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In pictures: Afternoon tea in Dubai

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    Fancy something fancy? We pay a visit to 14 of the city’s snazziest afternoon teas to scope out scones, sandwiches and smooth brews.

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    Al Fayrooz Lounge

    Rating: 4/5
    Most impressive item: Mango soufflé with blackcurrant sorbet.
    There’s a very traditional feel to this afternoon tea, with old-fashioned ceiling fans and a plush Arabesque lounge setting, but the tea itself has a modern twist; with interesting items including a mango soufflé and a chocolate fondue. Elaborately presented, the scones come with a choice of six accompaniments, and there are also some of the prettiest (and tastiest) cucumber sandwiches. It’s a seven-course affair (plus chocolate to take home) so bring your appetite.
    Dhs225. Daily 2pm-6pm.

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    Al Bayt

    Rating: 5/5
    Most impressive item: The strawberries and cream are simple but superb.
    The Palace is one of those places that reminds you that you’re in Dubai. It’s grand (well, it is at The Palace), sophisticated and manages to straddle Arabian and Western design, hospitality and influences. Nowhere is this more evident than the hotel’s afternoon tea, served in Al Bayt, which is far too impressive a space to be called simply a lobby lounge. You can choose from a Middle Eastern-themed tea or the traditional offer. Both are excellently prepared, look fantastic and are good value. While we’re on about value, you might want to visit on Wednesdays or the weekend, when the tea is served buffet-style, meaning you can gorge yourself on the bites that you love most.
    Dhs160. Daily 2pm-6pm (buffet Wed, Fri, Sat).

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    Fortnum & Mason

    Rating: 4/5
    Most impressive item: The scones
    The only thing missing is an appearance from Queen Elizabeth II herself – make no mistake, this is at British as it comes. The atmosphere is frightfully (and wonderfully) posh, the service tremendously polite, the location – overlooking the Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Fountain – is rather regal… and the food is just not quite good enough. See, how very British. That’s not to say it’s poor, but, with a notable exception of the absolutely perfect scones (practically worth the eye-watering Dhs245 alone) and utterly indulgent cake for dessert, the other two tiers are a little basic and unexciting. For tea aficionados, though, there are more than 50 to choose from.
    From Dhs245. Daily 9am-11pm.

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    Rating: 3/5
    Most impressive item: Tuna tataki and mango salsa on brioche.
    Based in the lobby of The Address Dubai Marina, the setting at Kambaa is not the most exciting for afternoon tea, but despite this, it’s comfortable and relaxing. In contrast, however, the sandwiches are the most interesting we’ve seen in while, in fact it may be more apt to describe them as oversized canapés: walnut bread topped with smoked salmon; cream cheese and avocado cream; tuna tataki and mango salsa on brioche. For the sweet-toothed, the scones are crumbly, though slightly on the heavy side, but the pastry on the lemon and strawberry tart is crisp, light and quite the treat.
    Dhs135. Daily 3pm-6pm.

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    The Lobby Lounge

    Rating: 3/5
    Most impressive item: The beef tartare, served in a bone with quail’s eggs.
    There are a few options available, but be warned, unless you want to go for the traditional tea (which, somewhat unnervingly, we’re told is prepared first thing in the morning so can come out immediately), you’ll have to wait up for up to an hour for your food to be prepared. When it does arrive, though, you’ll be mostly impressed. The Gentleman’s Tea is best, with a brilliant beef tartare, served in a hollowed-out bone and topped with quail’s eggs. The confit duck rillette is also super. The foie gras slider is a little on the greasy side and the salmon bagel is so-so, but the quality of ingredients very good. The desserts for this option are really good, with a kind of posh Snickers bar being the highlight. The Middle Eastern choice is a little underwhelming, with too many dry pastries. You also only get one pot of tea with each of these, and top ups with hot water.
    Dhs170 (Arabic Tea), Dhs190 (Traditional Tea), Dhs330 (including a glass of bubbly), Dhs295 (Gentleman’s Tea including three Scottish short beverages). Daily 2pm-6pm.

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    Mashrabiya Lounge

    Rating: 3/5
    Most impressive item: The scones. All of them.
    Now we’re heading into the cooler months, taking afternoon tea on the terrace of this lounge is recommended. It’s a lovely spot looking out over the grounds of the Fairmont and towards Dubai Marina. Indoors it’s all very light and airy, but you can feel very much like you’re right in the hotel’s lobby. Teas here are excellent, with some exotic choices and refills available. The food changes fairly regularly, without straying too far from the tried and tested afternoon tea formula, albeit with a hint of Middle Eastern influence. What doesn’t change is our love for the scones. They’re plump, fluffy and perfect with some date jam and cream.
    Dhs135, Dhs220 (including a glass of sparkling grape). Daily noon-6pm.

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    Peacock Alley

    Rating: 5/5
    Most impressive item: The fluffy, cake-like scones.
    Choose the London Tea, featuring Brit sandwich favourites such as cucumber with cream cheese and chive, and roast beef with mustard, or the Parisian Tea, starring a foie gras terrine on brioche and goat’s cheese with tapenade on a baguette. Finger sandwiches, scones and sweets are all served on one stand. The scones are the real delight – fluffy, cakey, moreish. You’ll be glad of the four you get each, with clotted cream, strawberry and orange jam and lemon curd, and if you can finish them all, well done. A selection of tea is brought out for you to smell before you sample. The crème caramel rooibos and the 1837 Black Tea are extraordinary and boast a bold, sweet flavour. It’s an elegant, chilled out afternoon.
    Dhs150 (London), Dhs165 (Parisian). Daily 2.30pm-6pm.

