Sydney is a beautiful city and its inhabitants are very proud of their heritage. This makes it hard to find authentic Australian food outside of Australia, but luckily there is high tea!
High tea in Sydney can be found at many different restaurants and cafes, but the best places for high tea are located on Macquarie Street near Circular Quay. These locations offer not only delicious food and drinks, but they also provide an experience that feels like you’re back home.
High tea is an English tradition like no other. Invented in the 1840s by Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Russell, high tea was afternoon tea enjoyed by the masses of the English upper class.
Today, this tradition is for all, and Sydney has some of the best places to indulge in traditional affairs. With jaw-dropping views, mouthwatering desserts, vegan options, and modern twists, there’s something on this list for everyone.
No matter if you’re celebrating a special occasion, catching up with an old friend or having a mother-daughter date, there’s always time to indulge in this delightful tradition.
And whether served in front of stunning harbour views or picturesque heritage gardens, Sydney has some pretty spectacular places to enjoy high tea.
Each is sure to deliver a mouthwatering experience that will make you feel like a king or queen for the day.
After a long day of exploring the city, there is nothing better than relaxing and indulging in high tea. This blog will help you find some of the best places to choose from when it comes to this treat.
1. The Gunners Barracks Tea Room
One of the most spectacular views Sydney has to offer, it’s no surprise that Gunners’ Barracks has such a lovely high tea.
For a breathtaking view of Sydney Harbour, Gunners Barracks is the place to be. Afternoon tea is also a delicate affair that this iconic heritage site is known for.
Few places in Sydney can match the Barracks for pomp and jaw-dropping views. But, of course, we’re not talking about a bit of corridor of the harbour.
The Gunners’ Barracks has a 180 degree, uninterrupted waterfront panorama that stretches from the CBD round to North Head, so be sure to request a spot on the big verandah to take full advantage of it.
A treat for the eyes and taste buds, three-tiered stands using English china are artfully loaded with scones, samosas, quiches, finger sandwiches, cheesecakes, and other delectable pastries created by head chef Nathan Darling.
The pottery is Royal Albert bone china in a jaunty rose print with gold leaf trim, the charming wait staff wear pressed white jackets, and the tea selection goes beyond the standard black blends (though the Earl Grey is excellent) to include seasonal green teas and a delicate peach flavoured white tea.
One thing’s for sure; your social media pages will be buzzing from the shots you post from this visit. Gunner Barracks’ panoramic views, sweet treats, and classic Royal Albert Old Country Roses are Insta-friendly.
They can accommodate vegetarians with no notice and no fuss, swapping roast beef and salmon sandwiches for fresh salad and pesto. There are crisp golden samosas and warm scones with gratifyingly short pastry.
The historic Gunners’ Barracks has breathtaking views of Sydney Harbour, nestled amongst the luscious greenery of the North Shore.
An array of sweet and savoury sandwiches and petit cakes are just the beginning at Gunners’ Barracks; enjoy freshly baked scones served with clotted cream and jam and a glass of sparkling wine or a cocktail.
With 41 different tea selections on offer and a view of this spectacular, you’ll never want to leave!
The creamy mango pudding with tapioca tastes of summer, and a thin sliver of opera cake is as light as a chocolate cloud. A+.
2. Four Seasons Hotel Sydney
Overlooking Sydney’s historic Rocks area, Four Seasons Hotel offers free WiFi, a bar, restaurant, fitness centre and swimming pool. The Sydney CBD (Central Business District) features luxurious rooms with panoramic views over the iconic Sydney Opera House and Circular Quay.
All rooms at Sydney’s Four Seasons have been carefully designed and subtly furnished with the highest quality amenities. Each room offers an LCD TV, an iPod docking station and complimentary Appellees toiletries.
Guests can enjoy a modern menu at Pei-Modern restaurant, which offers quality cuisine cooked over an Australian wood-fired oven and grill. In addition, Grain Bar provides a selection of cocktails, wine, beer and spirits.
