The Finest Afternoon Teas In Edinburgh

By Ellie Smith

3 months ago

Scottish high teas to book now


One thing’s for sure: you won’t go hungry on a trip to Edinburgh. The Scottish capital is a haven for foodies, with a healthy mix of fine dining and low-key independents, from the historic Old Town to pretty Leith. And if it’s afternoon tea you’re after, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Head to one of the city’s many grand hotels for a luxurious feast of cake and champagne – or keep it simple at one of the many friendly cafes dotted around. We’ve rounded up the best places for afternoon tea in Edinburgh, from classic restaurants to boats and vintage buses.

The Finest Afternoon Tea In Edinburgh

Afternoon tea at The Balmoral hotel in Edinburgh

The Balmoral

Rocco Forte’s historic railway hotel The Balmoral is one of the city’s finest – and its food and drink offering is particularly strong. Afternoon tea here is served beneath the sparkling dome of the Palm Court, a beautiful space decked out in de Gournay wallpaper. The experience begins with a watermelon gazpacho ahead of ratatouille tartlets and sandwiches such as chicken pesto, egg and truffle mayonnaise, and smoked salmon with dill cream cheese. Alongside this, diners will be treated to classic scones with Balmoral jam and clotted cream, plus exquisite pastries including a strawberry and Madagascan vanilla choux, and a raspberry, rose and lychee macaron. Pair with Charles Heidsieck champagne and loose leaf teas.

Price: £65pp or £80pp with a glass of champagne

Address: 1 Princes St, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ

BOOK: roccofortehotels.com

Mimis Bakehouse

Beloved Edinburgh bakery Mimis Bakehouse is an expert in all things sweet treat – so of course it serves an excellent afternoon tea. It’s a chance to try some of the cafe’s signatures, from handmade scones to fluffy cupcakes and traybakes, alongside savoury dishes of smoked salmon crostini with chive cream, coronation chicken brioche buns and gourmet sausage rolls. Enjoy with your pick of tea from Edinburgh’s Eteaket Tea, or a glass of fizz. 

Price: From £25pp

Address: Various locations

BOOK: mimisbakehouse.com

Browns Edinburgh

Browns in New Town is a charming spot for some tea and cake, with art deco-inspired interiors and a bright, airy feel. Afternoon tea here is a traditional affair: festivities kick off with sandwiches on sesame multi-grain bread, such as ham and dijon mustard, prawn and baby gem lettuce, and smoked salmon and cream cheese. Next up: a choice of fruit or plain scones with clotted cream and jam – but save some space for the show-stopping raspberry marble birthday cake, plus lemon posset profiteroles and a mango and passion fruit torte. Wash it all down with a cup of Good Earth Tea, a glass of Moet or a cocktail (or all three).

Price: From £23pp

Address: 131-133 George St, Edinburgh EH2 4JS

BOOK: browns-restaurants.co.uk

Afternoon tea at Fingal

Fingal

All aboard Fingal, the five-star hotel housed on a boat – which was formerly a ferry for lighthouse keepers’ supplies, hence the name of its art deco-style restaurant, The Lighthouse. Enjoy afternoon tea while soaking up the views of the water, looking out to the historic Port of Leith. The menu features modern twists on classic afternoon tea staples: begin with roast courgette and feta arancini, beef pastrami with piccalilli baguette, and chicken liver parfait, ahead of buttermilk scones with strawberry jam from Perthshire Preserves. And last but certainly not least are the pretty pastries: heritage tomato macarons, Perthshire strawberry opera cake, poached cherries with white chocolate mousse, and millionaire shortbread. Guests can opt to add champagne, alongside teas from local busines PekoeTea.

Price: From £55pp

Address: Alexandra Dock, Edinburgh EH6 7DX

BOOK: fingal.co.uk

Afternoon tea at The Witchery in Edinburgh

The Witchery by the Castle

One of the city’s most famous – and unique – hotels, The Witchery is found at the gates of Edinburgh Castle. Steeped in Scottish history, the building dates all the way back to 1595, with wonderfully sumptuous and gothic interiors, plus one of the most atmospheric restaurants across the country. Where better to enjoy a spot of afternoon tea? Grand silver cake stands are piled high with a mix of sweet and savoury high tea treats made using local ingredients – think Edinburgh Gin-cured salmon on rye bread, haggis bon bons and freshly baked scones. Pastries are suitably decadent: there’s Blairgowrie strawberry trifle, choux buns with white chocolate cream, and a rich Valrhona chocolate tart. Amid these surroundings, it would be wrong to say no to the glass of Billecart-Salmon Champagne, too.

Price: From £40pp

Address: 352 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NF

BOOK: thewitchery.com

Red Bus Bistro

Fancy afternoon tea with a twist? Embark on a tour of Edinburgh aboard a vintage red bus while tucking into a spread of sweet and savoury dishes. Perfect for visitors to the city, you’ll pass a number of landmarks during the experience – all while enjoying afternoon tea classics like finger sandwiches, mini quiches, homemade scones with fresh whipped cream, and an array of cakes. The 90-minute experience also includes a glass of prosecco and a cup of tea or coffee. 

Price: From £43.50pp 

Address: St Andrew Square Edinburgh EH2 2AD

BOOK: redbusbistro.co.uk

Tigerlily

It’s all about the glitz and glamour at Tigerlily, a boutique hotel in New Town designed for visitors looking for a lively weekend in the Scottish capital. If that’s you, book the Afternoon Lily Tea – served in the hotel’s jazzy restaurant (think mirrored glass mosaics and pop art lining the walls). Start with sandwiches of honey roast ham and mustard, and smoked Scottish salmon, cucumber and cream cheese, plus caramelised onion and goat’s cheese quiche, ahead of an aesthetic array of pastries: carrot cake, brownie, lemon meringue tart and more. Fancy making it a boozy afternoon? Add a glass of Whispering Angel, prosecco, a cocktail or champagne.

Price: From £26.95pp

Address: 125 George St, Edinburgh EH2 4JN

BOOK: tigerlilyedinburgh.co.uk

prestonfield exterior white hotel with garden and red umbrella tables

Prestonfield House

Another Edinburgh grand dame, Prestonfield House is the ultimate country house hotel, located a short drive from the city centre. The venue exudes Scottish charm, and its afternoon tea is excellent – with the new Summer Holiday offering recently launched. Top-quality local produce is used to create dishes like smoked salmon choux buns, and chorizo and mozzarella brochette, followed by finger sandwiches of garlic and lemon chicken, and egg mayonnaise. Light, summery desserts include a strawberry tart, and an Amalfi lemon cream cheese madeleine – all served alongside a glass of Billecart Salmon Brut Réserve. Heaven.

Price: £65pp

Address: Priestfield Rd, Edinburgh EH16 5UT

BOOK: prestonfield.com