Though this tiny, vintage-style venue is just minutes from the bustle of Glasgow's West End, opening its door is taking a decision to step away from the thoroughfare and take your time over tea, served in what the menu describes as "the traditional way" - loose leaf, in a proper teapot with a strainer.
While the attention to period detail and plentiful home baking might lead you to look for a sleeves-rolled-up, Clarissa Dickson Wright-type matriarch at the helm, the proprietor is actually 28-year-old Kirsty Fitzgerald, a Strathclyde University graduate who took on the business three years ago, developing the eclectic decor and doing the majority of the baking herself.
"I decided it was time to take the plunge and do something for myself after being made redundant from a job I didn't even like," she says. "When I first opened I had to start from scratch, which was a struggle due to the location, and no passing trade. I had to work really hard to get the word out. It paid off though, and now the tearoom is a busy place full of lovely customers."
Though a growing reputation means it can be busy, there is plenty of seating on a mezzanine level, as well as in the main tea room, and the atmosphere is calm and welcoming - aided perhaps by the aromas from a selection of tea cocktails, including Steamy Apple (with Turkish apple and cinnamon) and Chilli Chocolate Rooibosh.
The menu also includes customer favourites like a Victoria (labelled 'Vicky') sponge, alongside more novel specials such as mojito cupcakes, and savouries including a delicious goat's cheese sandwich with ginger and honey carrots. If you have time to take your time though, the full afternoon tea, complete with sandwiches, fresh scones with cream and jam, and a selection of cakes, is the well regarded highlight.
Space is clearly at a premium in the Hidden Lane, but the shortage only adds to the parlour feel, with every last inch, including the rafters, stacked with delicate cups, saucers and cake stands. Even the food appears part of the display, from the eye-catching velvet brown of a chocolate and Guinness gateau on the counter, to a glossy tower of meringues that might pass for ornament on a shelf, if the temptation to reach out and snaffle one wasn't so strong.
It is a testament to the affection in which the tearoom is held, that its eclectic collection of crockery and cutlery comes not only from auctions and charity shops, but from the customers themselves.
"We get crockery donations from customers who have boxes of unused china in their attics," explains Kirsty, who collected tea sets as a hobby long before she opened her business. "I think they like to think it is going to a good home and will be used as it is meant to be. And my granddad can't go past a charity shop without checking for tea sets for me!"
Info: The Hidden Lane Tearoom, 8 Argyll Court (off 1103 Argyll Street, also known as The Hidden Lane), Glasgow. 10am to 6pm Monday to Saturday, midday to 6pm Sundays. http://on.fb.me/18Mi15z @HiddenLtearoom
Getting there: The Hidden Lane is off Argyll Street in the West End, about five minutes walk from Exhibition Centre Station (just west of Tescos). The Tearoom is well signed from nearby.
Mini menu: Tea cocktails, £2.50. Scones with cream and jam £2.50. Afternoon teas from £12
Sugar score: Instead of bowls on the tables, sugar is endearingly presented in tiny old tea tins - a lovely idea.
Agenda: The tearoom is hosting a craft fair on October 13th
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