12 Sep 7 Afternoon Tea Experiences Worth Travelling The Globe For
One of the great pleasures in life is sitting down to enjoy a meal with friends, but what do you do in that lull in-between lunch and dinner? Thankfully, many moons ago, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, Anna Russell, needed to curb that afternoon hunger and thought up this glorious tradition.
While it certainly is all about the tea and bite-sized food, the chance to get together with friends and catch up, aka gossip, is really what it’s about. While there are thousands of afternoon tea spots around the globe, I think the places that provide a bit more of a unique and posh experience makes it all that much better.
My afternoon tea obsession started with my mother, aunts and uncles here on Vancouver Island at one of my favourite hotels. I’ve managed to make time on my travels to try out some of the more unique tea experiences, and these are my favourite seven that really stood out in my mind. Feel free to leave me some comments below as to which hotels or restaurants I should make sure not to miss if I ever visit that location.
1. The Fairmont Empress Afternoon Tea – Victoria, BC
My first ever afternoon with my family was at the historic Fairmont Empress in Victoria, BC, on Vancouver Island, where I now reside. I will never forget walking though their grand entrance, being greeted by the doormen and taking that stroll through their epic halls to reach the tearoom. They’ve had afternoon tea on offer here since 1908. Not only is the ambience top ranking, the tea selection and food is spot on every single time.
The Fairmont Empress is well known for its original blend of The Empress Tea, as well the exceptionally rare Tong Mu Phoenix Lapsang Souchong blend which draws in tea lovers from around the globe – including royalty. This is a completely bespoke tea and food pairing, right down to the china used, which is made exclusively for The Empress. I also love how they have a dress code which makes the overall experience that much more fun and picturesque. If that bothers you there is a Starbucks down the street.
2. Gin & Vegan Afternoon Tea — Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Number one on my most memorable list during my travels is without a doubt a very French experience not in Paris, but over in Sydney at the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth. While they offer a lovely Parisian afternoon tea experience on the regular, I recently had the pleasure of trying out two of their more unique experiences. They recently partnered with Archie Rose Distillery Co, and they just so happen to make some of the finest Gin I’ve had on this side of the globe.
While cocktails with your afternoon tea is certainly no strange combination, the Chef has gone above and beyond. He has not only infused gin into a delightfully playful food menu, but also curated a few cocktails that go hand in hand with the tea served making for an unforgettable afternoon tea experience.
Being in Sydney for just under a week, I had to indulge further and noticed a vegan afternoon tea experience as well. Believe it or not, that fit in perfectly with a few friends who were attending the conference with me here! I’m not a vegan myself, although that didn’t matter one bit, and I honestly wouldn’t have been able to tell any different unless I knew what I was in for. Executive Chef Boris Cuzon has a clean food philosophy that beautifully blends a few innovative cooking techniques to an array of locally sourced plant-based ingredients. Vegan or not, this was one of the most creative tea times I’ve ever had.
3. Euromast – Rotterdam, NL
The Netherlands has a lot of great afternoon tea spots and it honestly was quite hard to nail down my absolute favourite. However, I’d recommend heading on over to Rotterdam and up the Euromast which happens to be the tallest building in the city. It’s such an absolutely gorgeous view from up here that it almost wouldn’t have mattered how the tea and snacks were. In the end, it all comes together nicely to make for a great afternoon tea experiences worth sharing with friends. I recommend booking in advance because this spot is popular, especially with the amount of tourists rolling through the city on any given day.
4. Afternoon Tea At Apótek —Reykjavik, Iceland
Last year I caught wind of a traditional British afternoon tea on offer that was fairly new in the beautiful city of Reykjavik and was lucky enough to be here for another conference. The tea takes place smack dab in the city centre at the ever-so-elegant Apótek restaurant, which is worth going to at least twice if you’re visiting. I was very happy to see that there was an Icelandic twist on the experience. It quickly stuck out like a sore thumb… in a good way.
The three tiered cake dish has a bit of everything from sweet to savoury. I will not forget my first bite of their shoulder of lamb on on a waffle. The waffles didn’t stop there either as my other memorable bites were the caramelled peach, apple and malt sauce which were also on a Belgian waffle. To die for. The tea selection was only alright in my opinion however, they did mention that in the future they were going to be looking at new sources to provide an even more elevated experience.
5. Afternoon High Tea – The Ritz-Carlton Montréal
I’m a big fan of staying at the Ritz-Carlton in my travels and one of my favourites is that which resides in Montréal. When I first checked the menu it seemed like your typical afternoon tea, but I quickly learned that the pastry chefs here work some sort of magic in with their baked goods. The hotel itself is a wondrous place to be in general. The ambience of the Palms Court and those delightful baked goods alone ensure this iconic Montréal hotel easily makes the cut. Be sure to dress up a bit, polish up your French and come hungry because it’s so good you can easily skip dinner afterwards.
6. Raffles Salon – Dubai
Dubai has a plethora of afternoon tea experiences that are already world famous, however, I have only had the chance to try a couple. The Raffles Salon in Dubai does something I’ve never encountered during any of my tea outings. I almost don’t want to spoil it… but that isn’t quite the point of this article now is it? I was trying what word to best describe this tea time and I think glam is the most suited because this experience is all about flowers.
The entire tea service is served on lavish floral bronze stands, the flower-shaped sweets and the savoury goodies include rose-shaped jasmine flavoured chocolate ganache, succulent honey sablé and rose shaped brie mousse with a hibiscus cured salmon. I really liked their tea selection as well at Raffles Salon, their green lemon I wanted to take home and they of course had Darjeeling for those in the know.
7. The Getty Villa – Santa Monica, CA
You don’t need a reason to make sure you visit The Getty Villa at least once on your travels throughout California. They only offer their bespoke afternoon “Tea By The Sea” service on Thursdays and Saturdays at 1 p.m., and it’s best you make a reservation in advance.
If you don’t know much about this place, it’s a heavily Mediterranean inspired setting complete with a first-century Roman garden. What makes this afternoon tea so special is that you can tour those gardens after you’ve finished and believe me, it’s worth it even if that’s not really your thing. You won’t get a chance to see something like this in North America, so add it to your bucket list and make your way on down here soon.