Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms, Harrogate

The story of Bettys began in Harrogate in 1919 and we’ve been welcoming locals and visitors to our café tea rooms ever since.
Before you enter, it’s worth pausing under the wrought iron canopy to feast your eyes on the mouth-watering window displays that vary with the season. Once inside the shop you’ll be spoilt for choice with over 300 breads, cakes and chocolates, as well as 50 different teas and coffees.
In the café the tables by the windows overlooking the Stray and colourful Montpellier gardens are always the most popular, but in our downstairs Spindler Gallery you can enjoy views of Yorkshire of a more unusual kind. Here you’ll find a collection of exquisite Marquetry scenes of Yorkshire from the studio of Charles Spindler in Alsace, which was established in the late 1890s at the height of the Art Nouveau period. The founder of Bettys, Frederick Belmont, discovered Spindler’s work in the early 1930s and commissioned the studio to make Yorkshire scenes to hang in his café tea rooms.
With such beautiful surroundings, why not treat yourself or a loved one to Afternoon Tea? Gift Vouchers are available to purchase in any of our six shops, or by telephoning Bettys Customer Services Team on 01423 814008.
We take reservations for Lady Betty Afternoon Tea in our elegant Imperial Room at Bettys Harrogate.

Available every Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1pm, (from 11am on Saturday) the Lady Betty Afternoon Tea menu is inspired by Bettys’ best loved pâtisserie and favourite Tea Rooms specialities.

Enjoy a delightful selection of sandwiches made with breads from our award-winning Craft Bakery, delicious savouries, two types of freshly baked scones – Yorkshire Lavender and Sultana – and an exquisite range of irresistible miniature cakes.

To make a reservation for Lady Betty Afternoon Tea, please telephone Bettys Harrogate on 01423 814043.
The Montpellier Café Bar

Our Café Bar is reminiscent of the informal style of dining found in the cosmopolitan cities of Switzerland, Italy and France. Displayed in the counter where you place your order are a selection of classic pastries to accompany your morning coffee. You’ll also find continental-style open sandwiches and filled rolls for the perfect lunchtime treat, and stunning handmade cakes, tortes and patisserie that will tempt you throughout the day.
The Montpellier Café Bar is also open in the evening, serving our full café tea rooms menu, ideal with a cup of coffee, pot of tea or even a deliciously chilled white wine – the perfect way to end your busy day.

Both the Imperial Room at Harrogate and Belmont Room at York are available for private hire outside the times of weekend Afternoon Tea.

Whether you are a small gathering, or a large party, we can tailor the event to suit your needs and organise everything to make it a really special occasion.

Lady Betty Afternoon Tea at Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms

We heard about Lady Betty Afternoon tea long before we saw, smelt or tasted its delights. Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms are a legend in the North of England. So when our sponsored Days Inn Days Out Road Trip took us to Wetherby, we booked a luxury Lady Betty afternoon tea in the Imperial Room, to get some lazy Sunday afternoon scone action. Here’s our review of this quintessentially British experience.

Lady Betty Afternoon Tea in the Imperial Room at Bettys Cafe Tea Room in Harrogate. Well behaved hen parties welcome!

Lady Bettys afternoon tea

I feel like I’ve gone back in time. There’s a tower of macaroons in the window in front of me that conjures up Parisian patisseries from my travels. But I can’t dwell on that. In moments we are bounding up the stairs and someone is taking our coats ready for the 3pm sitting of Lady Betty afternoon tea in the Imperial Room. When is the last time someone hung up your coat for you? I can’t remember the last time someone did it for me.

“Welcome to Bettys. You’ve booked a table for five? I’ll show you to your seat.”

We follow a uniformed waitress around a hen party decked out in pink. We pass windows with a pretty view of The Stray; 200 acres of grassland filled with floral artistry, before being seated at a linen covered table near the centre of the room. Our waitress is Gemini (how cool is that name?) who asks if we want champagne with our meal and gives the children their very own menu.

Staff and pianist prepare for service at the Lady Betty tea at Bettys Harrogate

Empire of the north

Bettys is a refreshment empire in Yorkshire. Tell anyone you are going to Harrogate and sooner or later it will come up in the conversation. Bettys was created nearly 100 years ago in 1919 by Swiss confectioner Frederick Belmont. The fourth generation family business also owns Yorkshire Tea and Taylors of Harrogate and there are six different café tea rooms operating under the Bettys brand. The Harrogate original is ornate on the outside with its black and gold pillars and lettering, and elegant on the inside. Meanwhile the shop and craft bakery is straight from Willie Wonka.

