfect for a baby shower, or hen do type events. Someone was on a nearby table planning their wedding food and I know that will be just magical.
So, lets be honest, if you looked around, you could find a cheaper afternoon tea. This is far from an ordinary afternoon tea. The price included starters, a substantial afternoon tea (which will likely result in a doggy bag aswell) champagne (if chosen) and tea/coffee. Every part of the experience was superior to any afternoon tea I have had before, from the surroundings to the staff to the exquisite deserts. I WILL be returning as a fully paying customer with my little girl, as a special mummy daughter treat!
Here’s The Principal Hotel’s WEBSITE for all the information you need.
The Principal is situated right next to York Train station: Station Road, York, YO24 1AA
T: 01904 653681
N.B. Afternoon tea was kindly provided complementary (I know, tough job but someone’s got to do it!) However, no amount of cakes would ever be enough for us to write a dishonest review, therefore reviews contain our honest views and opinions and always will.
Photos are a mixture of ones from The Principal website and ones we took whilst on our visit.
Big Girl Days…
Like many of your children, my Eldest daughter, Edith, is starting school in 2 weeks. I have really mixed emotions about it all. On the one hand it’s my baby! Where did the last 4 1/2 years go, she’s so grown up! All the cliches are true people… cherish every moment.
But on the other hand… she’s SOOOO ready. She’s an October baby so will be one of the oldest in her year. Although her nursery, in my opinion, is second to none… I must admit that she’s own-grown the place now. She’s asking me more and more about how to write, read and all of the more academic things. I have never pushed this at all.. personally believing that they all develop at their own stage and let them lead on it… well she is well and truly ready now!
However, in order to prepare myself and make the most of it before my baby goes off into the big wide world all alone (dramatic… me?? I’ve told her she’ll always be my baby and, for now, she’s going with it!) I wanted to put in some time to have special ‘Big Girl’ days together.
So I had 5 days over the month of August planned to be just us 2… the miniest one is still in nursery so Edie we can enjoy each other’s company uninterrupted. Or so we thought….
A chance for a treat…
When The Rise at the Grand Hotel invited us to try out their new restaurant and claimed it was really child friendly I jumped at the chance… it would make the perfect destination for our first ‘Big Girls’ day out. What a treat!
The idea was to have a whole day out together… visiting lots of the fantastic family friendly places that York has to offer (luckily I know where to go to for ideas) with the lunch at The Rise in the middle… but my little one, Meggy, had other plans. The day before our first ‘Big Girls Day’ we got the dreaded call from nursery to say that Miniest Mumbler Meg had been sick.. which of course meant that she had to be off nursery for 48 hours! The poor little mite was really feeling sorry for herself so big cuddles were in order. Edith was pretty understanding really, given that I had been building up our ‘big girl days’ to the extreme! (Must remember… never reveal anything in advance!! Parenting basics!)
We got Edie dressed up for the occasion – in a pretty dress of her choice. She felt so special & grown up! I told her that we were going to a really lovely place and off we went.
We were able to park at the NCP just behind The Grand Hotel and even this part was exciting to her… and me! I forget how easy it is to park up and get into town without a push chair and toddler in tow.
On the walk to The Grand I was explaining to Edith that this was the very best hotel in York. We were greeted by a very friendly doorman there who let Edie try on his hat and took a photo.. she was in her element! There were smiles and kind faces all the way to the restaurant… so far so good!
On being seated at our table, Edie was presented with a colouring activity book and pencils. Now you’ll know if you eat out with kids that these are available (indeed essential) in all family friendly restaurants… however I have to say that this one was one of the best I’ve ever seen. It had a really great mix of colouring, puzzles and activities and suited all different age ranges as there were lots of more challenging puzzles to keep the older ones amused too.
We each got a menu and ordered our drinks. Edie chose sparkling water (then asked what it was, once the waiter had left… to which I replied ‘fizzy water’ and I could tell she was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t some sort of unicorn glittery liquid! Still she enjoyed it!)
