Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms, Harrogate

Date visited: Thursday 25th April 2019

Poached salmon sandwich and a pot of jasmine tea.

Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms in Harrogate are the best known tea rooms in the country and 2019 is their centenary year. No tour of the tearooms of Britain would be complete without a visit to this iconic tearoom. Bettys in Harrogate is almost always busy, despite serving more teas in an hour than some of the smallest tearooms would serve in a week. At busier times, customers have to wait in a queue outside to get in. They are also one of the largest with rooms on several levels for those taking tea. Bettys also has other branches across Yorkshire.

Chocolate torte with cream.

On the late Thursday afternoon that I visited, the queue was fortunately very short, just one couple in front of me. I was seated within ten minutes and was fortunate enough to get a window seat. Service was exemplary, with particular attention paid to customers’ allergies – as a consequence of which I found that Yorkshire Fat Rascal was off the menu for me. The menu is extensive, with a wide range of options for breakfast, lunch and, of course, afternoon tea which is served throughout the day. For those wanting something special, afternoon tea in the Imperial Suite can be booked in advance. Tea in the main tearoom cannot be pre-booked.

The hot sultana scone was served pre-buttered.

A silver-plate pot of jasmine green tea with extra water, a dainty poached salmon sandwich, and a relatively small, by Yorkshire standards, slice of chocolate torte with cream, followed by a heated sultana scone, came to £18.10. The food was, to my mind, nothing special – which is probably not surprising seeing as Bettys serves teas on an industrial scale compared to most other tea rooms. That said, it was far better than any other tearoom chain I have visited, but not comparable to the best of the small independent tea rooms. At Bettys the price is as much for the service and the experience as it is for the food.

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