Manchester’s Best Afternoon Teas

Including tea and cakes in the back of a Black Cab, beside a lake and in the city's swankiest hotels...

By Manchester's Finest | March 22nd '22

I don’t really know why, but every time I think about Afternoon Tea, I think about my mum, her mum, and all the other mothers out there- and I bet I’m not alone.

Maybe it has something to do with the bite-size portions (everyone knows that mothers don’t have the stomach capacity to eat full-sized anything) or maybe it’s because drinking openly on an afternoon makes me, strangely, think of my mum.

Below is a list of some of Manchester’s best afternoon teas, so that you can treat your mum to a special day or, just anyone you know really – it’s not all actually about mums…

The Lowry Hotel
Highly commended by The British Tea Council (which is a thing apparently) the afternoon tea at The Lowry Hotel is perfect for any occasion. They have a traditional tea which includes finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, pastries and dainty fancies washed down with an extensive menu of teas and infusions. Each Afternoon Tea is accompanied by a pot of tea, and they’ve got over 80 teas available for you to choose. Or you can have a glass of fizz, a G&T or cocktails.

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The Richmond Tea Rooms
This beautifully kitsch, purpose-built tea house is Alice in Wonderland themed, and before you run away in horror, let me tell you it is fabulous. And I mean it. They combine a weird and wonderful array of exotic and rare teas from around the world with traditional favourites ensuring that every taste is catered for. Richmond Tea Rooms is a hot-spot for special occasions from hen-dos to birthdays, and you can choose from a wide selection of offerings, from Alice’s Tea to the Hatter’s Tea, to the Queen’s Tea (which all vary in size) or go all out with the wonderfully indulgent ‘Richmond Tea’ with a glass of fizz.

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Heaton Park Dining Domes
The perfect setting for some Afternoon Tea shenanigans, right beside the idyllic lake in Heaton Park, sat in a nice cosy dome thing. The private dome’s Afternoon Tea menu features several afternoon tea choices, including a Vegan Afternoon Tea, all carefully curated by Heaton Park Cafés to offer the perfect balance of quintessential classics, and some imaginative variations of all-time favourites. We’re big fans of the traditional signature menu includes a Classic Afternoon Tea with a selection of delicious sandwiches, a free-range Heaton Scotch Egg and a Homemade Signature Sage & Onion Sausage Roll.

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The Refuge
Introduced in the summer of 2021, the Afternoon Tea at The Refuge looks to provide a classic offering but with a contemporary Mancunian twist, to be enjoyed in their stunning Winter Garden all year round. Available Tuesday – Thursday between 1pm and 4pm, the Afternoon Tea here offers up savoury treats, including some fantastic Pork & Kimchi Sausage Rolls, scones and a show-stopping three-tiered cake stand of sweet treats and cakes. Hot drinks come courtesy of Manchester’s Brew Tea Company and Heart & Graft Coffee – and you can also try some pretty special cocktails too.

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Cocoa Cabana
This one is indeed one for those of us that are so over jam and cream and want to pursue the more experimental things in life. This boutique chocolaterie in Ancoats & West Didsbury has an afternoon tea menu which is full of twists and surprises such as scones with cream and salted caramel, chocolate tart, brownies, mini chocolate ganache pots and choux pastries. This is what heaven looks, smells and tastes like for any chocoholic, and if you’ll probably be dragging yourself out of there before you buy up the entire shop.

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Harvey Nichols
As a nice little change, this Afternoon Tea doesn’t come served on twee china or brass layered stand, but instead on a purpose built block thing. I guess it is a bit like those things for Ikea that everyone in the world has at least one of in their home, but instead of hosting books you’ve never read and general knick-knacks, it is full of delicious treats. We’re talking freshly made savoury sandwiches, followed by homemade scones, served with locally sourced jam and cream, then end on a sweet note with a selection of perfectly proportioned miniature cakes. Compliment your afternoon experience with unlimited tea and coffee, or add a luxurious touch with glass of Champagne.

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The Midland
The Midland Hotel is one of Manchester’s oldest intuitions and has been serving a silver service tea since 1903. This afternoon is utterly opulent, and the team here are masters in their craft, from the stunning food to the fantastic service which will make you feel like royalty. It’s the kind of place that you feel like you should be wearing long white gloves and tiara, which I’m sure they would let you do-just no trainers you barbarian.

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Black Cab Taxi Tour
Local taxi driver John Consterdine has come up with a Taxi Tour/Afternoon Tea and you should definitely go on it. There’s the taxi tour – where you sit down in the back of an electric Black Cab and get taken on a trip around the city’s most famous sights – all while John regales you with some great insider stories, with the added treat of Afternoon Tea in the back courtesy of legendary patisserie and chocolatiers Slattery’s. Usually the only thing getting eaten in the back of a taxi is a sly kebab when the driver isn’t looking, but not any more. You can enjoy a selection of sandwiches, pastries, mini cakes and scones with jam & cream – all served up by John on the tour.

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Sunset & Australasia
It doesn’t get more ‘alternative’ than this when it comes to Afternoon Tea; Australasia’s exotic Asian-fusion offering. It comes in two parts, sweet and savoury, with salmon and tuna sashimi, California rolls and dim sum, followed by mini chocolate caramel domes, ginger cheesecake, macarons and coconut friandes. It makes sense to go for the Afternoon Tea with cocktails and/or fizz too – they’re truly excellent here.

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Lancashire Canal Boat Afternoon Tea
Starting things off in the tiny village of Riley Green, Canal Boat Cruises offer up leisurely canal cruises on their charming luxury narrowboat called ‘Romance’. A picturesque two hour cruise down the 200 year old canal can only be made better with a delightful Afternoon Tea beside you, complete with all the trimmings you could ever desire. A selection of freshly made sandwiches, pork pies, quiche, homemade scones (with jam and cream) and a selection of cakes… brilliant.

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20 Stories
The sky-high restaurant have introduced a unique Afternoon Tea, available Monday – Thursday between 2pm and 4.30pm and Friday between 12pm and 3pm. Consisting of a selection of sandwiches, classic sweet treats, homemade scones and pairing tea options, there is plenty for everyone to experience at the highest Afternoon Tea in Manchester. They also offer special Cocktail Afternoon Teas too, which I wholeheartedly encourage you to get and enjoy.

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Sugar Junction
Vintage inspired and just utterly adorable with mismatched crockery in various floral designs, The Sugar Junction on Tib Street in the Northern Quarter is what all your traditional tea-dreams are made of. Their tea comes with a range of delicious butties, a tangy lemon posset, warm scones with clotted cream and jam, and a variety of freshly baked cakes. I had this tea a few years back, and it is safe to say that I think of the chocolate Guinness cake to this day.

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King Street Townhouse
Just so you get a vibe for this place, you should note that they have a quote from Henry James’ ‘Portrait of a Lady’ and a brief history of afternoon tea on their website. It is that kind of place. With that in mind, I think the best word to describe this afternoon tea would be distinguished, or perhaps elegant. It begins with delicate finger sandwiches served with the pièce de resistance three tier stand with light, crusty scones and rich clotted cream accompanied by a variety of homemade cakes and pastries and served with as much tea and coffee as you need to fuel the gossip.

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