Afternoon tea has many connotations. An all-round British classic, the buzz word of your posh totty aunt or a leisure activity reserved for the older generations – there’s a lot of ways to look at this pastime. Fascinated by the afternoon tea revolution that’s taken place in recent years, we can’t get enough of bringing the glorious habit bang up to date with cocktails, gin and all the fizz that our boozy hearts desire.

As born and bred Bristolians (or just Bristolians at heart), we are impressed with the vast assemblage of unique tea parties that Bristol has to offer. Overwhelmed by the colossal amounts of strawberry jam and lashings of clotted cream being thrown around (it’s messy stuff), it’s easy to lose your way in the hunt for the most saliva inducing scone. Beset with the burden of trying out all of the afternoon tea spots that Bristol has to offer (it was really quite tiresome) we thought we’d treat you to an expert guide to some of the finest establishments. So as your fairy Grubmother, we’re here to guide you on your voyage and more importantly, tell you to pace yourself with the gin teapots. No, but seriously.

From vintage makeover’s to the ‘Dancing Afternoon Tea’ – yes, this exists – we’ve done it all. Now read our guide, have a gander and scoff a scone or three… 

In the very heart of Clifton Village, the Last Word is a quirky cocktail bar and restaurant with hums of chatter and excitement lingering its doors. Filled with trendy sorts casually swigging a dirty martini or turning their hand to something equally as sophisticated, enjoy the classic afternoon tea with an vibey and atmospheric twist. By the Last Word’s own admission, no afternoon is complete without a glass of bubbles and the prosecco afternoon tea here hits the mark with an array of sweet and savory treats. The team at the Last Word are a cool bunch, super friendly and making sure you're having a great time: they're basically perfect, really.

Read more about The Last Word (Clifton Village)

Thornbury Castle is a dining experience that’s about as regal as they come. Built in the 1500s, Thornbury Castle is not merely baronial in terms of its grand décor, having housed kings, queens and dukes over many centuries. Peruse the grounds and admire suits of armour and historic tapestry that decorates the halls before you sit down to devour a heart-racingly indulgent spot of afternoon tea. Or Cream tea, if that’s your thing. Or if you’re really feeling bold, then you can even splash the cash on a champagne full afternoon tea package. But make sure you don’t get too boozy, as in this castle, naughty guests are sent down to the dungeon... We jest, however, private fine dining alongside a selection of exclusive vintages in a 16th Century Tudor dungeon is an experience you don’t want to miss!

Read more about Thornbury Castle (Thornbury)

Heartfelt Vintage is a unique vintage boutique and cafe nestled in a beautiful corner of Clifton, Bristol. All their bread and scones are freshly baked in house and they also make their own mayonnaise, which is delicious and so much better than the bright white manufactured stuff. If you’re looking for fresh finger sandwiches or clotted cream decadence, then this quirky cafe will be your jam.

At Heartfelt Vintage craftsmanship doesn’t simply stop at the kneading of dough. With a range of artisan activities on offer; whether it’s a lesson in modern calligraphy or a bunting making workshop, there is a perfect afternoon treat for all keen Wrigglers. For the thespians among us, a vintage photoshoot or a 1950s makeover by professional hair and makeup artists is one way to spice up a traditional afternoon tea. Rest assured, each Crafternoon Tea is accompanied with a tipple or two to ensure the creative juices are flowing. Or for those of us who prefer the soft stuff, a glass of sparkling elderflower certainly hits the spot.

Read more about Heartfelt Vintage (Alma Road)

Bristol’s worst kept secret, Lost and Found, is a mystical cocktail bar promising molecular mixology and seasonal cuisine. A quirky haunt seasoned with unique character, from decor to cuisine, enjoy afternoon tea within the sensory immersion of an opulent clandestine cocktail bar. No afternoon tea is ever complete without a tipple, and so we suggest you wash down that buttery goodness with a glass of prosecco or two. Thankfully, Lost and Found agree, allowing you to choose the Afternoon Tea and Tipples package, complete with your choice of cocktail or a glass of bubbles.

If you’re not a sucker for scones, the Brunch and Bottomless Bubbles menu will be music to your ears. Served every saturday, pancakes, avo toast and a multitude of brunch essentials all come accompanied by bottomless Bloody Marys, Mimosas, Bellinis or Prosecco. Winning!

Read more about Lost & Found (Queen's Road)

If there was a contest for the most iconic, breathtaking location, then the Avon Gorge Hotel would trump all other contenders. Their expansive roof terrace is trendy and atmospheric, boasting panoramic views of Brunel’s Grade One listed Clifton Suspension Bridge, by far the most glorious landmark in Bristol . If you’re feeling in the mood for something a little decadent, why not brush up on your English etiquette and decorum by indulging in Avon Gorge’s classically British afternoon tea. You know the score: buttery scones topped with lavishly spread raspberry preserve and luxuriant clotted cream. Here at Wriggle, we love a good cuppa and we also love unique blends from independent providers who are passionate about a proper cup of tea. Thankfully, the Avon Gorge gang are on a level with us; in their afternoon tea you can take your pick from a selection of blended beauties from Bristol’s masters of tea mixology, Bird and Blend. Or if there's a cause for celebration (even if that just means you made it through to the end of the week), the Champagne afternoon tea adds a boozy touch to a traditional treat.

Read more about Avon Gorge Hotel by Hotel du Vin (Sion Hill)

Decorated with a healthy dose of Clifton Village glamour, No. 4 is an award-winning restaurant located in a beautiful Georgian mansion house. Oozing that Clifton charm, there is no better setting to enjoy a quintessentially British afternoon tea. Whether dining in their stylish restaurant, or relaxing in the secluded, ivy walled garden, you can enjoy your afternoon tea whatever the weather. The only thing more British than tea, is of course, Gin and No.4 allows you to enjoy a classic G&T in your favourite vintage crockery. Offering the Hendrick’s afternoon tea package, or if you prefer even more bubbles, their Perrier-Jouet package is perfect for a civilised celebration. It’s all too tempting for us at Wriggle!

Read more about No. 4 Clifton Village (Clifton Village)

For those eager to escape to the country, Berwick Lodge is only a stone’s throw away. Or roughly 25 minutes from the city centre of Bristol… if you’re being pedantic. Nestled in walls of vibrant shrubbery, Berwick Lodge is a blissful retreat from the brisk pace of city life. You don’t have to be a guest to enjoy a foodie retreat at Berwick, though. From elegant fine dining to the quintessentially British Afternoon Tea, they’ve got it covered. One might say their afternoon tea is all encompassing. From gorging on fresh fruit scones and lashings of clotted cream, to Asparagus Stilton Quiche and Rhubarb Crumble Muffins, it’s a temptation that only the foolish would refuse! Since relaxing is such thirsty business, the Champagne Afternoon Tea package promises plentiful amounts of bubbles in between gobbles of Brie and Cranberry finger sandwiches. Delicious.

Read more about Berwick Lodge (Berwick)

Now, we know that fried chicken might be the first thing that springs to mind when you hear the words 'afternoon tea', but trust us when we say that this is one bonkers idea that actually stands up to close inspection (as well as standing up to Team Wriggle's collective greedy appetites, surprisingly). Backyard is the brand new kid up on the Triangle, serving up delicious chicken in all shapes and sizes, and their fried chicken afternoon showcases the very best of their offering. Ditch the bone china and accompany your dainty fried goodies with some afternoon cocktails instead, and you're onto an absolute winner. Backyard, you're completely crazy, but we love it.

Read more about Backyard (Clifton Triangle)

Published -12th August 2019