Lindfield tea scones

My Five Favorite Spots for Afternoon Tea in Joburg

Afternoon tea is very popular in Joburg and I’ve tried quite a few different ones over the years. I’ve been meaning to do a Jozi Top Fives post on this topic forever.

Side note #1: Most of the fancy hotels in Joburg refer to their afternoon tea as “high tea”, I think because high tea sounds more grand. But I was recently schooled on this issue by the brilliant Katharine Love of Lindfield House (read more about Lindfield below), and learned that “afternoon tea” is the correct term for a fancy afternoon meal with tea and cake. High tea evolved as a lower class version of afternoon tea, which is the opposite of what these fancy hotel teas actually are. Read more on the distinction here.

a waiter pours tea at 54 on Bath HotelA waiter pours hot water to make tea at 54 on Bath Hotel.

Side note #2: I’m really picky about my afternoon teas, which is one of the reasons I’ve put off this post for so long. Sometimes even the most glamorous teas don’t meet my expectations. I want every afternoon tea to be exactly like my first one in 1994, at Fortnum & Mason in downtown London. That tea was served by a frowning elderly Englishwoman in a black maid’s costume and included the fluffiest scones, the richest clotted cream, and the daintiest cucumber sandwiches I’ve ever tasted or ever will taste. No afternoon tea will ever measure up to that one, but I’m on a never-ending quest.

Side note #3: In case you’re wondering why I haven’t mentioned the the Four Seasons (formerly the Westcliff Hotel) in this post, it’s because the Four Seasons has recently, inexplicably, stopped offering afternoon tea. What a bummer, as the view is amazing and the Westcliff’s afternoon tea was legendary. Boo.

With that, here are my five choices.

My Favorite Jozi Afternoon Teas

1) 54 on Bath Hotel

I’ve had afternoon tea twice at 54 on Bath in Rosebank, and to me this is the best hotel tea in town. The setting is great (although they won’t seat you outside if there’s even a hint of rain), the service is great, the tea is great, and the food is authentic and delicious. The tiered tea platters are traditional, with large scones accompanied by jam and clotted cream, decadent cucumber and smoked salmon finger sandwiches, and well-crafted tiny desserts. If you really like one particular thing, the servers are happy to bring you more.

54 on Bath afternoon tea scones and sandwichesTraditional scones and finger sandwiches from 54 on Bath.

54 on Bath afternoon tea dessertsDelicious afternoon tea desserts. The mini cheesecakes are my favorite.

54 on Bath’s afternoon tea costs R245 ($18), or R295 ($21) with a glass of champagne. Read more about my first tea at 54 on Bath in this 2013 post.

2) Fairlawns Boutique Hotel

I blogged recently about the Fairlawns afternoon tea so I won’t repeat myself. But the Fairlawns tea is much along the lines of 54 on Bath’s tea — traditional, luxurious, and comparatively well priced. I love the setting at Fairlawns; it feels like you’re out in the country even though the hotel is just a few minutes from Sandton City.

High tea room at FairlawnsThe quirky tea room at Fairlawns.

tea sandwiches at FairlawnsFinger sandwiches, just the way I like them.

Fair lawns high tea plateMy Fairlawns tea plate.

The Fairlawns tea costs R235 ($17) per person.

3) De Hoek Country Hotel

The De Hoek afternoon tea is what motivated me to finally write this post — I was invited to De Hoek for tea this past weekend. De Hoek is in Magaliesburg, about an hour outside of Joburg, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend driving all the way out there just for tea. But this afternoon tea is a great add-on to a full day or weekend in Magaliesburg and/or the Cradle of Humankind, or to an overnight visit to the De Hoek hotel itself (read about my 2013 weekend at De Hoek).

Afternoon tea champagne at De HoekPre-tea champagne at De Hoek.

The De Hoek tea is a little less traditional than 54 on Bath or Fairlawns, with fewer scones and finger sandwiches and more experimental stuff. In fact, my only complaint about the De Hoek tea is that there weren’t enough scones — our platter only had two very tiny half-scones with a small dollop of cream and jam already applied. But I especially liked the tea itself, which comes in traditional varieties as well as interesting fruity flavors.

Pink tea in a pink cup at De HoekMy friend Michelle ordered this beautiful pink wild berry tea, served in a perfectly matching pink cup. 

De Hoek afternoon tea trayThe beautiful tea tray served to us at De Hoek. I particularly loved the bottom tier — tasty balsamic salad jars, rye bread heaped with smokes salmon, and spinach spanakopita. Next time I want more scones though — they did say we were welcome to order more but I was too full after eating everything else.

The De Hoek setting can’t be beat — the gardens are so pretty and relaxed. Going there was a nice excuse to get out of town, if only briefly.

