Eat and Drink / Scotland

4 o’clock in Edinburgh: Teatime at Prestonfield House

I never thought of myself as a princess (a princess-warrior perhaps sounds more appealing) but I have to admit that some particular friends of mine do make me feel that way. So that’s how I felt when one of them took me for an afternoon teatime at Prestonfield House, in Edinburgh, last summer.

I wasn’t expecting that experience, coming to Edinburgh for just a weekend. The plan was to hang out in pubs in churches, listen to live music, shop for Harry Potter goodies near Lawnmarket, and eat haggis of course. We did take the traditional bus tour to the Highlands, up to Loch Ness – which at the end of the day, is something I wouldn’t recommend that much, but that’s another story.

However, one of my friends, who knows how to get to my heart, suggested we take a high-end teatime at Prestonfield House, a beautiful 5-star manor house, known for its atmospheric decorum and prestige.

A traditional afternoon tea in an 18th-century living-room

First, we’re ushered into a richly decorated hall leading to a grand staircase. On the way, we pass beautiful salons and dining rooms, where I could imagine dukes and countesses drinking wine in cristal glasses over petits-fours. But there’s no time to linger: teatime awaits! The butler – I guess he’s a butler? That’s what I’d expect in such a mansion – shows us upstairs and after admiring a fantastic bouquet of white lilies at the top of the stairs, he offers us to take a seat in the living room.

From the velvety sofa where we’ve sat, I can hear the fire crackling from the fireplace. A family with very quiet children (I mean, are they even children? Or two Benjamin Buttons happy to keep silent and read a child’s newspaper while their parents enjoy scones with delicious jam?) Anyway, what catches my eye the most is definitely the somewhat baroque furniture coupled with large 18th-century paintings, hanging below the sculpted ceiling.

Long story short – we came for teatime and tea we shall have! There’s a vast choice of tea, from rosebud to chai, not to mention a wide array of black tea. Let’s not forget the UK invented the industrial method to produce large volumes of tea and their historical tea was black. But the best in this traditional teatime is undoubtedly the 3-tier serving tray coming with small cucumber and tuna sandwiches, absolutely delicious scones, and a delight of mini-cakes. Let’s not forget the savoury, with deep-fried bites of haggis! We stayed to enjoy the treats, atmosphere, good service and conversation for the whole afternoon. I would gladly repeat the experience.

3 tier tray at teatime in Edinburgh
Full teatime at Prestonfield house in Edinburgh, Scotland. Look at the scones and the cream!

A countryside manor house at the very heart of Edinburgh

Among the most remarkable things about Prestonfield Manor, is the quietness and delicacy of the place while it’s literally a thirty-minute by car from the city center and maybe 15 mins away from Holyrood by foot. No wonder it’s an ideal place for a city break. When entering the domain, we even noticed the horns of a highland cow, probably resting in the middle of its grass field. And I must say that made me happy because we weren’t able to spot even one in the Highlands the day before!

Inside the ladies' restroom at Prestonfield house
Inside the ladies’ restroom at Prestonfield house

That’s for the outside, but inside, the architecture and choice of furniture, restored or preserved from their own time, make the place unique. It could almost be visited as a kind of museum, to be honest. I will mention particularly the ladies’ restroom, which was exactly like an old-style boudoir (except there were all the bathroom commodities and intimacy of the 21st century, no worries here). I couldn’t help but take a selfie there! The mirrors asked for it!

And that’s where I’ll conclude this small blog about Prestonfield House: trust me, if you like this kind of back-in-time experience, do it! You won’t regret it. Apologies for the poor quality of my pictures: I was more preoccupied with eating and chatting than photographing, then! Have a great time in Edinburgh.

Prestonfield House: practical information

How to go?
Most buses going south from the city center (where the Walter Scott Monument and Edinburgh Castles are located) will take you within walking distance of Prestonfield house. It’s a short drive from there.

When to go?
All year long. Maybe check when they might have private events but I don’t think this even affects the teatime service. The fireplace was particularly enjoyable in late spring so I’m assuming it’s warm one’s heart in a cold Scottish winter!

Website and social media
Instagram: @prestonfieldhouseedinburgh

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