You can burn plenty of calories walking around Lincoln and climbing up and down the historical Steep Hill, especially if you’re visiting Lincoln Castle and Lincoln Cathedral, which are at the top. However, there are also a few opportunities where you can put those calories right back on at one of the many quaint and charming tea rooms that are located around, at the foot and all the way up Steep Hill. You cannot visit Lincoln without visiting one or more of these tea rooms because they embody the culture of British tradition to a T, in that they’re all about creating small and cute environments where people can have a chit chat with some savoury and sweet items alongside some wonderful British tea.
In this review, I am going to give you a little virtual tour of some of the best tea rooms from near the bottom of the hill, up the hill and near the top so you can decide which one works best for you and can plan your trip around which tea room to visit and when. Perhaps one for breakfast, lunch and dinner may suit you? Okay, I know that sounds excessive but I promise you that once you finish reading my review, you’re still going to find it hard to decide which tea room to visit as they’re all quite so cute and offer something a little bit special.
Starting from the near bottom of the hill is Café 44, which is located exactly at 44 Sincil Street, Lincoln, LN5 7ET and is also near Lincoln Market. The café is a family owned business that from the outside looks small but is actually rather spacious. It’s based in a quirky old building and offers outdoor and indoor seating. If you’re thinking about sitting upstairs, you will need to make your way up some very narrow and memorable stairs. The décor and furniture is a mix of traditional and modern and creates a sociable setting where you feel a little bit like you’re in your own living room and there is no rush for you to leave. There is occasionally soft music playing in the background, which adds to creating a relaxing ambiance. The staff are first class and want to make you feel like you really are right at home in your own living room.
The café offers locally sourced hot and cold food throughout the day and has a daily specials menu which is listed on its chalkboard outside. I would have to say that it offers not only brilliant afternoon tea but brilliant breakfast too that you should consider. The vegetarian breakfast consists of two eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, toast, tea or coffee for only 4.50 GBP (6 USD). The crumpets (a serving of two with butter) are also recommended and cost 1.30 GBP (1.70 USD). If you’re looking for something a bit sweeter, the homemade cakes start at 1.50 GBP (2 USD). Alternatively, you may decide to opt for a cream tea experience, so tea, a scone with jam and cream costs 3.50 GBP (4.70 USD) or embrace the cake deal for 3.00 GBP (4 USD), which entitles you to any cake from the display with either tea or coffee.
Stokes High Bridge Cafe
At the foot of Steep Hill is the wonderful Stokes High Bridge Café at 207 High Street, Lincoln. It is built on a Medieval bridge that covers the River Witham within a Tudor building that has been in place since 1540. It is has outdoor and indoor seating; inside there are three floors including the ground floor where you can sit back, relax and enjoy some delicious food and drinks. If you’re seated inside, I would urge you to try and score a window seat from the top floor as it will make your experience even better. From the exterior to its interior, the Stokes High Bridge Café is full of character and has a tremendously cosy atmosphere that will keep you coming back. The staff are dressed in formal attire and fit in well with the historic identity of the café. Nothing is too much trouble for the staff here.
Serving up cold and hot food throughout the day, you can choose to have breakfast, brunch, lunch or afternoon tea at this charming establishment. If you’re heading there in the morning, you may fancy an omelette of your choice, which is served with salad, garnish and chips from 7.25 GBP (9.70 USD). Alternatively, if you care for a sandwich on either multigrain, white or gluten free bread, these start at 4.95 GBP (6.60 USD). The Stokes High Bridge Café offers different types of afternoon tea. An afternoon tea consisting of an assortment of sandwiches, scones, cream, preserves, cakes and a pot of Gold Medal tea (which is their own brand) for two costs 21.90 GBP (29.20 USD). Alternatively, if you fancy a cream tea experience only, you can have a freshly baked scone, cream, preserves and a pot of Gold Medal tea for one for only 5.55 GBP (7.40 USD).
Trekking half-way up Steep Hill, you will find Coffee Bobbins at 28 The Strait, Lincoln, LN2 1JD, which is worth the work-out to reach. This café has really delightful surroundings as well as cheerful and helpful staff. The entire place is decked out in a sewing style as it appears that the owner used to be a seamstress, so the establishment is themed around sewing. The layout within the café is nice and cosy, giving it a really lovely snug feel to it. You may also be pleasantly surprised to hear that if you order afternoon tea, it may just appear on a fantastic miniature sewing table. An afternoon tea experience costs 25.00 GBP (33.40 USD) for two and consists of sandwiches, scones, preserves, cream, some delicious desserts and of course, tea.
It is very hard to miss Coffee Bobbins when climbing Steep Hill and this is because of its absolutely and utterly gorgeous display of cakes in its window. All the cakes are homemade and will definitely draw you into this sweet heaven. Examples of cakes available include the following; gingerbread cheesecake, mulled wine cheesecake, galaxy chocolate cake, caramel apple cake, golden Oreo cake, spiced winter red tea cake and my absolute favourite, a Terry’s Chocolate Orange cake. The cost of the cakes slices start at 4.00 GBP (5.30 USD) and are to die for; if you can’t sit-in and eat one of the cakes, I would recommend that you do a take-away as no one should be missing this type of goodness.
