The Best Places For Afternoon Tea In Edinburgh

© Ryan Hyde/Flickr
© Ryan Hyde/Flickr
Photo of Tori Chalmers
9 February 2017

Afternoon tea has been a popular tradition within British society for centuries. What’s not to love? From exquisite china and scrumptious cakes to miniature sandwiches and sweet or savoury scones, this culinary craze is quite the treat. Indulge in some of the best places for afternoon tea in Edinburgh and savour a little piece of Scotland in each bite. Go on – raise that pinky finger.

Palm Court

If afternoon tea is on the agenda, you may as well go all out. Nothing screams glamour and indulgence more than high tea at Palm Court. Enter the iconic Balmoral Hotel and absorb every ounce of its grandeur, from the tea cups that stand gracefully to the magnificent artworks adoring the walls. The high tea menu is one fit for royalty and the wondrous selection of loose leaf teas are impeccable. Sip on The Royal Scottish Balmoral Blend, Famous Edinburgh, or Rooibos, and nibble away on the finest sandwiches consisting of Balmoral smoked salmon, Isle of Mull cheddar, and traditional Scottish ham. The scones appear straight from the oven and are as fresh as can be. Make sure to save room though: the icing on the cake is undeniably the chef’s very own seasonal pastries.

Palm Court, Balmoral Hotel, 1 Princes St, Edinburgh, Scotland, +44 131 557 6727

Palm Court at The Balmoral - Afternoon Tea | Courtesy Of Rocco Forte Hotels

Palm Court at The Balmoral – Afternoon Tea | Courtesy Of Rocco Forte Hotels

The Forth Floor

Restaurant, European, British, $$$
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After a spot of serious shopping in Harvey Nichols, head to the Forth Floor, where the afternoon tea is as fashionable and luxurious as the clothes. Contemplate that new ‘It bag’ while sipping on some of the most delectable fine leaf teas. The miniature cakes are little works of art, the pastries melt in the mouth, and the savoury bites leave a lasting impression. From red onion and feta quiche to pea and truffle mousse and scones smothered in clotted cream, this traditional spread is the full shebang and then some.

Mimi’s Bakehouse

Take a culinary time machine to the 1940s and delight in every tray bake, cake, and scone in sight. Mimi’s Bakehouse is the place to be when it comes to a good cuppa and a delicious cake. Thankfully, they have three locations – Corstorphine, Leith and the Old Town. Book in for a relaxed yet irresistible afternoon tea experience and delight in a plethora of the fluffiest cakes and sweetest creations. They have Fair Trade tea, along with plentiful other choices to suit any palette.

Mimi’s Bakehouse, Leith, 63 Shore, Edinburgh, Scotland +44 131 555 5908

Colonnades At The Signet Library

It would be quite understandable to mistake the grand Corinthian columns, impeccable interior, and glitzy neo-classical balustrades as just a beautiful façade. As you step foot in Colonnades, you enter into what looks like a scene from Pride And Prejudice. This exquisite 19th century building doesn’t just serve any afternoon tea – you can surround yourself with magnificent works of literature inside the Signet library while you taste the most delicious high tea from the highly acclaimed caterers Heritage Portfolio. Her Majesty The Queen has appointed these culinary marvels a Royal Warrant. One bite of the mouthwatering cakes will make this ritual a weekly tradition, and you could even shake things up a bit and add a glass of bubbly. Cheers!

The Colonnades At The Signet Library, The Signet Library, Parliament Square, Edinburgh, Scotland +44 131 226 1064

Clarinda’s Tea Room

Tea Room, Tea , British
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Clarinda’s Tea Room, Edinburgh
Clarinda’s Tea Room, Edinburgh | © Connie Ma/Flickr

Clarinda’s has been satisfying Edinburgh’s afternoon tea needs since 1976. After exploring the nooks and crannies of the city, visit this chintzy little gem at the bottom of the Royal Mile for a pot of specialty tea (it really is life-altering) from Edinburgh coffee and tea merchants Brodies. The selection of Scottish baked goods span from cakes and biscuits to all the top-notch things in between. ‘Clarinda’ is notorious for being romantically entwined with revered Scottish poet Robert Burns, and it is said that ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ is written in her honour. After a visit to Clarinda’s, tea lovers cannot help but fall head over heels for this quirky yet delightful little haven.

The Georgian Tea Room

Restaurant, Bar, Cafe, Market, Tea Room, Diner, Contemporary, European, British, $$$
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Christmas at the Dome, an Edinburgh institution, on George Street, in the New Town, Scotland, UK. Image shot 11/2015. Exact date unknown.
The Dome offers several dining options | © Monica Wells / Alamy Stock Photo

Afternoon tea at The Dome lives up to all the hype. Think opulence, decadence and indulgence as The Georgian Tea Room springs to mind. A splendid selection of loose leaf teas is served from the renowned Chardonnay Pattern Dudson Fine Bone China. The plot thickens when the Gainsborough Sheffield Silver tea service comes into view. The miniature finger sandwiches can only be described as heavenly, and the way in which the scones and pastries harmonise with the specialty teas is impeccable. It is difficult to decide which is more delightful – the afternoon tea or the chandeliers, gold panelling, and ebony furniture.

The Gateway Restaurant

Restaurant, British, European, Vegetarian
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A tower of cakes
A tower of cakes | © Elsie Hui/Flickr
The Royal Botanic Garden is a resplendent sight and a cherished part of Edinburgh with it’s woody premises, dancing tribes of flirty flowers and soothing waterfalls dispersed throughout. Soak up the blissful atmosphere of this wonderland at The Gateway Restaurant and take the taste buds on a delightful journey with the perfectly presented afternoon tea. All food items are crafted from fresher-than-fresh produce, and the tea never fails to hit the spot.


Bar, Cocktail Bar, Restaurant, Restaurant with Rooms, Hotel Restaurant, Contemporary, Fusion
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Head Pastry Chef Sam Clark
Head Pastry Chef Sam Clark | Courtesy Of Tigerlily

You can’t get better than tea at Tigerlily. Think of it as a contemporary and swanky take on the traditional ritual of having afternoon tea and scones. Why not add some sparkle to the situation and order some bubbles too. Tigerlily’s top-notch Head Pastry Chef Sam Clark is a culinary wizard to say the least. The way in which the honey-roast ham and Arran mustard marries the tomato on the miniature malted loaf is utterly divine, and the tarragon and Parmesan tart is just amazing. From peppermint and white peony to Royal Earl Grey, the tea is brewed to please and the chocolate miniature delights created to entice.