Get us in your inbox

Search
Afternoon tea at Bistro du Vin in Edinburgh
Photograph: Hotel du Vin

The 12 best afternoon teas in Edinburgh

Looking for a fancy way to treat yourself that involves cake? Here are some of the best afternoon tea spots in Edinburgh

Written by
Niki Boyle
,
Kirstyn Smith
&
Arusa Qureshi
Advertising

With its regal buildings, sophisticated eateries, and general genteel vibes, Edinburgh is exactly the sort of city you expect to be able to put on a decent afternoon tea. And boy does it deliver: with so many cafés and hotels offering their own versions of the distinct British phenomenon of tea plus cakes plus sandwiches, there's everything from mega posh splurges to more down-to-earth and casual offerings that you might get stuck into weekly. Here's our list of where you need to head if you're looking for some excellent afternoon tea in the city.

RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best restaurants in Edinburgh

Best afternoon teas in Edinburgh

Colonnades at the Signet Library

What is it? A sumptuous oasis in Edinburgh’s Old Town.

Why go? Housed within the Signet Library – home of the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet, a prestigious legal association – the open-to-the-public Colonnades proclaims it serves ‘Edinburgh’s finest afternoon tea’ amid serene and elegant surroundings. The silver stands feature sandwiches made with seasonal ingredients, as well as a selection of cakes and amuse-bouches, while the extensive tea list is topped by the Colonnades’ own Signet Blend.

£40pp. Thu to Sun, 11am–4.30pm. The Signet Library West Parliament Square, EH1 1RF. 

The Café at the Palace
Photograph: John Freeman

2. The Café at the Palace

What is it? Complete your visit to the Palace of Holyroodhouse or The Queen's Gallery with home-made cakes and tea.

Why go? There are plenty of reasons to visit Holyrood Palace – the history, grandeur and regal architecture. But you can't possibly go without booking yourself in for the afternoon tea. Served in the Mews Courtyard in specially commissioned chinaware, you can expect local ingredients and produce with your choice of loose-leaf tea (or a gin cocktail if you're feeling fancy).

From £21pp. Daily, from 12noon. The Royal Mile, 98 Canongate, EH8 8DX.

Advertising
Mimi’s Bakehouse

What is it? A mini-chain of cosy Edinburgh bakeries.

Why go? Mimi’s is famous first and foremost for its cakes, so bear that in mind when you’re considering an afternoon tea here. In other words, save some room for the sweet stuff, and don’t fill up purely on the scones, sandwiches and savouries.; Vegetarian and gluten-free menus are also available.  

£18-£26pp. Weekdays from 11am, weekends from 12noon. Various locations in Edinburgh. 

What is it? A real work of afternoon tea art. 

Why go? In the lofty setting of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Café Portrait is a bright, airy spot in which to enjoy a delightful (and generous) afternoon tea. Once you’ve admired the collections of world-class paintings and photographs, retire to this ground-floor cafe with gothic windows and high ceilings and raid a stand laden with neat finger sandwiches, mini-cakes and scones loaded with clotted cream and jam.

£40 for two. Daily, 2.30pm–4.30pm. 1 Queen St, EH2 1JD.

Advertising

What is it? An ostentatious landmark in Edinburgh’s New Town.

Why go? The Dome is famous in Edinburgh for its OTT Christmas décor, including massive, tinsel-wrapped columns and a towering indoor tree, but it’s still pretty impressive at other times of year. Their afternoon tea menu – served in the crystal-chandeliered Georgian Tea Room – features finger sandwiches, scones, pastries and nine varieties of loose-leaf tea.

£22-£29pp. Daily, 12noon-5pm. 14 George Street, EH2 2PF.

Eteaket

What is it? A friendly tea-lovers boutique.

