Visiting the Scottish capital and fancy a spot of tea? Discover the BEST afternoon tea in Edinburgh. From glam to cozy, traditional to modern, gluten-free and vegan, I've got a place for you!
Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities in the world. It’s actually in my top 5 favorite places and has held its place there for many many years.
The old-world architecture, stunning views, proximity to the breathtaking beauty of the Highlands, the beloved Scottish people and their wee accent, and of course the ties to Harry Potter make this an unforgettable destination.
If you’re in Edinburgh and fancy an afternoon tea, I have the spot for you! Trendy, glamorous, old-school, cozy…I’ve listed a tea for every taste and preference.
Jake and I love the tradition of taking tea with scones, clotted cream, and little finger sandwiches. So it should come as no surprise that I’m always seeking the best places in every city I visit in the UK.
Try one or all five of the best places to enjoy afternoon tea in Edinburgh!
1. Palm Court at The Balmoral
The best afternoon tea in Edinburgh for a lavish experience
Palm Court at the Balmoral is the best afternoon tea in Edinburgh if you want the quintessential tea experience. Elegant surroundings, attentive service, a live harpist strumming you into relaxation, and an overall experience where you feel like you should raise your pinky finger in the air as you sip your tea.
The £55 price tag may seem high, but this afternoon tea is on another level in more than just the luxurious surroundings and service.
You'll start your tea with an amuse-bouche, which is often some sort of soup. The food arrives in stages versus all at once like most tea experiences.
The scones were some of the best I've had, served warm, as was the extra silky clotted cream. Feel free to ask for seconds of anything you particularly enjoyed. The staff will happily box up any leftovers.
Tea and coffee are also unlimited, which I really appreciated since there were over 80 teas to choose from. I think I tried four. The vanilla was my favorite.
My fellow Harry Potter fans will appreciate that this is the infamous hotel where JK Rowling finished the series. She booked a suite at The Balmoral to complete the story of the boy who lived. You can actually book the now named JK Rowling suite at a hefty price.
Overall, this is my favorite afternoon tea in Edinburgh and the first one I book on return visits to the city.
2. Georgian Tea Room at The Dome
The best afternoon tea in Edinburgh for a traditional experience at an affordable price
The Georgian Tea Room is the best afternoon tea in Edinburgh if you want a bit of old-world glam without the high price. The Dome is a gorgeous hotel that has perfectly balanced Georgian styled luxury while remaining cozy and welcoming.
What’s best about this Edinburgh afternoon tea is that it’s affordable at £27 for the whole three-tiered experience.
Unlike the more expensive afternoon tea experiences, this one is not unlimited. I didn’t find this to be a problem as the sandwiches were a bit bigger than what you'd find at other tea spots and I was more than full before I finished the last cake...though...Jake might disagree. He's all about the unlimited scones.
The Dome afternoon tea is served from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm daily. Be sure to make reservations in advance. A vegan tea, tipsy tea, and children's tea is also available.
If you want a luxury tea experience without paying a hefty price tag, this is the best afternoon tea in Edinburgh for you!
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3. Colonnades at the Signet Library
The best afternoon tea in Edinburgh for a unique setting in the heart of old town
Tea in a historic library…I can’t think of a more unique and memorable experience. The Signet Library is located in a grand Georgian building complete with tall white columns, large windows, and ornate golden details.
Take away the unique library and I would still include the Colonnades at the Signet Library on my list of the best afternoon teas in Edinburgh because the food is outstanding! From the first bite of the amuse-bouche to the artfully designed cakes, you’ll taste the quality and thought behind each tasteful creation.
The location couldn’t be better. Situated in the heart of Old Town and steps away from St. Giles Cathedral, this makes for a convenient stop while touring the top sights in Edinburgh.
This Edinburgh afternoon tea is served Wednesday through Sunday from 11:00 am to 4:30 pm. It’s £55 and includes unlimited tea and coffee. You do not get seconds of anything as they prepare the exact amount for how many reservations they have that day. It's a pretty filling tea, so I'd be surprised if anyone had room for seconds.
Vegetarian and gluten free menus are also available.
Be sure to book in advance as this is a popular spot with both locals and tourists.
The best afternoon tea in Edinburgh for a trendy and instagrammable atmosphere
Looking for something a bit more modern and trendy? Tigerlily will be the best afternoon tea in Edinburgh for you! This spot has one of the most Instagrammable interiors in Edinburgh.
The space has several nooks and crannies that each have a different look.
One area has plush purple velvet chairs, a wall with top to bottom greenery and leaves, and wooden chandeliers. You'll feel like you’re in a posh garden. The room next door is a stark contrast with black and white tiled floor, black and white wallpaper, and a cozy fireplace evoking a Vogue Magazine setting. Another area has brown leather booths, beaded curtains, and a sparkling disco ball for a Mad Men 1960’s feel.
Tigerlily is the perfect option for a girls afternoon tea or a themed occasion like a trendy birthday tea. Upgrade your tea to include a glass of Veuve Clicquot Rose for £38 or a cocktail for £29. Otherwise, stick with the regular tea for £22, which I consider a steal considering the unique and glam setting.
5. Clarinda's Tea Room
The best tea shop in Edinburgh for a cozy, casual experience and cream tea (just tea and scones)
Clarinda’s Tea Room is the most adorable little spot. You'll feel like you stumbled upon grandma’s living room for some home-baked treats. This is the perfect afternoon tea in Edinburgh if you’re looking for something cozy and ultra-casual.
Clarinda’s does not offer the full blown three-tiered service like the other options listed. Instead, you can order a cream tea, which is a pot of tea with scones, cream, and jam.
This is also a great option if not everyone in your party wants tea and scones. Items like soups, sandwiches, quiche, and an array of cakes can be found on the menu.
The prices can't be beat. A pot of tea with scones, cream, and jam will cost around £7. If you're tight on time, don't feel like the whole three-tiered shebang, and are looking for something affordable, this the best tea spot in Edinburgh for you!
I hope this list of my top picks for afternoon tea in Edinburgh points you in the right direction when you’re craving fresh-baked scones and piping hot tea.
No matter where you are in the UK, taking a break to enjoy the tradition of afternoon tea is a must. If you’re like me, you may just find yourself bringing the tradition back home as a way to reminisce of your time in this lovely country.
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