The kids menu was the perfect balance of tasty and different yet still safe…. Edie chose The Rise Mac and Cheese (which apparently was better than mums… I’ll try not to be offended!) I had the choice of a few smaller dishes or the Market Place Menu… I’ve never been able to choose 1 thing from menus… I’m easily tempted… so went for 3 smaller dishes. And wow I’m glad I did… I went for:
FRIED DUCK EGG, WILD MUSHROOMS, SPINACH AND TRUFFLE DRESSING
DRESSED WHITBY CRAB, APPLE PICKLED CUCUMBER AND WHITE BALSAMIC
MARINATED ARTICHOKE, SUN BLUSHED TOMATOES AND YORKSHIRE FETTLE SALAD
Oh my goodness it was all absolutely DELICIOUS! Seriously one of the best meals I’ve enjoyed in York. The dishes were small but perfectly formed and full of flavour. It was so nice to be able to eat out in a place, with my Mini Mumbler, and still enjoy a really high quality meal… empty plates all round at the end!
You can see the full menu HERE
The prices for the small dishes were mainly between £5-£10.. with plenty of choice around the £6-£8 mark. And here is the best bit… for the Month of August, KIDS EAT FREE!
Before desert we had to take a break… because Edith couldn’t wait any longer for the challenge we had read in her activity book…. we had to find the BEE hidden in the hotel. We had a clue and it took a while (and I’ll admit… we had to ask for help!) but we found it. I won’t spoil it for you.. go search for yourself.
I was so pleasantly surprised at how friendly ALL of the staff were – especially towards Edith as she was hurtling through the hotel and up the stairs to find the bee (Stairs like the Queen’s according to her!) of course she had to go ALL THE WAY to the top… 5 floors… she had such an adventure hunting for this bee!
After that we well and truly earned the pudding (5 floors easily cancels out Churros and Chocolate right?)
We really did have such a special lunch out – the perfect big girls time together and a treat before Edith starts school. I’d highly recommend this to any parent wanting to make some lovely memories with their children before school starts and actually having a really nice time and delicious food yourself too!
Children Eat Free at The Rise Restaurant, Terrace and Bar
One child per one paying adult dines free throughout August. Three small plates or one larger plate to be ordered by an adult to allow for one child free meal. Subject to availability. A child is classed as 12 years or under.
See WEBSITE for all the details.
We were invited along to Piccolino to try the lunchtime menu last week. We were having a rare child free day – we try to get a ‘Date Day’ in once a month if we can – so off we went, very much looking forward to the prospect of eating a full meal, uninterrupted and relaxed!
I had been to Piccolino before but not for about 8 years – before the children were on the scene and we used to take for granted how easy it was to eat out when we wanted (budget permitting of course!)
It is interesting how I look at everything now through different eyes – although we were on a ‘grown up’ day, I also wanted to check it out for if/how suitable it would be to come back with our Mini Mumblers… and of course to review it for all of you. I was looking for how much space there was for buggies – whether the staff seemed friendly enough to welcome little ones and the availability of high chairs / nappy changing facilities etc. and I have to say we were very happy on all fronts here! I wouldn’t previously have considered it when thinking of eating out with my girls but having seen it again, there is really no reason why not and we’ll certainly be going back with the whole family.
They had a great ‘Bambini’ menu with a lovely selection of choices. Much more interesting than the standard fish fingers or Cheese Sandwiches that are on offer in so many places – but would have been big hits with our girls…. you can’t go wrong with a good Pizza or Pasta! But there were also options like calamari and risotto on this menu so it wasn’t too standard if your little ones want to try something new.
The adult menu all sounded delicious and, as always, I found it difficult to choose so we agreed to share (i.e. double up for the taste buds!) We got a starter to share, a main each and a dessert to share (more about that in a moment…. OMG I’m still dreaming about it!)
The food was so delicious and we felt it was really great value – £17 for 2 courses or £22 for 3. It felt like it was more than worth paying this for the quality of food we got on the day.
Some other things worth mentioning is that they have a private dining room which is often hired out for private parties, including Baby Showers. It is right on the river so a lovely view of the bridge and your own space to party.
So that dessert… I went for a tiramisu and it was to die for…. wow! I highly recommend you give this place a visit if only to sample this!
Whether it’s for a date with your other half, or for a meal with the whole family, I’d highly recommend Piccolino as a Mumbler Friendly place to eat in York.
Picollino is situated on 18 Bridge St, York, YO1 6DA
T: 01904 521 155