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Haarlem’s only English tearoom: Have you experienced Bij Babette?

If you’re looking for somewhere to have a proper cup of tea and fluffy scones in Haarlem, I would recommend Bij Babette, Haarlem’s only English tearoom. It’s one of Haarlem’s most fabulous spots, full of old-world charm, glamour and decadence.

Sarah Hawkin is the owner of  Bij Babette, Haarlem's only English tearoom.
Sarah Hawkin, owner of Bij Babette.

I love spending time at Bij Babette because it makes me feel like I’ve experienced a little piece of England right here in Haarlem. Here you can expect to find all things British such as the only authentic afternoon tea in Haarlem (it is scrumptious!), tea blends for any occasion or mood, scones with clotted cream and traditional savoury pies.

It is just the perfect spot whether you’re in need of tea and sympathy or an extravagant tea party. I think Sarah Hawkin and her team have created such a fun and welcoming environment. (I can’t give it all away so you’ll have to visit to see for yourself.) 😉 You can only smile when you step inside! 😃

I popped in for a cup of tea with Sarah to find out more about her tearoom, how she found her way to Haarlem and, of course, she also told me about a few of her favourite things.

What brought you to The Netherlands?

I moved here for love. I worked for a large advertising agency in London and I had a Dutch boyfriend at the time. When the agency wanted to open an office in Amsterdam, I decided to move to The Netherlands. Eventually the relationship ended, the job ended, and I realised that I just wanted to serve tea to people. And that’s what I did. So I bought a bankrupt tearoom called Bij Babette. This was 13 years ago and the rest is history.

How would you describe Bij Babette?

It feels like you are sitting in an old British parlour enjoying British comfort food. The tearoom has a nostalgic feel about it. It takes you into the past and you can forget about reality for a while.

I love that the tearoom is a space where anyone feels comfortable. I have met so many incredible and interesting people here. With Bij Babette I also want to continue the tradition of the afternoon tea when ladies can take time to enjoy food and each other’s company.

Tearooms also have an important place in history as they were responsible for the growth of the suffragette movement in England. Coffee establishments and bars were considered unsuitable for women at the time, but women could go to tearooms and enjoy more freedom because they were considered sophisticated places.

I am also completely in love with my staff. I call them my “donut dollies.” These were women who were hired during WWII because they were clever and beautiful and they were tasked to hand out donuts to troops to raise their morale. This is what my staff do for me and clients all the time. This place wouldn’t be Bij Babette without them.

What is your favourite item on the menu?

On the sweet menu: the afternoon tea and scones. On the savoury menu: I love the Coronation Chicken Sandwich and the Beef and Guinness Pie. On our tea menu I love the “ex-boyfriend eraser” which is a black tea with orange and passion fruit. The “love potion” blend is another one of my favourites. It is a green tea with raspberry, rose petal and lemon.

Do you like to bake with certain flavours?

My go-to flavours are always raspberries, rose, vanilla and anything with alcohol – preferably champagne!

Where do you go in Haarlem for an evening out?

La Forca: this is a superb Italian restaurant.
Tierney’s Irish Pub: I met my fiancĂ© here and they have a very good wine list.
Cafe Stiels: I love this place because of the atmosphere and live music.

Find Haarlem’s only English tearoom at Kruisstraat 31 in Haarlem. Follow Bij Babette on Facebook and Instagram. You can also shop for all things delicious online at Babette’s Emporium.

If you’ve visited Bij Babette, why not make a day out of it and explore the rest of Haarlem. Take yourself on a short walking tour to see quirky buildings and little streets, sculptures and street art.  

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