My Favourite Afternoon Tea Spots in Manchester


It occurred to me that whilst I have an unofficial list of favourite places for afternoon tea in Manchester, it exists only in my head. Granted, I can’t claim to have tried every afternoon tea on offer, it’s a big city after all, but I’d like to give shoutout to some of what I consider to be local gems. You never know when someone might find themselves to be visiting the area with not enough time to meet up, but just about enough time for a fancy treat.

Photo by Lisa Fotios on

Best Value: Annies

Photo from Time Out.

Address: 5 Old Bank Street, The Royal Exchange, Manchester, M2 7PE

Afternoon tea is something that can be vastly overpriced. I know, I’ve had some that were just pure upsell. And while we may want to treat ourselves, sometimes the budget has to have much more of a say. Annies is the perfect answer in my opinion: a mid-price option, currently starting from £23pp, that will not leave you hungry or dissatisfied. The food is genuinely lovely and whilst it doesn’t necessarily change much or deviate from the traditional, it is well balanced between the savoury and the sweet bits. Every time that we’ve had a meetup there, the staff have been really lovely and considerate of the variety of needs within our party, whether they be dietary or seating. Whilst the venue is not particularly accessible (the main seating area is underground with no lift to my memory), being tucked away in between main streets means that it’s easy to get to without compromising on the quieter atmosphere since almost everyone else there will have reserved their seating. And having tried their Christmas lunch too, I can confirm that the quality of food is overall really high at very reasonable prices, not just the afternoon tea serving. In case you fancy something from the a’la carte menu.

Annies afternoon tea as pictured in February 2020.

Best Fancy Option: Hotel Gotham

Photo from Business Live.

Address: 100 King St, Manchester, M2 4WU

On the opposite end of the scale (though not that much more expensive at base price level), if luxury is what you crave, then I would wholeheartedly recommend Hotel Gotham. But don’t think of the name and expect the city that Batman has been trying to clean - think about the fine events that Bruce Wayne would attend and that is the vibe that you can expect. Everything that you would associate with a 5-star hotel where only the richest of the rich would stay, you will find here. The restaurant serving the afternoon tea is (aptly) on one of the top floors, offering beautiful views of the city below as you dine on the delicious spread. I remember really enjoying each mouthful that I had and was particularly enchanted with the live pianist adding to the atmosphere with the gentle tunes of Disney and Ghibli tunes (though the playlist may vary at the time of your visit). And if you still don’t trust me on that, maybe the fact that Hotel Gotham's afternoon tea came in 6th in the whole of the UK (ahead of The Savoy and Winter Gardens in London) this year in Betway's ranking for the National Tea Day celebrated on April 21st. You bet that if a place is beating an institution like The Savoy, then you can really expect something of truly the highest standard.

Hotel Gotham afternoon tea as pictured in September 2021.

Best Instagrammable Place: Cocoa Cabana, Ancoats

Photo from Cocoa Cabana's website.

Address: 7 Murray St, Ancoats, Manchester, M4 6HS

Every big city has its hipster spots, the areas dominated by millennials where living isn’t that affordable anymore, but the food places are popping. In Manchester that place is Ancoats and it has one of the branches of a chocolatier called Cocoa Cabana - and notably, the one where you can have afternoon tea. Now let me be clear: just because the place has that Instagram-perfect decor and lighting doesn’t mean that it’s all show and no substance. They are chocolatiers, after all, and the afternoon tea service delivers on flavour. This is another place where the menu changes relatively seasonally and I am yet to have something there that I wouldn’t like. If you have a big sweet tooth, definitely substitute your tea for one of the hot chocolates! The only downside is that because of the kind of venue that it is and because it serves afternoon teas, brunches, and regular food, chances are that it may be busy with the other typical clientele: hen do’s, girl brunches, the occasional family gathering. As the premises are on the smaller side, this can mean that the level of noise is higher, so factor that into your planning (e.g. by choosing a weekday or an earlier time slot). On the upside though - resident good doggy boi might come and say hello to you!

Cocoa Cabana afternoon tea as pictured in February 2022.

Best All-Rounder: The Midland Hotel

Photo from Business Traveller.

Address: 16 Peter St, Manchester, M60 2DS

When I think of the afternoon tea experience, my mind always goes to The Tea Room at The Midland Hotel. It really is an all-round people pleaser: seasonally updated menu executed by talented chefs, beautiful location with plenty of charm and a serene atmosphere, accessible location, a relatively average price compared to afternoon teas nationally, an incredible selection of teas (including custom blends) that you can try to your heart’s content, and the standard of service that one would expect from a high class 4-star hotel. Each time I’ve gone, I have had only the best of times, enjoying the delights on the tray and feeling taken care of by the staff. I will never forget the mindblowingly smooth way the server placed a napkin across my lap without once pausing for breath as he was simultaneously explaining the tea menu when I went for my birthday back in 2019. All of this slap-bang in the middle of the city centre, right at St Peter’s Square where you can easily get to by tram, on foot, or by bus, depending on where your journey originates. If you’re ever in doubt or overwhelmed with choices, especially if this is your first time in Manchester, then you can’t go wrong with The Midland as your pick.

The Midland afternoon tea as pictured in June 2022.

Of course, this is nowhere near the end of the list of afternoon tea options available in the city. It’s not even everything that I’ve tried here so far. But if anyone ever suggests to me that we should go for afternoon tea in Manchester, these will be the first places that I would consider going to before looking at anything else. So if you ever visit, I sincerely recommend any of them.

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