From its rich musical heritage to its thriving clubbing circuit, this city is very well established as a nightlife mecca. But if you want your trip up here to be altogether more civilised, then you’ll have to sample one of Manchester’s absolute best afternoon teas. Whether you go for a classic British blowout at a dinky neighbourhood café or a more an international spin at a high-end restaurant, you’re bound to go away happy (and rather full). Time for tea? Oh, yes please.
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Best afternoon tea in Manchester
Open since 1903, The Midland is Manchester’s oldest hotel. Right from the beginning, it’s also offered afternoon tea. And though the city’s glitterati may no longer flock to coo over their tiny sandwiches, the recently refurbished tea room and array of actually-rather-forward-thinking menus are still worth the trip. You can nab vegan and gluten-free options, as well as their traditional and ‘Royal’ selections.
Come here to fall through the looking glass with a Wonderland-themed blowout. If you’ve ever fallen in love with Lewis Caroll’s weird and wonderful universe (and, frankly, who hasn’t?), you’ll understand the lure of immersing yourself in your very own Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. At the Richmond, you can do just that, with themed décor and a host of different tea options devoted to the main characters. A Hatter’s will get you scones and sarnies, while the Queen’s option adds fancy pastries to the mix.
Held in the elegant, South East Asian-inspired Long Bar at the ever-so-fancy Grade II-listed Grand Pacific, this afternoon tea is a treat for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Look around and you’ll feel like minor royalty. The menu brims with all manner of culinary delights, from crumpets with Cornish crab butter to smoked salmon potato cakes to jasmine tea bread.
Winner of the People’s Choice award for best tea room at the Manchester Tourism Awards, Annie’s is very much a crowd-pleaser. It’s easy to see why, too. Ditching fancy-pants glamour in favour of something altogether cosier, its prerogative is to make you feel right at home. Bonus: it’s owned by Corrie star Jennie McAlpine (aka Fiz Brown).
As you might have gathered from the name, this West Didsbury joint has got a penchant for all things choc. Their afternoon tea, coming in at a very reasonable £16.95 per head, is no different. You’ll get the usual finger sandwiches and the like, but when things get sweet they go cocoa loco for brownies, mini-ganaches, mini-choux and more.
For a touch of Austrian romance in the heart of Manchester city centre, try Vienna Coffee House. Drawing influence from the Austrian capital’s historic Kaffeehaus scene, this city-centre café is a low-key gem. They do a mean high tea – expect all the classics, including some award-winning deli ham sarnies.
Naturally drawn to life’s old-timey pleasures? Then take a trip to Sugar Junction (don’t worry, it’s nothing like TOWIE’s Sugar Hut). There you’ll find vintage wallpaper, mismatched crockery and enough nostalgia to make you wonder what decade you’re really in. The menu’s pretty trad, too – but expect a couple of surprising treats.
These days, presentation is key. Sure your Nana’s little square sarnies might taste nice, but are they gonna cut it on social media? Sorry Betty, we think not. Menagerie have upped their afternoon tea visual game and then some, serving dashing ferris wheels full of edible delights, from scones to brownies.
For posh booze, great views and delicious choux. At Lounge on 12, the fancy bar on the – you guessed it – 12th floor of Manchester House, they know how to turn things up a notch. As well as lunching with striking views over the city, you can upgrade your afternoon to a special cocktail-pairing menu. That’ll get you a series of well-balanced mixes – including a mouth-watering champagne and cucumber number – that perfectly complement the tasty morsels on offer.
If your friendship group typically spends hours arguing over where to go on any given weekend, then One88 might be the afternoon tea spot for you. For the laid-back, you’ve got a traditional prosecco version. Not into bubbles? Opt for the gin and tonic tea. Far too blokey for that kind of thing? Then there’s a gents tea too, that swaps out delicate sarnies for pork pies, sausage rolls and more.
If you, like us, believe that afternoon tea is not a meal to be taken lightly, then Proper Tea should give it the gravitas it deserves. In the yard of Manchester’s historic cathedral, you can munch on scones and some posh brews (you know they’re fancy when they come with a tea timer), all while gazing up at some truly magnificent architecture.