10 best places in the world for afternoon tea
Where will you find the fanciest cakes and the best British cuppa?
Scrummy cakes, scones layered with clotted cream and cucumber sandwiches: forget the bikini diet, have a look at these top spots for afternoon tea.
Post-lunch, pre-dinner, it’s the quintessential British snack break. From world-famous landmark hotels, to quirky cafes, we bring you the best places check out when you’re in the mood for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
1. Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town, South Africa
At the foot of Cape Town’s famous mountain, swap one table for another and take a break at The Nelly, as it’s affectionately known by fans of fancy finger food. Feast on roast beef and rocket sandwiches, or indulge your sweet tooth with a slice of South African melktert (milk tart). Sit beside the garden fountain, sipping on the hotel’s signature blend of tea, or you can step things up a gear and add a glass of bubbly to the bill. It doesn’t get much classier in Cape Town than this!
2. The Strand Hotel, Yangon, Myanmar
Back in the days of the British Empire, when Yangon was called Rangoon, you’d most likely bump into author Rudyard Kipling, propping The Strand Hotel’s bar in Myanmar’s former capital. Today, an afternoon swigging tea and cramming your face with cakes, surrounded by wicker furniture and whirring ceiling fans, will transport you back to this bygone era.
Read more: 9 top things to do in Myanmar
3. The Fairmont Empress Hotel, Victoria, Canada
Home to arguably Canada’s best cuppa, the Fairmont Empress Hotel boasts its very own blend, combining Assam, South India and Chinese tea leaves. Settle in to one of the dark wood, hand-carved dining chairs and look out over Victoria’s Inner Harbour while you snack on spiced vanilla shortbread and citrus cheesecake.
Read more: 5 reasons to fall in love with Canada
4. Raffles Hotel, Singapore
No list would be complete without mentioning the world-famous Raffles Hotel in Singapore and their divinely decadent tea selection. Take a seat in the Tiffin Room and work your way through a platter of traditional sarnies and British baked goods. If you’re really hungry then take the buffet and go wild at the dim sum station, or gorge yourself on sausage rolls, curry pie and, of course, scones with lashings of cream and fruit jam. An afternoon full of colonial charm and artery-clogging cakes, all for 58SGD (£28) per person, it’s good value for money.
Read more: 10 best things to do in Singapore
5. Tea & Sympathy, New York, US
It may lack grandeur, compared with other places on this list, but this cute café more than makes up for it in quirky charm, down in New York’s Greenwich Village. Bringing the best of British stateside, you’ll find some great home comforts here, from Heinz baked beans to rhubarb crumble. Most items on Tea & Sympathy’s menu are homemade, including their fabulously fluffy fruit scones, served the old fashioned way, with a pot of strawberry jam and a dainty cup of cha.
6. The Getty Villa, Malibu, California, US
You may not expect to find the quintessential British tea in ancient Rome, but that’s exactly what you’ll get if you visit Malibu’s Getty Villa. This mock-Roman country retreat is home to 7,000 years of ancient art, and they do a mean afternoon tea with an unusual Mediterranean twist. Get stuck in to their ‘Tea by the Sea’ which includes scrumptious scones lathered in mascarpone cheese and honey, as well as duck and apple paninis that outshine any curly-edged cucumber sandwich.
Read more: 10 best thigs to do in California
7. The Ritz, London, UK
It’s hard to find a more traditional afternoon tea experience than at the ultra-glitzy Ritz Hotel in Piccadilly, London - they’ve been serving snacks on silver trays here since 1906. Make sure you don your Sunday best; men must wear a jacket and tie and sportswear is forbidden from the Palm Court dining room. Be waited on hand and foot by the immaculately presented servers and watch as they pour endless cups of tea (or flutes of French champagne) with the upmost professionalism.
8. The Lowry Hotel, Manchester, UK
On the banks of the River Irwell lies one of the UK’s best kept secrets on the afternoon tea scene (if there is such a thing?) Manchester’s Lowry Hotel. Get all of the classics, egg and cress sandwiches, fruit tarts and scones: or opt for their boozier version of the British classic and get a glass of bubbly with extra Battenberg cake and canapés. They also offer a children’s menu so your little darlings can enjoy a leisurely tea time treat.
9. Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Penang, Malaysia
Penang, and its super cheap street food eats, is a renowned mecca for food lovers. But if you’re looking for a bit of luxury on the Straits of Malacca, you can’t go wrong with an afternoon at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel. Harking back to when Malaysia was under British colonial rule, this beautiful tea room is all bone china crockery and crisp white tablecloths. Their petit fours are so intricately crafted, they’re almost too good to eat - almost, but not quite, so enjoy!
Read more: The world's best street food - in pictures
10. Erawan Tea Room, Bangkok, Thailand
Swap soggy finger sandwiches for curry puffs and sesame cookies at Erawan Tea Room. Located on the second floor of Erawan shopping centre in the bustling heart of Bangkok, it’s the perfect spot to escape the chaos, refuel and experience the Thai take on a British classic. Drink your tea hot or cold, a choice worth considering given Bangkok’s humidity and high temperatures. The mango sticky rice is so good you won’t even miss your traditional cream scone.