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I truly love nothing more than a good cup of tea (I even pack my own mug when traveling!). There’s something about dunking a fresh tea bag into boiling hot water and taking that first, cozy sip that never gets old. Whenever I travel somewhere new, I always like to check out what some of the best places for afternoon tea are. It’s such a fun event, and there’s something comforting in slowing down a trip, getting a little dressed up, and indulging a bit.
I know coffee and cafes are the trendy thing everyone loves right now but there’s just something beautiful about the fact that tea has and always remains a simple pleasure. Think about it; tea’s just leaves and water! Coffee means you have to learn a whole new language just to figure out what size to get, and you just know there’s always that one cooler-than-you barista judging your order. At afternoon tea, you know you’ll get to carve out a few hours to enjoy fun conversation, tasty treats, and a steaming cuppa.
Check below for some of the best places for afternoon tea!
The Best Places for Afternoon Tea Around the World
1. Adare Manor in County Clare, Ireland
Sharing a name with a nearby storybook village, Adare Manor is a beautiful, luxurious hotel that once was home to the Earl of Dunraven. Afternoon tea is served here in perhaps one of their grandest rooms – The Gallery. Inspired by all sorts of magnificent galleries of the time, it’s the second longest of its kind in Ireland. Feel like an earl or countess as you sip from delicate china teacups and taste the sweet treats dreamed up by Adare’s executive pastry chef. Try their signature tea blend, 1832, or be a little naughty and swap your tea out for a botanical gin and tonic.
For more on Adare Manor, check out our Season 6 “Limerick” episode.
2. The Milestone Hotel, London, UK
I know when it comes to London, there are some very obvious names that’ll come to mind. I personally LOVE tea at the Milestone Hotel. Enjoy a quintessential afternoon tea right across from Kensington Palace and Garden. They offer up traditional, champagne, royal, or royal rose packages depending on what you’re looking for. I had their traditional package, which is full of classic English sandwiches, scones, and pastries, including the hotel founder, Mrs. Bea Tollman’s signature cheesecake. If you’re traveling with kids or someone with dietary requirements, they also have menus for them as well. There’s a reason tea here is award winning!
To make it a full day, I’d also spend the morning visiting Kensington Palace (book ahead for their Crown to Couture exhibit) and wander around High Street Kensington. Afterwards, grab a drink at the pocket-sized Stables Bar.
3. Four Seasons Hotel, Tokyo, Japan
What makes afternoon tea at the Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Otemachi so special is that it artfully blends both British traditions, Japanese flavors, and French patisserie in one elegant experience. Enjoy views over the city while choosing from a variety of teas like the classic English Breakfast to the refreshing Herbal Yuzu & Persimmon. They also offer different teas and menus based on the season. If you visit in spring, don’t miss their Sakura-themed options!
4. Glenarm Castle in County Antrim, Northern Ireland
One of the best things to do in Belfast is to head out along the Antrim Coast, and one of the must-visit destinations here is the historic Glenarm Castle. Home to Viscount and Viscountess Dunluce, this castle has been around for nearly four centuries! Because the Dunluce family still uses Glenarm as their actual home, afternoon tea reservations are fairly limited and you’ll need at least 6 people. The visit will start with a glass of champagne and an exclusive tour of this incredible castle before you sit down in the castle’s dining room. Enjoy a truly classic afternoon tea of British desserts, tea, and a sneaky extra glass of champagne or two more!
For more on Glenarm Castle, check out our Season 6’s “Belfast and Antrim Coast” episode.
5. Camellias at Hotel Bennett in Charleston, South Carolina
Think pink! Located in the charming Hotel Bennett in Charleston, Camellias is a must for any pink lover. The rosy hues of the champagne lounge are from reclaimed marble that once made up the library where Hotel Bennett now stands, and the egg-shape of the room was inspired by Faberge jewel boxes. Afternoon tea is offered on the weekends in 2-hour increments, and you have a wide array of treats and Tealeaves tea to choose from. If you want to continue the pink theme, get their Color of Biodiversity “Pink” Tea, and upgrade to the Crown Tea package, which includes a flute of sparking rosé. Keep in mind there is a dress code!
For more things to do in South Carolina’s prettiest town, check out our Season 2’s “Charleston” episode.
6. Raffles in Singapore
When it comes to historic luxury in Singapore, nowhere compares to the Raffles Hotel. The white colonial style building is immediately recognizable to anyone visiting the country, and through the years, it’s played host to everyone from Queen Elizabeth II to Elizabeth Taylor. Afternoon tea has been served in The Grand Lobby since the hotel’s founding in the late 1800s and is still a timeless experience. The tea here is from Mariage Frères and the food menu is a mix of finger sandwiches, homemade scones, and desserts created by Executive Pastry Chef Tai Chein Lin. Keep an eye on their seasonally-themed teas for an extra special experience!
