Indulge in an afternoon tea in Suffolk

Food and Drink

Posted by Kate W on 28th June 2023

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea always creates a feeling of nostalgia for times gone by; it's a quaint custom that is so entrenched in British life, that the indulgent treat is served everywhere from the finest big-city establishments to village cafes and at rural hilltop fayres.

As might be expected, we have an aristocrat to thank for this delicious dinnertime treat. Duchess Anna Russell, a lifelong friend to Queen Victoria, always enjoyed dinner fashionably late at 8pm but found that those long afternoons gave her what she complained of as ‘that sinking feeling’. In order to overcome it, she took to having a cup of tea and a snack in her bed chambers during the mid-afternoon. She soon introduced friends to this ritual and it took off among hostesses as a fashionable way to socialise.

These days, the quintessential afternoon tea is made up of dainty finger sandwiches and tea brewed to perfection in a teapot. Everyone makes it slightly differently, so if you want a definitive answer to where is the best afternoon tea in Suffolk, you may have to try a few of the options on this list - just to be sure! Of course, you could always assemble your own afternoon tea back at your holiday cottage - take a look at our holidays in Suffolk to find somewhere suitably fancy.

Suffolk cottages

Ipswich riverside

Sailing Barge Victor, Ipswich

Known for inspiring its great namesake, George Orwell, the River Orwell is a startling place to set sail and a spectacular way to enjoy one of the most unusual afternoon teas in Suffolk. At Sailing Barn Victor, birdwatching schedules are provided and there’s the chance to hire the entire ship for your special event, so you can savour one of the best cream teas in Suffolk as you glide through the water.

What’s included: Freshly baked cheese, fruit and plain scones with jam and clotted cream, served with tea or coffee

Price: Adult £42.50, child (under 16) £32.50, infant (under 1) free

Stay nearby: Mulberry End, Foxhall | Sleeps 2 + 1 dog

Afternoon tea with a glass of fizz

The Swan, Southwold

Home of Adnams, one of the oldest breweries in England, The Swan is colourfully kitted out with antique furniture and pastel walls. One of the best afternoon teas in Southwold, it takes place in the drawing room of this hotel, where you can cosy up around a blazing fire. Afterwards, take a walk down Southwold Beach to the pier where you can try your luck in the arcades and see the eccentric Under the Pier Show.

What’s included: The menu changes regularly but includes the likes of brioche finger rolls, saffron arancini, mini monkfish and chips, and honey and truffle goat's cheese cone, served with buttermilk scones and a variety of cakes, plus a choice of tea, coffee and fizz

Price: £29.50 per person

Stay nearby: 1 Queen Street, Southwold | Sleeps 9 + 2 dogs

Afternoon tea at Hintlesham Hall

Hintlesham Hall, Ipswich

For a touch of class, indulge in one of the best high teas in Suffolk at Hintlesham Hall. Get dressed up for dining at this gentile venue, one of the top places for afternoon tea in Ipswich, and there is a spa and golf club on-site if you’re looking for an additional extra.

What’s included: A selection of sandwiches, fruit scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, and homemade cakes, served with a choice of loose-leaf teas, coffee, hot chocolate or champagne

Price: From £28 per person

Stay nearby: Meadow Valley Lodge 1, Ipswich | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Pouring a cup of tea

Nancy’s Tea Shop, Newmarket

In the north of Suffolk, you’ll discover Nancy’s Vintage Teashop. It’s pretty and pink, with chandeliers hanging down and pastel decorations everywhere. This delightful eatery is on the high street of Newmarket, a town that is home to a spa, tennis club and leisure centre, and famous for its horse racing heritage, so there are plenty of ways to work off those sweet treats. Discover more fun eateries like this one in our guide to the quirkiest tearooms in the UK.  

What’s included: There are lots of different packages to choose from, including afternoon cream teas, savoury afternoon teas, and even bottomless afternoon teas

Price: From £7.50 per person

Stay nearby: The Pond Barn, Cowlinge | Sleeps 10

A plate of scones

Applaud Coffee, Ipswich

Another great place for afternoon tea in Ipswich, this stunning little delicatessen bakes cakes and scones fresh each day and there’s a gorgeous courtyard garden for dining on warm days. Applaud Coffee is in the centre of town so stop off at this cafe for a snack amidst shopping and exploring the bustling town.

What’s included: Selection of mini sandwiches, homemade sausage roll, freshly baked fruit scone with jam and clotted cream, two mini homemade cakes, unlimited hot drinks

Price: £18 per person

Stay nearby: The Old Stores, Tuddenham | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Toasting glasses of Champagne

Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Leavenheath

This hotel is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the owners have taken full advantage of their stunning surroundings with the Gallery Restaurant where you’re welcome to dine while taking in panoramic views of Constable Country. Stoke by Nayland offers unique experiences that you can buy as a gift including the option of a gin and tonic afternoon tea!

