A tradition started by a friend of Queen Victoria Afternoon Tea caught up with the novelty and the wealthy in England and is a tradition held in several other cultures such as Japan or China.
1. Burj al Arab, Dubai
If you are dying to experience the opulence of the world’s only 7-Star hotel but can’t afford the multiple-zero price tag you’re in luck. Burj al Arab in Dubai offers glorious afternoon tea in two locations, the top floor Skyview with vistas over the Gulf, the Palm and the World Islands and the first floor Sahn Eddar, with a more decadent ambience and at the bottom of the world’s highest atrium. Yes, the Burj al Arab has a few claims to fame including this one.
At Skyview, SkyHigh Tea is available all days except for Fridays when the restaurant fills with brunch-goers topping their plates with an ostentatious free flow of lobster, oysters and champagne. The tea menu consists of the traditional sandwiches, The Chef’s carvery, cakes, sorbet and, of course, scones with clotted cream and luscious jams. The options for tea are endless and if you get past the overpowering blue and green shades of the sofas and carpet and simply take in the views it is possible one of the most stunning places to observe the human development feat that the Palm is.
At Sahn Eddar Afternoon Tea can be taken with unlimited champagne at the usual hours from 1-6pm. The menu is the same as at the SkyView with a couple of even more over the top additions. For a truly royal experience to match the hotel’s décor guests can choose a sparkling apple juice with gold flakes instead of a tea.
If you are pressed for time, Sahn Eddar offers a compact happy hour type of High Tea from 7-8pm for a more affordable price with cocktails, sandwiches and sweet delights.
Coffee lovers fret not, the Burj Al Arab traditional venues also offer all the espresso-based drinks.
The hotel has more recently started capitalizing on an increasing Asian clad by offering Asian afternoon tea version which starts with freshly prepared Jasmine tea followed by a dim sum selection. This is offered at Junsui restaurant bathed in Swarovski crystals.
If you visit Dubai you would be foolish not to come see the world famous landmark. Afternoon tea is just the most affordable way to partake in what is possibly the world’s most luxuriously extravagant hotel.
Prices start at $150 or $100 for the High Tea option. Book well ahead.
2. The Peninsula, Hong Kong
Get transported back to the beginning of the 20th century when The Peninsula opened its doors as the most luxurious hotel in the East. The legendary “Grand Dame of the East” knows what the true meaning of the world luxury is and you can expect exceptional service and historical. The hotel boasts about the fact that it was the first hotel to offer city check-in. It is also the proud owner of 14 Phantom Rolls Royce in a green hue known at Rolls Royce as the Peninsula Green.
Afternoon Tea is served in the lobby bar. Decoration is colonial. Rich in marble, high ceilings, tall gilded columns, tiled floors, golden appliques and luscious plants. The only problem is that the hotel does not accept reservations and you may have to queue for a while before you can get seated. This is the downside of experiencing the Quintessential Hong Kong tradition of Afternoon Tea at the city’s most famous landmark.
Afternoon tea is priced at $50 or $75 with champagne. Arrive ahead of time. Tea time starts at 2pm.
3. Raffles Hotel Tiffin Room, Singapore
“While at Raffles, why not visit Singapore” reads the hotel’s slogan.
To get to the Tiffin room you will cross sculptured courtyards, white washed colonnades and tropical gardens.
Taking after the traditional tiffin curries served at the hotel since the turn of the century the Tiffin Room is airy, bright and with glamorous touches of a time gone by. Colonial architecture and décor are a fixture at this period hotel which is preserved in its original state.
To honor the hotel’s tradition, Afternoon Tea includes the usual selection of finger sandwiches, pastries, cakes and scones as well as curry puffs, sausage rolls and dim sum, thrown in for good measure. The service is buffet style and the spread is as rich as the hotel’s past.
To finish it off, opt for the fresh fruit selection set on a backdrop of chocolate and other sweet creations – if you can stop yourself from getting another dessert serving. that is.
4. Claridges, London
Afternoon Tea in London is synonymous with Claridges Hotel. They have observed this wonderfully quintessential British tradition for 150 years and so you should expect the ultimate in culinary experiences.
The journey encompasses everything Afternoon Tea should be about: royal surroundings, an exquisite tea selection and crumbling scones with the original clotted cream.
Claridges prides itself in offering a curated tea menu. They have a tea connoisseur that has scouted the world for the hotel’s premium tea selection. Henrietta Lovell has selected teas from smaller producers and worked with the Executive Chef to pair them with the delicious food on offer.
As per the setting, Afternoon Tea is served at Thierry Despont’s art deco Foyer which takes after the 1930s trend. Waiters are dressed in immaculate white with gloves to make it even more pompous and they will prepare your tea to your chosen strength. But it is not the decoration and the room which exudes fabulousness but also the fine china in no less than jade color. Calling it green would be an insult to its grandeur.
The menu is classic but each item has been carefully chosen. The scones are not just raisin but also apple. The jam is not plain but Marco Polo jelly and the clotted cream is from Cornish. Sandwiches are made with organic chicken, the salmon is smoked by Severn & Wye. The menu details the origins and story of each of the ingredients that make up the finger delights. Even the humble cucumber is royalty. Painstaking descriptions of each of the menu elements proves an incredible attention to detail. Even the balance between bread and fillings is a matter of discussion.
If you can to over indulge, add a glass of bubbles to make this even more luxurious.
Children are also catered for with their special menu and closer to Christmas, Claridges offers a Christmas themed menu with festive finger sandwiches and cakes.
Prices start at $75
5. The Plaza, New York
Scenes of famous movies were filmed here, including the original of the popular The Great Gatsby.
The Palm Court has just been re-opened after an expensive renovation and is due to accept reservations for Afternoon Tea soon under the direction of a new Culinary Director. Restored to its former splendor the room is flanked by mirror doors, high columns and topped by a yellow and green dome.
The previous menu offered four choices of tea with varying degrees of exuberance and refinement: a Fitzgeral which paid homage to famous personalities, The New Yorker, The Eloise and The Chocolate Tea. The new re-launch is expected to be equally indulgent as the former one.
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