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The Colonnades at The Signet Library, Edinburgh

Like books? Like cake? And, you know, maybe a cheeky glass of champagne, into the bargain?

What am I saying – of COURSE you do. I mean, you’re not savages, are you? Well, folks, I do I have a treat for you: or for ME, rather. Because, last week, Terry and I were lucky enough to be treated to afternoon tea at one of our very favourite Edinburgh venues – The Signet Library. So, we basically spent the afternoon surrounded by books (No, you can’t read them, sadly. Pretty sure the ones closest to us were property records from the 1970s, though, so maybe that’s not such a bad thing…) and cake, and if there’s a better way to spend an afternoon, well, I’m not sure I know what it is, really.

The library is located just off Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, and honestly, if you’re in the city it’s worth a visit just to see the building itself. I mean, it’s gorgeous:

Afternoon tea at The Signet Library, Edinburgh

The Signet Library, Edinburgh

Now, to be totally honest with you, libraries are my happy place regardless of what they look like, but this is a particularly swanky one, with tinkly piano music in the background, and a setting that makes you feel like you’re an extra in some kind of period drama or something. I REALLY regretted not wearing an outfit to match my surroundings (Particularly given that I dressed for the pouring rain we left home in, only to arrive in Edinburgh to glorious sunshine: nice one, Amber…), but the beautifully presented food soon took my mind off that:

afternoon tea at The Signet Library, Edinburgh

The Signet’s afternoon tea is a set menu (You can see the current menu here), but they’re happy to take account of any dietary requirements: I’m not keen on fish, for instance, so they swapped my haddock quiche for tofu, which was perfect for me, although a bit of a disappointment for Terry, who normally gets to eat anything I’m not keen on. Sorry, Terry!

Afternoon tea at The Signet Library, Edinburgh

Afternoon tea at The Signet Library, Edinburgh

The Signet claims to offer the best afternoon tea in Edinburgh: now, I’d obviously have to try them all first to be able to verify that claim (And I fully intend to, btw. Don’t worry, guys, I’ll take one for the team, here…), but one thing I CAN say is that it was definitely one of the better looking afternoon teas I’ve sampled, and I left the place thinking, “Why don’t WE serve food in tiny little flowerpots, though? Why doesn’t EVERYONE?” It looked almost too good to eat, in fact, but luckily we were able to harden our hearts and get stuck in, and I can report that yup, it tasted just as good as it looked. Terry’s favourite was the duck croquette, while I loved the sweet potato soup that was served as an amuse bouche, but honestly, everything was so nice that I actually forgot this was just the savoury course. Well, you can imagine how I felt when it was cleared away and this little lot appeared in its place, can’t you?

Afternoon tea at The Signet Library, Edinburgh

Afternoon tea at The Signet Library, Edinburgh

Afternoon tea at The Signet Library, Edinburgh

Afternoon tea at The Signet Library, Edinburgh

As with the savoury course, there were tons of little details to admire here, like the gold flakes on the chocolate brownies and the edible flowers on the custard tart. By the time I’d worked my way down to the scones, I was definitely starting to flag a little, but I bravely soldiered on, and here I am now, to tell the tale.

So! The best afternoon tea in Edinburgh? Well, as I said, I’m going to have to sample them all to be sure (Tough job, I know…), but it’s definitely up there, and the venue is so beautiful and unique that it feels like a real treat just to be there – which is exactly how a good afternoon tea should feel, don’t you think?

[Thanks to the Signet Library for hosting us!]

12 Comments
  1. This looks just divine! I adore afternoon tea and have made a note of this place – thank you!
    My most recent afternoon tea outing though was incredibly disapointing with cakes that looked (and tasted) like they were from the local off-licence. Looks like Edinburgh wins over Glasgow yet again!

  2. I saw a photo of this on your Instagram account and promptly showed my husband and informed him I was planning a trip to Edinburgh. Traveling across the ocean solely in order to have afternoon tea in a library is completely reasonable, isn’t it?

  3. As a new UK resident from the States, I’m still processing that tea quite literally means all sorts of yummy cakes, sandwiches, and other goodies. I can’t wait to go to Edinburgh and try this place out – both to see the gorgeous library and spoil myself in teatime with a glass of wine, of course. Thank you for the recommendation. Another reason why British living is amazing!

  4. I love afternoon tea too, and this venue looks very elegant. The most under-dressed we have ever been for afternoon tea was at The Plaza in NYC. We were hot, sweaty and scruffy after hours of shopping, and having missed lunch, we’re very hungry. We popped in to ask if they did afternoon tea and were shown into a grand room with the requisite classical pianist. It was filled with ladies who lunch, accompanied by beautifully dressed little girls minding their manners. We felt really out of place, but were treated royally by the waiting staff, and had a fab tea.
    We love the fashion inspired tea at The Berkeley in London,

  5. One of my bucket list items is to venture across the Atlantic ocean and have an afternoon tea (among other things). I’ve only had it once at a charity event for cats. ADORE all the tiny little finger foods!!! I think there is a place in San Francisco that does afternoon tea like this, but its really not common here (bay area/California… that I know of), mostly just bubble tea places (not complaining about that, love me some bubble tea).

  6. Looks immense! Being an Edinburgh native it’s just one of those places I’ve never got round to visiting, but I may have to make a special effort next time I’m visiting home, especially as I’ve recently rediscovered the joys of afternoon tea. Those puddings look incredible!

  7. Looks immense! Being an Edinburgh native it’s one of those places I’ve just never got round to visiting. I may have to make a special effort next time I’m visiting hom, especially as I’ve recently rediscovered the joys of afternoon tea – those puddings look incredible!

  8. Being west coast, afternoon tea at Mar Hall in Bishopton is fantastic. Lovely food, great service and people watching! I am always driving so no fizz for me!

  9. That’s look great, as I’m currently working for an events company in London, I have discovered afternoon tea and I love it! Moreover as the events company lists many events related to food, I have the chance to go to such event and discover more London specialties!

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