What’s included: They offer a sweet or savoury afternoon tea, also with vegetarian and vegan afternoon tea options, served with tea, coffee, prosecco or Champagne

Price: From £19.95 per person

Stay nearby: The Old Chapel Annexe, Nayland | Sleeps 2

Ufford Park WoodbridgePhoto credit: Instagram @lquffordpark

Ufford Park Woodbridge, Woodbridge

Take the kids for a scrumptious afternoon tea in Woodbridge, as there is both the option of a menu for adults and a special second menu catering to children. At Ufford Park, you can dine on sweet treats while snuggled up in The Aldous Lounge or sit and gaze out over the golf course from the large terrace of the Park Bar.

What’s included: Open and closed sandwich selection, fruit scone with clotted cream and jam, and seasonal delights such as toffee apple profiterole, choco-pop cupcake, strawberry milkshake, fondant ring donut, toasted marshmallow smores, and candy floss

Price: From £19.95 per person

Stay nearby: Hawkeswade Barn, Ufford | Sleeps 2

Afternoon tea in a hotel

The Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds

A contemporary vine-covered boutique hotel, The Angel offers wine nights as well as one of the most luxurious afternoon teas in Bury St Edmunds. Settle down on cosy sofas set around a coffee table and you can dine on scones and cupcakes while a fire crackles in the centre of the room. The perfect place to while away a few hours during those dark autumn/winter months.

What’s included: Teas from around the world, a selection of savoury delights, fruit scones with jam and Jersey cream and a variety of homemade cakes

Price: From £24 per person

Stay nearby: Gardener's Cottage, Bury St Edmunds | Sleeps 8 + 2 dogs

Scone with clotted cream and jam

The Barn Café, Ipswich

Proudly using locally-sourced ingredients, The Barn Cafe is set on Alder Carr Farm meaning plenty of the fruit and veg in their afternoon tea is completely homegrown. Before snacking on scones and finger sandwiches, you could go on a tour of their working farm and meet the animals. Bespoke hampers are sold on-site so before you go, you can have one made for you or select a few goodies and make it yourself.

What’s included: A delicious range of mini cakes, scones, finger sandwiches and savouries, all made by hand in their on-site bakery

Price: £15.95 per person

Stay nearby: Hearts Cottage, Needham Market | Sleeps 4 + 1 dog

Milsom Kesgrave HallPhoto credit: Instagram @milsomkesgravehall 

Milsom Kesgrave Hall, Ipswich

Enjoy your afternoon tea in the lounge or outside on the sheltered patio with views across the grounds of Milsom Kesgrave Hall. It’s a wonderfully relaxed area and there’s even a large lawn area for kids to run about and blow off steam. 

What’s included: Selection of sandwiches, scones with jam and clotted cream, and indulgent cakes, served with a choice of teas

Price: £20.50 per person

Stay nearby: Sparrows Nest, Woodbridge | Sleeps 8 + 1 dog

Eating an afternoon tea

Ravenwood Hall, Bury St Edmunds

Take your meal while outside on the patio and you can dine beneath grapevines while overlooking the pool; how very English! This old estate at Ravenwood Hall is set in lovely grounds and again, there is a large flat lawn area where kids can run about after scoffing down a delicious afternoon treat - it's one of the best tea rooms in Suffolk for the whole family. 

What’s included: Choice of freshly brewed tea or coffee, a traditional baked fruit scone with strawberry jam and Cornish clotted cream, plus a selection of freshly

made finger sandwiches (cucumber, ham, smoked salmon, and cheese), and homemade cakes

Price: From £20 per person

Stay nearby: Mallards, Whepstead | Sleeps 2 + 1 dog

There’s always time for high tea on a Suffolk holiday

When you begin to feel ‘that sinking feeling’ complained of by Duchess Anna Russell, mimic that fashionable Victorian aristocrat by heading out for a light snack.

The tearooms of Suffolk have captured that very British feeling with delicate and fanciful options for anyone in need of a peaceful afternoon of dining and relaxing. Whether you prefer to take your tea outside on the lawn or curled up around a log fire, find the perfect choice for the best afternoon tea in Suffolk from our selection.

For a longer break, spoil yourself with a stay in one of our cottages. We have stylish holiday homes and quaint cottages throughout the region, so you can drop by one of these tearooms on your travels. Get inspired by browsing our collection of cottages in Suffolk. 

Suffolk cottages

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.