Afternoon tea in a traditional English tea room is a highlight of any day in the Cotswolds. Tea rooms are lively and friendly places, popular with locals and visitors alike. Open all day serving morning coffee and light breakfasts, lunches, and afternoon tea, they usually close at around 5pm. Cakes and other desserts will be on display, so you can walk up, have a good look and make your choice. A popular afternoon selection is a “Cream Tea”—one or two scones, with clotted cream and strawberry jam on the side, served with tea or coffee. Indeed, the Cream Tea originated in Cornwall, before spreading to Devon and the rest of the south-west. While scones are almost invariably available, tea rooms always offer a tempting variety of cakes. The Victoria Sponge is a standard: it consists of two layers of a light sponge cake separated by something yummy, usually jam and butter cream, but keep a look out for other interesting fillings. If your drink of choice is tea, don't expect a casual mug of tea; you'll receive a good quality tea brewed in a teapot. England used to have a reputation for bad coffee, but you can now get great capuccinos and espresso drinks: indeed, coffee is becoming so popular that some tea rooms now call themselves coffee shops, but still behave like traditional tea rooms. More casual than restaurants, it's usual to order at the counter of a tearoom, and when you are ready to leave, go to the counter to pay. Below I detail just five of my favourite tea rooms. All independently owned and run by the owners, each is located in a historic building in the heart of a noteworthy Cotswold town, featuring big windows so you can look out to the town action. After all, that's what I want in a tea room: a good cup of tea, a homemade cake or scone, friendly service and a comfortable place to sit and watch the world go by.