Dating back to the mid-1800s, the tradition of afternoon tea was first introduced by the aristocracy of England and its colonies. Since then, the formal meal has infiltrated the world’s most elite hotels, historic museums, and kitschy patisseries, allowing the masses to enjoy decadent three-tiered servings of finger sandwiches, tiny cakes, and strawberries with Devonshire cream. As an alternative to holiday cocktails, warm-up with afternoon tea at one of our recommended locales, from traditional luxury hotels to homey, rustic cafes.

1. Brown’s Hotel- London, UK

A London staple (Queen Victoria was a regular), serves one of the best afternoon teas and even caters to the health conscious with a lighter take on the traditional afternoon tea. The English Tea Room at Brown’s combines period features with a 21st-century twist. Try the seasonal tea library, a selection of limited-release teas served in stemless ‘wine’ glasses.

2. Erawan Tea Room- Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok’s poshest mall, Erawan offers an afternoon tea oasis in the middle of crowded boutiques. The Tea Room serves up Thai takes on traditional tea, like steamed flower-shaped dumplings filled with crab, roasted coconut, and ginger in a crispy pastry or chicken-curry puffs. Sweeter options include mango sticky rice, sweet bean petit fours and sesame cookies. Guests can choose to have tea served hot or cold, a necessary option when dealing with Bangkok’s high temperatures.

3. The Savoy- London, UK

The Savoy's tea is served in the historic Thames Foyer, accompanied by a pianist playing on one of the hotel's traditional white pianos. Expect a selection of finger sandwiches, freshly baked raisin and plain scones, French pastries and Thames Foyer signature cakes, plus a huge selection of teas. 

4. Tiffin Room of Raffles Hotel- Singapore, China

Even though Raffles Hotel is well known for its curries and Singapore Sling cocktails, no trip to Singapore is complete without a visit to this beautiful colonial style hotel for afternoon tea. With so many places for afternoon tea to visit Raffles Hotel is surely one to remember! 

5. The Peninsula Hotel- Hong Kong, China

Taking afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong is one of the few traditions left in the city from its colonial period. Once the hottest ticket in town for Governors, Generals and visiting royalty, the Peninsula Hotel remains the height of luxury in Hong Kong and Asia and the imperious Peninsula Tea Set has changed little in the last eighty years. The tea set itself is straight out of Alice in Wonderland and features Earl Grey, or your choice of tea, a selection of belt busting cakes, English scones and finger sandwiches all served on silver platters.

6. The Beverly Hills Hotel- Los Angeles, California

Tea is served in the famous Polo Lounge where you can choose to be seated outside on the patio surrounded by voluptuous vines, flowers and greenery. The tea is delicious and offers all the usual treats all while experiencing Hollywood history.

7. Mandarin Oriental- Las Vegas, Nevada

Take a moment to relax with friends while enjoying beautiful city views at Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas' Tea Lounge. They have selected the finest leaves and infusions from around the world to create a unique Tea Lounge overlooking the city. Designed as a zen-like retreat, the surroundings are quiet and comfortable, and the service is sincere. Enjoy a moment of calm and delicate refreshments amongst the dazzling lights of Las Vegas.

8. Fairmont Empress- Victoria British Columbia, Canadashutterstock_60591706

The Fairmont Empress Hotel has been serving afternoon tea to dignitaries and royalty for over a century.The dining room is richly outfitted with hand-carved tables, chintz fabrics, antique tapestries, and wingback chairs. Guests can gaze at the city’s bustling Inner Harbor as they sip Kir Royales and sample rose petal-accented shortbread.

9. Claridges- London, UK

Although there are a lot of wonderful places that serve afternoon tea in London, Claridges is among the most delightful! This classic afternoon tea; which consists of wafer thin sandwiches, pastries, and freshly baked scones with cream, is served in the fin de siècle foyer or elegant Reading Room to the soothing strains of classical music. The pièce de résistance is afternoon tea at Claridge’s in London’s Mayfair district. The hotel has received numerous Awards of Excellence by the Tea Guild for its presentation of quintessential English specialties like raisin and apple scones, Cornish clotted cream, and Marco Polo jelly. What’s more, Claridge’s offers a special Children’s Tea. Kids can snack on vanilla fairy cakes and chocolate brownies while parents sip champagne.

10. Tea & Sympathy- Greenwich Village, NYC

The British themed rooms of Tea & Sympathy right in the heart of Greenwich Village are one of the best places for high tea. Tea & Sympathy is owned by English husband and wife duo Sean Kavanagh-Dowsett and Nicky Perry. The couple recreates the quintessential English tea market with items that are hard to find stateside—think Heinz baked beans and Cadbury chocolate. Next door, guests can enjoy a homemade afternoon tea of rhubarb crumble, custard, and orange scones, served on shabby-chic, mismatched floral china.