Mike Maloney treated his sister-in-law to a decadent afternoon tea at a former nunnery

THERE is nothing more quintessentially British than an afternoon tea.

There are few better ways to indulge yourself or treat a friend than enjoying a decadent spread of cakes and sandwiches, knowing it's both naughty but nice.

So it was with some relish I treated my sister-in-law to a birthday treat at Stanbrook Abbey.

A mere 10 minute drive from Worcester and we were making our way down a winding drive, through breathtaking grounds to arrive at the picturesque abbey.

The former convent has been taken over by Hand Picked Hotels, which runs various country house hotels across the country aiming for an indulgent yet attainable country house experience.

And the combination is spot on at Stanbrook with the original abbey tower standing bestride the 55-bedroom hotel.

We were greeted by friendly, young staff who were both attentive and discreet throughout our tea.

Afternoon tea is served in the appropriately named Sister Charlotte's Restaurant.

We chose to eat out on the terrace as it was a lovely, sunny day and the view of the grounds from our elevated position was magnificent.

And what a spread we had.

After choosing our speciality teas from a fine range - I opted for a delicious mint concoction, we were treated to a fine Bruno Paillard Champagne champagne as we relaxed and took in the magnificent view.

Our three-tier stand was duly brought to the table, crammed with dainty sandwiches, handmade cakes, pastries and scones.

The sandwiches were top quality including smoked salmon, roast beef and cucumber and cream cheese - a fine selection.

The scones, both fruit and plain, were a delight with the requisite jam and clotted cream.

It always strikes me how you seem to able to make room for more on occasions like these and we certainly indulged ourselves with the decadent array of cakes including Caramel beignet, lime cake and a chocolate and blood orange tart.

The whole experience was a delight. The food and view were magnificent and the staff, obliging and charming.

My sister-in-law enjoyed her treat and was already planning a return visit with her mother before we left.


Afternoon tea:

Full traditional afternoon tea: £25 per person

Champagne afternoon tea: £34.25 per person

Served: 2pm - 3.30pm

Rhys Stone, head chef: 01905 832940


Hand Picked Hotels, created by former lawyer turned hotelier Julia Hands, is the leading collection of architecturally stunning country house hotels - built for pleasure and continuing a centuries-old tradition of offering guests an indulgent yet attainable country house experience, with a contemporary twist.

The award-winning collection is renowned for exquisite food, fine wines and bespoke service by Hand Picked people in stylish, relaxing surroundings. There are a total of 17 classically British hotels in beautiful settings across England and Scotland and three Channel Island retreats, with locations ranging from the New Forest and Jersey to Yorkshire and Edinburgh.

Hand Picked Hotels has won an impressive number of awards, with 15 hotels awarded two AA rosette status and Grand Jersey holding three rosettes. Ten hotels have achieved red star status which means they stand out as the very best in the British Isles. There are also ten hotels with spas offering the latest therapies and treatments to promote wellbeing and relaxation.