For something as simple and satisfying as the humble cream tea, it’s something that stirs up a lot of debate and discussion in the South West. Where exactly did it originate from, Devon or Cornwall? Which is better, jam first or cream first? Where do you get the best cream teas from?
All that is up for discussion, though most of us agree that when you’re feeling peckish but don’t want a full-blown meal, there are few things better to fill that rumbling stomach than a delicious cream tea. If you are coming to Devon and Cornwall for the first time, making sure you have a cream tea is an absolute staple of any trip to the region.
You’re spoiled for choice of great places to get a cream tea, but here are ten of our favourites from across Devon, based not only on how tasty the cream tea is, but the experience, location, views and general ambience you’ll find when you get there. Here’s our list of ten of the best places for a cream tea in Cornwall.
Bedford Hotel, Tavistock
The town of Tavistock in West Devon claims to be the birthplace of the cream tea! Ancient manuscripts show that the monks at Tavistock’s Benedictine Abbey were eating cream teas around 1,000 years ago as a reward for restoring the abbey. They liked them so much they served them to passing travellers! It only seems fitting to recommend The Bedford, an elegant hotel in the heart of the town that specialises in cream teas and used to form part of that Benedictine Abbey!
Trimstone Manor, Woolacombe
The restaurant within this beautiful 17th century manor house hotel serves delicious afternoon teas, but make sure you pre-book where possible! The hotel itself lies in 44 acres of landscaped gardens and the rolling hills of the north Devon countryside, so you’re guaranteed a sedate visit. It’s a stone’s throw from the coast, so a family day out at Woolacombe Beach can be followed by a tempting tea!
Docton Mill Tea Rooms, Hartland
The gorgeous gardens at Docton Mill are nestled in a pretty valley on the Hartland peninsula, an area of outstanding natural beauty. The tearoom has a series of accolades to its name, including being named Best Cream Tea in Devon at the North Devon Food and Drink Awards and winning a gold medal at the Devon County Show, plus the chance to wander the gardens makes it truly worth a visit.
The Horn of Plenty, Gulworthy
The tradition of afternoon tea is a firm favourite at this luxury country house hotel on the Devon/Cornwall border; there’s an extensive range of options for afternoon tea, including a luxury option served with a glass of prosecco! On top of the truly scrumptious food, the Horn of Plenty has staggering views across the Tamar Valley that truly are tough to beat anywhere in the region.
Darts Farm, Topsham
There are few shopping experiences quite like Darts Farm, a food hall selling pretty much anything you can think of straight off this working farm. You could pop into the restaurant first for tempting homemade scones, strawberry jam and local clotted cream, then explore the rest of the food hall to pick up tasty treats to take home with you.
Saunton Sands Hotel, Braunton
This fabulous four-star art deco hotel sits in a wonderful location overlooking three miles of the golden beach of Saunton Sands. This is a good spot for a great tea at the hotel’s restaurant, but the hotel’s views and position right on the South West Coast Path also make it ideal for exploring parts of Braunton’s stunning coastline on foot.
Chambercombe Manor, Ilfracombe
This intriguing property is steeped in history, even getting a mention in the Domesday Book. There are legends and ghost stories about the property, with one of its owners being executed for treason! Today the tearoom here is famed for serving a great cream tea and lovely light lunch.
Fingle Bridge Inn, Drewsteignton
Located at the bottom of the Teign Valley on the banks of the river, in a charming spot next to bridge that gives the pub its name, the Fingle Bridge Inn is the definition of picturesque. The pub is a wonderful start or end point for walking along the Teign Gorge, with a climb up to the National Trust’s Castle Drogo and its breath-taking views a reward for those starting at the Fingle Bridge Inn.
Eat on the Green, Exeter
This restaurant is so well known for its cream teas that until recently, it was called Tea on the Green! Their sumptuous interpretation of traditional afternoon tea is worth a visit alone, but the views of the beautiful cathedral green in Exeter only add to a truly wonderful experience. Exeter is a great city for exploring and shopping too!
Hele Corn Mill, Hele
This Grade II listed water mill dates back around 500 years and flour was milled here until the mid 1930s, but today that tradition continues with the milling of organic wheat and promoted with the adjoining Miller’s Wife’s Tea Room! It’s won Devon Life’s Best Tearoom Award four times and all their products are baked at the premises. The exact selection changes each day, but a great cream tea is always on the menu — all just 300 metres from stunning Hele Bay Beach!
That is our list! Did we miss any of your favourites off our top ten? Let us know in the comments below and share your recommendations!