Afternoon tea is no longer the prerogative of grand dames, complaining about dry scones and brushing crumbs off their fox fur. Although there an element of doing-something-nice-with-grandma about the activity, it has an altogether younger profile in Glasgow these days – the sandwiches and cakes are more interesting, and cocktails and G&Ts are more likely to crop up on the menu.
This luxury city centre hotel occupies one side of the eponymous square it sits on. Salon is essentially its cocktail bar – on the first floor – but also does light bites and afternoon tea, all with views out to Blythwood Square Gardens. There is a simple cream tea here (tea and scones) or the full, elegant afternoon extravaganza with tea, sandwiches, scones and cake (in detox, Scottish or traditional varieties).
This venue is a double-jobber. By day, it’s Cup Tea Lounge with a tea menu to thrill an aficionado and snackage ranging across brunch, cup cakes, sandwiches and light meals. The formal afternoon tea is a cracker with upgrade options featuring cocktails, G&T or prosecco while the décor is astonishing with Victorian-era pillars and tiling. In the evening, Cup Tea Lounge morphs into Gin71, a specialist gin bar.
They’re not kidding when they say hidden. Argyle Court is accessed via a blink-and-miss-it alley between a funeral director and a liquor store. The venue meanwhile is a contemporary reinvention of a traditional tearoom with dainty cups and a let’s-put-on-the-show-right-here feel. It not only does afternoon tea with finger sandwiches but also offers a kids’ version where you can swap the cake for fruit salad.
Once a celebrated hotel called 1 Devonshire Gardens, Hotel du Vin took over in 2006 and its brand is now very well established at this iconic Glasgow address; the venue is still regarded locally as something rather special. Afternoon tea is served with finger sandwiches, scones, cakes and biscuits – you can upgrade to champagne, cocktail or G&T versions for an additional charge.
In the basement here is the Butterfly And The Pig bar-restaurant; one level up you find its sister business, the Tearooms, where the décor is like the set of a 1950s movie. The menu has breakfast, light meals and sandwiches – also afternoon tea featuring sandwiches and cake – prosecco as an optional extra. The cream tea for two is all about the sheer amount of cream and jam you can fit on your scone.
In the early years of the 20th century, local architect Charles Rennie Mackintosh designed the Willow Tea Rooms at this address for owner Kate Cranston. The result was magnificent feat of art deco creativity but the original business closed in 1919 and wasn’t properly revived until 1983. Today, you can sit here with your serviceable afternoon tea, look around, and see the talent of one of Glasgow’s most famous sons made manifest.