The tradition of sipping delectable leafy concoctions in chintzy cups, pinky finger in the air, is deeply ingrained in British culture. Despite this, tea rooms seem to be disappearing across the country at a speedy rate, replaced by hipster cafe after hipster cafe. Brighton is no exception.
So today, before they all disappear, here’s my (incomplete) cosy guide to the tea rooms of Brighton. Otherwise known as where’s left in Brighton hiding some of its finest china – as usual I’ll update when I find more worthy entries to include.
Tucked up a side street close to the Kemptown seafront is this miniature tea room. In fact, with just three tables it could be Brighton’s – if not the world’s – smallest tea room. Who knew? Every time I’ve been here, I’ve had the place all to myself. This makes it the perfect spot to ponder your day, recharge your batteries, do some people watching, in peace and quiet.
Everything about it screams out British tea room – from the lace table cloths, chintzy china and floral wallpaper to the cake stands in the window and bunting decorating its original facade – complete with checkerboard tiles. It might also be the only tea room in Brighton with mock-brick wallpaper – a serious design statement.
It’s open for morning coffee, breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and obviously serves plenty of cakes, as well as homemade sandwiches which come with crisps on the side. Nice touch. If you want, you can even hire the whole place for your very own vintage-style birthday tea party!
Find Leman at 15a Madeira Place, Brighton BN2 1TN
The Mock Turtle tea rooms, tea and chintz near the seafront
The Mock Turtle is Brighton’s chintziest tea room by far, tucked up a slowly gentrifying side street around the corner from the scruffy coach drop-off point.
It’s homey, full of Spode crockery and although it’s seen better days (spot the damp patch above…), the tea is refreshingly good and the cakes comforting (although for some reason, now, they’re all wrapped in clingfilm…) Order your favourite to have with a pot of the Mock Turtle tea blend.
Find The Mock Turtle Tea Rooms at 4 Pool Valley, Brighton BN1 1NJ.
To wind down from a shopping spree around Churchill Square, take a break at Time for Tea, hidden up a pretty residential side street around the corner from Brighton’s secret museum in a private shopwindow.
The space is quiet and traditionally decorated – although it used to be filled with books so it must have a new owner. The tea list – as you’d expect – is extensive. From the usual classic black tea mixes, to fruity concoctions like ‘sundown’: lemon balm, peppermint, blackberry leaves, lemongrass, camomile, lavender flowers, rose petals, orange blossoms and heather. Phew. Or how about ‘Turkish apple’: apple pieces, apple pomace and blackberry leaves?
The warm madelaines are spongy and delicious. Or perhaps you prefer a sandwich, some toast and jam, a slice of homemade cake, or perhaps the full ‘afternoon tea’ works: sandwiches, scones with cream and came, cakes and tea?
Find Talk of Tea at 26 Spring Street, Brighton BN1 3EF.
These exclusive tearooms are probably the Royal Pavilion’s best-kept secret, because you can only access them if you’ve a ticket to the Pavilion. This means they stay pretty quiet most of the time. This kitschy, eccentric cafe is set in what was once two rooms, thought to have been the dressing room of King Goerge’s last mistress, Lady Conyngham – in here is a doorway leading to a secret staircase which goes directly to the King’s bedroom on the floor below (which emerges behind a door to the right of his bed…)
Bear all this frippery in mind as you tuck into your Prince George Afternoon Tea while gazing out over the Pavilion Gardens from your little window seat – or from the balcony in the summer.
Find the Royal Pavilion Tearoom inside Brighton Pavilion, 29 New Road, Brighton BN1 1UG.
I could pretty much find a reason to include this place on every blog post I write about Brighton (see here and here), I love it so much. It isn’t technically a ‘tea room’; it’s more of a cafe-restaurant, but its beautiful dining room makes a lovely spot for some tea and contemplation. Nab one of the tables at the front for some people watching. Order up a pot of tea, a chunky slice of carrot cake or some warm buttery banana bread. It’s tea time heaven.
Find Chard Restaurant inside iGiGi General Store at 31A Western Road, Hove, BN3 1AF.