I love tea rooms, even if they’re not very good I still like them because I like the idea of them. I like the fact there is such a wide variety of them, from the very famous which become tourist attractions like the lovely Willow Tea Room in Glasgow, to little rather grotty sad places not far removed from Joe’s caff.
So if I had a tea room… what would it be like? Clean windows that you could see through so outside you could see what a delightful place it is, and inside you could look out at a view (of course in the ideal tea room there would have to be a view!) Maybe a clean and rather lovely lace curtain across the bottom half, so the people sitting by the window wouldn’t get stared out, but they could still see the view… I’m very taken with this view idea! The windows would be painted, and the sills would be clean, and there would be cheery tubs of flowers, in season, so bulbs in the spring, something which smells nice in the summer, cheerful autumn colour, then winter crocuses over the winter months.
You would enter through a door which opens easily with a pleasant but not obtrusive bell. The door on opening would not send a dreadful draft across the seated customers knees! A friendly person, clearly a member of staff (not necessarily in a mob-cap and pinny) would smile a greeting at you if they were serving someone, and if they weren’t they would clearly indicate a table for you, but at the same time be quite happy for you to wander to the counter and look at the delicious cakes and pastries and scones on offer. You would already be tempted by the delightful smell of home baking, and even though this is a ta room, you may want coffee so there is an enticing aroma of freshly roasted beans drifting on the air.
Having sat down at the clean table with a cheery pristine cloth, clean menus attractively presenting what is on offer, someone would come without hurrying to check you have a menu, just in case you are in a hurry and want to order tea quickly; they might point out a special cake or tea-bread or even point out the specials board which is clearly visible from all parts of the room, written in clear writing and showing the prices of everything.
It goes without saying that there is a variety of leaf teas, of fresh coffee, home-baked goods on offer; it also goes without saying that you are served quickly and efficiently but without feeling rushed or hurried. If later you wish to purchase anything, tea, coffee, cakes, jams etc to take home, it is easy and obvious how you do it, where the goods are and how much they cost.
While you are enjoying your refreshments there are interesting work of art by local artists on the walls, interesting books on a variety of subjects on shelves nearby including books of local interest. Background music, even played quietly can be irritating, so probably the only sound would be the gentle conversation of other customers, and the occasional muted hiss of the coffee machine.
I could write volumes more about the perfect tea room, so I will just finish by mentioning that wash room facilities would be pristine with sweet-smelling soap, hand cream, pretty fresh flowers and soft real hand towels in a neat pile, with a lidded basket to put used ones in (emptied regularly!)
The last thing… what on earth would I call it?