Quite frankly, there’s nothing more sophisticated than taking two or three hours out of the day to sip tea from a bone china cup whilst nibbling on crustless sandwiches. It’s delightful to be able to sit down for afternoon tea catching up with girlfriends or spoiling loved ones on a special occasion. Ah, the tai tai life.
For me, afternoon tea must be served at the table (no buffets please) and scones, clotted cream and jam must feature— that’s the true English way of having tea. With that in mind, I went in search of the best afternoon high teas that Singapore has to offer. Here are my current favourite spots to indulge in this most glorious of afternoon rituals!
1. Isabel Bar
Lush. Posh. Royal. The opulence of Isabel Bar inspires those adjectives and more. Gracing an intimate corner of the exquisite Maxwell Reserve Hotel, it is a sophisticated and exclusive niche Destination for discerning patrons to whom afternoon tea is an Event.
The bar is named after Isabel, a fictional socialite who jet sets about the world with Louis Vuitton luggage in tow. If she existed, this would certainly be her favourite haunt and location for many a tai tai meet. I was eager to start.
And what a divine start Isabel’s Afternoon Tea (S$89) was. It is a medley of sweet and savoury bites served with your choice of tea. Isabel bar uses only extremely soft and milky Hokkaido bread for its savoury finger sandwiches. We had a choice of Smoked Salmon, Chives & Cream Cheese Sandwiches, Pickled Cucumber Sandwiches, Roasted Butternut with Orange Oil, Rocket and Basil Pesto.
Not as extensive a selection as at some other hotels, yes, but only because the focus here is on quality ahead of quantity. The stand out was the Roasted Butternut, both for the intensity of its flavouring and because I’ve never had another afternoon tea sandwich like it.
The menu lists Olive Oil, Honey and Lemon Cake, Prune & Dark Chocolate Brownies with Bitter Chocolate Ganache, Lime-infused Cheesecakes, Salted Caramel & Orange Les Carolines and Pistachios & Rose-infused Macarons as the sweet options.
When I visited, the mini cakes were mostly cheesecakes and I loved the Mango-flavoured one. The Speculoos cake was sweet with a wonderfully crunchy base. Also delicious were the Raspberry Cheesecake and Strawberry Éclair.
Isabel Bar does not entirely dispense with tradition, though; English scones are served with clotted cream and preserves. The light cream had an understated sweetness and went very well with the Mini Pancakes.
I thought I was already having an elated experience but Isabel Bar upped the ante with an exclusive selection of caviar. We tried the Kaviari Oscietra Gold Caviar 30g tin ($320) which is served with 6 shots of vodka. I haven’t quite developed a palate for the saltiness of caviar but even a novice can tell that this was premium quality decadence.
Isabel Bar is an homage to every girl’s princess fantasy, borne out in the life of the eponymous character and personified in the plush, pretty and feminine luxury here.
2. Atrium at Pan Pacific Singapore
Pan Pacific Singapore’s Atrium might just be one of my favourite places to wind down after a long week at work.
Not only does it have a 44-metre long bar (in fact, it’s Asia’s longest bar), the restaurant also features an eclectic collection of seating pods floating over a reflection pool.
Its Japanese-inspired Afternoon Tea Menu (from S$52 per pax) is served in stunning high tea stands which are modelled after the Atrium’s iconic pods. Not only will you get the traditional scones with clotted cream, you’ll be able to indulge in exquisite treats such as Salmon Quiche with Ikura, Sour Cream and Dill, Charcoal Brioche Bun with Corn Kernel, Crab Meat and Japanese Mayonnaise and more.
Plus, choose from more than 10 TWG Tea flavours, such as Saicho-Tea or the classic Earl Grey to complement your delightful afternoon tea.
3. The Marmalade Pantry
For those with a smaller appetite who struggle to polish off a full-on afternoon tea, why not try The Marmalade Pantry’s stripped back version of events?
Featuring a selection of sandwiches, buttermilk scones with clotted cream, heavenly petite cupcakes, and macarons, it’s an ideal way to enjoy the tea tradition without over-indulging. In my view, these are all the best bits anyway.
