Back in mid-February, I was lucky enough to have a few days off to go and do Fun Things, like spend an extended period of time with a good friend I usually only get a few hours out and about with. As I had tickets to a signing with one of my favourite authors which also happened to be within striking distance of an old friend who is also a supremely talented author (and to whom, as teens, it turns out I recommended the first author’s books), we squeezed in a fab two night stay in Bath.
I’ll likely blog some other thoughts about why Bath is a must visit another time, but one of the highlights for both of us – teatime obsessives the pair – was fitting in a visit to Bea’s Vintage Tea Rooms. My friend K found the place online, and we were immediately keen, what with it being a lovely theme and by far one of the most reasonably priced teas we’d seen.
We ambled over around 4pm on a Tuesday afternoon, ducking in just as the weather was looking a bit suspicious, and being seated at one of the window tables for two. “Vintage” at Bea’s is wartime – WWII to be specific – and the decor is heavy on the tchotchkes and bric-a-brac, but with particularly themed areas, such as a small arrangement of utility fashion, furniture and crockery placed near the air raid shelter themed loos downstairs. The stairwell is papered with posters; Keep Calm does make an appearance, but feels welcome in this setting, if no other (alright, maybe not the cheesy cupcake one) and the tea sets are charmingly mismatched.
The staff are incredibly helpful and friendly, and we quickly ordered. I couldn’t resist trying the oolong tea – I’m a bit obsessed as my Tumblr suggests – and K had the traditional English Breakfast. All teas are loose leaf and, if the enormous gold canisters behind the counter are any indication, come from JING. I’ve bought gorgeous silver needle from JING before, and tea-loving friends often recommend it, so this, I felt was a good sign. My tea arrived with a little hourglass for accurate brewing.
The standard afternoon tea includes a round of finger sandwiches (salmon, egg and cucumber if I remember rightly – two of each), a scone with cream and jam and two generous slabs of freshly homemade cake in two flavours. The assortment changes daily, and we got chocolate cherry and lemon drizzle. There is always one option available with no gluten based ingredients, though I don’t know if the kitchen can be classed gluten-free, and there are some savoury options that can be modified or swapped out, but if you need a totally GF menu it’s best to call at least a day in advance and they can make appropriate arrangements – though they don’t generally take reservations except for private parties of 10-20 guests.
The sandwiches were made up at the counter after we ordered, so were fresh, soft and buttery; the scones were lovely and light. The chocolate cake was lovely and crumbly, but the lemon was the absolute winner for me – a gorgeous balance of sweet and tart with a dusting of cute sugar shapes and a particularly good texture.
There is a function room downstairs for parties, and a trip to the loo – while disquieting for anyone verging on the claustrophobic – is worthwhile if for no other reason than to poke (figuratively) around the little displays.
Afternoon tea is £9.95 for one or £19.95 for two – not including the price of the tea, if I remember rightly – but to stop in for a cup of tea and a cake will cost from around £6 per person if that’s all you fancy. The menu is also heaving with delicious sounding breakfast and lunch dishes, which I will definitely try on any future occasion that I’m lucky enough to be in the area.
And though I did wear a tea themed cardigan and a slick of 40s pillarbox red lipstick, next time I might even fully dress for the occasion just for the fun of it!
Note: This was an entirely personal trip, paid for by us, and is not a sponsored or requested review. I just think you should go there, because I liked it.