When we were invited along to afternoon tea at The Principal York, a bun fight almost broke out among our three children about who would be my date for the day. After several rounds of rock/ paper/scissors, our eight-year-old was declared the victor and excitedly dusted off his most sensible t-shirt for the occasion. After all, if there’s ever a destination with a sense of occasion, it’s The Principal. Since its recent refurbishment, the hotel has secured its place as one of the most stunning venues in York, perfect for a luxury night away (with kids or without), Sunday lunch at The Refectory restaurant or gin and tonic in the cosy Chapter House bar. But what of the afternoon tea?
Afternoon tea is served in the glamorous surroundings of the Garden Room, a beautiful, light and open space with views of the city. We were seated at a table for two by the tall windows, and it was just a matter of seconds before our boy spotted a selection of board games to play. And with that, the afternoon became about chess: me trying to remember how to play and him testing out his new-found skills.
When we weren’t busy trying to take each other’s pieces, we enjoyed sampling the many delights of the afternoon tea menu. Children have their own afternoon tea menu, specially designed by a local school. The fish-shaped tuna sandwich and heart-shaped jam sandwich raised a smile and the hand-print cookie deserved a high-five. The selection of cakes was beautiful to look at and, judging from the contented looks across the table, just as good to eat (and to be fair to him, he did insist on sharing the prettiest one with me – I’ve trained him well). Let’s not forget the scones, either: they may not be as exciting to look at, but they were each individually flavoured and he ate the lot!
While the adult selection may not have the novelty factor of the children’s, it is a treat from start to finish. It began with a little plate of savoury delights: a little homity pie with the lightest pastry, Yorkshire rarebit and an incredibly creamy and moreish cauliflower veloute with parsnip crisps. Cakes, sandwiches and scones followed and were, without exception, exceptional. The banoffee macaron was a particular highlight, and unlike anything I’ve had before, and the Yorkshire rhubarb mess had just the right balance of sharpness and cream. A pot of English breakfast tea was the perfect match, and I was grateful to our lovely waiter for the endless refills.
We had such a lovely afternoon at The Principal that neither of us wanted to leave. But as our waiter kindly brought us a box to take any leftover cakes, we felt that we should probably go back home with something back for the girls. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that we returned with just one lonely cake for them to share – everything else had been eaten! A testament to a perfect afternoon tea.
The Principal York Hotel, Station Road, York YO24 1AA – Afternoon tea is served daily from 1pm to 5pm – Visit The Principal York’s website for more details
Many thanks to The Principal York for inviting us to afternoon tea. As always, our reviews are independent and we will only ever recommend something that we have genuinely enjoyed