Best Afternoon Tea in Edinburgh [2023]

Best Afternoon Tea in Edinburgh [2023]
Note – This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy via these, I may earn a small fee. This has absolutely no effect on the price you pay. As an eBay and Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

The Scottish capital of Edinburgh has some fabulous places to eat. We’re talking Michelin stars, fresh local produce, stunning views and more. And enjoying the best afternoon tea in Edinburgh is the ideal way to refuel while seeing the city. Anyway, who can resist finger sandwiches and savouries, freshly baked scones with clotted cream and jam and cute cakes? 

If you want to enjoy the best afternoon tea in Edinburgh city centre, this guide is for you. I know the Scottish city very well, having grown up in nearby Northumberland. After graduation I also lived in the New Town and Bruntsfield neighbourhoods for a while. We still have friends in Edinburgh, and visit whenever we can. And devour an afternoon tea each time, of course.

Keen to tuck in? My top recommendation is The Balmoral afternoon tea. It’s served in the glorious Palm Court at this iconic number 1 Princes Street hotel.

So which is the best Edinburgh afternoon tea? If you want to know the top places to go, this piece includes options to suit all budgets. Whether the best place for afternoon tea in Edinburgh, for you, is a purse-friendly option, or you’re fully prepared for a five star blow-out. This article covers them all. 

Whether you’re looking for high tea in Edinburgh, a vegan afternoon tea in Edinburgh or already have your heart set on The Dome Edinburgh afternoon tea, read on to find the perfect place. I even have suggestions for those seeking the best afternoon tea delivery in Edinburgh! Let’s get started. 

Best Afternoon Tea in Edinburgh Contents

Best High Tea in Edinburgh Comparison Chart

VenueLocationBest forPrice guide Stay over?
Waldorf AstoriaCity centreGlobal flavours£££Click here
Scottish National Portrait GalleryNew TownArt fans£No
TigerlilyNew TownCocktail lovers£Click here
The Signet LibraryOld TownHistory buffs££No
Queen Charlotte RoomsLeithLeith location£No
The DomeNew TownTea cocktails££No
Harvey NicholsCity centreFirth of Forth views££No
The BalmoralCity CentreCity institution£££Click here
Prestonfield HouseHolyrood ParkAl fresco dining££Click here
Mimi’s BakehouseLeith or CorstorphineA sweet tooth££No

Best Edinburgh Afternoon Tea – Top 10 Options

10 Best Afternoon Teas in Edinburgh

Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh

The Caledonian, Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 2AB

Best for global flavours

Whether you want to enjoy the best tea in Edinburgh at home or the hotel, the Waldorf Astoria covers both options. You can enjoy this posh afternoon tea in Edinburgh in the plush, historic setting of Peacock Alley, or order your high tea in Edinburgh for collection daily between midday and 2pm. This hotel is also known as The Caledonian. 

The menu includes some innovative choices, such as Bang Bang chicken brioche, a red Thai curry quiche, an Iranian date and apricot cake and a signature Saltire flag macaron. It’s the world on a plate – and the top pick for fans of inventive culinary creations. 

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Scottish National Portrait Gallery

1 Queen Street, Edinburgh EH2 1JD

Best for art fans

Among the best places in Edinburgh for afternoon tea is the Scottish National Portrait Gallery’s Cafe Portrait. This can be found in the gorgeous Georgian New Town, by Queen Street Gardens. 

Cafe Portrait offers a laid-back ambience and edible goods made from scratch on the premises. Do book in advance for this quirky tea served in the snug, advising any dietary requirements when booking. Some say it’s the finest they’ve ever sampled, and prices are a steal. 


125 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4JN

Best for cocktail lovers

Tigerlily is a fabulous boutique hotel that also happens to serve a top afternoon tea in Edinburgh. It’s also very reasonably priced, and the property also has a New Town location. During December, you can also get the best Christmas afternoon tea in Edinburgh here.

Tigerlily’s afternoon tea menu includes sandwiches with filling like Scottish salmon, a goat’s cheese and caramelised onion quiche, salted caramel eclairs and a Black Forest brownie gateau. Yum! Tigerlily also offers a champagne afternoon tea in Edinburgh, or one served with a cocktail or glass of New Zealand sparkling wine.

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The Signet Library

Parliament Square, Edinburgh EH1 1RF

Best for history buffs

This is the best place to have afternoon tea in Edinburgh if you want to enjoy it on the historic Royal Mile. The Signet Library offers a grand and very glam setting, complete with fluted columns, velvet chairs and gleaming silver tea stands.

A surprise amuse bouche kicks things off, and from then on every morsel has been designed as a meal in a mouthful. Expect the unexpected when it comes to flavour combinations. Goats cheese is paired with strawberry, leek with lemon and white chocolate with wasabi. More conventional matches, meanwhile, include peaches and cream, cardamon and pistachio and prawn and pea.

