When first saw the beautiful Binswood Hall online, I presumed I'd search for the postcode and find it deep in the Warwickshire countryside. The Grade II listed Victorian Gothic building has been newly renovated into a luxury retirement village as well as the new Whittles bistro restaurant which hosts afternoon tea. I don't know about you, but it sounds exactly like the sort of place I want to retire.
Despite it's British country house feel, Binswood Hall is just a ten minute walk from the centre of Leamington Spa, a gorgeous midlands spa town which I've fallen in love with. Pottering around cute homeware shops before heading for afternoon tea in a listed building? Don't mind if I do.
I went along this weekend with a few of my favourite foodie bloggers - Emma of Fork & Good, Roz of The Foodie Couple and Elizabeth who writes over at The Food Tourist. I've been for the likes of lunch and afternoon tea with them a few times now, so it was lovely to catch up. And drink lots of tea of course. It was a lovely brisk Autumn Sunday afternoon and the hall looked super lovely surrounded by golden leaves.
Inside you can see the love and attention to detail which has brought the building back to life. Endless cabinets of treasures are displayed throughout the restaurant, bar and lounging areas - with interesting bits and pieces to look at whilst you make your way to the grand room. Chandeliers dance overhead, whilst the mezzanine creates a feeling of lightness and space even though the walls are full of rich coloured art which would usually make a room look darker.
We had a little hiccup at the start, as the restaurant had sadly lost our booking. Awful luck when you unknowingly have four food bloggers waiting in the lobby. In around 20 minutes they had sorted us out a table and were happy to show us up and take our tea orders.
There are a variety of afternoon teas available at Binswood Hall, even a G & T, but we went for the classic, at a reasonable £16.95 a head. This came with endless tea as well as the usual timeless sandwich flavours and a spread of delicate desserts.
The service was pretty swift and friendly, with a plate of sandwiches for four and four of each tiny dessert. The sandwiches weren't the daintiest that I've had at afternoon tea, but the flavours tasted fresh to order. Especially the cheese and red onion, which was very strong. My favourite was the egg mayonnaise, which was light and tasty with a hint of black pepper.
Now on to the cakes. I sipped at Earl Grey and wondered which to try first - the chocolate, Victoria sponge... cheesecake? I went for the chocolate and wasn't disappointed. We were all in agreement that this rich and fudgy cake was a delicious addition to the cake stand. We all enjoyed the Victoria sponge aswell, although the concept is really quite similar to a scone so I would have liked to see something different here. Perhaps a lemony dessert or a twist on the usual strawberry jam offering.
Next up was the cheesecake, which was equally as tasty and had an appetising caramel sauce which left me wanting more. Why people prefer fruit cheesecakes, I'll never know.
The super cute milkshakes were a brilliant addition too - something Mary Berry would call "fun!" I saw different tables receive what looked like chocolate, strawberry and banana flavours - ours was a very subtle vanilla and I have to say I was pretty jealous.
We chatted away in the bustling restaurant, slowly becoming the only ones left in the room. So much so, that we couldn't actually find anyone to take our money at the end.
On the whole it was a modern take on afternoon tea; in keeping with classic Victoria sponges and timeless tea varieties, whilst adding a few fun elements too. A real crowdpleaser spread I'd say - sponge cake for your mum and milkshake for your little sister! And the chocolate cake - for me. A premium retirement home with a spa and afternoon tea in the same building? Somebody sign me up.
Have you ever had afternoon tea at Binswood Hall? Where you do you think is best place for afternoon tea in Warwickshire? You might also enjoy afternoon tea at Vinteas, also in Leamington Spa.
royal leamington spa
Note: We paid for our our afternoon tea and the restaurant did not know we were reviewing the experience.