To celebrate Afternoon Tea Week, Elite Traveler takes you on a journey around the world to discover some of the best afternoon teas in the world.
Afternoon tea is an age-old institution of British culture, but you do not necessarily have to travel to the United Kingdom to experience the very best finger sandwiches and petit fours.
You can now find fantastic examples of a traditional afternoon tea as far away as Sydney and New York. Here, we take you through a selection of the very best.
The Baccarat Hotel may only be a few years old, but this is New York’s undoubted number one spot for old school glamour. The luxury French brand spared no expense with its first property and filled it to the brim with its world-renowned crystal. The result is a space that screams luxury, so there are few better places to experience afternoon tea.
Guests enjoy specialty blends brewed by the hotel’s dedicated tea sommelier paired with chef-selected canapés and petit fours. For Afternoon Tea Week, reserve a place on the Art of Tea Pairing course, where guests experience aged teas and small bites in the hotel’s Petit Salon.
Belmond British Pullman
The golden age of locomotive travel may be long behind us, but the spirit of the luxury train lives on in the form of the Belmond British Pullman. Stepping onboard is like traveling back in time to a time of glamour and sophistication, and there is no better way to experience it than enjoying an afternoon tea whilst on board.
Of the several different types of afternoon teas available aboard the train, our pick is the Festive version, which pays homage to the holiday season with traditional fare while chugging its way across the scenic English countryside. Tables book up well in advance so do not delay if you want to secure a coveted window seat.
There are countless places to have a great English afternoon tea in London and it takes a brave establishment to try to break from convention. Brown’s Hotel achieves the best of both worlds, adding a fresh twist to tradition whilst maintaining the core essentials that have made afternoon tea such a popular pastime.
There are so many teas to choose from that the hotel offers guests a “library” rather than a menu and the educated waiters are always on hand to guide them through the nuances. There is also a selection of iced teas to choose from during the hotter months as well as low-carb, low-fat versions of their delectable nibbles for those watching the calories.
Mount Nelson Hotel
An iconic, century-old establishment, the Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel embodies the colonial-era grandeur of Cape Town’s heritage. The afternoon tea is a grand affair, mixing tradition with local customs to deliver an experience you are unlikely to find anywhere else in the world.
Included among the fresh pastries and scones is a typical South African milk tart. As well as traditional afternoon tea, guests can opt for something more substantial in the evening, including a selection of fine cheeses and charcuterie. Tea masterclasses, tastings and pairings are also available upon request.
Paris is the spiritual home of sophistication and there is no better way to experience it than at one of the city’s finest hotels, Le Bristol. For almost 100 years, Le Bristol has steadfastly maintained a world-class standard of service and tradition.
The afternoon tea is a manifestation of this approach. Served in the striking Café Antonia, guests immediately discover exactly why the word ‘patisserie’ is French. Think incredibly delicate macarons, crisp choux buns and delectable petit fours. To focus on the sweets would be a disservice to the sandwiches, however, which come with a variety of high-quality fillings and inventive ingredients. And, of course, the tea selection is as wide as one could hope for with 20 to choose from.
The Russian Tea Room
The Russian Tea Room has been serving New Yorkers for over 90 years, so suffice to say they know how to put together a corker of an afternoon tea. The stories the walls could tell are endless: Dustin Hoffman filmed a scene from Tootsie here while Madonna once worked in the cloakroom before finding fame.
The glamour has yet to fade and today’s guests experience the same level of quality as they always have done. The Royal Afternoon Tea is the height of sophistication here, coming with a serving of caviar as well as the traditional sandwiches and scones.
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Travel 10,500 miles away from London and you can still find an outstanding afternoon tea at Gunners’ Barracks, one of the city’s most historic establishments. Guests are invited to take tea on the terrace, which offers stunning views out across Sydney Harbour.
The spread of sandwiches, scones and pastries are a match for anything you would find in England with the petit cakes created daily by a team of expert patisserie chefs.