Even though us Aussies and Kiwis are sometimes afraid to admit it, there are many things we’ve taken from the British: the Sunday roast, Topshop, and the quintessential English high tea it seems! This afternoon ritual from the great isle seems to be striking a popular chord in Australia and New Zealand, with many of the countries’ top hotels bringing Wedgwood china and fluffy jam and cream scones to the high tea table.
If you fancy an afternoon of freshly brewed tea in plush surroundings of gild, linen, and lace, then a high tea experience is just for you. Whether you’re celebrating Mother’s Day, a baby shower, or you’re simply looking for some Sunday afternoon indulgence, feel like a Downton Abbey regular with our selection of seven high tea hotels that are unashamedly fit for a royal.
Mayfair Hotel – Adelaide
As the name would suggest, this hotel brings a slice of refinement from the glamourous London borough of Mayfair. Set in the former Colonial Mutual Limited building, the Mayfair is the newest jewel on South Australia’s hotel crown. The high tea is served in the Mayfair’s in-house restaurant, Mayflower, and makes for the perfect occasion to unveil your inner posh.
Served every Saturday and Sunday from 2pm to 4:30pm, guests are welcomed with a crystal flute of bubbly Petaluma Crosser NV. The traditional menu offers a tasty ensemble of six savoury and sweet items, all of which are served on quintessentially tiered stands of fine china reminiscent of 1920s England. As you sit amidst crisp linen table clothes and gold gild mirrors, your palette will be delighted with quiches of spinach and ham, toffee choux buns, and an assortment of macarons. How divine!
Looking for even more decadence? Book a night in at the Mayfair and appreciate rooms which come with luxury linens, rainfall showers, and Appelles Apothecary skincare. Learn more about the Mayfair in our Historical Hotels post here.
Origins – Pan Pacific – Perth
Fancy an afternoon of free-flowing loose-leaf tea, organic coffee, and sparkling wine? If so, the high tea at Perth’s Pan Pacific is likely to fulfill your culinary expectations superbly. Served every weekend from 11:30am-5pm in Origins Restaurant, the high tea couples sophistication and old-world charm. As you lounge in the stately dining room, sample mini morsels of goodness and appreciate the scenic vistas of Perth’s Swan River.
In respect of the traditional high tea, tables are dressed in elegant cloths and topped with fine china, three-tiered stands, and polished crockery. As well as serving the usual contenders such as buttermilk scones with jam and cream, nouveau cuisine items also feature. Think pumpkin, sage, and vanilla arancini as well as mixed berry friends with raspberry crisp. Accompanied by unlimited sparkling wine, Origins promises a truly lavish afternoon experience in Perth.
After all that endless bubbly you’re probably wanting an afternoon siesta! So why not recline in one of the contemporary rooms and freshen up?
Palm Court – The Langham – Sydney
Sydney is the city of beach, sun, and surf, but if you’d rather spend your weekend channeling a touch of quintessential England, The Langham hotel is your solution. Think a traditional and opulent high tea that perfectly honours the great isle. Served in the hotel’s Palm Court restaurant, guests are treated to a modern dining room appointed with marble-topped tables, plush lemon and grey armchairs, and scenic harbour views.
Similar to everything associated with the Langham, the high tea at this haunt is truly fit for royalty. The carefully crafted delicacies are served on period Wedgwood china in the true spirit of Mrs. Queen E. Typical favourites including vanilla scones with homemade jam and cream are served alongside more modern additions like chicken parfait with brioche and white chocolate and brandy truffle. For some extra refinement, enhance your afternoon tea with a glass of Laurent-Perrier. Served from Monday to Sunday, 12pm–5pm, high tea at the Langham makes for a true enclave of England in the heart of the harbour city.
If you’d rather settle in for the evening, book a stay in one of the hotel’s uber-plush rooms, and appreciate either skyline or harbour views all night long.
Craig’s Royal Hotel – Ballarat
What does the typical high tea represent for you? A majestic dining room set in a grand Victorian estate? Soft lighting, starched tablecloths, and piping potted tea? At Craig’s Royal Hotel Ballarat, all of these aspects are transformed into a reality of high tea prestige. Since the 1900s this Ballarat locale has been an institution for high tea lovers, welcoming the likes of former Prime Ministers and aristocrats for decades.