The afternoon tea at each outlet varies, but The Marmalade Pantry Floral Blush Afternoon Tea (available from 23 April to 31 July 2022) comes in at S$68++ (serves two pax), which comes down to around S$34++ per pax. Perhaps this might be the opportunity to treat yourself and recharge after a hard day’s shopping. Two pots of tea are included in the set price.
Make a reservation at The Marmalade Pantry:
Downtown | ION Orchard
4. Anti:dote at The Fairmont
For the stylish and uber chic, afternoon tea at Anti:dote will be right up your street. The interior is modern and sumptuous: Think velvet sofas, interesting light installations and clean lines.
The afternoon tea line-up changes according to the season. For June, Anti:dote is serving up a whimsical Trolls Tea Experience. For S$72++ per pax, you get to indulge in an assortment of mini sandwiches, scones, tea cakes, and much more.
Every savoury bite, scone and sweet treat is perfectly put together and tastes sublime. This is the ideal venue for a girlie afternoon, but don’t let the fun stop there— why not hang around for a cocktail at the bar as day turns into night? Just be sure to make reservations ahead of time as they don’t accept walk-ins.
5. ATLAS Bar
Dining at ATLAS Bar is an exquisite affair from start to finish. Situated within Parkview Square, ATLAS’ grand interior is inspired by the glamorous Art Deco skyscrapers of Europe and New York, and stepping in will instantly transport you to The Great Gatsby.
Its Afternoon Tea (from S$56++ pax), served in a stunning rose-gold tier stand, comes with a medley of sweet and savoury bites, served with your choice of tea. You’ll be able to enjoy traditional offerings such as scones with jam and clotted cream, as well as more unique treats like lobster crostini and corn creme fraiche tart.
If you’re not yet convinced that an afternoon tea session at ATLAS Bar is utterly worth it, try this — its unique tea selections are created and curated entirely by themselves. Take for example The ATLAS Art Deco Blend, which was specially blended for the bar and incorporates dry gin botanicals, or Palace Grade Pu’er.
Do note reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance, as each component of the afternoon tea is hand-made to order.
6. Lime Pâtisserie at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering
Lime Pâtisserie makes our afternoon tea list for several very good reasons. Firstly, its Afternoon Tea (S$68++ per set, serves two)* sticks to British tradition and serves sandwiches sans crust— for the tea aficionados, you’ll appreciate just how important that is.
Secondly, not only were we served scones that were regular-sized, but they also came out warm. The joy of spreading clotted cream on a scone fresh out the oven should never be underestimated.
Lastly, with its iconic foliage, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering’s iconic hotel-in-a-garden is the perfect spot for a low key afternoon tea with friends.
*Weekday & Weekend prices differ. Click here for details.
I know that painting doesn’t exactly constitute the tai tai life, but Arteasiq is an all-in-one spot that combines relaxing art jamming sessions with gourmet selections, making it a perfect location for those looking for something unique to do while sipping tea.
Its Dream Teasery Afternoon Tea Set (S$58 for two pax, S$32 for one pax) is a three-course indulgence including foie gras pate, truffle shell pasta and smoked salmon roulade on pancakes. As for the desserts, bite into meringues topped with chocolate powder and crispy netted rice paper with golden tobiko, jelly pearls and quinoa.
If you’re dining at its Mandarin Gallery outlet, be sure to try its Luscious Seafood Afternoon Tea Set (from S$108 for two pax), which includes mains as well.
8. MO BAR at Mandarin Oriental
Tea at Mandarin Oriental is an elegant affair. The interior is classy and stylish whilst a live pianist adds to the air of sophistication. If you are trying to impress your mother-in-law, or your own mother for that matter, you can’t go far wrong with tea at MO BAR.
Over the course of two hours, we ate our way through a five-course Afternoon Tea Set (S$42 per pax or S$98 for two), beginning with two savoury courses, the obligatory scone, pastries and pies, then a charming tier of beautiful sweet treats.
More traditional tea items were not forgotten— scones were served accompanied by a tangy lemon butter, sweet raspberry jam and clotted cream. Whilst some of our savoury items were a little lacking in flavour, the atmosphere and excellent service made up for it.