Queen Charlotte Rooms

56a Queen Charlotte Street, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 7EX

Best for Leith location

Have you heard of having afternoon tea on the Orient Express in Edinburgh and are wondering what that’s all about? It’s the Orient Express Suite at the Queen Charlotte Rooms you want. This place serves the best afternoon tea in Leith, close to the port.

The idea is to serve afternoon tea as you’d experience it on the Orient Express. Complete with authentic train sounds – and a pianist. Prices again offer incredible value for money, and you can add champagne, prosecco or a cocktail.

The Dome

14 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 2PF

Best for tea cocktails

Afternoon tea at the Dome in Edinburgh is one of the city’s most talked-about experiences. The Georgian Tea Room here is a study in opulence, complete with chandeliers, sculpted ceilings and plush drapes. For such an elegant setting, prices are again good value.

There are several menus to choose from, including children’s, champagne, ‘tipsy’ and vegan options. The selection of organic loose leaf teas is impressive and the ‘tipsy tea’ includes a choice of delicious tea-infused cocktails. For many, this is the best tea in Edinburgh.

Harvey Nichols

30-34 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2AD

Best for Firth of Forth views

Surely there’s not a more Scottish address than St Andrew’s Square – it’s his flag on the blue and white Saltire. Harvey Nichols in Edinburgh is situated between the city centre and the New Town, and its elevated location affords diners Firth of Forth views.

Expect a traditional Edinburgh afternoon tea experience with a twist – and breathtaking views. Edibles like sausage rolls and salmon croissants ensure the savouries stay interesting, while the sweet treats are just as dainty and delicious as you’d expect.

The Balmoral – TOP PICK

1 Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 2EQ

Best city institution

This Edinburgh icon and institution enjoys the city’s most prestigious address. And the magnificent, domed Palm Court reflects that in spades. Fine champagne and the tinkling of cutlery on china are of course de rigueur here. It’s my personal favourite and top recommendation.

If you want the most sumptuous setting in the city for a most memorable afternoon tea in Scotland, then surely this is the one. It’s a light-filled space with palms, Venetian chandeliers and frescoed walls, complete with a harpist in the gallery. A great selection of savouries, sandwiches, scones and pastries is served, and there are 88 loose leaf teas to pick from.

Stay over here

Prestonfield House

Priestfield Road, Edinburgh EH16 5UT

Best for al fresco dining

Home baked goods, glorious rose gardens, hot savouries and crackling fires… for many Prestonfield is the Edinburgh afternoon tea. In summer sunshine you can enjoy yours al fresco in the grounds, or cosy up by the fireplace in winter.

Prestonfield House is positioned below Arthur’s Seat, by Holyrood Park, and is a late 17th century building set among spacious grounds. For character, service and sublime food, this very special place is pretty much unbeatable.

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Mimi’s Bakehouse

63 Shore, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6RA

277 St John’s Road, Corstorphine, Edinburgh EH12 7XD

Best for a sweet tooth

The Mimi’s Bakehouse group offers some of the best tea rooms in Edinburgh. There’s half a dozen spread across the city too, but for afternoon tea you can take your pick between the Leith and Corstorphine branches. Enjoy an Edinburgh high tea in the city centre, on the Royal Mile, in Leith or in three other locations.

The cakes are the star of the show here, so don’t stuff your face with sandwiches and savouries (tempting though that may be). Local Eteaket tea and Machina coffee washes it all down very nicely indeed. Afternoon tea in Leith, Edinburgh is at the original Mimi’s on the Shore, while Corstorphine is a suburb to the west of the city.

Best Afternoon Tea in Edinburgh FAQs

Is afternoon tea a thing in Scotland?

Very much so. Afternoon tea in Scotland is as popular as in London, but often with far more palatable prices. Don’t miss the chance to sample savouries, finger sandwiches, dainty cakes and fluffy scones served in sumptuous surroundings when visiting Edinburgh – or any other location outside the Scottish capital.

What is a Scottish high tea menu?

Expect to be served the best scones in Edinburgh and the finest savouries in Glasgow when going for afternoon tea in Scotland. Also on the menu are finger sandwiches and pretty cakes. This sort of high tea is usually served on a photogenic tiered stand for maximum visual impact. As well as the practicalities of keeping sweet and savoury treats separate.

What’s the most popular Scottish tea?

Black tea is consumed more than any other type in Scotland. Green and white teas are also found in many cafes, restaurants and hotels. Herbal blends are also growing in popularity all the time, both in Scotland and across the UK.

Which is the Best Edinburgh Afternoon Tea for You?

I hope this snapshot of the best Edinburgh afternoon teas has whetted your appetite. High or afternoon tea is as much of an institution in the Scottish capital as anywhere in Britain. My top tip is to make sure you arrive really hungry – and do ask to take the rest away if you can’t finish it all!

Note –  This post may contain affiliate links. If you buy via these, I may earn a small fee. This has absolutely no effect on the price you pay. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. 

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Photo credits: The Balmoral