Bunty's Tea Room
Climbing a little further up Steep Hill from Coffee Bobbins is Bunty’s Tea Room at 18 Steep Hill, Lincoln, LN2 1LT, which is based within a Grade II listed building. It’s perhaps one of the smaller tea rooms in Lincoln but that does not mean that it’s not a contender to be one of the best ones. The café is run by a family and has a vintage theme throughout. It’s full of retro crockery and mismatched cups and saucers, which oddly enough look quite in place. You will also see old photographs and previous copies of the Bunty magazine lying around the tables. With nostalgic background music and delightful and fun staff that are dressed in 40s outfits, you will definitely have a memorable time here if you visit.
Known for its sandwiches, salads, jacket potatoes and afternoon teas, Bunty’s Tea Room can cater to your cravings any time of the day. Its toasted Lincolnshire plum bread served with mature cheddar, caramelised red onion chutney and salad for 4.50 GBP (6 USD) is certainly recommended if you want something filling and flavoursome. If you’re looking for a snack, then it has hot plain and sultana scones on offer with clotted cream and strawberry jam for a fantastic 3.25 GBP (4.30 USD). If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth, then a slice of delicious cake starts from 3.85 GBP (5.10 USD). If you want a full-blown fabulous afternoon tea experience then you’re looking at 15.00 GBP (20 USD) per person and includes a sandwich of your choice, a scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam, a slice of cake and a pot of tea. You cannot fault this little gem.
Compton's Steep Hill Tea Rooms
Charging further up Steep Hill with all the energy that you have is Compton’s Steep Hill Team Rooms at 34 Steep Hill, Lincoln, LN2 1LT. This tea room is a perfect pit stop to get that refuel feeling to keep going up the hill. It looks quite ordinary from the outside but the experience that you would get inside is extraordinary. It’s a spotlessly clean tea room with attractive table settings and comfortable seating. There are paintings of old Lincoln that grace the walls and there are tempting cakes that are positioned on sideboards and cupboards around the room. The interior is also quite floral and this extends to its china. You will feel like you’re travelled back in time to the era when Victorian ladies supped tea and nibbled at their scones with cream, all of course on classic china.
If you’re looking for a filling meal such as a jacket potatoes with some lovely homemade filling, then it will set you back around 5.00 GBP (6.60 USD) whereas if you only want a slice of cake or a pot of tea, you would be looking at spending 4.00 GBP (5.30 USD). The staff are professional, polite and friendly without being intrusive.
Pimento's Tea Room
Pushing yourself to get a bit higher up Steep Hill is worth it, especially if you can reach Pimento’s Tea Room at 26 Steep Hill, Lincoln, LN2 1LU. It’s unknown why Pimento Tea Rooms is number 26 and Compton’s Steel Hill’s Tea Rooms is number 34 in comparison but I do hope you will trust me in believing that Pimento’s is further up. There are always two tables outside Pimento for those that want to enjoy the outdoors. Within the café, the tea rooms are spread out over several floors and in very original condition, which fits within the the overall Steep Hill area. You will have to climb some narrow and rickety stairs to venture to the cosy tea rooms higher up. The staff are extremely friendly and very much on the ball; they’re the type that want you to feel welcomed and definitely want you to return.
Pimento Tea Room is an adorable vegetarian and vegan hub that offers a choice of light and more hearty meals throughout the day as well as a wonderful array of cakes. It also offers gluten and dairy intolerant dishes for those with additional dietary requirements. If you fancy a piping hot soup, then you would be looking at spending 3.95 GBP (5.20 USD) whereas if you want a main meal, the price range starts from 5.95 GBP (7.95 USD). Examples of main mails on offer include casseroles with speciality breads, spicy vegan curry, jacket potatoes, salads etc. The homemade cakes, which consist of chocolate, coconut and fruit and carrot cake, cost around 2.35 GBP (2.10 USD). The café even has soya cream, which it offers upon request. Pimento Tea Room is known for its pots of tea and unusual coffee, which start from 1.90 GBP (2.50 USD).
Bells Tea Room
A little bit more of a trek from Pimento Tea Room is Bells Tea Room at 39 Steep Hill, Lincoln, LN2 1LU, and is located within an extremely old timber frame house. The interior really reflects the origins and age of the property; there are small tea rooms on the ground floor and one up some very steep and narrow stairs. If I were you, however, I would try and bag myself a window seat on the ground floor so that I could watch the world go by whilst equally enjoying my quaint experience in the tea room. The tables throughout the establishment are cute and include vases filled with real flowers. The staff are a young and energetic team that keep the tea room alive.
Serving up breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea too, Bells Tea Room is a wonderful little place to stop by for a break. It also offers gluten free options. The food is delicious and uncomplicated. If you’re looking for a great cream tea experience, then this is perhaps the tea room to enjoy. A cream tea experience, consisting of a huge fruit scone, jam and cream with a lovely pot of tea for two costs 10.00 GBP (13.30 USD) which is excellent value for money.
A trip to Lincoln's tea rooms is well worth it
There you have it, an insight to several of Lincoln’s wonderful tea rooms that will steal your heart if you decide to visit them. You’ll find scrumptious and delicious food especially the afternoon teas in the different shapes and forms at each of these cafes. Many of the cafes were packed (and to the point that you have to queue), so do think wisely about which ones you want to visit and when to ensure that you can have the perfect experience. If you’re visiting in the warmer seasons, enjoy these cafes by sitting outside or within their pretty little gardens at the back. In the alternative, if it’s a bit chilly during your trip, take comfort in the warm and cosy tea rooms inside.
There is something for everyone in these tea rooms and a trip to Lincoln to check them out is recommended. As a true cake junkie and one that has to attend the gym regularly due to this addiction, I can tell you hand-on-heart that the cake section of all of Lincoln’s tea rooms will not only entice you into visiting but will keep you returning.
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