Why go? Opened in 2008, Eteaket was at the cutting edge of the revival of tea as something you could enthusiastically geek out about (see also: coffee, craft beer, gin). The Tea Room on Frederick Street is far less about extravagant surroundings than enjoying a quality cuppa with friends, accompanied by sandwiches, scones and pastries (and some fizz if you’re feeling fancy). It’s also far more affordable than some of the swankier joints on this list. 

£17.95-£21.95pp. Weekdays, 11am-5pm, weekends, 10am-6pm. 41 Frederick St, EH2 1EP.

Advertising
  • Hotels

What is it? A chance to enjoy a classy afternoon tea in the opulent surroundings of this Edinburgh institution. 

Why go? If you're looking for an afternoon tea experience to remember, this is the one. Enjoy leaf teas, home baking, hot savouries, scones and more either by a roaring log fire, in the gothic tea house or in the rose-filled gardens, depending on the season.

From £35pp. Daily, 12noon-6pm. Priestfield House, EH16 5UT.

Harvey Nichols

What is it? Afternoon tea at the top of the famed department store.

Why go? While there’s no shortage of places to take tea in Edinburgh, very few have views that can rival Harvey Nicks’. Take tea in the Forth Floor Brasserie that has north Edinburgh spread out below to the River Forth, and you can indulge in the likes of duck spring rolls, traditional fruit scones and rosé champagne.

From £22pp. Daily, 2pm-4pm. 30-34 St Andrew Square, EH2 2AD.

Advertising
Red Bus Bistro

What is it? As if you couldn’t guess, it’s afternoon tea on a vintage bus.

Why go? Since you’re a fan of afternoon tea, you’re probably into vintage things in general, and what’s more vintage than an old bus? While nibbling your sandwiches and sipping your Earl Grey (or a teapot-based gin cocktail should you fancy an upgrade), the bus will take you around some of Edinburgh’s historic highlights including Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament.

From £37pp. Tue to Sun, 12noon & 3pm. Departs from Stance ZE, Waterloo Place, EH1 3BQ.

What is it? A touch of old-style glamour in the heart of the city.

Why go? A glass-domed, light-filled space fringed with exotic trees and cream-coloured frescoes, Palm Court at the Balmoral revives the notion of afternoon tea as a cool respite from inhospitable tropics. While Palm Court can’t in fact offer a tropical climate, it does offer sweets, sandwiches and a very respectable tea selection, plus occasional live harp accompaniment.

From £45pp. Daily, from 12noon. 1 Princes Street, EH2 2EQ.

Advertising
Tigerlily

What is it? Incongruously enough, it’s tea and scones at a popular nightlife spot.

Why go? It may be far from the down-and-dirty rave caves on the Cowgate, but it still perhaps seems slightly incongruous that a boutique hotel, restaurant and bar would also offer an afternoon tea. But you’ve got to do something in the daytime, right? With delicate sandwiches and sweet treats, plus drinks by Eteaket, Tigerlily’s doing it well.

From £17.50pp. Daily, 2pm-5pm. 125 George Street, EH2 4JN.

12. Afternoon Tea, By Rose

What is it? Afternoon tea once a month for delivery or collection from Leith.

Why go? Rose is a full-time baker at Edinburgh's Company Bakery and in her downtime, she delights Edinburgh residents with her unique and hugely impressive monthly afternoon tea creations. She reveals the menu over on her Instagram, and then you message to place an order, which arrives at your door at a specified time. You have to be quick though; Afternoon Tea, By Rose sells out extremely quickly. With options like sourdough baguette, white truffle egg mayonnaise and rocket and lemon curd tart topped with homemade marshmallow, you can understand why.

From £29pp but prices vary. Order at instagram.com/afternoonteabyrose.

Stocked up? Walk it off at one of these...

  • Museums

The simple act of strolling around Edinburgh can be something of a history trip – from the ancient volcanoes of Arthur’s Seat and Castle Rock, to the medieval wynds and closes of the Grassmarket and Royal Mile, to the neo-classical splendour of the New Town. But Edinburgh is also home to an array of brilliant museums. Here’s our list of the best.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising