No luxury holiday is complete without indulging in the local high tea. Here are 13 of the best places to enjoy a luxurious afternoon of tea and pastries, from London to Malaysia.
London’s Claridge’s hotel has been celebrating this classic English tradition for nearly 150 years and has received multiple awards for its decadent and iconic service. Around you is the splendour of Thierry Despont’s gorgeous foyer, inspired by the 1930s heydey of Art Deco. These classic-luxe surroundings mesh perfectly with a timeless menu of finger sandwiches, warm scones and sweet pastries. The centrepiece of the experience is, of course, the drink itself. Tea connoisseur Henrietta Lovell has scoured the world to craft a menu of little known producers from all corners of the world. Among the highlights of the menu are a White Silver Tip from the mountains of Fujian in far eastern China and one of the most prized teas in the world; the rare Malawi Antler, which is made from the shoots of the tea plant and cannot be found anywhere else in the UK; and an Earl Grey from Tregothnan, a walled tea garden in Cornwall that has been producing beautiful teas since the 14th century.
The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur
The most popular spot for high tea in town, The Majestic represents Malaysia’s British Colonial era in a tangibly decadent way. Although you can take your tea in the Tea Lounge, the Colonial Cafe or the drawing room, the Orchid Conservatory is the real standout, where guests are surrounded by thousands of blooms. This glass atrium, with a hanging garden and a seasonal show of orchids, is the perfect backdrop for an afternoon of scones and finger sandwiches enjoyed with up to 15 of your nearest and dearest.
Inspired by the latest exhibition at Tate Britain, Rosewood London is launching a brand-new Art Afternoon Tea, reflecting on over two thousand of Vincent Van Gogh’s legendary works. Executive Pastry Chef Mark Perkins has combined classic Dutch flavours with French party and patisserie style to embody the post-impressionist painter’s life and travels. Guests can enjoy a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and loose leaf tea, followed by three show-stopping desserts based on the three masterpieces Sunflowers, The Starry Night and Almond Blossoms.
Gunners Barracks Tea Room, Sydney
Based in the heritage military barracks, this luxury tea room has panoramic views of Sydney Harbour and the city’s skyline, making the high tea experience extra special. The Traditional High Tea offers an assortment of savoury pastries, finger sandwiches, petits fours, fluffy scones and, of course, tea. If you’re still parched after the extravagant service, champagne is also on offer. Just make sure to watch out for cheeky kookaburras during the warmer seasons – they like to swoop and help themselves to treats from plates on the deck.
The Russian Tea Room, New York
The afternoon tea service at NYC’s iconic Russian Tea Room is one to put on the must-do list. The venue itself is special, with its elegant touches of red, golden chandeliers and plush furnishings, and the menu is full of delectable treats. Sample delicious sandwiches, from turkey with truffle croque monsieur to New York smoked sturgeon with dill and sour cream, shrimp salad with remoulade and caviar blini, before getting into the seasonal scones, petits fours and cupcakes. Make sure to finish things off with a selection of loose-leaf teas, or a flute of Moët & Chandon or Veuve Clicquot Brut.
Fairmont Empress, British Colombia
The grand tradition of high tea is done well at the Fairmont Empress, which has hosted the grand tradition for more than 110 years and serves more cups of tea than any hotel in England – that’s more than 500,000 cups a year. Hosted in the historic Lobby Lounge, and complemented by antique decor, live classical piano accompaniment, sterling silver service and priceless views of the Inner Harbour, high tea at the Fairmont is a total treat. Be sure to sample The Empress Blend, created in homage to the luxurious surrounds. Tea at the Empress includes a creative array of tea sandwiches, traditional English golden raisin scones served with house-made clotted cream and strawberry lavender jam, and of course bite-size pastries created in-house by Executive Pastry Chef Dominic Fortin. The current menu includes treats such as classic Scottish shortbread, strawberry tarts, dark chocolate and raspberry macarons, maple pecan financier and the signature Empress raisin scones. A very special Prince or Princess Tea is available for wee ones.
Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong
Expansive city and harbour views await guests at the Tiffin’s High Tea at the Grand Hyatt, Hong Kong. The array of treats with a distinctly French flavour include canelés, éclairs, sables and verrines. These delectable sweets are complemented by the live dessert stations and ice-cream counter. Executive Pastry Chef Smita Grosse has also specially curated a new ‘Déjà Vu Fruits’ afternoon tea for the summer. The concept is focused on using seasonal fruits to make different shapes and desserts perfect for your Instagram feed, with fruit-themed delicacies including the signature lemon cake with a twist into a cube, strawberry financier, chocolate cake with mandarin marmalade and coconut panna cotta with mango lime salsa. The brand-new set also features a selection of savoury bites such as prawn and cucumber sandwiches, Atlantic lobster medallions with saffron mayonnaise and bamboo ash toast, white asparagus with French ham and boursin, and foie gras terrine with fresh fig.
Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Pure decadence awaits visitors to the Sahn Eddar, or “reception of the house” in Arabic, with marble and mosaic decorating this atrium restaurant, located inside one of the world’s tallest buildings. Delight in delicious creations that play on flavours from around the globe, plus an elaborate tea and cocktail menu, and take in the vibrant setting. Guests can relax to the sounds of the grand water display in the atrium that provides a perfect finish to this unrivalled high tea experience.
A dining experience rooted deeply within nature and wellness, the 100% vegan afternoon tea is simple in its elegance. Shangri-La’s Paris hotel draws on seasonal ingredients for a distinct gourmet goodness not often found in afternoon sweets, following the ‘green wave’ that has taken the world by storm. Pastry Chef Michaël Bartocetti has embraced local and fresh products to invent this ethically conscious, but still distinctly Shangri-La flavoured, experience. Basing their work on the expertise and sourcing skills of Bernadette Combette, after three months of trials a varied menu of 10 pastries was invented, alternating between the simplicity of a tart or shortcrust pastry and the sophistication of great classics, such as Mont-Blanc and Calisson.
The Langham, Melbourne
Picture chocolate desserts of all kinds and colours, from Vittoria coffee eclairs with caramel pearls to hazelnut tarts with gianduja mousse, white chocolate and passionfruit pops. Then add a chocolate fountain with fruit, marshmallows and cake. Now, imagine you can eat as much of these treats as your heart desires: this is the Chocolate Bar High Tea at The Langham, Melbourne. Served every Saturday and Sunday, the decadence begins with a traditional three-tiered stand featuring Wedgwood china ladened with gourmet sandwiches and warm savoury delights, followed by a sweet treat buffet with a seemingly endless array of desserts. Possibly Melbourne’s most indulgent high tea to date, a glass of premium sparkling on arrival and unlimited Wedgwood loose leaf tea, espresso-based coffee or hot chocolate is on hand throughout.
Mandarin Oriental, Taipei
The expansive Jade Lounge welcomes guests to afternoon tea before transforming into an oyster and champagne bar for the evening. The Taipei destination features its own outdoor terrace cake shop, with the large selection of pastries, chocolates and pralines being only a few of the treats on offer at this daily afternoon tea, complemented by a fine selection of European and Chinese teas. Lounge menu highlights include the poached lobster sandwich with cocktail sauce and avocado, the 30-gram seasonal caviar set, and smoked salmon with herring caviar.
The Ritz London
London’s host of high tea destinations allows travellers to experience everything on offer, with The Ritz being no exception. This fine British tradition is alive and well at The Ritz, with sandwiches, scones and treats perfectly complemented by 18 varieties of loose-leaf tea served in the finest china. The afternoon tea is hosted in Palm Court, a room unmatched for elegance and refinery, bettered only by the live musical ensemble from the resident pianist and harpist playing exclusively for guests. It is the only hotel in the United Kingdom to have a certified Tea Sommelier, Giandomenico Scanu, who travels around the world to various tea plantations to source the most wonderful flavours. The Ritz hosts teas for special occasions and holidays, providing the perfect scene for an unforgettable celebration.
The Rubens at The Palace
Want to sip on the United Kingdom’s most expensive cup of tea? Opposite Buckingham Palace, The Rubens at The Palace hotel is now serving up an exquisite £500 pot of Golden Tips Tea, which can be sipped overlooking The Royal Mews. In collaboration with specialist tea merchants PMD Tea, the rare tea blend is produced in the highlands of Sri Lanka by expert tea pluckers at sunrise – the buds are then sundried on a velvet cloth until they turn from silver to gold. Adding to this already illustrious experience, the five-star hotel serves freshly baked cones, pastries and finger sandwiches alongside.