The Four Seasons’ state-of-the-art 350 square metre fitness centre is fully equipped and includes a relaxing sauna. Guests can also unwind in the hotel’s therapeutic spa and wellness centre, offering skin treatments and relaxing massages. Airport transfers are available upon request.
3. Crown Towers Sydney
Having a strong emotional response to a toilet is a first for me. But as the high-tech, fully mechanised robot lavatory in my marble-clad bathroom automatically lifted its motorised lid – as if to say, ‘Well hello there’ with a big, friendly grin – I couldn’t help but let out a little chirp of joy.
Listen carefully, and you’ll likely hear similar gasps of glee and sighs of delight during your stay at the almost excessively opulent Crown Towers Resort at Barangaroo. Every lavish inch of this ‘six-star hotel’ – Sydney’s first – is designed to wow. Not just to impress, not just to satisfy, but to leave your jaw well and truly on the floor.
As I gingerly place myself down on the seat (already pleasantly warmed to just above body temp), it strikes me that this encounter with a robot toilet might be the aptest analogy there is for the Crown Towers experience.
At first glance, this hotel dazzles with its grand gestures and unapologetic showboating, like installing a $6,000 loo in each of its 349 rooms.
However, where it sets itself apart is in its intimate details – moments of private indulgence (like discovering the robot above the toilet has an automated, high-pressure bidet function) that make you feel like the most pampered person in the whole damn building.
Not unlike the gleaming exterior of the elegantly curved sapphire shard that now dominates Sydney’s skyline, bling is the watchword of the Crown Resort aesthetic. Of course, all that glitters may not be gold (although there’s still a lot of it), but it will otherwise likely be silver, chrome or crystal, like the six-storey chandelier atrium in the hotel lobby.
Encrusted in no fewer than 396 sparklers, accented with a pulsing LED light show, it punches a hole straight through the building, offering guests on the first six floors a glimpse of the comings and goings below.
First impressions are dizzying, to put it mildly. But, as you enter Crown’s show-stopping reception, the decor is a riot of textures, materials and finishes, because why limit your choices when money is no object?
Parque Arabescato floors; deep pile wool carpet; Chinese marble wall panelling; a decorative hand-blown glass frieze; high-sheen mirrored columns; plush loungers upholstered in velvet: it’s a wrestling match of interior design status symbols that could easily curdle into a tacky, overwhelmed mess.
And yet, within the alternate universe of Crown, where too much is never enough, it all somehow feels perfectly reasonable.
The same is confirmed once you enter your room, although the lobby’s gilded blaze of amber tones is replaced with a more serene palette of silvers and greys.
The design cues largely riff on classics but with modernist flair – think white leather button tufted seats with chrome legs; an asymmetrical entertainment unit in a rich, dark wood; and a bevel-edged, mirror-accented beech minibar that would feel just as at home in a ‘60s Vegas penthouse as it would in Kubrick’s vision of 2001.
Certain aspects loyally stick to the luxury accommodation playbook – the king-sized bed is dressed in crisp, white linens from Italian fashion house Frette, with a thread count in the thousands.
And the floor-to-ceiling windows offer panoramic views of either Darling Harbour or Sydney Cove, including the Harbour Bridge and Opera House – a must-have accoutrement of any luxury hotel situated downtown in the Harbour City.
But underpinning this textbook glamour is an infusion of cutting-edge tech. Wherever possible, the Crown hoteliers have worked in clever conveniences that reveal a deep understanding of the varying needs of their clientele.
The bedside table comes kitted out with controls for the lights, curtains and blinds, which can be set to numerous different moods; there’s a tablet for contacting room service or the concierge services. The entertainment system, which includes a TV you can watch from the comfort of your soaking tub, features multiple streaming services, terrestrial channels and a vast library of pay-per-view movies.
There are USB charging ports strategically placed throughout the suite so that whether you’re stretched out in bed, relaxing on the couch or enjoying a bath, you can still reach the juice. And these are just the perks of the Executive Suite. But, of course, should you splash some serious cash on one of the Crown Resort’s exclusive villas on level 26, your room comes with its very own butler, so finding a plug for your charger will be someone else’s problem.
