Situated in the shadow of Bath Cathedral, and with windows overlooking the city’s wonderful Roman Baths, the Pump Room restaurant is rich in history. A Grade 1 listed building, it was a social hub in Georgian times, often frequented by famous local author Jane Austen, who wrote about the Pump Room in two of her famous novels, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey.
The Pump Room restaurant is a beautifully grand setting in which a stylish afternoon tea is served by impeccably dressed staff. Having wanted to visit since before I even moved to the area, it’s crazy to think that with my Global Afternoon Tea Challenge I hadn’t got round to visiting before! However, it seems I waited for a suitably special occasion, which ended up being when LWT’s Lou and Laura came for a day trip!
Walking through the double doors into the high ceilinged room I was far from disappointed with the view: crisp white tablecloths, classical portraits on the wall and an opulent chandelier greeted us as we headed to our table in the heart of the Pump Room. Shame we came ‘casual’ – I have to admit we all felt a little underdressed at this point!
We were also serenaded during our meal by a pianist and the famous Pump Room trio – supposedly Europe’s longest established resident musical ensemble. Playing gentle classic tunes as we dined was a lovely touch that added to the grandiose setting, as did the way you could wander over to look into the steaming ancient baths next door.
If that wasn’t enough, what made the setting even more unique was the Pump Room’s fountain, which pumps hot spa water directly from the Roman Baths. (This same water is used to heat the Pump Rooms during winter months too!).
Drink the hot spa water from the Roman Bath’s fountain
Revered for its curative abilities for 2,000 years, many people in Georgian times visited the city simply to ‘take the water’, which contains over 40 minerals. Let me tell you now, it really doesn’t taste nice! Still, at least we got into the spirit and partook!
The Pump Rooms afternoon tea menu
We each ordered a classic afternoon tea from the menu. Lou requested a vegetarian version, which they were happy to cater for by removing any meat sandwiches and adding extra veggie ones!
There was an impressive tea menu offering a wide variety of loose leaf teas, and not long after our chosen pots arrived, two three-tiered trays were placed in front of us. We first quickly made our way through the dainty sandwiches, which included classics like cucumber, honey roast ham, egg mayonnaise and roast beef and watercress. A savoury highlight had to be the salmon pate ‘shot’, served with crispbreads but I also liked the savoury cheddar scones.
Next came sweet scones that we turned into cream teas with lashings of jam and clotted cream. Somehow we still managed to make our way through the delectable selection of sweet treats, which included a raspberry choux bun, a chocolate and coffee opera cake, fresh fruit tart, and my personal favourite – fresh macarons.
The full Pump Rooms afternoon tea menu options is available to download here.
Where’s the best afternoon tea in Bath?
I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I haven’t visited all the most highly rated afternoon tea venues in the city, however, when it comes to luxurious settings I think the Pump Room could be hard to beat.
I absolutely loved the setting and its level of class reminded me of my afternoon tea at The Peninsula in Hong Kong. However, I’m not going to lie, I found the food a little average. There wasn’t anything wrong with it at all, but on the other hand there wasn’t anything I found spectacularly outstanding. I guess that with that backdrop I was hoping to be just as wowed by the food.
Even so, I would still recommended having afternoon tea at the Pump Room if you’re visiting Bath, simply for the experience itself. It’s definitely worth dressing up and spending an afternoon here drinking a glass of sparkling wine or a good quality cuppa – but if you’re game for trying the spa water I recommend starting with a small sip!
Have you had afternoon tea at Bath’s Pump Room restaurant? What was your experience like? Perhaps you’ve had a great afternoon tea experience elsewhere in the city? We’d love to hear your recommendations – please share in the comments below!
Find out more about afternoon tea at the Pump Room, or book your visit here. Our afternoon teas were complimentary for the purposes of this review. However, as always, all views are my own.