Tuesday 6 August 2019

Rockliffe Hall New Afternoon Tea Experience - High Tea in the Orangery

Two years ago Simon and I enjoyed one of our favourite North East spa experiences to date, our first ever visit to the spa at Rockliffe Hall - it was incredible and is something we still talk about to this day. We loved the spa so much we decided to celebrate our second wedding anniversary at Rockliffe Hall last year but then unfortunately left it too late to book the suite we wanted so never got to go.  So when we discovered that Rockliffe Hall have a brand new afternoon tea experience we decided to take the opportunity to finally get to see inside the main part of the hotel and book a table in the Orangery for High Tea.

Rockliffe Hall New Afternoon Tea Experience - High Tea in the Orangery

Rockliffe Hall is stunning and definitely the kind of place that you would want to celebrate a special occasion, from birthdays to anniversaries, a trip to Rockliffe really gives you that wow factor as soon as you make your way down the drive to the front of the hotel. Speaking of special occasions I must give a special shout out to Brenda and Bob, the really lovely couple we met during our High Tea, they were at Rockliffe Hall celebrating their 46th wedding anniversary, I truly hope that Simon and I will be celebrating the same milestone at Rockliffe Hall in 43 years time!

Approaching the beautiful entrance to Rockliffe Hall the incredible service starts before you have even reached the front door with someone ready to personally welcome each guest at the door. We have been fortunate enough to visit the best hotels in the North East and I have to say we have never had such a wonderful and warm greeting on arrival. We explained we were at the hotel for High Tea and were personally escorted through the hotel to The Orangery where we were welcomed in and shown into the beautiful room.

Rockliffe Hall New Afternoon Tea Experience

The Orangery is one of three dining rooms at Rockliffe Hall, and is the flagship award winning restaurant lead by Executive Chef, Richard Allen. The Orangery is well known for its garden to plate dining experience, offering diners beautifully created ala carte and tasting menus from Wednesday to Sunday evenings.  So it's very exciting that The Orangery is now open during the day for a modern version of High Tea, created to allow guests the chance to experience Richard's creations as part of a two course twist on an Afternoon Tea.

The Orangery is a beautiful room for High Tea, with stunning iron features, huge high glass ceiling (with the loveliest views of the top of the building towering above you) and the most impressive big windows offering views of the gardens and surrounding countryside. It's the loveliest spot to enjoy tea with a loved one, the perfect treat!

Rockliffe Hall High Tea

Just to offer you a completely balanced and honest review, as much as I loved our experience I do also have to share my one and only criticism of our afternoon at Rockliffe Hall and that was the choice of music that was being played as the background to our High Tea. The Orangery was beautiful, the service was excellent and along with our fellow diners we were all enjoying a truly special experience, however the pop music that was playing just didn't seem fitting to our surroundings, as much as I love modern music I much prefer to listen to some soothing easy listening or classical whilst indulging in such a special experience.

Now you may be wondering how High Tea differs from Afternoon Tea and although there are many opinions on what makes an experience "Afternoon" or "High", I tend to associate Afternoon Tea with the more traditional fare (think crustless sandwiches and scones served on a cake stand), whereas High Tea tends to lean more towards a light supper served with tea.

Rockliffe Hall Afternoon Tea

High Tea at Rockliffe Hall is a carefully created experience served as two separate courses, three savoury items followed by three sweet treats, all showcasing Richard's culinary creativity and craftsmanship. It's a truly unique way to experience the food on offer at The Orangery without splashing out on a full dining experience.

Our experience began with the savoury course, served on three different plates in the middle of the table we had a side plate each to eat from and a very generously sized teapot to accompany with the all important bottomless tea on offer.

Rockliffe Hall Afternoon Tea Experience - High Tea in the Orangery

Our eyes were immediately drawn to the Wagyu Beef Burger, it's hard not to smile when you are presented with perfect dinky little burgers, they were just so cute. The meat was delicious, really tender and packed with flavour, served on very tasty mini caramelised onion brioche with a scrummy Yorkshire Relish filling they were so lovely.

