The 9 Best Hotels Around the World for Afternoon Tea, From London to Mumbai

Pinkies up.

Afternoon tea is a British tradition dating back to about 1840, when Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford — one of Queen Victoria's ladies-in-waiting — grew impatient (and hungry) during the long stretch between lunch and dinner, and decided to ask for a midday snack of tea, bread, and cake.

The idea of afternoon tea quickly took off, becoming a hit social event that eventually turned into a popular daily tradition in England. The meal generally includes a classic combination of savory and sweet, with finger sandwiches, scones, and pastries or cake, displayed on a tiered serving tray. Today, a formal tea service is more of a special occasion indulgence, and many high-end hotels around the world offer afternoon tea with a nod to the classic British menu.

Reservations are generally recommended for tea services, especially when visiting a popular destination. Here are nine of the best hotels around the world for afternoon tea service.

The Plaza, New York City

A group of women having afternoon tea at The Plaza
Courtesy of The Plaza

For more than 100 years, The Plaza has been an iconic New York City destination for afternoon tea. The hotel's Palm Court brings Central Park indoors, creating an inviting atmosphere under a stained-glass dome in this elegant establishment.

The worldly tea list features selections like Chinese green tea, English breakfast, and lavender oolong. Guests can dine on delicate sandwiches, pastries, and scones served on Bernardaud china and custom tableware, and choose from a variety of tea menus, such as the classic Manhattan Tea, or indulge in seasonal offerings. For special occasions, consider the indulgent Grand Imperial Tea for two, complete with caviar service, for $595.

Eloise, the precocious children's book character who lives at The Plaza, has her own signature tea for kids as well, featuring peanut butter and jelly finger sandwiches, cake pops, cotton candy, and caffeine-free tea.

Afternoon tea is served 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, from $80.

The Biltmore Mayfair, LXR Hotels & Resorts, London

Stepping inside the dedicated Tea Lounge at The Biltmore Mayfair, guests will find a classic London afternoon tea experience waiting. Located in London's luxurious Grosvenor Square, surrounded by parks and gardens, tea at The Biltmore Mayfair is a sumptuous experience by chef Jason Atherton, known for his Michelin-starred London restaurants.

With English cucumber, black truffle, and heritage tomato sandwiches, scones with Cornish clotted cream, fresh Kent strawberries, and chocolate mousse with Scottish raspberry jelly, the Afternoon Tea menu highlights fresh, classic UK produce.

Whether you keep things simple with just a cup of tea from the trolley and a scone, or add a glass of Champagne to the full Afternoon Tea service, this English tradition is a must-do for anyone hoping for a classic teatime experience.

The Tea Lounge is open 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; tea service from £60 (approximately $80).

Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, Mumbai

The landmark Taj Mahal Palace Hotel is a historic city institution, with an established tradition of afternoon tea that harkens back to the early 20th century. The setting is the Sea Lounge, with art deco furnishings and old colonial charm from 1903 when the hotel was first built. And the lounge is aptly named, as guests can catch great views of the ships on the harbor before they set sail on the Arabian Sea. In the evenings, live music fills the room, adding to the atmosphere. The tea service is offered buffet style, with local Indian favorites along with traditional English delights.

Sea Lounge is open 7 p.m. – midnight daily; tea service from ₹2,200 (approximately $30).

Claridge's, London

Dessert tray from afternoon tea at Claridge’s
Justin De Souza/Courtesy of Claridge’s

Claridge's has been serving afternoon tea for more than 150 years, perfecting the classic combinations while elevating this English tradition. The hotel even has its own tea connoisseur, who travels the globe to bring back rare and interesting blends to this fine London hotspot.

Tea is served in custom bone china featuring Claridge's design, while guests can take in the surrounding 1930s art deco design of the Foyer & Reading Room.

Traditional sandwiches include ham, salmon, cucumber, plus scones with jam and cream, and plenty of cakes and tarts to end on a sweet note. According to their menu, the rich, buttery taste of genmaicha tea pairs well with the sandwiches, while the classic Claridge's blend can't be beat when it comes time for scones. For pastries, try a sweet, Sri Lankan hand-rolled tea.

Afternoon tea is served 2:45 – 5:30 p.m. daily, from £75 (approximately $101).

Afternoon tea at Claridge’s
Justin De Souza/Courtesy of Claridge’s

Victoria Falls Hotel, Zimbabwe

Traditional afternoon tea is served up at the Victoria Falls Hotel in Zimbabwe on an outdoor terrace with stunning views of the Victoria Falls Bridge — if the water is high enough, you might even spot some of the water splashing up in the distance. Tea on Stanley's Terrace comes with all of the traditional accoutrement, as guests are transported back in time thanks to the elegant, historic location. Built by the British in 1904, this sprawling Edwardian hotel features gorgeous manicured lawns and gardens, nearby the Zambezi River as it flows over the falls. One of the oldest hotels in Africa, Victoria Falls Hotel is open to anyone who wants to take their afternoon tea with a view from the veranda.

Tea is served 3 – 6 p.m. daily.

Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel, Paris

Hotel de Crillon Tea Time with Chef Matthieu Carlin avec insert Saint Valentin
Philippe Vaures/Courtesy of Hôtel de Crillon

Located just off the Champs-Élysées, Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel opened in 1909 and is a must-visit Parisian destination at tea time for travelers and locals alike.

With plump purple couches and plush armchairs, set in a room dripping with chandeliers, afternoon tea at Jardin d'Hiver is a glamorous affair; try to snag a spot on the outdoor courtyard terrace, if you can.

Tea service brings out the sweet desserts supplied by head pastry chef Matthieu Carlin. The surprising menu also has some original inclusions, such as a lobster roll and puffed brioches as an alternative choice to scones.

Tea is served 2:30 – 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, from €60 (approximately $68).

Four Season Resort Bali at Sayan, Indonesia

Perched on the expansive open-air terrace, guests at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan can feel as if they are floating above the fronds, sipping tea while overlooking the tree tops.

Jati Bar, with its views of the verdant valley from the open teakwood lounge, is a nature-lover's dream spot to savor some afternoon tea. Here, you need an adventurous spirit to get to your refreshments; to arrive at the hotel, visitors must cross a suspension bridge over the Ayung River valley.

The tea menu includes authentic local dishes like Balinese satay and ayam pelalah (shredded chicken) alongside classics like opera cake and scones. A choice of tea or coffee is available.

Jati Bar is open from 2 10 p.m. daily; tea service from Rp 275,000 (approximately $20)

Royal Mansour, Marrakesh

The art of hosting is deeply rooted in Moroccan culture, and afternoon tea at Royal Mansour is no exception. With impeccable hospitality, the hotel offers a refined tea ceremony experience.

Whether you want to be tucked away in the greenery of Le Jardin restaurant, or head to the marbled halls of Patio Bleu, the Royal Mansour offers a lush, vibrant setting for relaxing with a cup of tea.

The menu is indulgent, with crab rolls and duck foie gras buns, as well as frozen treats and caramelized delicacies. And of course, no excursion to Marrakesh would be complete without traditional mint tea.

Afternoon tea is served 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. daily, from 450 MAD (approximately $50).

ME Dubai

This gorgeous Dubai hotel has an impressive afternoon tea spread, with freshly baked scones (prepared in-house) and the quintessential finger sandwiches. But it's the venue in which tea is served that's truly unforgettable; guests will enjoy their afternoon meal in The Atrium, designed by Zaha Hadid. The experience blends refined British tradition with Dubai splendor and, of course, comes with an opportunity to see a room of true architectural gravitas firsthand.

Tea is served every afternoon, from 599 AED for two people ($163).

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