These days, afternoon tea is well-known as a luxurious leisure activity amidst the inherent glamour of Dubai, a pastime that sees people enjoy a procession of finger sandwiches, freshly baked scones and sweet treats such as cakes, cookies and brownies. Where did afternoon tea come from though and where can you find the best afternoon teas that Dubai has to offer?
It might surprise you to know that afternoon tea, or high tea as it is also known, originated in England. The practice was first introduced by a female aristocrat called Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. At the time, it was fashionable for the upper classes to serve dinner around 8pm, so the Duchess decided that she would need some sustenance in-between lunch and dinner. She requested that a tray of tea be brought to her room around 4pm, alongside slices of bread and butter and a selection of small cakes. Thus, afternoon tea was born.
Since then, afternoon tea has become a global phenomenon, enjoyed daily by people around the world who are on holiday, or have a few hours of the afternoon to spare. Of course, Dubai is known for its dazzling landscapes and truly luxurious hotels, so it should not come as a shock that afternoon tea in Dubai is often a grand occasion. Many of the best afternoon teas in Dubai are served in beautiful surrounds which come complete with awe-inspiring views of the city. The afternoon tea menus are just as visually appealing as the rooms they are served in too, consisting of a whole host of tempting finger sandwiches and other savouries, as well as scones slathered in jam and cream and a selection of hand-crafted cakes and pastries.
If you want to liven up your afternoon and treat yourself to a spot of tea, take a look below at our pick of the best afternoon teas in Dubai – we promise you won’t be disappointed.
At.mosphere at Burj Khalifa
What: At 122 floors high, it’s hard to match the jaw-dropping views of At.mosphere at the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building). Here, you can opt for a traditional tea which follows the classic format of dainty finger sandwiches succeeded by scones with clotted cream and jam and rounded off with a selection of miniature cake loafs. However, there is also the option to try the Luxurious Menu, a departure from tradition which allows you to enjoy a main course in the middle of your tea. Fizz is available as an add-on too.
When: Served daily, 12-5pm
How much: From AED 328 per person
Skyview Bar at Burj Al Arab
What: Located on the top floor of luxury hotel the Burj Al Arab, Skyview Bar & Restaurant lives up to its name with awe-inspiring views of the Palm Jumeirah and The World Islands. Afternoon tea here is a classic and traditional affair, featuring delicate finger sandwiches and cakes and pastries which are all made in-house. You’ll be able to slather your scones with Skyview’s homemade jam and Cornish clotted cream and the afternoon tea is family-friendly too, with children of eight years and above allowed to join in the fun.
When: Served daily, 1-6.15pm
How much: From AED 635 per person (additional AED 100 for window seating)
Al Fayrooz Lounge in Al Qasr
What: One of the benefits of Dubai’s all year round sunshine is the ample opportunities for alfresco dining. This stretches to afternoon tea too, which you can enjoy at the chic Al Fayrooz Lounge. The outdoor setting features imposing columns and views of the waterways, while on the afternoon tea menu you can expect the usual mix of finger sandwiches, warm English-style scones served with traditional accompaniments, and a tempting selection of sweet treats.
When: Served daily, 2-6pm
How much: AED 250 for two people
Peacock Alley at The Waldorf Astoria
What: You might expect a restaurant named Peacock Alley to have bold interiors, rather than the minimalist white aesthetic it favours. The name doesn’t originate from the interiors however, and is actually the nickname given to the original Waldorf Astoria in New York, which historically played host to society’s movers and shakers. Join Dubai’s elite with one of the many afternoon teas offered here; try the Japanese-inspired Sakura afternoon tea for something a little unconventional, or host your gender-reveal party here for your baby, with Peacock Alley able to provide a ‘surprise’ cake in hues of blue or pink.
When: Served daily, 2.30-6.30pm
How much: From AED 178 per person
Lounge at Address Boulevard
What: For an afternoon tea that is as pretty as it is tasty, head to Lounge for its Art Crafted Afternoon Tea. The tea is served inside a chest of draws, featuring four layers of treats. Inside, you will discover a selection of finger sandwiches and other savouries such as mini burrata. The other draws conceal the likes of traditional scones with jam, as well as tempting sweet treats such as candy wrapped in edible ‘plastic’, chocolate caviar and miniature fruit tarts. Naturally, your feast will be accompanied by a choice of refined herbal teas.