Rockliffe Hall High Tea in the Orangery

Next up we enjoyed a Warm Whitby Crab and Wensleydale Cheese Tart, Simon had originally wrinkled his nose up a little (he's not a fan of cheese) but he was won over as soon as he took his first bite. The pastry was so buttery and the filling was delicious - I really wish that more afternoon tea experiences were a little more creative when it comes to the savoury elements of the tea.

Rockliffe Hall New Afternoon Tea - High Tea in the Orangery

Our savoury course ended with Duck Egg Mayonnaise, Cured Cumbrian Ham, Pickering Watercress Open Sandwich. Can you believe how high the filling is piled up, it was a little tricky to eat whilst being delicate (even though I am not naturally a delicate person, I do try and retain some dignity whilst indulging in high tea!) The sandwich was so good and we loved the brilliant twist on an afternoon tea classic.

Rockliffe Hall New High Tea in the Orangery

We were given the option of a short break before our sweet course arrived which we thankfully took, our savoury bites were a lot more filling than we had thought they would be and we enjoyed chatting over our tea pot whilst we gave ourselves time to prepare for the cakes.

Rockliffe Hall the Orangery
The first of the sweet treats I wasn't able to have due to my nut allergy but as Simon munched on the Pistachio and Olive Oil Cake, Seville Orange Frosting and Matcha Tea he made a comment that he was so sad about my allergy as I was really missing out on a delicious cake.

Rockliffe Hall High Tea the Orangery

As I couldn't have the Pistachio treat I got to pick which of the other cakes I wanted two of so decided on the Raspberry Shortbread with Rockliffe Estate Honey and Candied Lemon. I've definitely mentioned on a few occasions that raspberry has been one of my biggest obsessions of the Summer so I was very happy with this treat. The zingy raspberries were perfection with the candied lemon and sweet honey.  I'm very glad I got to have two.

Rockliffe Hall High Tea in the Orangery

Our experience ended with the very indulgent Single Estate Chocolate Eclair with Salted Caramel Gold Leaf and we most definitely saved the best until last. This cake was something else, and the very best way to end our high tea experience. You honestly have to book yourself a high tea experience at Rockliffe Hall just to have the opportunity to try this for yourself, it was incredible.

Rockliffe Hall - High Tea Experience in the Orangery

After our High Tea I couldn't resist a little look round some of the rooms at Rockliffe Hall. As it was our first visit to the main hotel I really wanted a little taste of what life at Rockliffe is like, as I poked my nose in and out of the lounges and bar area I honestly couldn't believe how beautiful all the rooms are.  This really is a destination hotel and I can't wait to come back and experience it properly one day.

We really loved our High Tea experience at Rockliffe and although it's a bit pricier than your usual standard afternoon tea the quality of the food really does justify the cost and offers a great opportunity to try some really delicious creations in a different setting.
Rockliffe Hall

What you need to know:

  • High Tea is served in the Orangery daily from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm
  • High Tea costs £35.00 per person, if you prefer Afternoon Tea, Rockliffe Hall serve their Traditional Afternoon Tea in the Club House and costs £25.00 per person
  • Upgrade to a Champagne High Tea and enjoy a cooling glass of Prerrier-Jouet Champagne for £49.00 per person

Find Rockliffe Hall at:

Hurworth on Tees
County Durham

01325 729 999


We were invited to enjoy a complimentary high tea for two in exchange for this honest review


  1. Wow, the High Tea looks and sounds amazing! I've particularly got my eye on the duck egg dish.

    Still yet to try an afternoon tea so maybe it's about time I get one booked!

    1. Yes you must! There are so many amazing teas to try in the North East so you really should get started now!

  2. Oh I love this little twist on the classic - food all looks perfect x

    1. I loved that it was presented in a different way!

  3. We had a great experience last time we went to Rockcliffe Hall but we haven't eaten in the Orangery. I didn't really know what high tea was so thanks for explaining that! I really want to get back down there and try the spa and another meal as soon as my purse strings allow it!


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