If you’re looking for a charming and indulgent way to spend teatime (mid-afternoon to early evening) in Oxford, then treating yourself to a traditional afternoon tea is a must-do activity. This quintessentially British ritual is the perfect way to catch up with friends or celebrate a special occasion, all while enjoying a selection of light meal of delicious finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam, and a range of delicate cakes and pastries.
English Tea Time has been around for centuries, and in modern times means different things around the country. But a formal afternoon tea is delivered on a serving tower of delights like Battenberg cake, Victoria sponge, and crustless cucumber sandwiches cut into triangles or fingers, alongside a pot of English tea. A variant of course, is the cream tea, which tends to be just scones (and lets not get into the Devon vs Cornish debate on how they should be served)
Fortunately, Oxford is home to a plethora of excellent tea rooms and cafes that offer fantastic afternoon tea options, ranging from luxurious five-star hotels to cosy independent tearooms. Whether you’re a local who has been shopping or a visitor to our historic city who has been seeing the sights, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to indulging in this delightful tradition.
In this article, we’ve rounded up the top places for afternoon tea Oxford has to offer, based on factors such as quality of food, atmosphere, and service. So, whether you’re looking for a traditional, elegant experience or something a little quirkier and more unique, read on to discover the best places for afternoon tea in Oxford.
1 Folly Bridge, Oxford, OX1 4JU
Starting from £22.95 per person
Located in the heart of Oxford and just a short distance from the Westgate centre, The Folly restaurant boasts a one-of-a-kind position by the beautiful River Thames. The restaurant offers a selection of dishes made from the freshest seasonal ingredients, which are prepared to perfection and served in a simple yet elegant manner.
One of the most notable features of the restaurant is its terrace, which is built to float on the tranquil waters of the River Thames as it flows gently under the iconic Folly Bridge. This unique location provides diners with an unforgettable experience and stunning views of the surrounding area.
The Folly offers guests the option of reserving a table indoors for one of the finest afternoon teas experience or enjoying their meal on the terrace, which floats gently on the picturesque River Thames.
The delicious afternoon tea menu at The Folly is a delightful selection of sandwiches, including chicken and tarragon mayonnaise, smoked salmon and cream cheese, or the classic cucumber and crème fraiche. Additionally, guests can indulge in a variety of homemade cakes and freshly baked scones served with delectable, clotted cream and jam.
The Rose Café
51 High St, Oxford OX1 4AS
Starting from £19 per person
Tucked away at the end of Oxford High Street lies The Rose, a charming tea room that serves up a variety of dishes throughout the day, ranging from breakfast sourdoughs to hot salads and lunch options in addition to their classic afternoon tea. All the items on the menu are lovingly crafted in-house, with a strong emphasis on locally sourced ingredients and suppliers at the core of their culinary philosophy.
Indulge in The Rose’s afternoon tea experience, featuring an array of delightful treats such as finger sandwiches filled with egg and cress, Philadelphia cheese and cucumber, and smoked salmon, as well as freshly baked scones and homemade cakes. Guests can also enjoy a cup of tea or coffee, with an impressive selection of teas available including Oxford, Assam, Ceylon, Earl Grey, Oolong, and many more. For those looking for something unique, The Rose also offers a range of speciality teas such as Strawberry and Rose, Wild Rooibos, Black Chai, and Phoenix Pearl Dragon.
To make the occasion even more special, guests can opt for the Sparkling Afternoon Tea, which includes a 20-cl bottle of Prosecco to add a touch of fizz to their experience.
The Randolph Hotel
Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2LN
Starting From £39.50 per person
The Randolph Hotel, part of the Graduate Hotels chain, is a historic landmark situated in the heart of Oxford, world-renowned for its prestigious university.
Following an extensive renovation, the hotel now boasts luxurious interiors and beautiful architecture that exudes elegance, all set within a historical context. The Drawing Room and Lancaster Room serve as the perfect setting for the hotel’s renowned afternoon tea, epitomizing the quintessential English style and charm.
Executive Chef Chris Emery from The Alice adds a contemporary twist to the traditional afternoon tea, which includes a delightful selection of delicate sandwiches such as smoked salmon, cream cheese cucumber with crème fraiche, and cheddar with spiced tomato chutney. Indulge in warm scones served with clotted cream and raspberry jam, followed by delectable sweet treats including a Blood Orange Macaroon and Bitter Chocolate Pave with lemon and fudge.
Sip on a selection of speciality teas, ranging from classic English Breakfast to more exotic flavours like Silver Needle and Darjeeling, all carefully chosen to complement the tea experience at The Randolph.