Served every Sunday from 3pm, the high tea offers a delectable assortment of typical treats ideal for the discerning palette. Guests are welcomed with a glass of champagne and seated at a table dressed in detailed Villeroy and Boch china. True to the English tradition, the tiered stands are laden with salmon and cucumber finger sandwiches, fluffy scones with cream and organic jam, and a range of tasty petit fours. The high tea at this haunt is so renowned it even received a glowing mention from the High Tea Society, which gave a particular note on how “plain yum” the hazelnut friend was! Why not be the judge yourself?
The service is accompanied with a pot of T2 tea and then followed by a tour of the stately hotel upon request. If you fall smitten with the rooms and you’ve sampled too much bubbly for the drive home, why not indulge in a night’s stay here?
Hotel DeBrett – Auckland
When it comes to in-vogue hotels in Auckland, Hotel DeBrett is at the helm of the scene. It’s little surprise then that the hotel’s weekend high tea promises a distinguished experience from start to finish. A modern interpretation of the traditional high tea, this tasty spread is served in the hotel’s restaurant, DeBretts Kitchen, every Saturday and Sunday from 3pm-5pm.
While the typical afternoon tea setting might encompass printed crockery and lavish chandeliers, DeBretts does things a little differently. The space is fresh and contemporary, and the decadent mix of treats is served on bold red tiered stands alongside piping silver teapots. Guests are welcomed with a glass of Cloudy Bay Pelorus NV, and can appreciate a menu of spanner crab and avocado lettuce cups, lime and ginger meringue pies, and lemonade scones with whipped cream and jam. Delicious!
If Auckland is a little off-the-beaten-track for you, a night at DeBrett won’t disappoint. Appreciate the king-sized bed, deep bath, and the Signature candy-striped handwoven carpet. For more on DeBrett, check out our Auckland guide here.
Bacchus Restaurant – Rydges South Bank – Brisbane
For an elegant afternoon experience in Brisbane, a high tea at Bacchus restaurant in Rydges South Bank will just leave you tickled pink. Often lauded the best high tea in Brisbane, this award winning service treats diners to imported William Edwards fine bone china from England – the same used in the high tea at London’s coveted Goring Hotel. What better to way to unveil your inner Jane Austen?
Available every afternoon from Tuesday to Sunday, the Bacchus high tea prides itself on strong attention to detail, offering a thoughtful selection of savoury and sweet options. Think the usual contenders, but all executed to perfection. The petit-fours are arguably the highlight, with raspberry and white chocolate mousse and praline cream cups exciting the taste buds to a T. All of this is refreshingly washed down with a pot of Harney and Sons fine tea. If you want to spice things up a little, opt for the Moët Chandon High Tea, which includes a glass of the acclaimed French fizz upon arrival.
As well as serving an acclaimed high tea, Rydges South Bank certainly succeeds when it comes to offering modern and upscale rooms in Brisbane. Why not see for yourself!
Hippopotamus Bar – QT Museum – Wellington
If you’re seeking a stand-out kind of experience, high tea at Hippopotamus Bar in Wellington’s QT Museum is certain to entice. The setting is lavish, glamourous, and refined, with the high tea mirroring all of this seamlessly. Executive Chef Laurent Loudeac ingeniously works at the helm, bringing his 25 years of culinary experience to the high tea table.
The global winner of the Dilmah High Tea challenge in 2015, Hippopotamus serves savoury and sweet indulgences from Wednesday to Sunday, 2pm-4:30pm. While the menu does not feature typical contenders like scones, Loudeac’s hand-crafted alternatives certainly compensate. Think salmon mousse and red pepper salad, goat’s cheese and mushroom tartlets, and choux pastry filled with raspberry cream. The reviewers from the High Tea Society were so impressed by Hippopotamus Bar that they likened the experience to the high tea served at Claridges in London!
To wash everything down, choose from a selection of quality Dilmah teas including an infusion of blood orange and eucalyptus. Otherwise sample one of the freshly prepared cocktails such as the Fancy Lady which blends rose water, gin, and raspberry.
For an additional treat, book a night in one of QT Museum’s creative rooms. The décor is kitsch meets cool, with eclectic patterns, textures, and colours blended to perfection.