India and Sri Lanka are home to some of the most remarkable hotels; from grand palaces that are now luxury properties to heritage icons immaculately restored. Yet often travel itineraries are tightly packed with activities and sightseeing with too little time to stop and enjoy the places we are visiting, the fabulous hotels we are staying in and life’s little pleasures.
But one way to do all of those things is to leave a free afternoon on your travels and pause for high tea. After all, whats not to love about hot scones with jam and cream, tea served in beautiful cups and saucers and if you really like to indulge perfectly chilled Champagne on the side!
In Sri Lanka and India, high tea is also a gentle nod to the colonial pasts that are part of their histories, especially when taken at any of the grand heritage hotels. Served on wide sweeping verandahs, under opulent chandeliers and in plush couches, here are five of the best luxury high teas in India and Sri Lanka worth indulging in.
1. Norwood Bungalow, Tea Trails, Sri Lanka
A stay at Tea Trails, Sri Lankas first Relais & Chateaux resort, produces many highlights. One of which is certainly the afternoon teas. You cant visit Tea Trails just for high tea, you can only indulge if you are staying there – but its just another reason to visit these beautifully restored Colonial-era tea planters bungalows. Afternoon tea is served on the verandah everyday, with a tea menu thats exquisite and worth trying as many as possible. But its not just the extensive tea selection worth raving about. Theres fresh baked chocolate cake, scones and smoked salmon sandwiches served on a fine cake stand. Dont be shy to ask for a glass of sparkling either if thats what you fancy the accommodating and gracious staff at Tea Trails will be more than pleased to serve you one. High tea is best enjoyed after a walk through the tea plantations to work up an appetite. An elegant setting, remarkable service and great views high tea at Tea Trails ticks all the boxes.
2. Sea Lounge, Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai
Having lived in Mumbai for many years, I always love taking people to the Taj Mahal Palace for afternoon tea at the Sea Lounge. They serve an impressive afternoon tea, but its their take on Mumbai street food that guests always love experiencing. The Sea Lounge is rich in charm, with live piano playing during the afternoon tea. The views are fantastic and its worth reserving ahead so you can sit in one of the booths near the window and gaze out over the Gateway of India. One of Indias iconic luxury hotels, this afternoon tea should be on everyones bucket list.
3. Amangalla Resort, Galle, Sri Lanka
I found myself on the verandah of Amangalla Resort, the stunning Aman hotel in Galle, on a recent afternoon. With dark storm clouds approaching we had decided to stop and pause for tea and we are very glad we did! Amangalla has a couple of options for high tea a full high tea or just a serve of hot scones. We ordered the scones and they were amazing. Served warm with thick, delicious cream and homemade jam and presented with the choice of a boutique tea. The service is understated and exceptional. We sat and enjoyed watching the dark storm clouds roll over Galle and loved the atmosphere at this great hotel.
4. The Verandah Café, Rambagh Palace, Jaipur
The Verandah Café is the perfect spot to go to be surrounded by Rajasthans royal heritage. Once the home of the Maharaja of Jaipur, Rambagh Palace is now a luxury Taj property and one of Indias grandest palaces. Also known as `The Jewel of Jaipur, you can relax over afternoon tea and champagne at the Verandah Café and dream of a royal life of yesteryear. The impressive Moghul gardens and stunning palace façade may distract you from you the equally lovely afternoon tea. Time seems to disappear when sitting at The Verandah.
5. Galle Face Hotel, Colombo
This icon of Colombo has many draw cards for hotel guests and outside visitors, including its daily high tea. Galle Face Hotel is a 150-year old heritage property that has recently been fully refurbished. The hotel serves afternoon tea on its outside verandah overlooking the ocean. The high tea is served in courses that begins with an iced coffee and ends with a Sri Lankan pancake filled with coconut and jaggery. Its a substantial afternoon tea with excellent service. A glass of prosecco from the drinks menu makes an excellent accompaniment.
Lincoln Harris is Founder at India Unbound.
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