Afternoon tea in Devon – near a train station

From train to scone in five minutes.

Sounds great doesn’t it. And let’s face it, when the British seaside weather is playing up, what better way to while away the afternoon than with a traditional afternoon tea.

We’ve discovered that even the best afternoon tea tastes more delicious when you arrive in style by train. No traffic queues, no parking hassle, just a comfy seat and perhaps a book to read.

So sit back and enjoy the view; we’ve got the low-down on the best Devon afternoon teas you can enjoy just a short stroll from their nearest train station.

How’s that for a car-free treat?

Is cream tea the same as afternoon tea?

Devon cream tea, Two Blondes Walking

Afternoon tea should be provided, fresh supplies, with thin bread and butter, fancy pastries, cake etc.

Isabella (Mrs) Beeton

Here in the southwest, we know how to bake a scone. Light, fluffy, exactly the right temperature, scones are just one example of why it’s worth travelling to experience Devon food.

Even if we can’t agree with Cornwall in the cream first, jam first debate.

So what exactly is the difference between a cream tea and an afternoon tea? Let’s start with that West Country favourite, the cream tea.

Imagine the fluffiest scone, topped (cream first in Devon) with thick clotted cream and homemade strawberry jam (other jams are available). Add to that a steaming pot of your favourite tea (Earl Grey for me please), and you’ll have the makings of a perfect cream tea.

But isn’t that the same as an afternoon tea?

Well yes. And no.

An afternoon tea usually involves a scone and its tasty trimmings but also includes other delicacies, and is more like a whole meal.

Local tip: An afternoon tea is sometimes the equivalent of two whole meals so don’t be shy; ask for a doggy box.

No two afternoon teas are the same but you would expect at least two tiers of plates loaded up with tasty sandwiches and cakes, as well as your scone.

Some afternoon teas go even further and include other delicacies such as sausage rolls, macarons, profiteroles, chocolate-dipped fruit, tiffin, shortbread… (I could go on but my mouth is watering too much).

And yes. Despite the name, you can order coffee to wash down your afternoon tea.

The best afternoon teas near a train station

Starcross station Devon, Fi Darby

There are few hours in life more agreeable than the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

Henry James

Devon has to be one of the best places in the world to enjoy afternoon tea. And almost everyone who comes here on holiday partakes in either the full thing or a cream tea during their stay.

Another thing Devon is really good at is having train stations in beautiful locations. We’ve tried to use some of these in our afternoon tea by train list below.

Local tip: Because so much preparation goes into an afternoon tea, you usually need to book at least 24 hours in advance.

Afternoon tea at the Grand Hotel – Torquay

Afternoon tea, the Grand Hotel, Torquay
  • Train station: Torquay
  • Walking time: 2 minutes
  • Menu: Sweet Afternoon Tea, Savoury Afternoon Tea, Gluten Free Afternoon Tea, Sparkling Afternoon Tea (with Prosecco)
  • Ambiance: Relaxed luxury with sea views
  • Cost: Sweet Afternoon Tea – £19.95 (Feb 2024)

When you take your afternoon tea at Torquay’s iconic Grand Hotel, you’ll be following in the steps of the greats. Agatha Christie honeymooned at the Grand and was a big fan of this most traditional of meals.

Tea! Bless ordinary everyday afternoon tea!

Agatha Christie

There are so many things to recommend afternoon tea at Torquay’s Grand Hotel. Your delicate pastries, cakes and scones will be baked and crafted in-house, and you’ll have the option to relax on comfy sofas or take the sea air on the terrace if the weather is suitable. The Art Deco design of the beautiful Compass Lounge is like nothing else you’ve experienced.

The Grand is just across the car park from Torquay train station but even closer to the beach.

Which makes this one an afternoon tea with a view.

Local tip: Pick a sofa with a view of the central bar and sit back to watch the world. You’ll be there longer than you expected.

Afternoon tea at the Royal Beacon Hotel – Exmouth

  • Train station: Exmouth
  • Walking time: 11 minutes
  • Menu: Traditional Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea
  • Ambiance: Comfortable and cosy
  • Cost: Traditional Afternoon Tea – £16.95 (Feb 2024)

Travel to Exmouth by train and you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the Exe Estuary through the train window. Exmouth has a long sandy beach, which is perfect for cooler weather strolls as well as sandcastles and paddling. The Royal Beacon Hotel is set in an elevated position just back from the seafront and many of its rooms have fantastic sea views.

Afternoon tea at the Imperial Hotel – Barnstaple

Stands the Church clock at ten to three?
And is there honey still for tea?

Rupert Brooke

North Devon isn’t as easy to explore by train as South Devon but the Imperial Hotel in Barnstaple is happily situated just over the river from Barnstaple train station.

Local tip: Check the water level as you walk across Barnstaple Long Bridge. The River Taw is still tidal here so it will look different once you’ve finished your tea.

The Imperial Hotel is right on the riverside and just a short walk from the town centre. While you anticipate your afternoon tea in Barnstaple, expect vintage crockery and crisp table linen as well as a whole range of tasty treats.

  • Train station: Barnstaple
  • Walking time: 11 minutes
  • Menu: Imperial Tea, High Tea
  • Ambiance: Cosy and friendly
  • Cost: Imperial Tea – £22 (Feb 2024)

Afternoon tea at The Ivy – Exeter

If you associate the sophisticated but eclectic chain of Ivy restaurants with London, you’ll be pleased to hear that Devon has its very own version. Situated right next to the historic Cathedral Green and a pleasant stroll from the train station, the Ivy Exeter offers high-end afternoon teas tasty enough to enhance any shopping trip or city break.

  • Train station: Exeter Central
  • Walking time: 7 minutes
  • Menu: Afternoon Tea, Champagne Afternoon Tea
  • Ambiance: Elegance and sophistication
  • Cost: Afternoon Tea – £29.95 (Feb 2024)

Local tip: If you visit Exeter Cathedral, look out for the Exeter Astronomical Clock, which shows the Earth, Moon and Sun in rather interesting orbits.

Devon train stations with cafes

Station cafe Yeovil Junction, Somerset

Right across the Devon network you’ll find train stations that have their own cafe. These often quirky eateries are perfect if you only have a short time to wait for your next train.

Your platform dining experience might not be quite as impressive as a full traditional afternoon tea but it might surprise you with how delicious it is.

Here’s our list of station cafes in Devon you might like to try.

Local tip: It’s worth checking the opening times of station cafes as they’re sometimes run by volunteers. I always carry a train snack, just in case.

Afternoon tea whatever the weather

Back Beach Teignmouth, Fi Darby

It’s a fair comment that even here in Devon, the first two months of 2024 have been a bit damp. But don’t let that put you off planning a spring visit.

If soggy walks on the beach get a bit much.

There’s always that Devon afternoon tea!



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