In Dubai this British pastime takes on an all-new flair
Time Out Dubai staff
Winner – Best Afternoon Tea Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2014
Mashrabiya Lounge It’s worth taking your time with afternoon tea at Mashrabiya Lounge, because it’s definitely an occasion. Although the lounge is just a room off the main lobby area, it manages to feel secluded, plus there’s the outdoor terrace with impressive views. Once seated, the ceremony begins. Unlike a lot of other afternoon teas, this one arrives in courses, and from the ornate cutlery to the tea menu featuring examples of the leaves, you get a sense of what’s to come. First you’re presented with a starter – on our visit, a crème brûlée. Next up is the tiered tray, balanced with a nice selection of sweet and savoury treats, followed by delicious warm scones, complete with jam and cream. Finally there’s a chocolate buffet to complete the indulgence, plus, if you can’t finish everything, they’ll even pack it up for you. Dhs110 per person, Dhs230 (with glass of bubbly). Open daily 2pm-6pm. Fairmont The Palm, Palm Jumeirah (04 457 3457).
Highly Commended - Best Afternoon Tea Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2014
Al Fayrooz Lounge Top-notch service, a picturesque view of the Burj Al Arab over the green gardens of Madinat Jumeirah, plus the sound of rolling waves and tweeting myna birds, make the balcony terrace at Al Fayrooz a delightful spot to nibble sandwiches and scoff scones as part of the Al Qasr Afternoon Tea package. While warmer months may keep diners indoors, the experience is no less impressive – and if you skipped lunch to make the most of this mid-afternoon meal, you’ll be pleased to note that the sandwiches are unlimited. If you fancy something a little lighter, there is the option of a simple cream tea, featuring just scones, jam and tea. Dhs80 (with scones and tea), Dhs165 for Al Qasr traditional afternoon tea, Dhs250 (with bubbly). Served daily 2pm-6pm. Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 366 6730).
Highly Commended - Best Afternoon Tea Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards 2014
La Farine This delightfully French afternoon tea takes place in the JW Marriott Marquis and has a decidedly elegant vibe. High ceilings and walls clustered with mirrors pair perfectly with lime green and dark wood furnishings. Staff are very friendly and service is efficient without being imposing. The presentation of the éclairs, profiteroles and macaroons adds a touch of indulgence to proceedings, while the savoury quiches and tiny homemade sandwiches ensure that everyone is well fed. There’s a whole host of teas available – we recommend the Currant Dream blend – and coffee can also be ordered, along with freshly squeezed lemonade to help wash everything down nicely. Dhs140 per person. Served daily 3pm-6pm. JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay (04 414 0000).
Al Bayt, The Palace Downtown Dubai This elegant afternoon tea features two options: a traditional English course or an Arabian take on the custom, which is more in keeping with the Arabesque styling of the lounge. While you decide which afternoon tea you’d like to try, a refreshing mint mocktail is served. The clientele is predominantly groups of ladies and businessmen sipping on Moroccan tea. Service is good, but the staff don’t go out of their way to make this an occasion. Top-ups of tea are free, unless you decide you’d like to change the flavour. If you’re a fan of savoury bites, the Arabian option is best, while the traditional English offering is a sweeter affair with a delicious range of dainty cakes. Dhs130 for traditional afternoon tea, Dhs150 for Arabian afternoon tea. Served daily 2pm-6pm. The Palace, Downtown Dubai (04 4287888).
Armani/Lounge Located in the somewhat austere surroundings of Armani Hotel’s quiet ground-floor lounge, this is probably one of the few afternoon teas in town that will serve you sandwiches featuring huge chunks of fresh lobster and delicately sliced scallops. Arriving on a classic tiered tray, the sandwiches come in a variety of different breads, sitting beneath a tray of mini tarts and a level above perfectly moist, thick slices of banana cake and fruitcake (excellent with a cup of Earl Grey, or indeed the sharp lemongrass mocktail included). While scones are presented hot, the lack of clotted cream lets the tradition down. Dhs280 (with one mocktail), Dhs360 (with glass of bubbly and fresh berries), Dhs900 (with glass of vintage bubbly, caviar and trio of oysters). Served daily 3pm-6pm. Armani Hotel, Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3888).