The design and the majority of the construction of this hotel took place long before our globalised world became a lot smaller in 2020. Nevertheless, no doubt there must have been (and given the well-chronicled regulatory woes of the Crown Group, likely continues to be) some considerable anxiety about how such an elegant venue could sustain a functional level of business with international borders sealed until further notice.
However, as fate would have it, Crown’s urge to carve out an unparalleled niche in Sydney’s luxury accommodation market has given it a surprising edge over its rivals in these crazy days of staycation tourism.
Boasting 14 dining venues (nine of which are already online with the others due to open in the coming months) including the first Sydney outpost of Japanese fine-diner Nobu, a world-class spa complete infrared sauna and a 37-degree ‘vitality pool’, state-of-the-art fitness facilities including a waterfront yoga terrace, a grand lido with an infinity pool and private cabanas, and black-label retail outlets, it’s best not to think of Crown as a hotel, but rather a luxury cruise ship, permanently docked in Barangaroo.
Other hotels have tried to pitch staycations as an opportunity to use a fancy hotel room as a home base for exploring the city. Still, convincing punters to part with their cash when they have a perfect bedroom at home just a few suburbs away has been a tough sell.
At Crown, the pitch is very different. It’s not just a handy city-centre bolthole, and you need never set foot outside of Crown Towers during your stay should you choose.
Every desire, need, entertainment and whim can be catered to, all within the footprint of 1 Barangaroo Avenue.
Why book here when you’re so close to home? Because there is absolutely no way that your house has anything like the level of balls-out luxury and convenience you’ll find here. Including, we’d be willing to wager a robot toilet.
4. The Tea Room QVB
If there were ever a place made for the perfect high tea experience, then it would be the QVB’s majestic Tea Room. Rich in architectural history and European majesty, this grand building is a destination like no other. And they know how to pay respect to the time-honoured ritual of high tea.
Indulge in a European high tea experience while in the heart of Sydney at the Tea Room. Located in the Queen Victoria Building, you can enjoy world-class cuisine and ultra European-inspired dining.
At The Tea Room, petit fours are prepared by an award-winning patissier and served on Royal Albert fine china. The décor alone will make you forget you’re smack in the middle of town and Sydney’s most popular shopping centre.
There are three pages of tea on offer at this QVB classic. That’s a whopping 35 teas, including their ‘splendid Earl Grey’ blend and a stand-your-spoon-up-in-it assam bari.
Taking tea at this Sydney establishment is as much about the company as the tiny individual lemon meringue pies with their crisp pastry shells.
So while you’re sitting up nice and straight on your little velour chair and picking at dainties off the three-tier tray, you’ll also want to have some decent conversation (or, at the very least, juicy gossip) saved up.
The large and very white room is made up of tinkling, sparkling chandeliers and gold filigree with waiter’s stations around the room attending to the tea out of giant silver urns.
Sweet, ever-present staff bring plates of chubby scones with dishes of fruit preserves and clotted cream and soft little finger sandwiches filled with the likes of cucumber, egg, salmon and ham.
With mouthwatering selections of petits fours presented on Royal Albert fine china and British silverware settings, you’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a royal banquet.
Whether you’re celebrating a birthday or a great week at the office, any excuse is a good reason to visit the Tea Room.
Morning tea, afternoon tea, and an a la carte lunch are what’s on offer here. What’s most impressive is their single estate tea range which guarantees the purest quality and flavour – perfect for any tea lover. This high tea in Sydney CBD has undoubtedly set the standard.
Make your afternoon a bit fancier by upgrading your high tea to include sparkling wine, a cocktail or a glass of French champagne. There’s something for everyone at this luxurious spot.
The Tea Room, hidden as it is on the north end of the third level of the QVB, is worth seeking out.
5. Burnt Orange
For those searching for a more casual high tea that still offers sparkling views of Sydney Harbour, be sure to visit the Burnt Orange.
