Few pastimes are genteel than afternoon tea – the laid-back, languid dining occasion occurs sometime between lunch and the evening meal. Born in England in 1840 to plug the Duchess of Bedford’s hunger pangs before fashionably late suppers, the occasion is still popular today – a favourite for birthdays, celebrations, or even just catching up with friends. While quintessentially English, Dubai has a superb array of places for afternoon tea, from traditional occasions in hotels to trendy affairs in the city’s best restaurants. Here are the best places for afternoon tea in Dubai.
Atlantis The Royal
There are many spots to enjoy Emirati sweet treats in Dubai, but, until now, no dedicated stylish space to enjoy a full spread of Emirati afternoon tea. Embracing the gastronomic heritage of the country, Atlantis The Royal has launched what it’s dubbing the UAE’s first Emirati afternoon tea experience, in collaboration with one of the Middle East’s leading pastry chefs, Christophe Devoille. Taking place in the hotel’s impressive lobby lounge, with views over the fire and water fountains and bustle of the shiny new hotel, the afternoon tea comprises Arabic pastries (including Luqaimat) like crispy fried dumplings with Emirati date syrup and spongy sago with cardamom, toasted coconut and topped with gold leaf. Other treats include traditional Khanfaroosh and Halawet El Jibn, which are served beside handmade chocolate bars and Arabic sweets.
AED440 for two, 2-5 pm daily; atlantis.com
Zaha Hadid-designed ME Dubai has one of the most impressive hotel atriums in the city – soaring, gleaming white and edged by tiers of curved mezzanines. The retro-futuristic lobby is the setting for the hotel’s popular afternoon tea, which is a trendy, laid-back affair served from its central coffee shop. Guests can wander at the design while enjoying a spread of finger sandwiches, homemade scones with jam and cream and plenty of cakes, freshly baked savouries and pastries. For those more inclined, a great selection of artisan teas and fantastic coffee completes the offering.
AED599 for two; melia.com
Caesars Palace Dubai
Along with being one of the city’s slickest hotels and beach resorts, Caesars Palace Dubai is also a fantastic spot for afternoon tea. The upscale affair takes place in The Lounge and offers unobstructed panoramic sea views (the hotel’s views are often regarded as the best in town) and a chic and modern setting. Depending on the weather, guests can take a seat on the sun-dappled terrace or inside the elegant lounge, and enjoy fine sea blends custom-made for Caesars, like Caesars Bergamotto Verde and fragrant Caesars Silk Road, along with Nina’s Marie Antoinette teas (a favourite with the ill-fated queen herself). Treats include smoked salmon, coronation chicken and cucumber and organic egg sandwiches, along with scones with unique jams and marmalades and French patisserie. Sweet lovers will delight in the Chocolate Pencil – an indulgent combination of chocolate ganache, pain d’epice and caramel chocolate shavings.
Daily 2 pm to 5 pm; AED180 per person, AED300 including a glass of bubbly; caesars.com
Raffles The Palm Dubai
Listening to the tinkle of a Blüthner Piano and admiring the French baroque surroundings, you may mistake your location for a grand dining room in the Palace of Versailles and not in an extension of the grand lobby of Raffles The Palm Dubai. The regal location is perfect for celebrating a special occasion – with its sumptuous furnishings, white and gold ceiling, grand chandelier and Bluthner piano – of which a pianist is always present during the occasion. Guests can enjoy three options – an International, Royal or Arabic afternoon tea – which each come with its own decadent selection of sweet and savoury treats. Complement the experience with a glass of bubbles or a selection of the finest teas.
AED220 per person, AED330 with champagne, AED450 Royal Afternoon Tea, daily 2-5pm, rafflesthepalmdubai.com
Burj Al Arab
Few settings are more spectacular for afternoon tea in Dubai than the city’s most famous hotel, the iconic Burj Al Arab. This sumptuous affair takes place in Sahn Eddar in the hotel’s atrium – the tallest in the world – complete with 42-metre columns propelling towards the sky. The tea itself comprises sandwiches, delicate pastries, homemade scones with clotted cream and jams and hot beverages or bubbly. This is an afternoon tea for occasions or for those needing a touch of sparkle in their lives.
AED490 per person inclusive of soft beverage, AED 590 per person inclusive of a glass of bubbly; daily 3 pm to 6 pm; jumeirah.com
Jumeirah Al Naseem
Jumeirah Al Naseem’s ‘Turtle Tea by Idriss B’ afternoon tea goes beyond tradition, instead bringing guests a multi-sensory experience inspired by art and sustainability. Channelling pastry chef Julien Jacob’s passion for the environment, the tea includes locally sourced ingredients, where possible, used to create an assortment of sweet and savoury treats. The tea takes place at the hotel’s gilded lobby lounge Al Mandhar and includes unlimited loose-leaf teas and hot or iced coffees.
AED280 per person, AED320 per person inclusive of a glass of prosecco and hot beverages; daily 2:30pm to 6:30pm; jumeirah.com
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
Jumeirah Zabeel Sary’s Sultan’s Lounge instantly sets the scene for opulence, a grand Ottoman-inspired room in the regal Palm Jumeirah beach resort. Guests can enjoy themed savouries followed by scones and homemade pastries paired with a choice of tea or any hot beverage. Despite the grandeur, this is one of the best value afternoon teas in Dubai, with a table for two at just AED199.
AED199 for two inclusive of tea, AED299 for two inclusive of two glasses of bubble; +9714 453 0444, email@example.com.
