Long gone are the days when afternoon tea was an adults-only experience, a chance for the grown-ups to indulge in some child-free time over tea and cake. While you might like to keep it to yourselves – we promise not to tell your kids if you’d rather reserve it for yourselves – there are lots of places in York that offer afternoon tea for the whole family. After a bit of a break, afternoon tea has returned to The Principal York – the grand hotel set right next to York station – and we were invited along to try it out. Our three children (13, 10 and 8) didn’t take much persuasion to come along. We had them at ‘cake’.
The setting – First impressions of The Principal were, well, impressive. We’ve visited before, but never fail to be struck by the marbled floors, high ceilings and plush furnishings (not to mention the incredible, Instagrammable, staircase). Our youngest – a sucker for all things interiors – decided that she would like to move in straight away, please. Afternoon tea is served in the spacious Garden Room which has the right balance of sophistication and relaxation: it felt like a special place to be but without feeling overly formal (ideal with children in tow). Our friendly server greeted us with a welcome glass of fizz and seated us at a low table that seemed overly large until the many elements of the afternoon tea began to arrive.
The afternoon tea – The Principal’s new afternoon tea menu has a special twist, and one that we knew would appeal to our sweet-toothed children: chocolate. Inspired by York’s famous chocolate history, the hotel’s executive chef has created an indulgent selection of sweet treats that pay homage to some of the nation’s favourite chocolates. The Big One – a purple brioche choux bun filled with hazelnut and caramel – is a love letter to the iconic purple Quality Street, while The Mint – a dark chocolate brownie with mint-infused mousse – was a clever take on the much-loved After Eight. The flavour and texture combinations were delicious, and weren’t too grown-up for the children to enjoy. Simple finger sandwiches and lovely warm scones balanced out the sugar hit slightly (at least until the kids got their hands on the jam) and we all really enjoyed the little caramelised onion tarts. For the adults, a pot of English breakfast tea was the perfect accompaniment (there were more adventurous options available, but we kept it traditional) while the children had hot chocolate. Obviously.
The service – The atmosphere was welcoming, and the staff made sure that our children felt included and had a memorable experience. Although the food took a little longer to arrive than we would have expected, it was a good opportunity to play a few games, and we all agreed that it was worth the wait.
The bottom line – Our family afternoon tea experience at The Principal Hotel in York was really lovely. The elegant setting, warm service and delicious food made it a memorable afternoon in one of the city’s most impressive hotels. Welcome back!
Good to know – Afternoon tea is served daily in the Garden Room of The Principal York between 12 noon and 4pm. Dietary requirements and allergies can be accommodated if you let them know 48 hours in advance. The hotel is in an amazing location for exploring the many family-friendly sights and attractions in York. It’s a 5 minute walk into the city centre, two minutes down to the river and it’s right next to the station too.
The Principal York, Station Rd, York YO24 1AA