Bettys is brilliant. To me it epitomises the quintessential British tea room. On my recent visit to York a trip to Bettys for afternoon tea was on top of my must do list alongside seeing the York Minster.
Bettys in St Helen’s Square
The first Bettys was open in 1919 in Harrogate by Frederick Belmont, a Swiss confectioner and later moved to its current site. The company has remained an independent, family business, famous for its high quality homemade crafted bakery products. The question of the identity of the mysterious Betty remains unknown. By the way the company name is written without an apostrophe, to make it look more distinctive.
Today there are six tea rooms in Yorkshire of which I have visited four, some several times, and it’s my 2015 New Year resolution to visit the other two. While I was in York I visited their St Helen's Square branch. Usually when I visit there are long queues outside but as this time I went mid week I managed to avoid this.
The tea rooms are very traditional, their staff wear period costume and it creates a very elegant, retro feel.
When you arrive the staff will ask if you want to wait to be seated on the ground floor. From personal experience and taste, I much prefer sitting in the lower floor with its beautiful wooden panelling and decorative glass panels.
Service was exceptional throughout my visit. I particular I appreciated my waitress's thoughtfulness, as I was on my own, she offered me a choice of a couple of tables and brought me a copy of Country Life to read which made me feel really welcome.
I ordered the vegetarian afternoon tea which was beautifully presented on a three tier cake stand and accompanied with a pot of Tea Room Blend tea served in a shiny tea pot and accompanied with a pot of hot water. It was excellent value for £18.75.
My tasty vegetarian sandwiches had quite a traditional choice of fillings (which I really liked) consisted of egg mayonnaise and cress, cheese and pickle, tomato and avocado and the traditional cucumber sandwich served on white and brown breads.
The delicious sultana scone was accompanied with good size portions of strawberry preserve and Yorkshire clotted cream. If you'd like to read more about the scone I have reviewed this in my Scones of the Month blog.
The miniature cakes selection tasted as delicious as they looked and consisted of Gateau L'Opera, Salted Caramel & Chocolate Macaroon and fruit tart.
The beautiful decorative glass panels downstairs depict the different seasons.
Here is another decorative glass panel.
When you visit look out for Bettys Mirror on the lower floor, next to the toilets, which has the signatures of American and Canadian servicemen stationed around York during World War II engraved with a diamond pen.
I love Bettys, it's one of my all time favourite tea rooms and I can't wait to visit again.
If you enjoyed this blog you might like to read more about my visit to Bettys in the November edition of my Scones of the Month blog.
The author of this blog is a qualified City of London and City of Westminster Tour Guide who leads guided walks combining world famous landmarks with hidden treasures often missed by the crowds