Shai Salon & Terrace, Four Seasons Resort Dubai at Jumeirah Beach
Shai Salon & Terrace, the opulent cafe lounge at the Four Seasons Resort Dubai, offers a traditional and elegant afternoon tea experience, and luxury lovers feel right at home in its ornate surroundings with Oriental-inspired gold-and-black furnishings, grand pillars and chandeliers. The tea is crafted by prominent French pastry chef Nicolas Lambert (named Asia’s best pastry chef in 2018) and includes signature dishes served in ornate china like delicate finger sandwiches, pastries and cakes. The afternoon tea also includes a welcome drink of sparkling juice made with elderflower, herbs and meadow fruits.
AED220 for one, AED400 for two, daily from 2-8pm, fourseasons.com
S Bar, SLS Dubai
As one of Dubai’s trendiest hotels, SLS knows how to impress a crowd with its innovative dining concepts, and its afternoon tea is no exception. Served in the 71st-floor S Bar, doubling as the hotel’s lobby, the setting is spectacular: soaring ceilings and soaring floor-to-ceiling windows looking out across the city and Burj Khalifa. Guests are greeted with a fruity welcome mocktail before serving courses of sweet and savoury treats. Dainty bites include cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, foie gras tart, freshly baked scones with preserves, salted caramel mille feuilles and a sharing-style chocolate brioche – freshly baked in-house. This is also one of the most impressive afternoon teas for vegans. The talented chef is more than happy to create vegan alternatives – including a moreish brioche filled with vegan chocolate ganache (rivalling its non-vegan counterpart). Free-flowing teas are included and there’s the option to add a glass of sparkling.
AED195 per person, AED250 with sparkling; daily 3-6pm; book.ennismore.com
The Lobby Lounge, The Ritz-Carlton JBR
As one of Dubai’s oldest and most established hotels, The Ritz-Carlton JBR is an afternoon tea veteran, well-versed in providing the perfect post-lunch experience to its residents and external guests. Each day, afternoon tea is served across the ornate indoor lounge and spilling out onto the alfresco terrace – a terrace offering beautiful views over the hotel’s extensive gardens and onto the Palm Jumeirah. The spread includes savoury sandwiches, freshly baked scones with homemade preserved, sweet pastries and a selection of loose-leaf teas. A live pianist adds a touch more sparkle to the experience on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
AED215 per person, AED305 with glass of sparkling, daily 2-6pm; ritzcarlton.com
Al Fayrooz Lounge, Jumeirah Al Qasr
Enjoy afternoon tea in the splendour of an Arabian Palace at Jumeirah Al Qasr. Overlooking the hotel’s picturesque waterways and leafy grounds, the elegant Al Fayrooz Lounge sets the scene for one of the most charming afternoon teas in Dubai. A much-loved staple on the Dubai afternoon tea circuit, diners star with a savoury selection of delights like smoked salmon and pastrami pretzel, before moving onto freshly baked scones and sweet treats like madeleines, mango tartlettes and millefeuille. Two pages of artisan loose-leaf teas (including lychee and raspberry and ‘rush hour berry, alongside pink gin and tea-infused cocktails and champagne, complete the offering.
AED190 per person, AED245 with a pink gin and tonic or tea-infused cocktail, AED310 with glass of champagne, daily 2-5pm; jumeirah.com
Noor Lounge, Mandarin Oriental Jumeira
Noor Lounge is Mandarin Oriental Jumeira’s light-filled, soaring lobby and terrace – one of the most impressive in the city and setting the opulent tone for visitors. Guests can enjoy a sumptuous afternoon tea in this beautiful setting, underneath a canopy of gilded trees and looking out into gardens lapped by the Arabian Gulf, dining from a tiered cake tower mimicking the hotel’s Canopy of Light (the impressive lobby lighting). The tea includes an array of bights like finger sandwiches, lobster corn toast, roast beef tartine and scones with clotted cream, homemade jams and petit gateaux. A selection of teas and coffees are also included.
AED190 for one; daily 2-6pm; mandarinoriental.com
Sofitel The Obelisk
While the British may be known for their afternoon tea, the French are unequivocally known for their cakes, pastries and delicacies – that’s why a French-inspired afternoon tea is always a good idea. Bringing sophisticated Parisian flair to Dubai’s Wafi district is Bijou Patisserie, Sofitel the Obelisk’s chic all-day lobby cafe which serves what is regarded as one of the best afternoon teas in Dubai. Inspired by the cafe’s name (Bijou meaning ‘jewel’ in French), its Le Goûter afternoon tea treats served out of a tiered jewellery box opened by a special key. There are draws of sweets and savouries including classic éclairs, canelés, lemon tart, mini baguettes, quiches and an oozing croque monsieur. Add more joie de vivre with a glass of champagne, or a pot (or two) of its artisan teas.
AED175 with tea and coffee, AED320 with a glass of fizz, 2-6pm daily; sofitel-dubai-theobelisk.com
Al Bayt, Palace Downtown
An Arabian Palace in the centre of Downtown Dubai serves as the setting for this afternoon tea in the Al Bayt lobby lounge of the well-known luxury Dubai hotel. The Arabian-themed occasion includes a tiered tower of fusion treats like chicken shawarma and camel milk pistachio Crème brûlée accompanied by unlimited teas from a menu including Oud Night and White Mist.
AED170 for one; Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays; 2pm to 6pm; addresshotels.com
At.mosphere, Burj Khalifa
For the most panoramic afternoon tea in Dubai, you’ll have to make quite the journey, 122 floors up the iconic Burj Khalifa to be exact. The world’s tallest restaurant certainly knows how to deliver afternoon tea – pairing its panoramic vistas of near enough the entire city with savoury sandwiches, freshly baked scones and colourful pastries. Appealing to those with a savoury tooth (often overlooked at afternoon tea), At.mosphere’s afternoon tea also includes a choice of main, including the catch of the day and chicken ballotine.
From AED420, atmosphereburjkhalifa.com