I’m already bored of hearing about January diets and the “incredible” weight loss transformation of z-list celebs. This year I’ve not made any New Year’s resolutions that will lead to inevitable self-loathing, but plan instead to embrace indulgence as the new abstinence of 2012. This could be achieved through the standard night of hedonistic partying on bars, doing body shots off strangers and stumbling home with a handful of fried chicken. Or more simply through one of life’s finer pleasures – a good cup of tea and a big fat slice of cake.
Whether your cup of choice is the noble Earl Grey, exotic Lapsang Souchong or the humble English Breakfast, below are some cosy spots scattered across the country perfect for treating yourself (and ending the January diet/cycle of misery and self torture).
Tucked away in Brighton, The Tea Cosy gives you the smug feeling of satisfaction that you’ve stumbled upon somewhere ‘secret’. Once inside you’ll find yourself in a fairy lit grotto of Royal Family memorabilia which vaguely resembles someone’s living room. With its odd cups, higgledy piggledy chairs, dusty lampshades and patriotic décor, it reaches the epitome of eccentricity whilst just remaining on the right side of chintz. Friendly service and good value for money, you can tuck into a selection of sandwiches and cakes named after your favourite royal, and drink tea from a pot aptly adorned with a knitted tea cosy.
This ‘Alice in Wonderland’ inspired tea room is as indulgent in its interior design as it is in the cakes it serves. Upon entering you’re greeted with a cabinet full of delicious goodies, whilst the room in front of you unfolds into a spectacular example of camp at its decadent best. You can sit opposite a backdrop which evokes the Queen of Hearts, retreat under the glass roof of a flower-filled conservatory, or settle down on comfy cushion seats shrouded in silk drapes. A lively atmosphere makes it perfect for a special occasion, or just a good excuse to stuff your face with scones and clotted cream.
Offering a cake-eating and tea-drinking experience in an environment of elegance and sophistication, the St James’s Restaurant is located on the top floor of the royally warranted department store Fortnum & Mason – famous for its luxury hampers, amongst other things. As you’re waited on by attentive staff in an atmosphere of calm civility, it’s not the place to raucously enjoy your cake, but instead pass your time with pleasant conversation whilst listening to the tinkering of the grand piano. It’s not extortionately expensive but you do pay more for a higher end service and experience. You might as well swap the tea for champagne whilst you’re at it.
The grand location of The Dome in Edinburgh doesn’t solely serve afternoon tea, but it is a dining option with a menu full of the good stuff a traditional tea is made of: finger sandwiches, scones and cakes. With a variety of rooms to dine in the most impressive is undoubtedly The Grill Room. After passing through the foyer and under a chandelier of epic proportions, you’re seated under the impressive glass dome itself. Surrounded by pillars and marble flooring you could feel like you’d been transported to a more decadent era. However the friendly, down to earth atmosphere keeps your feet on the ground as you choose between the smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwich, or the Scottish beef and horseradish one.