Tea for Two and Two for Tea

The art of afternoon tea and where to find the best
03 July 2023

A time-honoured tradition

The ritual of fine afternoon tea has a rich history that dates back to the 19th century in Britain. It is believed to have been popularised by Anna, the Duchess of Bedford, who experienced a "sinking feeling" and desired a light meal between lunch and dinner. She began inviting friends to join her for tea and small snacks, giving birth to the tradition of afternoon tea.

Initially, it was an elite practice among the upper class, but it quickly spread across the social classes. Afternoon tea became an opportunity for people to socialise, indulge in delicate pastries, sandwiches, and scones, all accompanied by a steaming cup of tea. Over time, it became an iconic symbol of British culture, with tea rooms and hotels offering elaborate afternoon tea experiences.

Today, afternoon tea continues to be cherished, preserving its elegance and charm while serving as a delightful occasion to unwind and savour the pleasures of a leisurely afternoon. Here's our selection of the finest afternoon tea spreads, on land and at sea!

The Ritz, London, United Kingdom

Ritz Carlton

The Ritz in Mayfair, London is renowned for its opulent and timeless afternoon tea service. Set in the elegant Palm Court dining room, guests can expect a traditional experience with delicate finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and a delectable array of pastries and cakes. The Ritz takes pride in maintaining a refined atmosphere, complete with live piano music and impeccable service.

As well as 18 different types of loose-leaf tea to choose from, why not sip a glass of Champagne to add some extra sparkle to the occasion?

The Ritz London is the only hotel in the UK to have a certified Tea Master, Giandomenico Scanu, who travels around the world to various tea plantations to source their wonderful teas.

The Plaza Hotel, New York City, USA

The Palm Court NY

The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel in New York offers a high tea experience that combines classic elegance with the vibrant energy of New York City. Set amidst the hotel's stunning architecture, guests can indulge in a selection of teas (with the option to upgrade to a glass of champagne), accompanied by an assortment of savoury bites, scones, and an exquisite variety of pastries.

The Palm Court's ambiance and exceptional service make for a memorable afternoon.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Burj Al Arab

The Burj Al Arab, often referred to as the world's most luxurious hotel, offers a high tea experience fit for royalty. Guests can enjoy breathtaking views of the Arabian Gulf while savouring an array of teas and a selection of sandwiches, pastries, and sweet treats.

The setting is lavish, and the service matches the hotel's reputation for impeccable hospitality.

The Peninsula, Hong Kong

The Peninsula Hong Kong

The Peninsula Hong Kong is known for its legendary afternoon tea that combines tradition and sophistication. Served daily in The Lobby, which has long been recognised as one of the most elegant meeting places in Hong Kong, this revered tradition is accompanied by The Lobby Strings, playing live daily. Guests can expect an extensive menu of teas from around the world, accompanied by delicate finger sandwiches, warm scones, and an enticing assortment of pastries and desserts. The elegant surroundings and impeccable service add to the charm of this iconic experience.

The Fairmont Empress, Victoria, Canada

Tea at the Empress

Located in Victoria, British Columbia, The Fairmont Empress is celebrated for its historic and picturesque setting. Their signature "Tea at the Empress" afternoon tea, served in the elegant Lobby Lounge, offers a selection of teas paired with a tiered tray of finger sandwiches, warm scones, and delectable pastries.

The ambiance of the hotel, coupled with the stunning views of the Inner Harbour, creates a truly memorable experience.

The St. Regis, Mumbai, India

St Regis Mumbai

The St. Regis in Mumbai offers a lavish and indulgent afternoon tea experience. Guests can choose from an extensive tea menu, including specialty Indian blends, while enjoying a selection of savoury bites, scones, and an enticing variety of Indian and international pastries.

The hotel's sophisticated ambiance and attentive service contribute to a memorable high tea experience.

The Peninsula, Tokyo, Japan

Peninsula Tokyo

The Peninsula Tokyo offers a unique twist on afternoon tea by infusing it with Japanese influences. Guests can enjoy a selection of Japanese teas alongside traditional finger sandwiches, scones, and a selection of delicate Japanese-inspired pastries. The stunning city views and the hotel's commitment to exceptional hospitality make this experience truly special.

For something a little different try the "Lychee & Peach Afternoon Tea" available until 31 August 2023, or for an extra special occasion, the private balcony option for afternoon tea is designed to impress! Accessible only via a secret entrance leading to an exclusive balcony dining area, directly opposite The Lobby's live music ensemble.

Cunard's Queen Mary 2

Queen Mary 2

Onboard the elegant ocean liner Queen Mary 2, guests can partake in an exquisite afternoon tea experience. The setting is reminiscent of a bygone era, with white-gloved waitstaff serving a selection of teas, accompanied by classic sandwiches, freshly baked scones, and an assortment of delectable pastries.

The ship's refined atmosphere and attention to detail create a sophisticated and memorable high tea experience at sea. This daily ritual occurs between 3.30pm and 4.30pm in the Queens Room, a venue akin to a stately ballroom. Afternoon Tea is included in your fare, while champagne and sparkling wine are available at additional cost by the glass, or by the bottle.

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