You’ll be able to soak up the incredible views while indulging in a charming assortment of savoury and sweet delicacies.
Like the cute button-patterned teapot they’ve put your orange pekoe in? You can go into the store and buy one just like it when you’re done – Burnt Orange is that kind of place.
The menu, crafted by head pastry chef, Chris Razenbacher, features all your afternoon favourites, including choux buns, macaroons, scones and quiches, plus their signature Burnt Orange Tart with blood orange curd and Swiss meringue.
Guests will also be treated to their own large teapot or upgrade to a sparkling high tea for an extra $10pp. This is one high tea that’s perfect for every occasion.
It’s also the kind of place where you can sit on a grand old wooden balcony and cast your eyes over Middle Harbour or the kookaburras picking at the lawn down below – both café and shop are housed in an old golf club built back in the ’20s that was pretty much made for afternoon tea.
Kick yours off with a glass of very cold Redbank Emily brut and prepare for a cake-and-tart onslaught. On the top tier of your tea tower, a light Moroccan orange-and-almond cake is full of citrus bite, while a salted caramel and chocolate tart are salty enough to skew savoury.
The chicken/tarragon finger sandwiches below are made on a crumby, almost cake-like brown bread (and are big enough to leave us wondering whose fingers they were thinking of when they made them), and a spread of scones on the bottom tier are from-your-nan’s-oven perfect – though we’d have preferred simple clotted cream rather than the too-sweet vanilla bean-infused stuff they’re serving.
Banoffee pie with dulce de leche, strawberry and white chocolate tart, tomato frittata topped with feta, house-made chutney, and yuzu & blood orange posset.
If your mouth is starting to water, then making a booking at Burnt Orange for high tea or afternoon tea is a must.
Looking for the best high teas in Sydney to take the kids to? Burnt Orange offers a kids high tea menu of profiteroles, gingerbread people, scones, flavoured milk, and more for $35 per child under 12.
Overdosing on the cake at this house with this view: there are few better sugar highs to be had.
6. Sir Stamford at Circular Quay
Taking high tea at the plush Sir Stamford hotel is a smooth operation. It’s fitting, then, that Sade’s ‘Smooth Operator’ is playing as we sit down in the bar and wait to be served.
Once seated, we’re promptly presented with a flute of chilled Moet & Chandon Champagne, and the staff explains in a friendly whisper how it’s going to pan out: a three-tiered stand will arrive, eat from bottom to top, tea is served once the savoury plate is cleared etc.
Yes, you will even taste the fluffiest homemade scones in your life. But that’s not the only thing that’s authentic about it.
Do you know the other thing which makes this high tea reminiscent of an afternoon at gran’s UK flat? It’s the exquisite antiques and charming artworks that mark the room.
The tea list is extensive, from light, aromatic flavours to the usual suspects. Be adventurous and opt for French rose with vanilla – it tastes like Turkish delight.
The savoury plate includes artistic canapés, bite-sized pastry filled with spicy potato, and arty sandwiches – like curried tuna wrapped in a swirl of green bread and topped with purple flowers.
There’s a generous sweet selection, including elegant white chocolate and pomegranate mousse and mini macarons, followed by fluffy scones with thick clotted cream and tart berry compote.
Stamford also offers this service for those who wish to experience an authentic, decadent high tea, complete with French sparkling wine and mouthwatering treats.
Even the kids can take part in the beauty of high tea with their own crafted menu. High tea at Stamford is perfect for anyone, any afternoon.
Top tip: choose a seat by the window. The dark bar and generous portions have a hypnotic effect stronger than Diazepam.
7. Primus Hotel Sydney
While the CBD may not have the same late-night pulling power it used, there’s a hotel that’s luring Sydneysiders and international travellers to not just stay out after dark but to stay out overnight. The Primus opened in early mid-2015 bringing a five-star hotel to one of the quieter nooks of the CBD.
The hotel’s outer facade isn’t anything particularly eye-catching, and the heritage building (though beautiful from the outside on closer inspection) doesn’t stick out among the tall grey towers of Pitt Street.
