While a remnant of the 19th-century British elite, Western society continues to embrace the tradition of afternoon tea as a special occasion activity – even becoming popular with premarital hen parties seeking to avoid the stereotypical drunken affair. These places in and around Dublin city do a particularly remarkable one.
Situated just off Grafton Street, The Westbury Hotel is an opulent and welcoming spot to retire to for a light meal after a day of retail therapy. Their afternoon tea takes place in The Gallery – an elegantly appointed lounge area that boasts a million euros worth of Irish art on its walls and overlooks shoppers below. The menu consists of an exhaustive list of tea options or champagne, partnered with a host of delicate finger sandwiches, pastries and freshly baked scones. (Priced from €47 per person.)
The airy Atrium Lounge at The Westin Dublin Hotel is the ideal setting for afternoon tea, tucked away in the centre of a 19th-century bank building on College Green, close to the front entrance of Trinity College. With its five-story-high glass ceiling matched by five-star service, they offer both a traditional afternoon tea menu and a ‘peculiar’ one. The second option centres around more unconventional offerings – such as ‘cats tongue’ cookies with white chocolate and saffron ganache – alongside a teapot of Victorian mojito with Hendricks gin, mint, lime and freshly pressed apple juice. They also offer a ‘Wonderland-style Mad Hatters afternoon tea‘. (‘A Most Peculiar Afternoon Tea’ is priced at €36 per person.)
South William Street’s outlet of the upscale French specialist macaron bakery Ladurée began serving afternoon tea in February 2016, and it has already become a must-visit for any sweet-toothed Dublin visitor’s bucket list. As part of l’Afternoon Tea for two at Ladurée, expect to find classic dainty finger sandwiches, pastries and cake slices accompanied by typical French delights like financiers and madeleines – and, of course, some beautifully coloured mini macarons. (Priced from €45 for two people.)
The lines between food and art are known to be frequently blurred by accomplished chefs, and the so-called ‘Art Tea’ at the luxurious Merrion Hotel is a prime example. Set in the comfortable surroundings of the drawing rooms of the very hotel that housed President Obama during his 2011 visit to Dublin, partakers can enjoy miniature desserts modelled on works by exemplary artists like Jack B. Yeats and Louis Le Brocquy, whose works adorn the surrounding walls. (Priced from €45.00 per person.)
Atmosphere:Fine Dining, Relaxed, Romantic, Traditional
For something a little bit different, try another of Dublin’s recent additions to the afternoon tea scene: Vintage Tea Tours. This tour is a fun option when visiting Dublin for a short stay as it’s possible to multitask by having afternoon tea while ticking off Dublin sites as you pass them by on a vintage double-decker bus. The one-and-a-half-hour route takes in major attractions like Phoenix Park, Christ Church, O’Connell Street, Georgian Dublin, Trinity College and St. Stephens Green. (Prices range from €40 – €50.)
Atmosphere:Casual, Quirky, Unusual
As well as facilitating those guests looking for a traditional afternoon tea at their modern quay-side hotel, The Morrison has come up with what it calls a ‘Gentlemen’s Tea’. This tea service incorporates savoury treats like steak sandwiches and smoked bacon scones, sweets like whiskey chocolate truffles, and a pint of Irish-brewed Wicklow Wolf beer.
As the backdrop for the closing of James Joyce’s Dubliners, the name of the room where afternoon tea is served in the historic hotel is endlessly appropriate. Provided in their Writer’s Lounge, the afternoon tea menu at O’Connell Street’s The Gresham Hotel is composed of quintessential classics like cream cheese and walnut finger sandwiches, mini apple cinnamon tarts and strawberry mousse.
Atmosphere:Fine Dining, Relaxed, Traditional
One of Dublin’s best-loved independent cafés, The Cake Café on Pleasants Place also produces some of the city’s tastiest cakes. The café’s website offers gift vouchers for a complete afternoon tea for a highly reasonable €19.95, which includes ‘a selection of savoury bites served with a glass of wine or prosecco of your choice, followed by a selection of sweet desserts and tea or coffee.’