Lady Bettys Afternoon Tea at Bettys of Harrogate. A choice of teas.

Cake trumps all

If your family are always plugged in like mine are then it requires some ingenuity to get them to log off for quality family time. A short cut for us is often food, but not all meals are created equal. Pizza is almost always a winner but cake trumps everything.

Let me talk you through the cakes

Over sixteen years living in the lake District we’ve had many afternoon teas. But often they are just too much for one person to get through. Bettys manages it better by making all the cakes, including the scones, in bite size slivers and continually offering refills of everything.

“Would you like me to talk you through the cakes today?” Gemini asks as she puts the fifth silver rack down on the table. “You have a chocolate and passion fruit cube, a gooseberry macaroon, a miniature Battenberg, lemon religieuse and a pistachio and chocolate dacquoise slice.”

The Gooseberry macaroon at Bettys Harrogate

Lady Betty afternoon tea is four course luxury

The stack of silver platters dominate the table. But there’s not just desert on offer. This is more like a four course meal. The first course is a pea, cucumber and tomato cocktail in a tiny glass; a light and feathery starter. It’s followed by a miniature portion of pork and apple pie (How Yorkshire- pie following peas) accompanied by a smoked salmon, cream cheese and dill roulade. Then three types of sandwiches and then the scones. Lemon and rose if you are asking. And then the grand finale, the cakes, with a choice of dozens of teas served in a silver pot.

Don’t take your eyes off the cakes. Too late!

Tea for two and three and four

The piano starts to play ‘tea for two.’ Gadgets stay in bags. We talk. We talk! Next to us a mother is having tea with her daughter. There are two families who have children with birthdays and each gets a fondant fancy with a candle in it and a round of happy birthday on the piano. The hen party leaves in a haze of pink balloons.

Afternoon Tea at Bettys of Harrogate

Betty is not in the building

The staff are attentive and happy to chat. James brings us a Betty’s brochure. He is a student during the week but comes back to work at weekends. Betty herself doesn’t make an appearance but no one misses her as apparently no one really knows who she was anyway. We also don’t miss the phones and gadgets that dominate so many of our mealtimes.

The approach to Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms Harrogate

Lady Betty Christmas afternoon tea

You can have a Bettys champagne afternoon tea by simply adding a glass of champagne. And you can experience the Christmas Lady Betty afternoon tea over the festive period Last time I looked they were offering pistachio and chocolate dacquoise sleigh, festive stollen bite, and orange religieuse among other festive cakes. Or you could buy, or ask for Bettys tea room voucher to sample the Bettys tea room menu any time you need a treat.

Staying in a different time zone

We are staying in Wetherby, another pretty Yorkshire town 10 miles from Harrogate. Wetherby is also an expert at going back in time; the police station has its very own police box. Check out our video of us being Dr Who.

Practical Information

Afternoon Tea at Bettys

We took Lady Betty afternoon tea at Bettys Cafe Tea Room Harrogate. There are also Bettys tea rooms in York, Ilkley, Northallerton and Beckwithshaw with six different rooms between them to choose from.

A Lady Betty afternoon tea costs £32.95 with reductions and a special menu for children and vegetarians. You can upgrade to a champagne tea for extra fizz (£39.95 at time of publishing.) A normal traditional afternoon tea costs £19.95.

Booking upfront online is advisable. Sittings in the Imperial Room Harrogate are Thursdays- Sunday from 1pm (11am on Saturdays.) In the Belmont Room in York you can enjoy one every day during school holidays from 1pm or 11am Saturdays.

Scones with jam and cream in a Lady Betty afternoon tea

Where we stayed

Days Inn Wetherby, just off the A1(M), is within an hours drive of Bettys in both Harrogate and York, a good rest stop option for a family road trip. From there it’s a ten mile, 25 minute drive to Harrogate. Days Inn Wetherby is a purpose built modern sanctuary with 129 bedrooms. The new futuristic looking bar is open 24 hours a day to guests only. The twin and double rooms are spacious and adjoining rooms are available. All rooms have tea and coffee, and flat-screen TV. There is 24 hour reception, Wi-Fi and free parking.

Clair Sidebottom the manager is expecting a busy summer season. “We like to think we are at the centre of the golden triangle, where you’ve got Harrogate, York and Leeds. We get lots of festival traffic. We’ve also got a deal with Light Water Valley at the moment for families; a package of accommodation and ticket.”

She says dogs are particularly welcome. “We thrive on being pet friendly. When people check in with a dog we give them a letter for the dog and a goody bag and we have dog beds and bowls.” For human guests, continental breakfast is an extra £6.95, taken in the breakfast room, or there’s a good Costa Coffee and a wide variety of other services right next door. Perfect for a road trip.

