Afternoon Tea Tripping: The Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow

Willow Tea Rooms

The Willow Tea Rooms, Buchanan Street.

I like pretending to be posh, so afternoon tea is right up my street.

But I don’t think I’m wrong to say it seems to be almost exclusively an activity for lunching ladies. Well, a realisation hit me when I was last in Glasgow. You see, Mr Holiday Addict and I were rather peckish and he decided to take me to Glasgow’s famed Willow Tea Rooms in search of nourishment. Afternoon tea for two, we thought. What a treat it was.

I haven’t heard anyone make such happy mmmmm noises since I last saw Bill Murray in the film What About Bob.


But as Mr Holiday Addict pointed out (when I laughed in his face) – we were dealing with sandwiches, scones, cakes and good quality tea, which are essentially a few of his favourite things. Ever a fan of a continental breakfast, it dawned on me that I’m actually married to a sort of cake and tea connoisseur.

And a new idea was born.

I asked myself why we always go for pub lunches or on dinner dates when the two of us would be just as happy putting the world to rights over cucumber sandwiches and clotted cream? And who would be better to review these delightful excursions than my partner in crime and serial cake muncher husband?

So here it is – the man’s take on afternoon tea. Because it’s not just for ladies who lunch. Your fella might be just as happy with a scone as big as his head as you would be. And you can always convince him that it will taste all the better when accompanied by Prosecco or Champagne. Winner.

The format of this series will consist of a set of questions I’ll put to my chief Afternoon Tea Tripper and then you can decide if any of these places should be on your list when you’re looking for a weekend treat (maybe part of your #take12trips challenge?)

Afternoon Tea at the Willow Tea Rooms

Afternoon Tea at the Willow Tea Rooms

So where in the world are we?

The Willow Tea Rooms in Glasgow, on Buchanan Street.

Why visit?

These tea rooms and the other Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall St are something of a Glasgow institution and are born from the distinctive designs and ideas of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the famous Glasgow architect.

Verdict on the tea room (decor/ atmosphere/ table settings)?

The upstairs room is all in blue and is influenced by Chinese styling. It has lots of character. The atmosphere didn’t feel too busy even though the tea room was full. I had no complaints.

Service with a smile?

Definitely. The waiting staff were all smartly dressed and friendly.

Good selection (choice of teas/ pastries etc)?

It suited me just fine. You get to choose your cake so I knew I’d get something I liked (he had a wodge of apple pie). There’s also a good choice of sandwiches, plus a homemade scone with cream and jam, and some shortbread. In the Buchanan Street Tea Room you can have Prosecco or Champagne, but the Sauchiehall St Willow isn’t licensed for alcohol.

Look good, taste good? Or have we been fooled by the fancy spread?

Tasted good to me (Clare says: see the video clip above)

Suitable for a special occasion (posh factor)?

I’d say more Saturday afternoon treat after she’s dragged me around the shops. And there’s a shop in here too. Apparently the silver jewellery is rather nice. (Yes, husband – it is. Take note).

What’s the damage to your wallet?

£12.75 for me and £18.75 with Prosecco for her. With a glass of Champagne it comes in at £19.95. All in all, good value.

Would you bring your good lady (that’s me) here again?

Yes, definitely when we’re in town again. We could try the other Willow Tea Rooms, but she’d probably turn her nose up at the lack of alcohol.

This Afternoon Tea trip was all at Mr Holiday Addict’s expense, so the opinions are unbiased and are simply the result of good cake!

Do you have any suggestions as to where we should go for a future Afternoon Tea trip? Let me know in the comments

12 Comments

  • Julia says:

    While we were in Ireland we stayed at Ashford Castle and had their afternoon tea – I don’t like tea so I had champagne – It was amazing though! If you ever there go check it out. It is well worth the price.

    • Clare says:

      I’ll keep that one in mind! We’ve been talking about going back to Ireland together. On my last trip there I left my Mr at home since the trip was for the TBEX conference. Thanks Julia!

  • Nice post interesting to see the male take on the inherently feminine event! Glad you both enjoyed the experience, I find it interesting how afternoon tea has started to make a huge comeback I do wonder why this Victorian tradition is coming back so much, may need to go and find out for myself!

    • Clare says:

      It is an interesting one, but worth a try if you’ve never had an afternoon tea experience. I was surprised at how much my husband enjoyed it! But like he said – he loves cake and he loves a cup of tea, so I suppose it was always going to be a winner!

  • “I’d say more Saturday afternoon treat after she’s dragged me around the shops.” Ha, great answer. I absolutely love Afternoon Tea and went at least twice a month when I was living in London last year! A great treat for yourself or someone else. Thanks for sharing!

    Happy travels 🙂

    • Clare says:

      I agree, it’s a lovely treat and the truth is that in some places it’s not a whole lot more expensive than your average coffee shop once you’ve had your panini and a piece of cake with your coffee. I’ll definitely be seeking out more afternoon tea opportunities in Manchester.

  • shazza says:

    Wish i had gone to the Willow Tea Rooms when visiting Glasgow. I am a big Afternoon Tea Fan. I reccommend Bettys Tearooms in Harrogate and Ilkley.:)

  • Julika says:

    I’ve always wanted to have Afternoon Tea someday! It looks so fancy — and I’m actually surprised it’s relatively affordable!
    (Also, am I sensing a new blog series here? I like it!)

    • Clare says:

      Exactly! It won’t be every week or anything, but afternoon tea can be an affordable way to do something fancy at the weekend when there’s not much else going on, so I think we’ll be doing it more often. Can’t go wrong with tea (or coffee) and cake!

  • Ross says:

    Enjoyed reading your article, Glasgow is my hometown so was fab to read about the Willow Tea rooms, I used to walk past that every day to work! If you ever go back, the Butterfly and Pig is supposed to be good for afternoon tea as well as is the Blythswood square hotel which I was a recently 🙂

    • Clare says:

      I love Glasgow and I’ll definitely look up the Butterfly and Pig since we’ll be back up there soon. Thanks for the suggestion! As for Blythswood Square? I am so desperate to pay that a visit. It looks gorgeous. Maybe soon (I hope)!

      Thanks for the comment!

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