Jam or cream first? Where to eat afternoon tea in Sussex
It's Afternoon Tea Week next week - bet you didn't even know that was a thing. Celebrate tarts and fancies (steady on now) with our pick of the best places to indulge in Sussex.
Fancy glamming it up at a posh hotel or getting cosy in a chintzy tea room? Well you’re in luck, because we’ve got the best of both right here.
Leonardslee House, near Horsham
Enjoy afternoon tea brought to you by Jean Delport of Michelin-starred Restaurant Interlude, in a setting and with a view to match. Tea is served in the drawing room of Leonardslee House, a two-storey Italianate mansion, which dates back to 1801. You’ll be wanting to stick that little finger out when you lift your bone-china teacup. The views over the gardens out to the South Downs are as high-end as the food – a truly upmarket experience.
Alexander House, East Grinstead
It just doesn’t get more decadent and luxe than the afternoon tea on offer at Alexander House. And the location, a 5 Red Star hotel housed in a Jacobean mansion with a whopping 120 acres of land and a fully equipped spa, is pretty divine too. All the tasty little morsels are created in house by the pastry chefs (note, pastry chefs plural) and you can wash down your finger sandwiches made with home-baked bread, scones, cakes, eclairs and suchlike with a glass of locally-produced Nyetimber fizz to boot. Bring Fido, he’s got his own doggy afternoon tea menu to choose from.
Blakes Bar & Beach Terrace at the Beachcroft Hotel, Felpham
Enjoy alfresco dining, beach style, at this brand new bar and beach terrace serving light bites, sandwiches and traditional English afternoon tea. Finger sandwiches include smoked salmon and prawns, very appropriate for beachside eating, and come with a range of sweet treats. For an extra special experience, book the outdoor Pod with three of your favourites and add a bottle of English sparkling Rose.
Metro Deco, Brighton
Channel fabulous vintage glamour at Metro Deco, in Kemptown, Brighton; a 1930s Parisian-style salon with the odd kitsch leopard print armchair. Afternoon teas include the excitingly-billed tarts and fancies, which feature macaroons and marshmallows from top local suppliers. There’s a range of specialist teas, or add a bit of ooh la la with Prosecco, artisan gins or cocktails with names like Shady Lady. Gluten and dairy-free and vegan options available. Delivery also available.
The Grand, Eastbourne
If you want to go super-traditional with your special tea, there’s no better Sussex spot than The Grand on Eastbourne’s seafront. Feel like Agatha Christie’s just left the palatial building as you tuck into your dainty sandwiches, scones and fresh pastries. Opt for the Great Hall lounge or the terrace; tea or champagne. There’s even a children’s version – perfect for family celebrations.
Ockenden Manor, Cuckfield
A sumptuous spread awaits at this Elizabethan manor house, nestled in picturesque grounds overlooking Cuckfield Park. It’s all about indulgence, so take your time and enjoy the sun-soaked terrace and views across to the South Downs.
Joanna’s Boutique Tearooms, Storrington
Located just off Storrington’s pretty High Street, Joanna’s has its own courtyard garden and serves breakfast, brunch, light lunches and afternoon tea. Popular additions to the traditional sandwiches and homemade seasonal patisserie include sausage rolls, cheese straws and Welsh rarebit. The decor is pure chintz, the staff are a delight and the scones are a force to be reckoned with.
Steyning Tea Rooms, Steyning
Another adorably chintzy village tea-room with serious foodie clout. All homemade, all sensational, from the substantial and feather-light cheese and apple scones to the slabs of rich yet moreish homemade cake. It is not possible to leave hungry or dissatisfied. Kids are catered for too, with a cute teddy bear’s picnic and juice served in a teapot.
Badgers @ The Old Village Bakery, Alfriston
Rated ‘the perfect place for afternoon tea’ by The Independent, this gorgeous tearoom is housed in a 500-year-old building that was once the village bakery. Everything is freshly hand made with organic free-range eggs and premium ingredients, and tea is poured from silver teapots – guaranteed not to drip or chip – into fine bone china. If the weather’s good, enjoy your selection of sandwiches, scones with Devon clotted cream and jam, and homemade cake al fresco in the walled garden.
Bracklesham Bay Tea Rooms & Garden, near Chichester
Just minutes from Bracklesham beach and known by locals as ‘the gateway to Bracklesham Bay,’ these chocolate-box tearooms are based in a beautiful thatched cottage with a picturesque country garden. Fresh, locally sourced and lovingly hand prepared food includes breakfasts, sandwiches and toasties alongside savoury and sweet cream teas and full afternoon teas. Wash it all down with tea, coffee or a cheeky tipple.
High Beeches Tea Room and Tea Garden, Handcross
Close to National Trust property Nymans, these family-run tea rooms have built a solid reputation locally for home cooked food and delicious afternoon teas. A selection of light lunches and hearty main meals feature alongside a traditional clotted cream tea. Gluten free cakes and bread are also available.