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Lady Betty Afternoon Tea – Unplugged at Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms

Written by Kirstie

Lady Betty Afternoon Tea at Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms

Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms are a legend in the North of England. And although we live relatively close to Harrogate, home of the original Bettys, we’ve never experienced one of her afternoon teas. So when our sponsored Days Inn Days Out Road Trip took us to Wetherby, we booked a luxury Lady Betty afternoon tea in the Imperial Room, to get some lazy Sunday afternoon scone action. It’s a quintessentially British experience… 

Afternoon Tea at Bettys of Harrogate

Afternoon Tea in the Imperial Room at Bettys Cafe Tea Room in Harrogate. Well behaved hen parties welcome!

Time for tea

I feel like I’ve gone back in time. There’s a tower of macaroons in the window in front of me that conjures up Parisian patisseries from my past travels. But I can’t dwell on that. In moments we are bounding up the stairs and someone is taking our coats ready for the 3pm sitting of Lady Betty Afternoon tea in the Imperial Room. When is the last time someone hung up your coat for you? I can’t remember the last time someone did it for me.

“Welcome to Bettys. You’ve booked a table for five? I’ll show you to your seat.”

We follow a uniformed waitress around a hen party decked out in pink. We pass windows with a pretty view of The Stray; 200 acres of grassland filled with floral artistry, before being seated at a linen covered table near the centre of the room. Our waitress is Gemini who asks if we want champagne with our meal and gives the children their very own menu.

Staff and pianist prepare for service at Bettys Harrogate

Staff and pianist prepare for service at Bettys Harrogate

Empire of the north

Bettys is a refreshment empire in Yorkshire. Tell anyone you are going to Harrogate and sooner or later it will come up in the conversation. Bettys was created nearly 100 years ago in 1919 by Swiss confectioner Frederick Belmont. The fourth generation family business also owns Yorkshire Tea and Taylors of Harrogate and there are six different café tea rooms operating under the Bettys brand. The Harrogate original is ornate on the outside with its black and gold pillars and lettering, and elegant on the inside. Meanwhile the shop and craft bakery is straight from Willie Wonka.

Afternoon Tea at Bettys of Harrogate

Lady Bettys Afternoon Tea at Bettys of Harrogate. A choice of teas.

Cake trumps all

If your family are always plugged in like mine are then it requires some ingenuity to get them to log off for quality family time. A short cut for us is often food, but not all meals are created equal. Pizza is almost always a winner but cake trumps everything.

Let me talk you through the cakes

Over sixteen years living in the lake District we’ve had many afternoon teas. But often they are just too much for one person to get through. Bettys manages it better by making all the cakes, including the scones, in bite size slivers and continually offering refills of everything.

“Would you like me to talk you through the cakes today?” Gemini our waitress asks me as she puts the fifth silver rack down on the table. “You have a chocolate and passion fruit cube, a gooseberry macaroon, a miniature Battenberg, lemon religieuse and a pistachio and chocolate dacquoise slice.”

The Gooseberry macaroon at Bettys Harrogate

The Gooseberry macaroon at Bettys Harrogate

Lady Betty afternoon tea is four course luxury

The stack of silver platters dominate the table. But there’s not just desert on offer. This is more like a four course meal. The first course is a pea, cucumber and tomato cocktail in a tiny glass; a light and feathery starter. It’s followed by a miniature portion of pork and apple pie (How Yorkshire- pie following peas) accompanied by a smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill roulade. Then three types of sandwiches and then the scones. Lemon and rose if you are asking. And then the grand finale, the cakes, with a choice of dozens of teas served in a silver pot.

Don't take your eyes off the cakes. Too late!

Don’t take your eyes off the cakes. Too late!

Tea for two and three and four

The piano starts to play ‘tea for two.’ Gadgets stay in bags. We talk. We talk! Next to us a mother is having tea with her daughter. There are two families who have children with birthdays and each gets a fondant fancy with a candle in it and a round of happy birthday on the piano. The hen party leaves in a haze of pink balloons.

Afternoon Tea at Bettys of Harrogate

Betty is not in the building

The staff are attentive and happy to chat. James brings us a Betty’s brochure. He is a student during the week but comes back to work at weekends. Betty herself doesn’t make an appearance but no one misses her as apparently no one really knows who she was anyway. We also don’t miss the phones and gadgets that dominate so many of our mealtimes.

Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms Harrogate

The approach to Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms Harrogate

Staying in a different time zone

We are staying in Wetherby, another pretty Yorkshire town 10 miles from Harrogate. Wetherby is also an expert at going back in time; the police station has its very own police box. Check out our video of us being Dr Who.

Practical Information

Afternoon Tea at Bettys

We took Lady Bettys afternoon tea at Bettys Cafe Tea Room Harrogate. There are also Bettys tea rooms in York, Ilkley, Northallerton and Beckwithshaw.

A Lady Betty afternoon tea costs £32.95 with reductions and a special menu for children and vegetarians. You can upgrade to a champagne tea for extra fizz (£39.95 at time of publishing.)

Booking upfront online is advisable. Sittings in the Imperial Room Harrogate are Thursdays- Sunday from 1pm (11am on Saturdays.) In the Belmont Room in York you can enjoy one every day during school holidays from 1pm or 11am Saturdays.

Scones with jam and cream at Bettys Harrogate

Scones with jam and cream at Bettys Harrogate

Where we stayed

Days Inn Wetherby, just off the A1(M), is within an hours drive of Bettys in both Harrogate and York, a good rest stop option for a family road trip. From there it’s a ten mile, 25 minute drive to Harrogate. Days Inn Wetherby is a purpose built modern sanctuary with 129 bedrooms. The new futuristic looking bar is open 24 hours a day to guests only. The twin and double rooms are spacious and adjoining rooms are available. All rooms have tea and coffee, and flat-screen TV. There is 24 hour reception, Wi-Fi and free parking.

Clair Sidebottom the manager is expecting a busy summer season. “We like to think we are at the centre of the golden triangle, where you’ve got Harrogate, York and Leeds. We get lots of festival traffic. We’ve also got a deal with Light Water Valley at the moment for families; a package of accommodation and ticket.”

She says dogs are particularly welcome. “We thrive on being pet friendly. When people check in with a dog we give them a letter for the dog and a goody bag and we have dog beds and bowls.” For human guests, continental breakfast is an extra £6.95, taken in the breakfast room, or there’s a good Costa Coffee and a wide variety of other services right next door. Perfect for a road trip.

Days Inn is a part of the Wyndham Rewards loyalty programme where points can be earned and redeemed at more than 8,000 hotels around the world.

Days Inn Wetherby

Days Inn Wetherby

Disclosure Note: This post is part of our Days Inn Days Out Road Trip, a campaign sponsored by Days Inn to promote great days out within easy reach of Days Inn hotels. We visited four Days Inns for four great British Days Out. The choice of days out, views, experience, opinions, photography and videography produced are all our own. As was all the cake eating and tea drinking.

About the author

Kirstie

Kirstie is the Editor of The Family Adventure Project. A professional writer and poet, she's the creative and journalistic force behind many of the stories and features published here. She's a co-founder and co-director of The Family Adventure Project and also works as the #poetinmotion producing and performing poetry for print, video and live performance.

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We're Kirstie & Stuart. We share an adventurous spirit, a passion for indie travel and 3 kids. The Family Adventure Project is our long term experiment in doing active, adventurous things together. Find out more...

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