High Tea might seem like an exclusively English endeavour but in Southern and Eastern Africa you’ll find hotels offering the best selection of beautiful cakes, cucumber sandwiches, buttery scones and the freshest brew of Earl Grey tea just like they have for years. There are not that many locations to choose from, so we’ve compiled a list of our best-loved hotels for High Tea.
1. Manna Bay
The new Manna Bay only recently opened its doors and has the enviable position of being nestled in one of Cape Town’s oldest and most prized residential areas, Oranjezicht, lying just under Table Mountain and with breathtaking views over the Mother City. This luxury boutique hotel is a feast for the eyes, oozing with contemporary style, it certainly is a testament to the latest interior design trends. We love the creative use of wallpaper! High Tea is an included highlight if you are a guest at Manna Bay. But you can still book and indulge if you are not staying there. The chefs at Manna Bay pride themselves in serving only the most decadent sweet and savoury treats, which can be (doubly) enjoyed with one of South Africa’s lovely sparkling wines.
2. The Mount Nelson
The Mount Nelson is one of Cape Town’s most treasured institutions. Its large pink walls greet all those who enter the city, and its High Tea has become famous with both locals and tourists alike. The hotel is located in the historical heart of Cape Town, in the shadow of Table Mountain in large, well-established gardens with breathtaking views – the perfect setting for tea! High Tea here does not only consist of typically English cucumber sandwiches; there is also a selection of local delicacies like melktert on the menu, besides the obligatory freshly baked scones and a to-die-for cake selection. They are renowned for their expertly blended teas, which even feature rose petals from the garden. A visit to Cape Town simply wouldn’t be complete without High Tea at the ‘Nelly’!
3.The Victoria Falls Hotel
High Tea at the Victoria Falls Hotel on the Zimbabwe side is all about the incredible location. Situated right next to the famous Victoria Falls Bridge, which spans the Zambezi River, the hotel offers more of an experience than a simple meal. Built during the era when Cecil Rhodes famously tried to open the Cape to Cairo rail link, this hotel is unashamedly colonial complete with a deep verandah from which to survey the enchanting tropical gardens, lily ponds and the famous bridge in the distance. Sip a cup of freshly brewed Earl Grey and nibble on scones and dainty sandwiches while gazing across the gorge at the great Zambezi River that frames the Victoria Falls – one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. High Tea at the Vic Falls Hotel is truly an unforgettable experience.
Hemingways is located in Nairobi, the bustling capital of Kenya. High Tea here is available from Monday to Saturday in the afternoon and is a selection of various hand-crafted sweet and savoury delights. The hotel was only recently opened and has a distinctly upmarket feel with lots of natural light overlooking the Ngong Hills. Even if you’re not a guest at the hotel, you can be assured that the staff here will take extra special care of you. Whether it’s Earl Grey or Rooibos, clotted cream or whipped – this luxury boutique hotel is sure to impress!
5. The Saxon
Located in the upmarket area of Sandhurst in Johannesburg, The Saxon offers a distinctly luxurious High Tea every weekday afternoon. Tea itself is served in the library, which heightens the sense of luxury and adds an old-worldly feel to an already traditional activity. The highlight for most is the wide selection of teas on offer. Name any brand of tea, and The Saxon probably stocks it. Whether loose leaf or in a bag, your table will be filled with dozens of glass teapots filled with heavenly nectar. The Saxon is a must for anyone back from a bush safari looking for a decadent High Tea.
6. The Grand Roche
Located in the Paarl Winelands region of South Africa, the Grand Roche Hotel is befitting of its breathtaking surroundings. High Tea is held daily in the hotel gardens, overlooking the vineyards and nestled under the wing of the famous Paarl Rock. Guests to the hotel are lucky enough to have the widest range of wines right at their doorstep.
High Tea may be an old tradition, but it certainly is not outdated. Travel through Southern Africa, and you will find silver trays filled with crumpets and delightful treats in every city that you visit. Savour the moment and your surroundings whilst starting your ‘sweet affair’ with this incredible continent.