The Babington’s Tea Rooms in Rome are not your typical spot in the city. They are an old English tea house (and restaurant/café) located right in the super central Piazza di Spagna (the one with the Spanish steps). Quite the surprise if you don’t know them, in a city and a country with such a strong tradition and love for its own food! The sign here, photographed by me some years ago when still living in the city, is made of the famous roman marble (“travertino”), that dirty white material which characterises the roman architecture and can be seen anywhere in the city, from buildings to plaques and fountains. I’d argue that if you don’t know about Babington’s and you’re wandering around the city, you’d be quite bamboozled by the presence of a tea place (not a traditional Italian beverage), with an English name, which doesn’t look like it’s new, in the centre. Sure there are modern ones, but this one is a historical gem.
Rome is full full full of small places with a good story. It’s also full of big places with a great story, it’s got lots to visit and it’s been home to many historical events of relevance. But my personal take on Rome is that it’s a city full of small surprises: the small things that you don’t know about, the corners, the little lesser-known churches, the plaques recalling someone who lived there, the little spots. I hope I have captured many of those while living there, and will likely write about here, but I doubt I’ve seen them all. Rome is where you never get bored, you just need to have time to spend going around.
I’ve never been inside the Babington’s, I was a student so doubt I’d comfortably be able to afford the bill, which as you can imagine due to location and historical relevance won’t come cheap if you go. So I can’t attest on the quality really, but I bet it’s good. They serve a variety of teas but also the typical English breakfast and delicacies of the British tradition like muffins, scones and sandwiches. If you read on Tripadvisor they currently have a score of 4/5.
The rooms were founded by two upper-class English ladies back at the end of the nineteenth century, with the idea that they’d be a spot for the English-speaking community living in the city. Grand Tour times. The business was passed through the generations, it survived the war and all political events of the country, and there it is. It comes as first result On Google if you search for tea in Rome, and if you search for tea houses in Rome in general you won’t find many other results.