However, as soon as you’re inside the hotel lobby, this quickly changes. A sprawling atrium with grand columns houses glossed cream marble floors and the copper-lined check-in desk. Staff are highly efficient and friendly, and check-in is seamless on our visit.
The rooms (of which 172) are decidedly sophisticated with nods to the building’s heritage.
The art deco plot was once the headquarters for the Sydney Water Board, and original finishes still shine throughout the hotel. Back down in your room, you’ll find convenient amenities and a marble bathroom.
Add to this ultra-comfy beds dotted with soft oxblood furnishings, navy blue carpet and gold accents, and you’ve got one luxe room. There are plenty of different suite options ranging from comfortable twins to the extravagant presidential suite.
The big bonus of staying in this hotel is access to the exclusive rooftop pool. The hidden oasis on level four is the ultimate rooftop, complete with a bar, cabanas and an extended pool deck. Check-in as early as you can and spend as much time up here as possible.
The Primus Hotel’s location lends itself to a few excellent nearby dinner options: get your grill on at one of the neighbouring Korean Barbecue joints or warm yourself up with a hearty bowl of rich tonkotsu ramen.
If you don’t feel like venturing out of the hotel, the bar has an excellent wine list and snacks available till late. It’s got an old school feel and a decent wine list.
8. Shangri-La Hotel Sydney
Talk about a breakfast of champions.
Shangri-La Sydney’s aptly named Horizon Club Lounge up on levels 30-36 is where Horizon Club guests can partake of an Asian, continental or whatever-you-like brekky buffet to views of Sydney Harbour the Bridge and the Opera House.
Ferries and cruise ships putter around below you like toys in a bathtub, and the view extends from the Blue Mountains in the west to the heads and the Pacific Ocean in the east.
If you believe, as most locals do, that this is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, then staying at the Shangri-La Sydney is a heck of a way to experience it.
As well as that incredible view, Blu Bar on 36 features premium table service and famous concoctions such as Le Formidable, a combo of Bombay Sapphire Gin, apple juice, peach bitters and raspberry.
Want your high tea in Sydney to include a hefty amount of Chocolate? Then, Shangri-La offers a high tea option like no other – Wickedly Sweet Chocolate Afternoon Tea.
Not for the health-conscious or diabetic. This sinful indulgence comes with three tiers of brownies, bavarois, macarons, and chocolate cakes. If caffeine is your weakness, then make a booking for Shangri-La’s Coffee High Tea.
Altitude boasts a private dining room for groups of 18 in a glass box overlooking the city for that King-of-the-World ambience while enjoying modern European cuisine such as Byron Bay sucking pig cooked three ways with abalone or grain-fed Angus beef tenderloin with beetroot puree.
Strategic mirrors ensure that you can take in that mind-blowing view even if seated with your back to the windows.
The hotel was extensively renovated in 2015 with a fresh palette of gold and silver and specially commissioned carpets and artworks.
A spectacular chandelier made of three brass rings hangs in the atrium of Horizon Club. It can be seen from many points on the foreshore, fulfilling the architect’s original vision of the building as a ‘lighthouse’.
The rooms evoke classic luxury with marble bathrooms, blond timber panelling and the enormous windows of any of the city’s harbourfront hotels. Fun details in Horizon Club classrooms include speakers in the toilets that relay the sounds of the TV and a pillow menu.
The hotel’s Chi the Spa on level two fuses Australian healing techniques and botanical ingredients with Asian and Middle Eastern therapies. A treatment unique in Australia is the Arabian Oud Renewal Therapy, using oud wood, frankincense, sandalwood, and rose during a 90-minute treatment on the face and the body.
Urban beehives on the outdoor terrace on the level three rooftop produce the hotel’s, own honey. There’s a buzz, too, about the hotel’s celebrity pastry chef, Anna Polyviou, famous for her punk hairdo and her patisserie creations that pack a visual and flavour punch.
