If you’re planning a visit to England, please, do make sure to venture outside of London. And certainly consider making a trip to the county of Yorkshire, God’s Own Country. There is certainly a lot here to appeal to lolitas – the chief of which being Bettys Café Tea Rooms.
The first branch of Bettys Tea Rooms opened in 1919 in Harrogate by a Swiss confectioner, Frederick Belmont. Today there are six branches across Yorkshire: flagship in Harrogate, two in York and one each in Ilkley, Northallerton and Harlow Carr. The Harrogate one and Big Bettys in York, as it’s affectionately known, are probably the most famous ones. Although this also translates into being more popular, so get there early!
The truth is, no-one knows who Betty was or why are the tea rooms called Bettys. For all of us in Yorkshire it’s enough to say ‘Bettys’ to know what you’re talking about. These days it’s more than just tea rooms, but also a cookery school and craft bakery. Still, it remains the county’s oldest and best known tea room.
Like most afternoon tea parlours, you go to Bettys for the experience. Elegant interior designs and courteous service make you feel like a true lady for the afternoon, living her life in luxuries. Unfortunately, they do not accept reservations except for their luxury Lady Bettys Afternoon Tea, so to avoid queuing (and the queues can stretch far around the building!), save up and book yourself an upgrade. However, their savoury menu with many Swiss influences and individual cakes are delicious too. If you don’t fancy queuing, consider visiting one of the smaller branches.
Moreover, Bettys do sell their teas, coffees and sweet treats at the counter, so you can enjoy the finer tastes at home. While the Fat Rascal scones are their most famous product, certainly try the fondant fancies too. And whether you pick a Taylors of Harrogate tea or one of Bettys own blends, the quality will not disappoint. As the home county of Yorkshire Tea (the best tea in the country), we take pride on what we serve.
Like any renowned confectioner, Bettys lures visitors in through its shop displays. There will always be something themed and seasonal, usually relating to the upcoming holidays like Easter or Halloween. The annual unveiling of their Christmas display at the Harrogate flagship store always features on the local BBC news and attracts large spectator crowds. Their Christmas displays are without fail magical and whimsical, as well as made entirely out of edible pieces. Even the grumpiest adults feel the magic of Christmas when they look through Bettys’ windows.
This year the display features a steam train emblazoned with the date 1919 on each carriage full of delights. This is to celebrate the importance of trains both to Yorkshire and to Bettys. Frederick Belmont arrived in Yorkshire from Switzerland entirely by train. He didn’t speak any English, so when he asked for a train to ‘Bratwurst’, some good soul put him on a train to Bradford in West Yorkshire. However, this particular cake train looks good enough to eat – or be Santa Claus’ ride to deliver those sweet goodies!
Lolita fashion is an appreciation of the finer things, so we naturally seek out more sophisticated and upmarket places. Drinking out of china teacups and eating exquisite patisserie delights in an elegant tea room befits our clothes much more than chomping on a greasy cheeseburger. Bettys is just the place to do that and it is to Yorkshire what Ladurée is to Paris. So while it may not be for everyone’s pocket, it is worth experiencing in lolita at least once. Guaranteed that you will feel right at home – and will probably make everyone else feel underdressed!
Those not planning on travelling to Yorkshire anytime soon can still take advantage of their online shop. Bettys offers international shipping (restrictions may apply) and if you’re quick, you could still get your treats in time from Christmas, lovingly created in God’s Own County of Yorkshire.
29-year-old Capricorn, Polish-born, UK-based and in love with Japanese fashion (predominantly Lolita). I enjoy a good bargain, OTT coords, cats and baking, and when in Japan I’m a self-confessed purikura addict. When I don’t blog, I work in the education sector, overseeing international exchange programs, and sometimes I get to do some exciting freelance translations on the side.
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