Coffee breaks with biscuits in the UK


A cup of coffee.

Dropping in for a cup of coffee is something everyone does from time to time, but where should you go for good service and what price should you pay? You could say that you get what you pay for, but as you will know coffee can be served in many ways and the taste can vary greatly. The taste of a cup of coffee is dependent on the verdict of the taster and for these write ups we have tried to be objective in our assessments.

London, England

The Savoy Hotel, The Strand, London

Set back a little from the throbbing heart of the busy Strand, the Savoy offers an oasis of quiet amidst the hustle and bustle of the life of the City. Close to Trafalgar Square, the West End and theatreland, the Strand was where noblemen and Kings built their palaces and town houses in days gone by.

Watched over by two sculptured stags, the elegant and welcoming coffee lounge has the space to allow privacy at each table. Sitting on a comfortable settee, we take our coffee from the cloth covered coffee table. People discussing business or enjoying being in London for a visit sit around the centre bandstand, where, if you come for afternoon tea, a pianist plays the latest melodies . Our coffee with hot milk is served in two pots with ten home made biscuits. The coffee tastes marvellous and the biscuits are so filling that we can miss out lunch. Coffee at £4.50 per person in 1990, today the price is £5. Afternoon tea is £31.50 per person with sanwiches and cakes. Both carry a discretionary service charge of 12.5 %, but both are excellent value.

Yorkshire, England

The Bell Hotel, Driffield, East Yorkshire

Driffield is the capital town of the Yorkshire Wolds. Lying amongst Mother Nature's Patchwork quilt of fields this market town is bustling with interesting shops for you to browse, The Bell Hotel in the Market place retains its Dickensian atmosphere and service with pleasant staff who have time to spend with you and attend to your needs.

Coffee is served in a dark oak panelled collection of rooms with scone, strawberry jam and clotted cream for £1.50 Monday to Saturday between 9.30 am and 11.30 am. Sit and drink this in a smoke free area in comfortable chairs and enjoy the atmosphere as people take their coffee break with you. Exceptional value and quality, just ask for what you want and enjoy the coffee made just as you like it.

The Black Swan Hotel, Helmsley, North Yorkshire

The Black Swan Hotel overlooks the market place that boasts a market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Overlooked by the castle, with visitor centre, the stone built town invites the visitor to browse the shops prior to making the detour to take advantage of the charm of the old beamed lounge with a squeaky floor and comfortable seating where you partake of your morning coffee.

Served by a real waitress who brings you coffee and hot milk with two shortbread biscuits which you can enjoy whilst reading the latest newspaper or let memories of times past in this hotel pass through your mind. The coffee is well up to standard although rather expensive compared with elsewhere at £4.09, but watch out for the underhand 12.5% discretionary service charge that is added to your bill by the Macdonald Hotel group.

Wrangham House Hotel, Hunmanby, North Yorkshire

Hunmanby could be called Humpmanby because of the number of speed humps placed throughout the village, but do not let that put you off for the village contains most things that you may require. The manor house overlooking the market place became, first, a boarding school for girls, and is now divided into flats, with the methodist church suffering the same fate, or, if you prefer, being brought up to date for modern living.

Tucked away behind Stonegate is the old vicarage, once lived in by Reverend Wrangham and now a very pleasant hotel called Wrangham House. As you enter you are genially overlooked by a portrait of the vicar, and you can enjoy morning coffee in the old world atmosphere of the lounge, seated on sofas. Whilst you browse through the newspaper or magazines your coffee is served in a pot at a cost of £ 2 each.

The Old Lodge Hotel, Malton, North Yorkshire

The town of Malton draws people from a wide area, especially on market day, when farmers bring their animals to the cattle market, and the thriving market place is filled with the chatter of people looking for a bargain. The Old Lodge Hotel, set behind high stone walls in Old Malton, on the A169 Malton to Pickering road, is a turretted stone building, once the gatehouse to the Malton House, demolished in the 1600's after a family feud. This ancient site was the civilian settlement next to a Roman Military barracks, and was featured on the British television archeological programme “Time Team”.

The dark panelled lounge furnished with low back armchairs looks out onto the large gardens. Savour the atmosphere of the beautifully restored building. The “The Times” and “Yorkshire Post” are there for those who wish to read as they drink. The coffee, served in a pot with hot milk or cream, is £3.00 for two in 2006.

The Beverley Arms, Beverley, East Yorkshire

One of the most interesting towns in the area, Beverley, close to the port of Kingston upon Hull, is an ancient borough which easily combines old and modern architecture, without losing any of its character. Browse round the wonderfully ornate Gothic Minster, then make your way through the two market places and the winding streets to the Beverley Arms for a welcome break. This old coaching inn, once a court where the highwayman Dick Turpin was tried, now has a Georgian facade which blends in with the elegant town houses surrounding it.