At.mosphere When it comes to afternoon tea, it doesn’t get much higher than this. Cake tiers stacked with finger sandwiches, scones and sweet pastries from a set menu are served 122 floors up at this spectacular venue. While the food is decent, it’s the venue itself that boasts the wow-factor, and there are extras including a hot treat to start, before cake and scones are whipped around later. We particularly like the passion fruit, lemon curd and cream condiments. Dhs320 (with soft drinks), Dhs380 (with glass of bubbly), Dhs1,000 (with glass of premium bubbly, caviar and oysters). Served daily 2.30pm-5pm. Burj Khalifa, Downtown Dubai (04 888 3828).
Lobby Lounge With a choice of dining indoors in the spacious lobby or on the terrace with beautiful views of the hotel grounds, afternoon tea at The Ritz feels like a treat. Service is friendly and informative, with staff giving a comprehensive rundown of the tea menu and three-tiered platters daintily filled with fresh scones and clotted cream, mini wraps and sandwiches. A platter is provided per person with an average number of sweet and savoury choices. If you’re really hungry, you’ll be pleased to hear that the platters are cheerfully refreshed, along with generous refills of your choice of tea or coffee. There’s also the choice of a Devonshire afternoon tea, which comes with two homemade scones, Devonshire clotted cream, preserves and, of course, a choice of tea. Dhs70 per person for Devonshire afternoon tea, Dhs135 for traditional afternoon tea, Dhs245 (with glass of bubbly). Served daily 2pm-6pm. Ritz-Carlton Dubai, The Walk, JBR (04 399 4000).
Rhodes in Residence The experience feels a little like you’ve stepped into Charles Dickens’ London, where afternoon tea was an affair to remember. A roaring fire and harp player, who on our visit was curiously strumming contemporary classics ranging from Adele to Wham (you haven’t heard ‘Careless Whisper’ until you’ve heard it like this), accompany four courses of savoury sandwiches, scones with clotted cream, pastries and sweets, which arrive one after another, making it hard to finish each course. An intimate affair, it will leave you feeling full and wishful for a time when women wore pearls and men wore top hats. Dhs150 per person, Dhs250 (with glass of bubbly), Dhs275 (with glass of premium bubbly). Served daily 3pm-6pm. Grosvenor House Dubai, Dubai Marina (04 317 6000).
Sahn Eddar Afternoon tea takes place in Sahn Eddar, the sumptuous atrium of the Burj Al Arab with views of the beach and surrounding Dubai. Popular with tourists and locals alike, it’s busy with a cheerful ambiance. Four courses are served, including delicious sparkling date juice with a fruit tart, mini sandwiches of cucumber and unfortunately rather tough beef, as well as a platter of mini cakes. Portions are on the small side, although beautifully presented, and requests for extras are happily received along with an unlimited serving of tea and coffee from the extensive menu. Service is pleasant if a little slow. There’s also an evening high tea from 7pm, and note that reservations must be made in advance and a credit card is necessary to hold the booking. Dhs300 per person for high tea; Dhs375 for traditional afternoon tea, Dhs425 (with glass of bubbly). Served daily 1pm-6pm, high tea 7pm. Burj Al Arab, Umm Suqeim (04 301 7600).
Samovar Lounge One of three afternoon tea options at the One&Only Royal Mirage, the Samovar Lounge in the Arabian Court is plush and quiet with a distinct sense of luxury about it. Traditional afternoon tea is served on a silver platter: three tiers adorned with dainty sandwiches and pastries. There are tuna, turkey and salmon offerings of the former and delicious fruit and chocolate combinations of the latter. Service is pleasant and efficient with staff happy to replenish your platter as requested. Twenty different types of tea are on offer or coffee if that’s more to your liking, both coming with unlimited refills. Considering that all of this comes in at less than Dhs100 per person, this is good value for money. Dhs99 per person. Served daily 3pm-6pm. One&Only Royal Mirage, Umm Suqeim (04 399 9999).