The Ivy Oxford Brasserie
High Street, Oxford OX1 4DF, UKTop of Form
Starting from £26.95 per person
The Ivy Oxford is the perfect place to indulge in the quintessentially British tradition of afternoon tea in a stylish setting. Drawing inspiration from Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, The Ivy Oxford serves up a Wonderland Afternoon Tea that is both whimsical and delicious.
The savoury selection is particularly noteworthy, with highlights such as the Ivy Cure smoked salmon and cream cheese finger sandwiches and the delectable chicken brioche rolls with truffle mayonnaise. Guests can also enjoy freshly-baked fruit scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserves, alongside an array of sweets, including the Red Velvet Raspberry Queen Cake.
To complement the tea experience, a wide variety of teas, infusions, and coffees are available to choose from. For those who want to make the occasion even more special, The Ivy Oxford Brasserie offers the option of adding a glass of Champers for a champagne afternoon tea, allowing guests to raise a toast in style for a special occasion.
The Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant
Ashmolean Museum, Beaumont Street, Oxford OX1 2PH
Starting from £25 per person
The Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant is located above the world’s oldest museum, providing visitors with stunning panoramic views of Oxford’s iconic skyline. You can indulge in a delightful afternoon tea experience while taking in the stunning scenery through the floor-to-ceiling windows of the restaurant. Alternatively, when the weather is fine, you can choose to sit outside on the terrace and enjoy your treats al fresco.
The restaurant’s afternoon tea menu often takes inspiration from the Ashmolean’s current exhibitions, incorporating local produce wherever possible to create a true taste of Oxfordshire. The savoury selection features classic sandwiches such as cucumber and chive on white bloomer, as well as more creative options like tuna mayonnaise with rocket on granary bloomer.
The scones are served with luxurious clotted cream and preserves, while the sweets include a range of delicious treats like assorted macaroons and lemon and raspberry choux. The Ashmolean Rooftop Restaurant also offers vegan and kids’ afternoon tea menus. It’s advisable to book in advance before visiting the museum to avoid disappointment.
The Grand Café
84 The High Street, Oxford, OX1 4BG
Starting from £7.95
At Oxford’s Grand Cafe, you can enjoy a luxurious afternoon tea experience. The venue itself has a fascinating history, having been established in 1650 and serving as a coffee house for Oxford’s intellectual elite. Today, the Grand Cafe offers an elegant setting to enjoy a selection of sandwiches, including cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and dill, and honey-roasted ham with mustard mayo.
The scones are freshly baked and served with clotted cream and jam, and the sweet treats include an assortment of cakes and pastries. The tea menu offers a wide variety of blends, from classic English Breakfast to exotic fruity and floral infusions.
For those looking to add a little sparkle to their experience, a glass of Champagne or a gin and tonic can be added to the menu. Afternoon tea at the Grand Cafe is a wonderful way to indulge in a quintessentially British tradition while enjoying the charm and history of Oxford.
The Old Parsonage
Old Parsonage Hotel, 1-3 Banbury Road Oxford, OX2 6NN
Starting from £33 per person
The Old Parsonage is situated in the heart of historic Oxford and is located at the top of the scenic St Giles Boulevard. It is surrounded by the city’s most renowned landmarks and attractions such as The Ashmolean & Pitt Rivers Museums, Keble College, The Playhouse, Somerville and St John’s.
The Parsonage Grill, a well-known Oxford establishment, offers a classic backdrop for enjoying a traditional afternoon tea. The elegant dining room maintains an intimate and sophisticated ambience with its magnificent original portraits and cosy fireplace. Guests can treat themselves to homemade scones, fruity jam, and clotted cream, as well as freshly made sandwiches and delectable miniature cakes. They can select from a variety of afternoon tea options, including the High Tea, Savoury Tea, or Champagne Celebration Tea.
5-11 Woodstock Road, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX2 6HA
Starting from £22 per person
The best afternoon tea at Brown’s Oxford is truly indulgent. You can choose from a selection of savouries such as classic ham and Dijon Mustard or refreshing cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches. For a unique flavour, try the smoked salmon and cream cheese served on a whisky and thyme oatcake. Satisfy your sweet tooth with warm, fluffy scones served with clotted cream and jam.
Additionally, a variety of mini cakes and puddings are available, including favourites such as Victoria Sponge, lemon drizzle cake, or a delightful chocolate mousse served in a mini flowerpot. To make the occasion even more special, you can add a glass of G&T or opt for a glass of Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne.
What is in an afternoon tea?
An afternoon tea typically includes a selection of finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and preserves, a selection of cakes, pastries, and tarts, and a variety of teas.
Why is it called afternoon tea?
Afternoon tea is so named because it is traditionally served in the late afternoon. The practice of taking tea in the afternoon developed in England in the early 19th century, as a mini meal to stave off hunger between lunch and dinner.