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    Rhodes W1

    Rating: 4/5
    Most impressive item: Shepherd’s pie fritters with mint yoghurt.
    This afternoon tea is quintessentially British – the place is bright and airy, with plants dotted around to make it seem like you’re sitting in a conservatory at an English manor. Even the food is served on tiers of Wedgwood china. Staff are friendly and aren’t shy about plying you with pots of fresh tea. As for the food, there’s a mix of traditional favourites, as well as some that Gary Rhodes has put his own stamp on. There are also a few strange choices on offer, some of which are inspired (shepherd’s pie fritters), and some of which are simply confusing (mini savoury crumpets with a raspberry on top).
    Dhs195 (including soft and hot drinks), Dhs340 (including a glass of bubbly). Daily 2.30pm-5pm.

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    Royal China

    Rating: 2/5
    Most impressive item: The oolong tea.
    Afternoon tea is a new offering here, and on our visit, there was still some confusion about what it involves. Basically, you get a choice of six small bites each, including dim sum, a chicken pastry, an egg tart and a chewy mochi dessert. None of the food really stands out, but the tea is particularly noteworthy. The flower in the jasmine tea blooms in the water, while the oolong is served after an elaborate ceremony before being poured into a delicate tasting cup. Best for tea-lovers who aren’t hungry.
    Dhs68. Sun-Thu 3.30pm-6pm.

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    Sahn Eddar

    Rating: 5/5
    Most impressive item: The teas and unlimited sparkling date juice.
    Tea occurs in a flow of five courses, with hot drinks continually topped up and unlimited sparkling date juice served in between, which can feel a little overwhelming, but it’s all part of the opulence. A Middle Eastern ensemble provides the backing track as the delightful, dainty, filling treats are served. Save room for the scones with a sweet, zingy passion fruit jam. The list of teas is comprehensive, featuring black – the smooth vanilla is full of subtle flavour – white, green and herbal. Coffee is also included. This is a pricey afternoon tea to treat yourself or guests to on special occasions. For a decadent experience, this is the one to pick.
    Dhs500 (including soft drinks), Dhs560 per person (including a glass of bubbly). Daily 1pm, 5pm, 7pm.

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    Shai Salon

    Rating: 3/5
    Most impressive item: Inside-out cucumber and cream cheese sandwich.
    Shai Salon is the ultimate destination for one of the more stylish afternoon teas in town. A popular address among Dior and Valentino-clad women, it’s more about being seen in this venue than it is about the tea itself. The succinct tea menu complements the buttery scones and turkey sandwich. However, with no tea refills offered, scoffing down six bite-sized varieties of dessert becomes a challenge. Sandwiches and scones for vegetarians and coeliacs will be offered if notified in advance. A nice touch.
    Dhs190. Daily 3pm-6pm.

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    The Lotus Lounge

    Rating: 4/5
    Most impressive item: Mini tropical fruit tarts.
    There are lovely views over the hotel’s beach and pool at this venue, but be warned, this area gets extremely hot and the air-conditioned tables are in the smoking area. That said, the food can’t be faulted. We’re served the right amount and it all tastes fresh. The mini fruit tarts are best, topped with generous dollops of crème pâtissière. The golden, buttery scones are also perfect and pair beautifully with the slightly tart cherry jam. The variety of teas is limited so this isn’t one for fans of unusual flavours, but based on the food alone, it’s a good choice.
    Dhs145 (including tea and coffee), Dhs240 (including bubbly). Sat-Thu 2pm-5pm.

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    The Samovar Lounge

    Rating: 5/5
    Most impressive item: Smoked salmon bagel.
    Classic finger sandwiches and an unusual one filled with gherkins are served at this quiet and peaceful afternoon tea. Middle Eastern flatbread, carrot and cucumber sticks with hummus also feature, offering a healthy twist. Scones, macarons and baklava sit on the top tier of the stand, and a selection of cakes and sweet pastries are brought to you separately. You could spend hours in this cosy setting, and the quality and variety on offer is impressive. It blends the British tradition with Arabian culture seamlessly, and considering the amount of quality pickings you get for the price, you could make this one a tradition of your own.
    Dhs105. Daily 3pm-6pm.

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    The Scene

    Rating: 3/5
    Most impressive item: Mini quiches.
    With a three-tiered china cake stand full of treats, this is a delicate, and very British afternoon tea. A slightly limited sandwich selection includes salmon and cream cheese and classic cucumber, and the cheesy mini quiches are hot and tasty. Scones are, again, petite and crumbly, while a serving of strawberries and cream rounds off the classic tea nicely. Views over Dubai Marina, an eclectic mix of furniture and a homely vibe make for a relaxed and comfortable afternoon. Not one for massive appetites, but at least you won’t leave needing a lie-down.
    Dhs130 for two.

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