JANUARY can feel like a long month after the excitement of the festive season and New Year celebrations. So to brighten up your January, and as a fun and delicious way of catching up with loved ones, why not head out for an afternoon tea?
There is a huge range of places all over Northern Ireland offering afternoon tea and almost every hotel, restaurant and venue has their own signature take on it featuring exquisite little treats washed down with NI’s favourite drink, tea.
Ruth Burns, PR and Marketing Destination Manager at Tourism NI explains why enjoying an afternoon tea is the perfect way to while away a day.
“We’re lucky here in Northern Ireland to have a huge selection of hotels and restaurants where you can beat the January blues with a fun day out sampling a range of delicious treats and given that 2016 is the Year of Food and Drink we are encouraging everyone to explore what’s available. We are a nation who love our tea plus a catch-up with friends and family and if you add sumptuous sandwiches, cream filled buns and a lovely venue, the combination is irresistible,” said Ruth.
To help get you started, Tourism Northern Ireland has highlighted a range of places where you can sit back, relax and enjoy an afternoon tea:
The 5* Merchant Hotel offers the ultimate luxury afternoon tea experience with finger sandwiches, delicate pastries and scones with clotted cream all adorned on a silver tea stand. This is complimented with tea, coffee or if you’re feeling particularly decadent – champagne.
Afternoon tea at 4* Ten Square Hotel is served up in the surroundings of the Grill Restaurant, with a chilled glass or Prosecco, selection of teas and coffee, mini savouries, side salad, cakes and mini desserts to finish.
Relax and unwind in the opulent Titanic Belfast where you can soak up the stunning surroundings, including a replica staircase of the RMS Titanic, as you listen to the smooth sounds of the musicians playing jazz.
Spoil your nearest and dearest with a traditional Afternoon Tea for Two at 4* Ballygally Castle. Choose from finger sandwiches, savouries, pastries, cakes and lots of speciality teas and coffees before taking a walk along Ballygally Beach opposite the hotel.
The 4* Galgorm Resort & Spa also offers afternoon tea in the beautiful River Room & Conservatory. Dive into the delicious treats available which include freshly brewed tea, sandwiches, miniature savouries, freshly baked scones and miniature desserts.
Treat your mum or best friend to an afternoon at the Ballydougan Restaurant & Coffee Lounge. Relax in the beautiful surroundings of Bloomvale House where you can enjoy locally produced and freshly prepared food. Why not make a day of it and join in one of the Pottery Classes or bring home a piece of Ballydougan from the gift shop.
At The Charlemont, you can treat yourself to a sumptuous afternoon tea made with pastries, scones, savouries and lots of sweet bites to tantalise your taste buds. All ingredients are locally sourced and the menu is designed around each season’s produce.
If you want a walk after an afternoon of indulgence there are many superb walks and trails nearby like the Slieve Gullion Forest Park or Lough Neagh Discovery Centre.
The 4* Old Inn, Crawfordsburn is the perfect place for a cosy afternoon where you can curl up on a comfortable seat by a roaring fire and enjoy a delicious afternoon tea of Earl Grey tea, dainty sandwiches, homemade shortbread and chocolate dipped strawberries. For a real treat, add a glass of Prosecco or sweet sherry.
At the 4* Slieve Donard Resort & Spa, Newcastle you can enjoy steaming cups of tea, and pretty plates piled high with dainty sandwiches and sweet treats. The popular seaside location is perfect for unwinding as you take in the stunning views where the mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea.
Plus, it is only a short drive to the beautiful Tollymore or Castlewellan Forest Park where you can enjoy a walk or for something really invigorating breathe in the sea air along Cranfield Beach near Kilkeel.
Enjoy afternoon tea at The 5* Lough Erne Resort & Spa, Enniskillen where you can chat with friends and family in the comfort of The Garden Hall by the log fire with views over Castle Hume Lough. If you are looking for something really indulgent then sample the Chocolate Afternoon Tea or the Pink Afternoon Tea which includes a glass of Billecart – Salmon Rose Champagne.
At the 4* Killyhevlin Hotel in Enniskillen you can choose from Classic Afternoon Tea or Cream Tea Delight and you can add a little sparkle to your day with a glass of champagne.
Round off your day with a visit to the National Trust properties of Florencecourt House or Castle Coole just outside Enniskillen. Florencecourt is one of Ulster’s most important 18th century houses whilst Castle Coole is one of Ireland’s greatest neo-classical houses.
The delicious afternoon tea at the 3* Silverbirch Hotel begins with an Amuse Bouche and is followed by a selection of finger sandwiches, lovely cakes and scones served with fresh cream and local jam accompanied by a selection of fresh leaf teas.
Enjoy scrumptious afternoon tea in Lady Ada’s Tea Room at The Argory, Dungannon. The Argory was built in the 1820’s and is the former home of the MacGeough – Bond family renowned for its wonderful views over the gardens and 320 acre wooded estate which borders the River Blackwater.
Visit the nearby Linen Green in Dungannon where you can enjoy an afternoon browsing through a range of unique shops bursting with items to suit every taste and style.
The 4* Everglades in Derry~Londonderry offers plates of dainty sandwiches, fluffy scones, buttery cakes and pastries. There is no better way to spend a relaxing afternoon with a handful of your best friends. Derry City is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland so take time to explore the city walls, take a stroll through the Craft Village, enjoy a tour of the historic Guildhall or meander across the Peace Bridge.
At the 4* Beech Hill Country House Hotel you can enjoy a variety of cakes, pastries and sandwiches made freshly every morning.
For more information on things to do in Northern Ireland click on www.discovernorthernireland.com or visit your local visitor information centre.