Betty's tea rooms are a peculiarity of prestigious towns in North Yorkshire, such as Harrogate and York. They are mentioned in every tourist information guide, and every summer* there are queues of people stretching into the distance down the street outside, trying to get in.
Betty's was founded in Harrogate in 1919 by a Swiss confectioner, Frederick Belmont. The establishment made a name for itself selling exceedingly good cakes** and serving the best Yorkshire tea, and was soon the favourite drinking establishment of royalty when visiting the North East. By 1950 Betty's had expanded to four shops in the Yorkshire area, and in 1962 bought out Taylors, a local tea blending firm, to become Betty's and Taylors of Harrogate.
So what is it that appeals so much about Betty's today?
Betty's is not a cheap place to have a cup of tea, but there is a certain class about sitting in such opulant, Victorian inspired surroundings. The York tearoom is based on the Art Deco interior of the Queen Mary cruise liner, and you sit under swaying palms, looking out onto the street and surrounded by mysterious, muted conversation and the genteel *clink* of silver teaspoons on fine bone china. The cakes are amazing, and frightfully rich. It's very easy for one's eyes to be bigger than one's belly! There is also a wide range of food served all day, most dishes having a continental flair, from the breakfasts to the delicious swiss rosti.
The tea rooms can be found at:
- Betty's - Parliament Street - 9am-9pm
- Betty's - The Grove - 9am-6pm
- Betty's - High Street - 9am-5.30pm Weekdays, 10am-5.30pm Sundays
- Betty's - St Helen's Square - 9am-9pm
- Little Betty's - Stonegate - 9am-5.30pm
There is a very good webpage at http://www.bettysandtaylors.co.uk/ for further information.
* Even in a British summer, when it's pouring with rain and everyone who wants a cup of tea and who is not a tourist has dodged into Borders.
** Not to be confused with Mr Kipling, who really does make exceedingly good cakes.