This once brilliant Forte hotel has seen many owners. In March 1999 the Beverley Arms became a Regal hotel, and was newly refurbished and decorated throughout its ground floor, but then sadly standards dropped. In October 2006 the hotel changed owners and standards are much improved. Comfortable settees and armchairs face coffee tables in the spacious areas. The rooms are decorated in golden yellow with pictures in keeping with the age of the building. Some of the old atmosphere has gone as the old kitchen now houses the bar. The coffee and service is very good with a choice of coffee type, or you can have the coffee made the old way with filter coffee in a pot at £1.70 each person, the same as in 2006. The newspapers have disappeared for those who wish to read as they drink. The way to judge an establishment is by its public toilets and the back of the building, and this building can be put on a par with anywhere, although the Gents toilets have never been completely finished and a permanant notice of wet floors is displayed.

The River Gardens, Sleights, North Yorkshire

Driving over the rugged landscape of the North York Moors on the A169 from Pickering to Whitby, past the Heartbeat village of Goathland and the high tech sandcastle that has replaced the more elegant golf balls, you reach Blue Bank, the steep hill that leads into Sleights. Tucked away over the river at the bottom of the hill is the road to Ruswarp, winding its way alongside the river Esk, leading to the River Gardens set in lovely gardens where you can buy or exchange unusual plants.

This is the place to go in the summer to enjoy something from the past; something very special, sitting by the river bank watching the ducks, surrounded by the sights and smells of beautiful gardens. Coffee, tea and scones for two for just £2.80. Excellent value for money. Open from Easter to mid October.

Lastingham Grange, Lastingham, North Yorkshire

Turn north off the A170 Thirsk to Scarborough road, between Pickering and Helmsley to find villages untouched by the rush of modern life. Pilgrims used to make their way to Lastingham to visit the shrine of Saint Cedd, who founded a monastery with his two brothers “in this wild and rugged place” in AD 654. The road meanders through the village, past the pens of ducklings and chicks for sale by the roadside and the four wells which supplied the villagers with water, towards the church which is certainly worth a visit. The crypt, built in 1078 in honour of Saint Cedd and Saint Chad is unique in England with an apse and side aisles.

Up the hill off the main street and just before the road ends abruptly at the edge of the moor you will see Lastingham Grange. In a pleasant old world lounge we sat and drank an adequate cup of coffee with biscuits. Nothing special, until we came to pay the bill, when we were charged £5 for the two person pot of coffee in 1999. This was not good value for money.

Barker's Restaurant, Northallerton, North Yorkshire

The wide main street of Northallerton, the county town of North Yorkshire, on the A167 between the A1 and the A19, boasts a large selection of shops. With both a town and a cattle market there is always lots to see and there are car parks all round the backs of the shops. Thirsk race course is not far away and the horse racing capital of the north at Middleham is within easy reach.

The name Barker will always be associated with show jumping and on the High street of this market town is Barker's Store, called the “Harrods of the North” On the top floor is their restaurant, looking out over the playing fields. Self service, it has, amongst other things, a selection of scones with butter or Flora margarine, coffee per cup and tea by the pot. At £2.65 for coffee, tea and a scone in 2000 it is not bad value.

The Barn Hotel, Hutton le Hole, North Yorkshire

Hutton le Hole, is, as its name suggests, set in a dip on the edge of the rolling hills of the North York Moors. North of Kirkbymoorside on the A170, between Pickering and Helmlsey, this must be one of the prettiest villages in the area. Sheep cropped grass rolls gently down to a stream with stone built houses skirting the edge and spilling onto the green.

In the bow windowed, Barn Hotel, overlooking the green, we sit at tables, or, when in winter the owners decide to open at their whim, on the settee by a blazing log fire, and drink coffee by the pot, whilst reading “The European” or the local “Gazette and Herald”. At £1.75 for two in 1999, this must be one of the best values for coffee in England.

The Abbey Inn, Byland Abbey, Coxwold, York, North Yorkshire

Set in a peaceful valley on the road between Ampleforth and Coxwold lies Byland Abbey, a twelfth century Cistercian monastery. These spectacular ruins dominate the landscape, with the remains of the rose window towering above the inn opposite.

Step through the front door and you step back in time. Old scrubbed tables faced by upholstered high backed or Windsor chairs. Tapestries on the stone walls fronted by Welsh dressers covered with dried flower arrangements. Take in the mediaeval atmosphere whilst waiting for the coffee and hot milk to arrive; to be topped up as often as required. The surprise is a superb Bakewell tart served to be eaten with a fork. What can the hotel”s other meals be like with a cover charge of £1.25 each in 1998 for the morning respite. The place is clean and immaculate with toilets to be envied by other hotels. Beware of Mondays for they are closed.

