High tea- it's an English tradition that conjures up images of women in gowns, delicately handling fragile tea cups with their pinkies positioned in the air.
Sydney is filled with lavish venues perfect for a budget-friendly three-tier sandwiches and scones high tea. Try one, try them all. We've tried quite a few (and we've included our deals and thoughts on them below, too!)
Sydney's Best High Teas
Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
The Cortile, Intercontinental
Captain Cook Cruises
The Tea Room
Vaucluse House Tearooms
Here’s a round-up of the best options.
Best for views: Gunners' Barracks Sparkling High Tea from RedBalloon
There's so much competition for high teas with views but Gunners' Barracks wins our vote for its sweeping 180 degree views of the harbour and it's million dollar location. The offerings might be standard but the view is definitely not.
Best for Western Sydney: Atura Hotel from RedBalloon
Sydney is not purely confined to the city and if you're closer to the west than the CBD you have high tea options that tick all the boxes. At Atura, the theme is hip and retro with trays made of vinyls, tea sets that scream "hippy" and Roadside diner-inspired treats such as cheeseburgers.
Location: 32 Cricketers Arms Road, Prospect
Price: Hip high tea ($45pp)
Tea times: Saturday 12-2:30pm
What we love about this place: It's down to earth and fun. Wear your best rock "n" roll frock and go with it!
Best for events and parties: Embellish Atelier from RedBalloon
Hens party, birthday party, team building workshop or fun weekend activity, whichever you're after Embellish Atelier gives you the chance to learn millinery skills while indulging in a high tea with its Hats and High Tea events.
Location: 128 Victoria Road, Rozelle
Price: Hats and High Tea ($198 for two people)
Tea times: Wednesday-Saturday upon request
What we love about this place: More than a meal Embellish Atelier offers an experience and the chance to come home with a unique creation.
Best for visitors: Captain Cook Cruises from Experience Oz
Pair a tour of the city by boat with a decadent afternoon tea for the ultimate taster of Sydney's icons. Captain Cook Cruises is one of the biggest names in the business and features daily sailings and traditional high tea fare.
Location: Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour
Price: Sydney Harbour high tea cruise ($69pp)
Tea times: Tuesday-Thursday and Saturday-Sunday 2:30pm-2:45pm
What we love about this place: It takes you on a relaxing 1 hour 15 minute cruise to see the sights with a high tea that features Australian favourites such as Crystal Bay prawns and Brown Brothers sparkling.
If you're a high tea connoisseur, then you've heard of – nay – you've experienced this before: an Alice in Wonderland inspired high tea that’s guaranteed to have you tumbling down the rabbit hole in glee.
Fanciful and fun doesn’t even begin to describe the experience of one of The Westin’s Mad Hatter offerings. These offerings include A Mad Tea Party (served with bottomless tea or coffee), The Modern Twist (comes with a SuperFoodsRX Cocktail) and Ruinart’s Afternoon Tea (with a flute of "R" de Ruinart Champagne).
All that's left for you to decide is how far down you'd like to tumble.
Location: 1 Martin Pl, Sydney. Price: A Mad Tea Party ($54pp), Down The Rabbit Hole ($64pp, includes cocktail), Ruinart's Queen of Heart's ($74pp, includes Champagne). Non-themed afternoon teas are also available for the same price. Tea times: Daily 12pm-6pm. What we love about this place: It's fancy, housed within a beautiful heritage building and doesn't deny you the chance to dress up as Alice in Wonderland. In fact, it encourages it!
Best for atmosphere: The Tea Room, QVB
This one's strictly for queens and princesses seeking a traditional high tea in the grandest of settings.
Located on the top floor of the Queen Victoria Building, The Tea Room offers one of Sydney's most established and esteemed high tea services and plates up its finger sandwiches and homemade scones on authentic Royal Albert china.
All its teas and tisanes are of the high-quality single-estate loose-leaf variety and are imported from China, India, Japan, Sri-Lanka, Taiwan and Africa. You've pages of options, so choose wisely.
Location: Level 3, North End, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney. Price: Morning tea ($35pp), children's high tea ($35pp), traditional high tea ($50pp), sparkling high tea ($55pp), cocktail high tea ($65pp), champagne high tea ($70pp). Tea times: Daily 10am-close. What we love about this place: It feels as though we've stepped back in time and space to Elizabethan spaces in London where ladies of class dressed up and lunched for hours.
Best for a change of scenery: Vaucluse House Tearooms
How better to experience high tea than on the beautiful colonial estate of Vaucluse House? Its dedicated tea rooms boast views overlooking the 10 hectares of gardens that stretch all the way down to the banks of Sydney Harbour.
Dating back to the 1830s, this sandstone estate is a quiet oasis away from the busy city life. The Tea Rooms' High Tea is a tour through English dining history, offering scones with berry preserve and clotted cream and chicken and tarragon Harry's Bar sandwiches.
Location: Wentworth Rd, Vaucluse. Price: High tea ($55pp). Tea times: Wednesday to Friday 10am-4pm, Weekends 8am-4pm. What we love about this place: It's the ultimate summer dining venue with well-groomed gardens you can sit in and while the day (or afternoon) away in.
Best for culture vultures: Sofitel Sydney Wentworth
Every visit to the Sofitel Sydney Wentworth is a unique one as its themes change according to the arts and entertainment scene. For example, during the Archibald Prize, bespoke high teas (2019's black and white offering is pictured) come complete with live performances by the Australian Youth Orchestra and ticket to the exhibition.
Location: 61-101 Phillip St, Sydney. Price: Archibald high tea ($75pp) Tea times: Subject to availability. Contact the restaurant for details. What we love about this place: It supports the arts, hosting exclusive Archibald Prize events as well as musical-themed menus to coincide with current productions.
Best for chocolate lovers: Lobby Lounge, Shangri-La
And finally: the high tea dark horse. The Shangri-La often gets overlooked as a high tea destination.
Perhaps it’s because it doesn’t always put its hand up for events such as Good Food Month’s Ultimate High Tea, but it should not be discounted – have you seen this hotel’s dessert bar?!
While high tea isn't on the list, afternoon tea is in a multitude of forms. There's your standard afternoon tea with live music offerings and then there's the Shangri-La’s signature Wickedly Sweet Chocolate Afternoon Tea experience. You know which one we're opting for.
Location: 176 Cumberland St, The Rocks. Price: Chocolate high tea ($48pp), traditional high tea ($55pp). Tea times: Daily 11:30am and 6pm. What we love about this place: It has a chocolate high tea. Need we say more? Oh, and the desserts at Shangri-La are the genius of none other than Anna Polyviou.
Stephanie Yip is the travel editor at Finder and has been writing about travel and lifestyle for over a decade. She has written for Travel Weekly, Escape, Thomas Cook Magazine, Showpo, The Nibbler and Hostelworld. She was also the editor of kids magazine DMAG. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney and has visited over 50 countries (and counting). She has a passion for sharing her experiences and knowledge of travel and helping readers stretch their dollars while on holiday.
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