Days Inn is a part of the Wyndham Rewards loyalty programme where points can be earned and redeemed at more than 8,000 hotels around the world.

Days Inn Wetherby

Disclosure Note: This post is part of our Days Inn Days Out Road Trip, a campaign sponsored by Days Inn to promote great days out within easy reach of Days Inn hotels. We visited four Days Inns for four great British Days Out. The choice of days out, views, experience, opinions, photography and videography produced are all our own. As was all the cake eating and tea drinking.

Bettys: Famous Yorkshire tearoom reaches its centenary

Image copyright G Laird / Geograph Image caption Bettys first tea room was opened in Harrogate in 1919

A tearoom that has become a Yorkshire institution is celebrating its 100th birthday.

Bettys opened its doors in Harrogate in the aftermath of the World War One and has been serving tea and cakes ever since.

A century on, the firm now boasts six cafes around the county.

Branch manager Carol Hanson said: “Bettys means a lot to our customers. They’ve celebrated all their life events with us.”

Image copyright Bettys Image caption Frederick Belmont left Paris for England in 1907

Bettys was founded by Swiss baker and chocolatier Fritz Bützer – who left his home country after a difficult childhood that saw him orphaned and bullied.

He headed first to France where he trained in the art of confectionery and later to England, where he changed his name to Frederick Belmont.

Company legend said young Frederick only ended up in Yorkshire because he lost the information about a job waiting for him during the rough sea crossing.

He remembered the town was called something like “bratwurst” – and was directed to Bradford.

Frederick opened his first cafe in Harrogate in 1919 but no-one knows where the Bettys name came from, or who “Betty” may have been.

Image copyright Bettys Image caption The first ever Bettys cafe opened on Cambridge Crescent in Harrogate, with a bakery on the top floor Image copyright Bettys Image caption A purpose-built facility replaced the bakery in 1922

New branches and a new bakery soon followed, and by the late 1930s, a cruise on RMS Queen Mary had inspired the famous Art Deco interior at the York branch.

Liz Barnes, Frederick’s great-niece, said it was her ancestor’s difficult childhood that gave him the drive to succeed.

“He was an incredibly determined man. He was an entrepreneur and he liked to do things his way.

“Because he had such an unhappy childhood – he was cruelly treated and bullied – it actually strengthened him,” she said.

Image copyright Bettys Image caption Frederick sailed on the maiden voyage of the RMS Queen Mary with his wife Claire, and was so impressed he commissioned the ship’s designers to create his new cafe in York Image copyright Bettys Image caption A replica of a Swiss villa cake made by founder Frederick Belmont has been created to mark Bettys centenary

Opening in 1937, the York cafe and its downstairs bar soon became popular with airmen stationed nearby during World War Two – many of whom engraved their names on a mirror behind the bar.

That mirror is still a valuable part of the the venue’s heritage, according to the branch manager Ms Hanson, who first joined the company 13 years ago.

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“I never thought, in a million years, that I would be standing here as branch manager,” she said.

“A hundred years on, and we are still as successful as we were when we first opened.”

Image copyright Bettys Image caption Bettys has been serving its famous cakes Fat Rascals since 1983

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Woburn Abbey

Woburn Abbey, Bedfordshire

The tradition of afternoon tea is said to have been invented by the 7th Duke of Bedford’s wife, Duchess Anna Maria, a lifelong friend of Queen Victoria, in the 1830s/40s. Anna Maria is believed to have ordered the sweet and savoury treats be served to guests at Woburn Abbey to stave off the hunger between luncheon and dinner time. Emulate the duchess’s style in Woburn Abbey’s Duchess’ Tea Room.

Badgers Tea House, Alfriston

Alfriston is home to the National Trust’s first property, the Clergy House, and Badgers Tea House is housed in a former bakery just off the Market Square. All of the cakes and scones are baked daily, and you can take tea in the walled garden, if the weather allows.

Afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason

Fortnum & Mason, London

Her Majesty The Queen, along with the Duchess of Cambridge, opened the Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon at Fortnum & Mason in 2012. With more than 80 teas on offer amid one of the most elegant spots in London, sipping a cuppa here is an unforgettable experience.

Richmond Tea Rooms, Manchester

This traditional English-style tea room, with an array of food and beverages, has to be seen to be believed. The decor is a nod towards a Tim Burton film, while chefs create unique specialities alongside traditional favourites too.

