Post the steroidal experience of the London Coffee Festival and all that is Brexit we took a few days out “up north”. This included a visit to probably the most famous tea room in England, Bettys of Harrogate. The contrast in style is so extreme that it’s hard to believe that Edwardian elegance still has any relevance in today’s market. However the permanent queue outside Bettys would make a hipster choke on their single estate flat white and proves that you can’t beat a well delivered authentic experience.

There’s still a real bite in the late March air of Harrogate, so the queue outside this glamorous frontage is full of people in sturdy cagoules as well as the not so subtle glamour of the odd Louis Vuitton handbag. Fascinating the egalitarian nature of a British queue waiting to be beckoned in by a very attentive patron.

The large paved area with its wonderfully covered frontage would, I suggest anywhere else in the world be crammed with al fresco diners, here though that seems a little outlandish, plus where would you queue? This is part of the charm of Bettys, that clarity of product and place. There are a few MBA students who could learn a lesson or two here.

Once inside there’s a choice of three dining areas. The Bettys equivalent of “grab and go” or put more politely light snacks at ground floor, whilst a mezzanine and lower floor area will get you more elegance and hot dishes. The atmosphere is one of quiet deference, I’d dread to think what would happen if the uncouth tone of a mobile were to ring out. Yet there sat in a corner was a millennial quietly tapping away on her laptop. This juxta positioning of old and modern emphasises the fact that Bettys isn’t an institution stuck in the aspic of a bygone era. The menu too is one of affordable luxury, sophisticated without being overly pretentious and competitively priced.

The tea offer is classical but quietly excellent. They offer just one Darjeeling when they could offer you a choice of ten. There are no brewing recommendations for the hyper fussy or “FOMO” generation. It is however delivered in a silver service with a matching tea strainer rather than retro china cobbled together from a charity shop. Little details that say “trust us” in an era of fake news.

I love some of the terminology too. Where do you hear the words “light snacks” these days? Only on TV programmes doing back stories on some fabulous unaffordable luxury hotel I’d suggest. But here it’s just right and makes one appreciate the delicious subtlety of the English language.

The “snacks” are elegant with a nodding reference to local produce and served on simple white plates, no sign of a violently smashed avocado here. Salt and pepper is found in sensible silver receptacles, a reminder of an era when we didn’t package everything to death. Dessert is a wonderful selection of patisserie which apparently harks back to their Swiss founder but again it’s the little detail of the correct cake-cutting fork that lingers in the memory.

In an era when it’s all about the “customer experience” there are a few who would do well to study what Bettys are doing and have been doing for the past 100 years. You’d think it was something a millennial marketing guru had invented, reassuringly it’s not. It’s just that some businesses walk the walk rather than talk the talk. Bettys is walking right into another millennium.

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