North Wales tea room at beautiful garden with 'top notch' coffee and cream teas

A cream tea at Bodnant Garden's Pavilion Tea Room
-Credit: (Image: North Wales Live)

Nestled in the Eryri foothills of North Wales, Bodnant Garden was forged by the Victorian vision of one extraordinary man and is today cherished by visitors from over the world over as a horticultural haven. Early records show that Bodnant (which in Welsh means "dwelling by a stream") was home to the Lloyd family from the reign of James I.

When Victorian industrialist Henry Davis Pochin and his wife bought Bodnant at auction in 1874 it was an estate with walled garden, woods and plantations. It was Pochin's grand vision which shaped the garden into the world renowned one we know today.

Cared for by the National Trust since 1949, Bodnant is a garden of firsts, home to the earliest and grandest laburnum arch built in 1880, to Britain’s earliest magnolias introduced from China in the late 1800s and to unique rhododendron hybrids which were born and bred here from the 1920s. It’s an absolute riot of colour at any time of the year.

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It’s in the latter parts of May and early June when the famous Laburnum Arch blooms and thousands of visitors come to see it in all of its golden splendour. Bodnant offers later opening times during this time and seeing the park in the evening when it is quieter does offer a unique different experience.

With 80 acres of garden to explore, you might just welcome a refreshment break during your visit, whether that’s enjoying a leisurely meal under cover or drinking in the garden views al fresco. The Pavilion Tearoom, near the car park, has a full selection of breakfasts, snacks, cakes and bakes and hot meals and is a perfect first port of call when you arrive, or a final stop before you depart.

Choose a table indoors or sit under the covered veranda. You don’t even have to enter the gardens to dine here.

The décor has a lazy afternoon tea in a big garden shed vibe with dark and pale green tables and chairs. The place is full of people in walking boots, anoraks and dogs.

You order at the counter next to an array of rhubarb flapjacks, giant cookies and Bara Brith. The small and simple bilingual menu offers Welsh rarebit, jacket potato, pasties and soups.

Mark Williams ordered the chickpea curry with bloomer bread
Mark Williams ordered the chickpea curry with bloomer bread -Credit:North Wales Live

I enquire about today's one pot and get told that it is a delicious chick pea curry with bloomer bread. It arrived on my table before I had even finished paying and collecting the coffee.

The curry had a bold flavour, which was perfectly spiced, and somehow creamy yet healthy. There was a sprinkling of red onions on the top and some thick bloomer bread to mop up the remains of the chickpeas.

My wife went for the cream tea, which was part of a promotion and included a free hot drink. She was given the choice of strawberry, raspberry or blackberry jam to go with her clotted cream. The fruity scone held the lashings of cream and jam without crumbling and tasted homemade although we have no idea if this was the case.

The coffees were really hot and top notch from a proper coffee machine but there were plenty of other options on offer such as red wine for £5.50. We noticed jugs of free water on one table and even free use of a microwave next to the wall.

Cakes on the counter at the Pavilion Tea Room at Bodnant Garden
Cakes on the counter at the Pavilion Tea Room at Bodnant Garden -Credit:North Wales Live

We wondered around swathes of flowers, with the heady sight and scent of roses, lily ponds, herbaceous beds and buzzing wildflower meadows. The sheer size of the grounds means that with so much space that the gardens didn’t look that full despite the many different nationalities arriving on bus or car.

We noticed two other cafes on site with a small Magnolia Café and a popular takeaway kiosk, which was selling hot drinks, cakes and red boat ice cream. What a blooming fabulous place, perfect for the kids to run around this half term and take in the beautiful Laburnum Arch at the same time.