7. Wild Seed Cafe at the Alkaff Mansion in Singapore
Another great place for afternoon tea in Singapore is at the beautiful Wildseed Cafe at the Alkaff Mansion. The historic European-style mansion is used as a multi-concept space and sits atop Telok Blangah Hill. One of those concepts is Wildseed Cafe. Between the location, the welcoming atmosphere, and the lush decor of flora and fauna, it really is the perfect escape from Singapore’s most busier city center. Take your tea in their conservatory and sample all kinds of fun treats like lychee and salted caramel macarons or mini French toast with chicken floss and furkake. Bonus: they’re pet-friendly!
8. The Peninsula Shanghai, China
Served daily between 2:00 PM and 6:00 PM, The Peninsula Shanghai heritage afternoon tea is a mix of English tastes and Shanghainese history. It’s located in The Lobby, considered one of the most elegant places in the city. Choose from an ala carte menu that has all the classic decadent treats, scones, and sandwiches. Teas include both British and Chinese classics.
For more trip ideas, check our Season 1’s “Shanghai” episode.
9. Fingal in Edinburgh, Scotland
Why not try some afternoon tea aboard a ship? The Fingal was the last ship built by the Blythswood Shipbuilding Company in 1963 and was named after the King of Morven in ancient Caledonia. Currently docked in Leith, it recently opened as a luxury floating hotel in 2019 and offers a truly lovely afternoon tea experience. Nothing like escaping the rainy Scottish weather for a cozy few hours aboard with hot teas, savory foods, and dainty treats!
10. Aqua Luna in Hong Kong
Speaking of sipping tea aboard a ship, the Aqua Luna in Hong Kong allows you to enjoy your afternoon tea aboard a traditional red sail junk boat while cruising the city’s harbor. They, of course, put a little twist on the afternoon tea tradition offering yum cha favorites from their Dim Sum library along with sweet treats. Bonus – they offer a vegetarian menu as well!
For more trip ideas, check out our Season 2’s “Hong Kong” episode.
11. The Plaza in NYC, NY
The Plaza is another classic place for afternoon tea! An iconic landmark in New York City, it’s been featured in so many movies and TV Shows, I feel like we all have heard of it at least once or twice. Tea here is served at The Palm Court, which has been a mainstay at the Plaza for over a century. It was renovated in 2013 to include all sorts of lush greenery inspired by Central Park while the stained glass dome above reminds you of the early 1900s. The menu is a mix of sweet and savory with both classic offerings and newer, trendier treats (I personally want to try that Key Lime Whoopie Pie!). If you have children, their Eloise tea sounds particularly fun.
12. Hotel d’Angleterre in Geneva, Switzerland
Here’s how Hotel d’Angleterre describes their afternoon tea – “a ritual fit for royalty.” Sign me up! I can’t think of a more naturally stunning landscape to enjoy some tea than the Swiss Alps and shimmering Lake Geneva. The hotel sticks to a traditional menu filled with finger sandwiches like cucumber and cream cheese or sweet treats like raspberry macaroons. And, of course, the quintessential freshly baked scones with cream and jam! Their tea selection comes from Betjeman and Barton and has teas from all over the world. And a first for this list – they offer a gluten free menu!
For more trip ideas, check out our Season 2’s “Lake Geneva and the Valais Region, Switzerland” episode
13. Fairmont Le Château Frontenac in Quebec City, Canada
It’s hard to miss the giant, storybook castle sitting right in the center of Old Quebec. One of the many grand hotels built by the Canadian Pacific Railway during the 19th and 20th centuries, Fairmont Le Château Frontenac’s Châteauesque design was inspired by the many homes found in France’s Loire Valley. Their afternoon tea offerings will make you feel like visiting royalty as you sit down in their Place Dufferin restaurant and choose from a selection of Fairmont’s LOT 35 teas and sample from a gourmet tower of finger sandwiches, amuse-bouches, and pastries designed by pastry chef Joël Lahon. There are also, of course, traditional scones served, and before you go, you’ll get some Le Château Frontenac signature mignardises (bite-sized treats).
For more trip ideas, check out our Season 4’s “Québec City, Canada” episode
14. The Chinese Tea House Café at Marble House
Enjoy tea at one of the most opulent summer “cottages,” Marble House in Newport, Rhode Island. Located at the end of this Gilded Age mansion’s grand lawn, the Chinese Tea House has a prime position right above Newport’s famous Cliff Walk and overlooks the Atlantic Ocean. Built in the late 1800s, Alva Vanderbilt used the tea house as a center point of her women’s suffrage events where she rallied women to take up the cause. Enjoy afternoon tea with finger sandwiches and delicious ginger scones with a choice of teas served in cups with Vote For Women written on the side. They’re inspired by the same cups Alva would give out as gifts for attending.
And there you have it – some of the best places to have afternoon tea in the world. From castles in Canada to wooden junk boats in Hong Kong, there are so many ways you can put a unique twist on a traditional pastime. Any incredible spots you’ve enjoyed? Comment below!