Harrogate and Bettys Tea Rooms go together like tea and scones. Or a cup of coffee and a Fat Rascal (more on them later!). Open for nearly a century, Bettys is little changed from its 1919 launch. The service is just as impressive, the teas and coffees as well-brewed and the tablecloths as spotless as they were at the Victorian launch. Opened at the peak of the town’s spa fame, Bettys has served breakfast, lunch and high tea to the rich and famous – and in some instances, those who queued for hours around the block to get a seat.
Taking inspiration from Switzerland and Yorkshire, the tea and coffee can often be seen as a sideshow to the sweet treats, bakes and delicacies. They sell dozens of different types of traybakes, pillow-soft sponges, tarts, scones and Fat Rascals, which they’ve been perfecting for more than 30 years. A fruity scone best served warm and buttered, Fat Rascals smell as good as they look, thanks to the juicy currants and the citrus peel, topped off with glacé cherries and almonds.
But never fear caffeine fans, Bettys takes its teas and coffees very seriously too. Choose from loose-leaf tea, herbal brews, single-origin coffee, blended beans and even coffee bags, with virtually everything available to buy from their shop as well, including their very cool tea caddies. The tea rooms are just as busy today as they were in the 1920s, but thanks to the internet and phone, you can now book your table in advance – highly recommended as Bettys is a travel destination in its own right for many.
Bettys grew their brand in 1962 when they merged with Taylors of Harrogate to create a Yorkshire storm in a tea (and coffee) cup. Their tea room empire has now expanded to include York, Ilkley, Northallerton and a second outlet in Harrogate at RHS Harlow Carr, all of which are dedicated to the slower pursuits in life, namely tea, cakes and conversation. And, since 2001, you can enrol at the Bettys Cookery School in Plumpton Park on the outskirts of Harrogate, where you can learn to bake with the best. Ours is a flat white and Fat Rascal, thanks.