Indulge in an afternoon tea in Suffolk

Food and Drink

Posted by Kate W on 9th December 2020

Afternoon tea

Remember the good ol’ days and the slower pace of life? Me neither. Yet somehow afternoon tea always creates a feeling of nostalgia for times gone by. It’s an old favourite, as traditional as fish & chips or a classic English fry-up.

The quaint custom of afternoon tea has lasted the test of time and 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 a tea and a snack in her bedchambers 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 collection of Suffolk cottages 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 spectacular way to enjoy a delightful afternoon tea in Suffolk. At Sailing Barn Victor, birdwatching schedules are provided and there’s the chance to hire the entire ship for your special event.

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. Afternoon tea 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.

Afternoon tea

Hintlesham Hall, Ipswich

For a touch of class, try the high tea at Hintlesham Hall on the outskirts of Ipswich. Get dressed up for dining at this gentile venue, and there is a spa and golf club on-site if you’re looking for an additional extra.

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 decoration. 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’s plenty of ways to work off those sweets treats.


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.

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 & tonic afternoon tea!

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 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.

The Barn Café, Ipswich

Proudly using locally-sourced ingredients, The Barn Cafe is located on Alder Carr Farm meaning plenty of the fruit and veg 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 you before you go you can have one made for you or select a few goodies and make it yourself.

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.

Bannatyne, Bury St Edmunds

Famed for its Dragon’s Den-star entrepreneurial founder and part of a famous branded chain, Bannatyne Spa affords you a place to relax and get pampered before enjoying your tea. Treat yourself to a day at the spa where you can swim a few lengths in the pool and try out the hot loungers.

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. 

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. 

Southwold Pier

The Clockhouse, Southwold Pier

As The Clockhouse sits on Southwold Pier, you can enjoy your meal while overlooking the sea; it’s in an incredible setting. The pier itself has plenty of great activities to get involved with including an arcade, Under the Pier Show and an eccentric water clock that was originally installed as a feature about water recycling and has become a tourist attraction in its own right. It’s great fun for kids and perfect for families after an entertaining day out.

There’s always time for tea on a Suffolk holiday

When you begin to feel ‘that sinking feeling’ complained of by the 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 an 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.