Brown’s Hotel, London

The English Tea Room at Rocco Forte’s Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, London, is famed for the quality of its tea service. James Brown established his hotel for ‘genteel’ folk in 1837 and Agatha Christie later wrote At Bertram’s Hotel here, no doubt enjoying afternoon tea in The English Tea Room. It would be rude not to follow suit.

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Are you ready to order?

I’m seated on a pale brown leather banquette with good views of the action should anything untoward happen – and, would you believe it, here comes a streaker. Well, in fact it’s a man wearing little more than a T-shirt and jeans. Which amounts to the same thing, although, officially, there’s no formal dress code at Bettys Tea Rooms. Even so, the man should be ashamed of himself.

When Bettys was established in 1919 it occupied what is now the Jaeger store across the road, but it moved to Parliament Street in the 1970s. The current chairman’s great-uncle, Frederick Belmont, founded the company and no one knows for sure why it was called Bettys, but there’s a book called Hearts, Tarts & Rascals – The Story of Bettys that might help. You can buy it on the way out.

Belmont was born in Switzerland, which explains why Yorkshire Curd Tarts and Warm Yorkshire Fat Rascal share the menu with cheesey staples such as Swiss Rosti, Swiss Alpine Macaroni and Swiss Raclette. It also accounts for one of Bettys’ equally cheesy catchphrases: “Where the Dales meet the Alps.” Actually, these savoury offerings are a big distraction.

All day I’ve been preparing for Bettys Traditional Afternoon Tea but now along comes “warm lemon chicken & herb salad” and “Wensleydale cheese roll”. And then I notice a whole page of wines and beers.Thank goodness, the couple at the next table are calling for the cake trolley, nothing more, nothing less.

To come to Bettys and not drink tea is like going to church and not believing in God.

“I’ll have the Bettys Traditional Afternoon Tea, please, but could I have Earl Grey rather than your regular brew?” I ask, pleased with my effortless tea-speak. “Earl Grey will be a little bit extra, but it won’t matter, will it, dear?” says the waitress.

I have a friend who thinks that Earl Grey should only be drunk in the afternoon. She also thinks that wearing brown shoes after 6pm is “poor form” and that a man should always walk on the outside of the pavement when accompanying a woman down the street.

I suspect she likes the story of how an envoy of Earl Grey (who was prime minister under William IV in the 1830s) is reputed to have saved the life of a Mandarin while on a diplomatic mission to China. The Mandarin showed his gratitude by revealing the secret recipe for a delicately scented tea that he promised would keep the earl’s body and soul in perfect harmony. That tea is Earl Grey.

At Bettys, it is served from silver-plated pots into Royal Doulton china and is well worth the extra 25p. It’s refreshing and enlivening and I’m thinking about seconds. If you’re on the traditional ticket, £14.50 buys you tea, four finger sandwiches with a choice of two fillings, a sultana scone with strawberry jam and clotted cream and a selection of miniature cakes. These come on a tiered cake stand, sandwiches at the top, cakes at the bottom.

Just as I’m about to savour the first cucumber and cream cheese finger, my concentration is broken by an elderly man walking past wearing a sweater made up of garish squares with squiggles. If Tiger Woods wore such a garment his playing partner would launch a formal protest.

Then another terrible thought just won’t go away. The scones are stale. It can’t be true but, sorry, even Mr Kipling (who knows a thing or two about keeping cakes alive for longer than is good for them) would agree that these little devils are, at the very least, on the turn. What’s more, the chocolate cake is heavy going. Keep the faith, I tell myself. Sure enough, a perfect raspberry tart comes to the rescue.

I’ve been here for an hour and if I hang around for another 30 minutes the pianist will be doing his bit on the other side of the room. But I just can’t string it out. My bill arrives in a twee little envelope that lists the other Bettys Tea Rooms in Yorkshire and the Bettys Cookery School and the Bettys mail-order number and website. The challenge now is to walk through the shop part of the restaurant without buying any Bettys products. I dare you.

Impossible. I pick up a tin of Bettys Earl Grey and head back out into the cruel world – that horrible place where people don’t always cut their teacakes with a knife and seldom ask if you want milk in first. I know I am a better person for worshipping in the cathedral that is Bettys Tea Rooms.

  • Bettys Tea Rooms, 1 Parliament Street, Harrogate (01423 502746 – no reservations). Traditional Afternoon Tea, £14.50.

Mark’s verdict: 6/10

  • Starting in today’s Telegraph, enjoy afternoon tea for two from £10 at more than 300 hotels and tea shops. Don’t miss your free 16-page guide inside today’s paper for details of our special offer.

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