13 of the best afternoon teas in Dorset
- Credit: Archant
From farmhouse to country house, tea room to hotel, we've left no crumb untested as we seek out some of the finest cream teas in the county.
Remember to practice social distancing on your visit and book ahead wherever possible to avoid disappointment.
A traditional Dorset tearoom with bed & breakfast rooms in the picturesque village of Cerne Abbas. Watch the world go by as you treat yourself to traditional Dorset Cream tea with homemade scones and wonderful Duchy Originals Strawberry Jam.
This hidden gem is tucked away on a little Bournemouth street and offers high quality food from breakfast right through to tea time. As well as a fantastic menu filled with healthy ingredients, a cosy and somewhat vintage atmosphere welcomes you upon arrival.
Carolyn Staunton from Sturminster Newton has recommended the Willow Tearooms in Shillingstone: “I held a very successful ladies traditional afternoon tea party at this charming 18th Century tearoom and restaurant last summer. It has a view of Hambledon Hill from the garden. You can call in for refreshing choice of teas, cakes, finger sandwiches, scones or wholesome boiled egg with soldiers when walking or cycling along the North Dorset Trailway just behind it.”
There’s something special about taking tea in a country house hotel and Summer Lodge has all the boxes ticked when it comes to luxe vibes and location. This Grade II listed 5-star hotel sits in glorious Thomas Hardy countryside near Dorchester and serves its sumptuous cream tea wherever Sir or Madam cares to take it: in the conservatory, whiskey lounge or drawing room, or if the weather’s fine in the beautiful gardens.
Enjoy a fabulous afternoon tea with a clear conscience at this award-winning and self-styled “greenest hotel in the UK” situated in a beautifully restored Grade II Victorian villa in the heart of Bournemouth. A member of the Green Tourism Business Scheme and praised for its eco-friendly approach to energy, water management and suppliers, the hotel’s Arbor restaurant lays on a sumptuous afternoon tea served on its three-tiered signature wooden ‘tree’ stand.
6. One for coffee lovers… Aroma
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If you prefer a cup of Java with your scone then beat a path to this little gem of an independent coffee house in Bridge Street, which sources its beans from a local artisan roastery. It’s not a problem if you prefer tea, as they also offer a fine range of brews. Enjoy a simple and delicious cream tea of homemade fruit scones, local clotted cream and homemade jams that might include strawberry, cherry, or apple and blackberry.
Visitors rave about the food – cream teas are so popular that some customers enjoy them for breakfast – and the stunning location of this friendly farmhouse café situated on a working organic farm. A wide selection of cakes, scones (plain and fruit), jam and lemon curd are all made in-house while the delicious clotted cream is sourced from Hangers Dairy in nearby Bridport. Downhouse Farm is off the beaten track down a bumpy lane; Keep your eyes open for a small sign!
Taking tea in this beguiling vintage teashop is like entering a time warp. Pretty bunting, vintage linen, cut glass sugar bowls and mismatched china have helped make it a busy local favourite in Westbourne. Enjoy plain or fruit scones with clotted cream and jam, or add finger sandwiches with classic fillings like smoked salmon and cream cheese, cheese and pickle and ham and mustard.
A winner in our Food, Drink and Farming Awards, this quirky tearoom is the perfect reward after a long walk in the glorious surrounding countryside. Mismatched crockery and other vintage bits and bobs create a lovely cosy tearoom atmosphere, or you can enjoy your feast in the dreamy secluded garden. There’s plenty of cream tea choice here and the Glorious Afternoon Tea stands out: muffins with smoked salmon and vodka cream, a homemade scone with local jam and clotted cream, homemade petit fours, biscotti and brownie to finish.
Dovecote offers a delicious range of teas, coffees, cakes, and scones to satisfy any afternoon tea lover. The café is located at The Walled Garden in a tranquil village synonymous with T.E. Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia - he rented Clouds Hill cottage nearby and is buried in the church yard.
11. Comins Tea House
This is a wonderful destination for tea lovers, as knowledgeable staff will help you choose from 23 different single estate loose-leaf teas so that you can match your food with the perfect brew. Their generous cream tea includes a choice of savoury tartines (open sandwiches), a board of mini cakes (some flavoured with tea, like the matcha madeleines), and finishes with blueberry scones, clotted cream and homemade jam.
Enjoy a cream tea inside this delightful hut – named Abigail’s Kitchen after the owner’s daughter – situated in the middle of a working Dorset farm. Converted from a field shelter for horses, the hut has been transformed into a lovely cosy space where traditional vintage cream teas are served. Enjoy simple homemade scones with Blackmore Vale clotted cream and locally made jam, or go the full Vintage Tea and add finger sandwiches and cakes such as coffee and walnut, Victoria sponge, carrot, chocolate or fruitcake.
13. One for chocoholics… Chococo
If you fancy a chocolate twist to your cream tea, head to the Swanage branch of this award-winning luxury chocolate maker. Their decadent cream tea includes scones packed with chocolate chips, served with dulce de leche caramel and clotted cream. True chocoholics can pair their food with a mug of hot chocolate (there’s range of different flavours to choose from) or a cup of fine leaf tea.
Update by Martha Griffiths in May 2021.