This teams Espresso Martini and affogato with sweets and pastries beautifully handcrafted by Executive Pastry Chef Anna Polyviou. No wonder this made the list of best high teas in Sydney.
Tip: The Shangri-la Hotel Sydney is ideally located for access to the historical area of the Rocks, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, visiting the Sydney Opera House, and ferries to Taronga Zoo and Manly. But don’t forget to take a stroll through the beautiful waterfront Barangaroo Reserve just to the west of the hotel and explore the brand new bars and restaurants of the adjacent Streets of Barangaroo.
9. Radisson Blu Hotel
Touted as one of the best high tea Sydney have to offer, Radisson Blu Plaza Hotel promises the elegance of high tea in the heart of Sydney’s CBD for a maximum of $79.
High tea at the Radisson Blu is an elegant, subdued affair. There are no hen’s parties getting rowdy on sparkling here.
It’s a peaceful, accessible space where you can recover from a day in the city or fortify yourself before one begins. Sink into a plush green armchair built for two and gaze out the enormous arched windows as one of the ten traditional Twinings loose-leaf blends brews in silver pots on your table.
Service is eager, and catering for dietary restrictions is especially easy as all the cakelets on the top tier of the slate tea stand are gluten-free.
That means tart raspberry jelly, lemon curd tarts and chocolate beetroot cake are all fair game. Sandwich triangles come with cucumber or roast beef, and salmon roses arrive on soft white bread. It’s familiar, rich and filling fare.
You’ll only feel the gluten-free pinch with the flat, crumbly scones that do not match their tall, golden, wheat-based counterparts.
Sink into one of the plush lounge chairs and treat yourself to the finer things in life and some of the best tea time snacks in town.
Options such as beef and cress, curry puffs, and swiss rolls come served with your choice of brews from La Maison Du Thé.
10. The Langham Sydney
Direct from their London flagship hotel; The Langham Sydney is pleased to highlight Palm Court (the supposed birthplace of traditional high tea) and elegant addition to Sydney’s high tea scene.
Teamed with a new global partner – Wedgwood, the Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood was formed to bring you a high tea experience.
The beautiful Langham hotel is one of Sydney’s most luxurious hotels—and it is also famed as the birthplace of traditional afternoon tea.
Take your high tea to new heights at their exclusive afternoon tea with Wedgwood, direct from their flagship London hotel, where it was born over 150 years ago.
Indulge in the beauty and decadence of high tea in the prestigious Palm Court at the Langham. Famed as one of the most beautiful spots in Sydney for high tea, Afternoon Tea with Wedgewood is filled with delightful food; it’ll be a day you won’t forget.
Wedgwood is currently partnering with Valrhona to serve up a decadent and indulgent afternoon tea dedicated to chocolate.
The homemade pastries and tea cakes feature Valrhona’s finest cacao varieties, including dark chocolate flourless cake, hazelnut praline chocolate tart and double chocolate cheesecake! It’s every chocolate lover’s dream.
One that focuses on tradition and luxury. Laurent-Perrier and caviar, anyone?
It’s all about the service here in this plush room of muted blues, where Friday afternoons are regularly booked out for tea, scones and cakes.
You can expect magnificent homemade pastries and tea cakes on the menu, such as hibiscus and guava tart and their signature cream, jam, and scones.
Bathe in the natural light at Palm Court and experience a high tea like no other.
A fixture of the hotel group since 1865, afternoon tea involves soft little finger sandwiches of salmon, ham and cucumber and tiny little chicken and leek pies.
Vegetarian? They’re happy to do a little juggling and supply extra scones as well as sandwiches filled with cheese and tomato and another eggplant.
Sweets-wise, there are the scones above with strawberry jam and clotted cream, squares of chocolate fudge, tiny banoffee pies and miniature layer cakes.
The tea selection is modest but nicely curated – many of the blends made specifically for the Langham.
The Tiffin Prince and Princess teas are where kids play royalty for a day with a menu of marshmallows, jelly cups and cookies, and the mystic afternoon teas – have your tea leaves read, and your fortune told. We predict cake sweats.