When: Daily from 2.30-6pm
How much: AED 189 for two (box)
What: It’s almost inevitable that you have spotted world-famous Ossiano on your Instagram feed. The restaurant is known for the fact that its dining room is surrounded by a giant floor-to-ceiling fish tank, which features an astonishing 65,000 fish. The afternoon tea has a nautical theme here too, with options to try including king crab and avocado sandwiches, lobster eclairs and smoked salmon and cream cheese blinis. Sweet toothed diners don’t need to worry however, as your experience will culminate with a selection of delicious desserts.
When: Every Friday and Saturday, from 2-5.30pm
How much: AED 140 per person
Champagne and Tea Lounge at Dukes
What: The stylish setting at Dukes is just part of the appeal of this sophisticated Champagne and tea lounge. Afternoon tea consists of traditional British-style finger sandwiches, freshly-baked scones with preserves and an assortment of pastries. The selection of loose leaf teas comes from well-heeled tea brand Tchaba, while those who are looking to celebrate can add a glass of fizz to the occasion. Prefer to soak up some sunshine? Enjoy your afternoon tea on Dukes’ terrace, which overlooks the Jumeirah Beach Residence skyline.
When: Monday to Saturday, 12-5pm
How much: From AED 170 per person
What: Add a fashionable touch to your afternoon tea with Mosaico, the tea lounge and restaurant found in the ground-floor lobby of Palazzo Versace. Billed as high tea, you can expect to tuck into the usual selection of finger sandwiches and scones served with clotted cream and lemon curd. The sweets selection meanwhile includes hazelnut chocolate panna cotta and raspberry-dusted red velvet choux buns. On Friday afternoons, you can enjoy the music of a live violinist alongside your tea.
When: Served daily, 10.30am-7pm
How much: From AED 300 for two people
What: An Instagram-friendly spectacle of metallics and jewel tones, W Lounge is a daring and modern space. The afternoon tea here matches the cutting-edge surrounds, with the traditional format swapped out for the likes of scones laced with turmeric and classic finger sandwiches replaced with Spanish tapas such as pan con tomate. Your tea includes two hot beverages per person (either tea or coffee) and there is also the option to pay a little extra in order to also enjoy hot snacks and chilled ice cream.
When: Served daily, 3-5pm
How much: AED 165 per person
What: Pretty as a picture, the Floral Afternoon Tea at the Dubai outpost of Raffles begins with savoury treats such as Wagyu beef sliders with chipotle sauce and a chilled herb poached prawn salad. It then moves on to the floral element of the experience, when scones are served alongside strawberry jam with rosewater and orange blossom custard cream. The floral theme continues with the selection of treats, which includes a lavender honey macaron and lemon verbena custard tart.
When: Served daily 2-7pm
How much: From AED 160 per person
What: Up until the sweet portion of the afternoon tea at Armani Lounge, things are kept pretty traditional. Finger sandwiches are filled with the classic likes of salmon and dill cream or turkey and honey mustard, while scones are served plain or studded with raisins. Once you arrive at the grand finale, you’ll be greeted by a selection of fashion-forward sweet treats – think a white chocolate cheesecake made to look like a hat, and a stiletto made of chocolate that’s filled with hazelnut mousse.
When: Served daily, 2-6pm
How much: AED 185 per person
The Lobby Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton
What: The Ritz in London is known around the world for its afternoon tea, so it’s no surprise that the tea at this Dubai outpost is popular too. You’ll begin your experience with finger sandwiches boasting fillings such as roast beef and mustard or cucumber and sour cream, while you can spread either Devonshire cream, berry jam or lemon curd onto freshly-baked scones. To finish, enjoy sweet treats including lemon meringue tart and a chocolate and orange éclair.
When: Served daily from 12.30-5 pm
How much: From AED 195 per person
Prefer something a little heavier than the dainty delights of afternoon tea? Check out our pick of the best steak restaurants in Dubai.