I never thought I would see the day that I would be writing a post about going for afternoon tea in the centre of Oxford, but here we are! Some of you may remember a post I wrote last year about inconvenient locations and how I was saying that Oxford is not the greatest place for a lolita community. A lot of the venues are small and some places really overprice things, just because of the Oxford name. Well, it turns out you can have afternoon tea in Oxford, and it can cost under £10! Last year I became quite a fan on afternoon tea and I am still eagerly searching out new afternoon tea experiences around the country. It was when I was doing this searching that I came across a website for the Cotswold Lodge Hotel in Oxford, which had an afternoon tea priced at £8.95. I thought I was seeing things! So I suggested to Shalisa and Sammi that we investigate and give this afternoon tea a go. And that is what we ended up doing this past weekend.
It was very difficult to decide what to wear for this adventure. You never quite know how a venue is going to react to lolita. However, I felt such a strong desire to wear Chess Emblem, that I decided that this is what I would go with! I felt the colours were very smart and mature, plus I kept my accessories relatively toned down. I love this print so much and I am looking forward to planning lots of outfits for it. Incidentally, Shalisa was wearing Miracle Candy, which has been a dream dress of hers for a very long time. So there was quite a lot of enthusiastic dressing up that day! Thankfully everybody we encountered at the hotel was friendly, although we spent a lot of time getting asked questions throughout the day.
Our afternoon tea wasn't until mid-afternoon and as we were a bit hungry, we ended up purchasing some macarons in Marks and Spencer because they were on offer. I have to say, I am a bit disappointed that after several years, M&S still mis-spells them as macaroons on the packaging! We took pictures of Sammi holding a macaron because she was wearing a macaron print! She always knows how to dress for the occasion.
Eventually, it was time for our afternoon tea. James and I decided to get one of the £8.95 teas and one of the £14.95 ones and then we split the difference. This was mainly because I wanted an extra scone, but the £14.95 option felt a bit much for myself! For the price, we got a fair amount of food. The £8.95 option came with a scone, a massive pot of clotted cream and jam, a mini brownie, a slice of cake and 4 finger sandwiches. Plus a pot of tea, of course! The scones tasted absolutely amazing. They were so fluffy and light, and mine was still warm. The icing sugar they were dusted with got everywhere though. The sandwiches were pleasant too, although I wasn't too fussed about the brownie.
The thick clotted cream was amazing, although very difficult to spread. If I hadn't already filled myself up, I could have quite easily eaten the rest of the cream out of the pot! I am getting hungry just remembering how nice the scones were.
We chose a window seat, which meant we had a not so inspiring view of the car park! The room itself was smart though. I have been to fancier locations than this one but the surroundings were still really nice. I did find the staff a little bit awkward though. I did notice that the woman who served us was a trainee, so perhaps that had something to do with it. Or maybe she was shocked about our clothing! We also felt as though we had to be very quiet, especially with another group of diners sitting nearby. We also got hassled quite frequently about whether we had paid our bill or not, which spoiled the atmosphere a bit. Overall I would say that the food was worth it, given the cheap price compared to the average afternoon tea. I do feel the staff could have been friendlier though.
A little print gathering photo I took when we went to the bathroom (we seem to have a thing for taking photos in bathrooms. They have the best mirrors!).
This is what the exterior of the hotel looked like. It looked quite pretty in person. It is just far enough out of the city centre that the traffic noise is not too noticeable but it is still an okay distance that you can walk to the venue. Can you believe that about not long after this picture was taken it started absolutely chucking it down with rain?
As we were going past the University Parks anyway, we quickly popped in for some photos. There were some absolutely gorgeous wild flowers out, although you can't really see them that clearly in the photos we took. Shalisa got a lovely group shot of us on her Instax camera.
Afterwards we decided to be a bit less sophisticated and get a load of cocktails! We originally headed to this venue that boasted a large number of cocktails, but when we got there it was a grotty small bar with some of the locals playing pool and watching the football. Feeling well and truly out of place, we ended up at the Slug and Lettuce instead. After experiencing their cocktails at the anniversary meet, we knew we were on to a good thing. They have a decent selection on offer. The one that looks like a sluch puppy is a rumberry mojito and the one on the right is a long island iced tea (which I was surprised to discover, does not actually contain tea). We had such a good time and afterwards I was really sad leave.
So if this experience has taught me anything, it is that of you search hard enough, you can get a good value day out at even the most expensive of UK cities outside of London. You just need to do your research! It was a shame about the hotel staff though. I can't imagine the others wanting to go back there. This day has left me yearning for more afternoon tea days out and has also started a new quest to find the best cocktail venue. Although we were pretty content at the Slug! I am looking forward to seeing where we end up next.