There's nothing better than spending an afternoon eating cake and drinking tea – and The Varsity Hotel Cambridge was the perfect place to do it. I've been back in the UK for just over four months and in that time I've had the most afternoon teas of my entire life. It's like I've been trying to make up for the lack of time I've spent in Britain over the last few years by drinking all the tea. Cambridge is just an hour on the train from my home and it's long been a favourite girly haunt for my friends. So when we were looking for a baby shower idea for our best friend, it seemed obvious we should go for afternoon tea at this lovely rooftop restaurant.
This post is well-timed as we are now all eagerly waiting for her little girl to appear. I remember so clearly the moment I found out she was pregnant and how excited I was. I'm not the most maternal of people but I am definitely very excited to be an honorary auntie to her baby. I couldn't stop myself shopping for baby's first pair of elephant trousers and cute little shoes with bells while I was in the Thai markets. There's something special about the first of your closest friends having a baby and I can't wait to meet her.
Afternoon Tea at The Varsity Hotel Cambridge
We booked into The Varsity Hotel Cambridge, a gorgeous luxury boutique hotel on the riverside in Cambridge. An afternoon tea with panoramic views over the River Cam and the city. If you're looking for a beautiful place to spend a sunny afternoon, The Varsity is a fantastic place to do it. As soon as we saw the pictures online, we just knew it was the perfect place to host a baby shower. When you first arrive at the hotel, you are guided to the lift and sent up to the sixth floor. The beautiful restaurant boasts floor-to-ceiling windows and some magnificent views over the historic city. On the website, the Varsity hails it's Afternoon Tea at Six's a truly magical experience, and I have to say I couldn't agree more.
Food & drink at The Varsity Hotel Cambridge
A tea box was brought to our table with a selection of teas to choose from, which is great for someone like me who prefers fruit teas. There was a great selection – but it's worth checking the menu as well because the one I went for wasn't actually included in the box. I went for a South African blend, Rooibos Red Tea, while the girls went for the classic English Breakfast.
Three stands of cakes and sandwiches were brought out to us. This one was all about the classic favourites with finger sandwiches, scones and cakes. Sandwiches filled with smoked salmon, coronation chicken, cucumber and cream cheese, and egg mayonnaise and cracked black pepper. This was followed by delicious fruit and plain scones served with strawberry preserve and Cornish clotted cream. These were my personal highlight of the afternoon tea and were absolutely delicious. The final layer was filled with a beautiful selection of cakes including a mini cheesecake and a very intense chocolate pot.
Service during the afternoon tea
While the tea was fantastic, the service was a touch lax. But I will put this mostly down to the fact that the restaurant was so busy. Once we had ordered our afternoon tea and cakes, we were left alone for the rest of the afternoon. While it was nice to not be interrupted, it did mean we were unable to ask for more tea. Rather annoyingly, we weren't given tea strainers with our tea. So we made the mistake of pouring our first cups of tea full of tea leaves. The staff sorted replacements for us, but it could have been avoided.
I was really impressed by the server's attention to the fact that my friend was pregnant. She checked if there was anything she couldn't eat and asked the chef for advice on what was suitable. These little things make a huge difference. It was clear the restaurant were keen to cater for any dietary requirements. They also offer vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options.
A beautiful rooftop restaurant & bar
We were glad to have booked ahead as the restaurant was packed from the moment we arrived. Some even braving the March chill to sit outside on the balcony under the heaters. We had a cosy spot in the corner with amazing views across the city with sunshine streaming through the windows. It would be lovely to be there in the summer enjoying a nice glass of wine on the balcony. Or even heading upstairs to the roof terrace which is only open during the summer months.
I'd love to go back when the summer finally arrives to enjoy it again in the sunshine. I know another of my friends was hoping to take her mum along for another afternoon tea. For £26.50 per person, it's a great one for those looking for a budget-friendly treat for a special occasion. I think it was fantastic value and we all left full and happy after the afternoon of treats!
Have you been to a fabulous afternoon tea? Where would you recommend? What's your favourite part - the scones or the cake?