9. Flutes Restaurant
Situated within the iconic National Museum of Singapore, Flutes’ Restaurant only serves its Mid-week English Afternoon Tea (S$50++ per pax) on Wednesdays, making reservations tough to secure.
However, we must say that it’s worth the trouble. This is a no-fuss with all the frills affair, crustless sandwiches, Earl Grey, classic British sweet treats— mini Victoria sponge anyone? All of this and it’s presented on the most beautiful crockery, what more could you possibly ask for? Oh yes, a beautiful setting, Flutes delivers on that front too.
For a birthday treat with all of your friends, this would be the perfect afternoon tea experience.
10. Violet Oon Singapore
If you’re looking for a fancy way to impress the in-laws, Violet Oon‘s Singapore High Tea Set (S$58++ per set, serves two) might just be the solution.
Serving familiar favourites with a Peranakan twist, you’ll be able to indulge in selections such as Kuay Pie Tee and Tauhu Goreng, or traditional sweet treats like Kueh Ko Sui and Sugee Financier.
What’s an afternoon high tea without a selection of classic scones? Enjoy four house-made scones— two plain and two gula melaka ones— which are served with clotted cream and jams, and that’s not enough for you, order additional scones from its a la carte menu at S$12.
11. The Landing Point at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore
For afternoon tea with a twist, the Singapore Heritage tea at The Landing Bay combines the best features of a classic tea with local flavours and inspiration. Located within The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore, this elegant dining room stretches along an indoor promenade, allowing you to enjoy your afternoon tea while taking a panoramic sweep of the Marina Bay waterfront.
The Landing Bay constantly incorporates authentic Singaporean flavours into their various afternoon tea menus. For now, you can indulge in their Oriental Flavours Afternoon Tea (from S$60++ per adult, from S$30++ per child) worked in familiar items such as Beef Shepherd’s Pie, alongside Chiffon Rolls, Scones, and Ondeh Ondeh Macarons. The triple-tiered display also makes for an impressive arrival at the table.
Another tea that would be suitable for any occasion, and provides a welcome twist on a classic.
12. Wildseed Cafe at The Alkaff Mansion
While Wildseed Cafe might not be the most accessible to get to— The Alkaff Mansion is located within Telok Blangah Park— its tranquil and idyllic outdoor setting make it a perfect place to have a cup of tea on a sunny afternoon.
Surrounded by a lush garden landscape, Wildseed Cafe is a floral cafe and patisserie located on the first level of The Alkaff Mansion. Its Afternoon Tea Set (S$58 per set, serves two pax) serves a selection of small bites such as assorted mini macarons, scones and mini chilli crab kueh pie tee.
While the afternoon tea set comes with your choice of coffee or tea, you can also top up S$2 for its Signature Blooming Tea, and if you’re craving something more than just small bites, go for its ‘Biscoff’ Waffle from its Waffle Factory (S$16), which is available from its a la carte selection from 8.30am to 4.30pm daily.
Here’s a plus point: Wildseed Cafe is also pet-friendly, so be sure to bring along your furkids for a relaxing day out!
13. 10 Scotts at The Grand Hyatt
If you’ve been trying to get your husband, boyfriend or, come to think of it, any man to join you for an afternoon tea to no avail, 10 Scotts might just be the place to tempt them with. The Afternoon Tea Set (from S$58++ per pax) feast is not for the meagre and you’ll need a man-sized appetite to do it justice.
Make your way through four cold courses, featuring Smoked Salmon and Blue Swimmer Crabmeat, and indulge in an array of hot courses, such as Braised Australian Beef Brisket and Pepper Crusted Yellowfin Tuna Loin. But of course, be sure to save room for the sweet courses— Homemade Seasonal Scones with clotted cream, chocolate tart, ice-cream and seasonal fruits.
Whilst this is on the pricier end of the scale (especially if you choose to go for the afternoon tea set with champagnes, which bumps it up to S$98++ per pax) you certainly get your monies worth, and the food quality is high. To truly indulge yourself I recommend going all out with the champagne option, the free flow is generous and makes for an extra special treat.
*This post contains sponsored content.
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