If Dublin adopts an English tradition, it rightfully co-opts it in a distinctly Irish way. You’ll see that in its Georgian houses, green letterboxes – and afternoon tea. The Victorian tradition of tea served with three tiers of divine sweet and savoury delights is increasingly popular here, but you can expect some ultra-modern takes on this most indulgent of ‘meals’ in Dublin, too. The city’s coolest bars, most cutting-edge restaurants and upscale hotels have given new life to the old concept. And so you can expect to find high-quality Irish ingredients like St. Tola goat cheese and Glenilen clotted cream, quirky themed menus, and mini-versions of classic dishes in place of just sandwiches and scones. Tempted? Go on, then...
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Best places for afternoon tea in Dublin
Why go? Get your posh on at this history-drenched five-star hotel. You’ll feel richer just by taking a plush velvet seat in the busy Lord Mayor’s Lounge alongside old-moneyed elders and affluent residents. The Shelbourne’s elegant afternoon treats are mostly traditional but Irish twists – like the whiskey-cured salmon with Guinness bread – gives the British version a run for its money.
Why go? Fuss-free afternoon tea, made with love. Tucked away down a back lane behind a stationery shop, the Cake Café is a dinky gem of a bohemian bakery. Their afternoon tea offers a mini-selection board of the day’s sandwiches and cakes, served with a glass of prosecco and hot drink. To add to the Irishness, it might well come with soup. Because why not.
Why go? Enjoy a few cocktails in the name of afternoon tea. Part club, part restaurant, but mainly a hangout for beautiful people, House’s proposition is loosey-goosey enough to throw in an afternoon tea without raising eyebrows. With chilled-out beats on the soundsystem, the vibe lends itself to one of their specially-concocted afternoon tea cocktails. Try the Bramble, made with gin and blackberry liqueur, to get the tea party started.
Why go? The Art Tea is almost too beautiful to eat. Almost. The precision-cut sandwiches and crumbly scones with homemade lemon curd and raspberry jam are impressive, but it’s the sweet course that’ll have you furiously Instagramming. It’s inspired by some of the 90 pieces of art work around Dublin’s most formal hotel, making the Art Tea a feast for the eyes as well as the tastebuds.
Why go? Seconds from the hubbub of O’Connell Street, the Vintage Teapot is a homely east-meets-west tearoom filled with charming oriental paintings, antique teapots and silk cushions. Continuing the theme, their signature afternoon tea is presented in multi-tiered bird cages, in which you’ll find delicacies like blinis with lemon cream and smoked salmon, and crisp, chewy macaroons. Naturally, there’s an extensive range of traditional Chinese teas to sample, with the ancient, organic Yuan Baozi their specialitea.
Why go? Because mini-food tastes so much better than normal food. Within the calming surrounds of the Chester Beatty Library, the Silk Road Café’s afternoon tea is traditional in portion size only. Forget egg sandwiches and dig in to globally-inspired bite-sized treats like stuffed aubergines, chicken paella pots, and honey and lavender mousse, with halal, veggie and celiac alternatives available. Served on gingham tables with mismatched crockery, it’s cuteness overload.
Why go? For the airy, light-filled setting and inventive afternoon treats. Good weather is rare in Dublin, so make the most of it from the Atrium Lounge in the Westin Hotel, where afternoon tea is served with views of the sky above. But it’s not easy to take your eyes off the table; there are delicate finger sandwiches, cuts of moist cake and a bright array of tempting sweets decorated with edible flowers.
Why go? Afternoon tea is given a healthy-ish – but no less delicious – twist at Póg. In their busy Tara Street branch, their vegan menu forgoes the sandwich/scone combo for dainty portions of vegan burger, sourdough toast topped with avo, beetroot hummus, vegan cheesecake and banoffee pie. It’s all served with unlimited coffee or tea – including premium drinks like charcoal latte and matcha tea. That makes their Prosecco add-on seem quite reasonable.
Why go? Because fellas deserve afternoon tea indulgence, too. If finger sandwiches are too dainty for manly hands, The Morrison’s Gentlemen’s Tea is the answer. In the hotel’s stylish surrounds overlooking the Liffey, treats include a 3oz steak sandwich, paprika chips and a smoked rasher and cheddar scone, washed down with a bottle of Wicklow Wolf beer. They also accommodate to special diets – just give them a heads-up.
Why go? Perfect for multitaskers, tour Dublin’s sights while enjoying afternoon tea. Efficient or decadent? We can’t decide. Either way the Vintage Tea Tour whizzes around Dublin on an actual 1961 Routemaster piped with jazz music, with a traditional afternoon tea served to all on board. Best of all, hot drinks are served in an unlikely-to-spill reusable mug that guests can keep. Bus tours will never feel the same again.
Why go? For five-star elegance in a relaxed setting, veer off Grafton Street to find the Westbury, offering all the fanciness without the formality. Tea is served in its bright first-floor lounge, and it’s so huge that staff are usually happy to leave guests to catch up, leaf through magazines or people-watch for hours on end. Most importantly, they have an actual Champagne trolley.
Why go? Make a divine pit stop at Brown Thomas, Dublin’s premium department store. Based in the spiritual home of Coco Chanel and Tom Ford, it’s no surprise this afternoon tea is a snazzy offering. They team up with fancy brands like Bombay Sapphire and Godiva to create a themed menu that includes Teehaus Ronnefeldt tea, plus lavish appetisers and pastries, with tea-infused cocktails also available. Batteries recharged, it’s time for a second round of shopping.
Why go? While away an afternoon in the bold contemporary setting of The Dylan. Well known as a neighbourhood hotspot for affluent southsiders, this hotel’s afternoon tea is, unsurprisingly, rather good. Given the clientele and the cosy, exclusive atmosphere, the emphasis is more on enjoying an unhurried tea than indulging in carbs. But we’d dare anyone to leave a lick of their creamy white chocolate mousse.