The Forge, Brompton by Sawdon, North Yorkshire

On the A170 Scarborough to Thirsk road, halfway between Scarborough and Pickering is the typical North Yorkshire village of Brompton by Sawdon. The Forge is on the main road, but to get the flavour of the village turn off the road into the main street, with its pretty stone terraced houses. At the end of the street is the village green with the beck running through, inhabited by many families of ducks. Going back over the hump back bridge you reach the church where William Wordsworth was married and pass the grassy bank near the school where crickets sing in the summer. A little further along the main road In the village, which is to the south of the North York Moors, is Brompton Hall the home of the "father of flight" Sir George Caley, who made a glider in his workshop and told his coachman to pilot this new form of travel on the dale north of the village.

Turn through the gates of The Forge Restuarant and enter the pleasant conservatory with its exotic plants and wicker seats offering their cushions to travellers. Old relics of the forge still adorn the stone walls and beckon those wanting a meal into the restaurant. The coffee is some of the best that you will drink and is served with shortbread at £2.70 for two in 2000 and £4.40 for two in 2006. You will want to tell everyone about your discovery after you have spent an hour in this delightful place, which is clean and immaculate with toilets to be envied by other hotels. Beware of Mondays for they are closed and your journey will have been in vain.

The Worsley Arms Hotel, Hovingham, North Yorkshire

The small village of Hovingham, on the B1257 Malton to Helmsley road, is dominated by Hovingham Hall, the birthplace of Catherine, Duchess of Kent, and family home of the Worsley's. The Hall, opposite the Worsley Arms, is still a private residence, surrounded by extensive grounds and stone built estate houses. After your coffee break take a drive past the Hall through the lovely Yorkshire countryside to Coneysthorpe on the edge of the Castle Howard estate.

Sit in a pleasant lounge with settees and armchairs to take your coffee, browsing through the upmarket magazines . The coffee, served in a cafetière, with two small shortcake biscuits, is adequate if you like coffee made in this way. The value is poor at £4.50 for two.

Lempicka Café, The Mill, Skidby, East Yorkshire

Skidby is a welcoming village with hidden treasures four miles south of Beverley on the A164 Beverley to Humber Bridge to Hessle road. When you have filled your interest in the village drive through and take the old Beverley road to the wind mill. Park in the small car park before passing through the lytch gate and walking down a lane to the mill buildings with a yard where exhibitions of byegone farming days greet you, and with a café beckoning you to enter it. An abundance of tastes are catered for, with a range of gluten free temptations as a surprise when they remember to bake them.

Home made cakes with coffee or tea greet the visitor as they enter this eating house shadowed by the mill for a rare experience of gastronomic delight. Homely staff prepare your food and bring it to your table in a comfortable room painted with murals and decorated with pictures and palms. Choose a table with chairs or a settee with a coffee table to enjoy your food and drink. Savour and digest with pleasure.

Eastfield garden Centre, Bridlington, East Yorkshire

Bridlington is the town that brings you almost past this presentation on the B1253 Easton road leaving the town. You drive into the car park and get out onto the chalk stone to make your way to this new building, purpose built for its job, to house this new cafe and selling area. Visit the outside display of plants or browse the requisites required to run a garden before venturing into an area beckoning you to take tea or is it coffee and cakes? Most tastes are catered for whether it be gluten free, vegetarian or just a little of what you fancy.

A garden centre? Well yes, but what a coffee bar! Brown leather seats in various styles and heights. High chairs, normal chairs and settees face tables of the appropriate opposite to match. The display of food will match your taste and the price of tea and coffee will match your pocket.

The Treasure House, Beverley, East Yorkshire

Beverley is a town built to be tidy, high brick walls are everywhere. New in time to secure the county's treasures of the past, this building is skilfully joined to the older library that serves the area with literature for those times requiring stimulation to intellect, whilst the new houses deeds and maps with hidden secrets for the public to find.

The lift or stairs will take you to your destination. You will pass photographs of times past as you make your way to the small cafe. The prices are right, and the coffee and tea taste just right. The green serviettes add that something to your visit as you savour your choice of beverage.

La Boutique de Café - Lempicka;, Wednesday Market, Beverley, East Yorkshire

Cambridge, England

The Crown Plaza formally the Holiday Inn, Downing Street, Cambridge

The city of Cambridge is steeped in history and tradition, full of interesting and sometimes awe inspiring buildings. Walk down King's Parade past the centuries old colleges built in mellow sandstone or explore the nooks and crannies of the narrow streets radiating from the market square. Downing Street has many fine buildings housing university departments, but had you walked down the street in the 1950's where the Holiday Inn now stands you would have found the old City of Cambridge Police garage made of black timber.

This is was what a coffee lounge should have been like; comfortable arm chairs, settees and coffee tables in rich, comfortable colours in a pleasant atmosphere, but today the furnature is tatty and dirty. If you peep out through the windows you may see a dinosaur in the Natural History museum opposite. A friendly waiter will tend to your needs with a kind word. You did get value for your money with coffee and biscuits at £4.50 for two, but since the change of name you pay more for less. Newspapers were once available for those in need of knowledge.

Where will we drop into next time?

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