Afternoon tea at De Hoek costs R325 ($23) per person. De Hoek also serves spectacular dinners — I wouldn’t recommend doing both in the same day because your stomach might explode.

4) The Saxon

The Saxon is the fanciest hotel in Joburg, and its afternoon tea needs to be on this list simply because visiting the Saxon is such an experience. Where else in Joburg will a chauffeur meet you at the parking garage in huge white BMW, to drive you 100 meters from the parking area to the hotel?

Saxon lobbyThe opulent Saxon lobby.

ChampagneChampagne on the Saxon pool deck.

The Saxon is known for its gourmet food and the afternoon tea is no exception, with high-end leaf teas and delectable savouries and sweets. The cuisine and presentation veers a bit too far from traditional afternoon tea, in my opinion, but it’s hard to complain about food that tastes so good.

Saxon plateSaxon savouries. 

Lady at the SaxonMy favorite all-time photo from the Saxon. Read more about it in this post.

The Saxon tea is R325 ($23) per person Tuesday through Thursday and R395 ($28) on Saturdays, when you can listen to live piano music.

5) Lindfield House

I’ve saved Lindfield House for last because I think it’s the best. I’ve blogged about Lindfield twice before (read here and here) because it’s one of my favorite tourist attractions in Joburg. Katharine Love, the owner and curator at Lindfield, gives incredible tours of her Victorian house and she serves a fantastic, home-cooked afternoon tea at the end of the tour. (Note that the full afternoon tea must be booked in advance.)

Lindfield afternoon tea, 2011
My first tea at Lindfield House, with my mother in 2011. (Photo: Jon Hrusa)

Lindfield tea 2016
Return to Lindfield House in July 2016, with Fiver. 

Lindfield House is the best deal in Joburg for afternoon tea. A full tour plus a full tea costs R120 ($8.50). Just keep in mind that Lindfield House is a museum, not a hotel/restaurant, and the tea is an add-on rather than a main event. Nonetheless, I love it.

Got any other Jozi afternoon tea recommendations? Bring’em on below. In the meantime I’m going to make a cup of tea.

I’ve received complimentary afternoon tea at Fairlawns, the Saxon, and De Hoek. Opinions expressed are mine.

Previous Post Next Post

17 Comments

  • Reply Wendy C October 19, 2016 at 4:24 pm

    I am so wanting a sugar fix!

    • Reply 2summers October 19, 2016 at 4:25 pm

      Haha! My job is done then.

    • Reply Amy Rawhani October 20, 2016 at 12:10 am

      Also check out the Silver Teaspoon in Northcliff….very pretty.

      • Reply 2summers October 20, 2016 at 1:49 pm

        I’ll add it to the list! Thanks.

  • Reply autumnashbough October 20, 2016 at 12:34 am

    There’s quite a lot of drool on my keyboard now.

    • Reply 2summers October 20, 2016 at 1:50 pm

      Haha. Are there lots of places to have afternoon tea in LA? Doesn’t seem like a very California kind of thing.

      • Reply autumnashbough October 20, 2016 at 3:21 pm

        It’s not. Very sad. I think the Ritz and Huntington Gardens are some of the only ones.

  • Reply Karin Rheeder October 20, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    High Tea at Michelangelo is also awesome. It’s a buffet of savouries and sweets and you can eat as much as you like. Priced at R255 per person it’s well worth it. Complimentary tea and coffee as well as juice.

    • Reply 2summers October 20, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      I’ll have to check it out. Although I must confess I am biased against buffets. I guess I’m a purist but I prefer to have my high tea brought to me on a platter.

  • Reply Sine October 25, 2016 at 6:44 am

    What? Are they crazy at the Westcliff? Starting with not keeping the name? It’s like giving the Big Five a different name. It’s an institution!

    I’m SO hungry right now and those scones are staring at me mockingly. Scones with cream and jam are one of South Africa’s best food groups. Have you ever tried the ones you can buy frozen at Woolies? They are fabulous!

    • Reply 2summers October 27, 2016 at 3:50 pm

      A PR person from the Four Seasons Westcliff emailed me and here is the explanation he gave: “The reason they no longer offer it is because there was more demand for lunch at View and brunch at Flames on weekends.” Ridiculous.

  • Reply Loren October 30, 2016 at 1:28 am

    They all sound so amazing! xo Loren // http://www.thinkelysian.com

  • Reply Guy Spiller November 1, 2016 at 11:49 am

    I think I like the things you like in Joburg. Can you suggest a suitable venue to host a 50 person cocktail party?

  • Reply Mabel Kwong November 18, 2016 at 1:47 pm

    Such fine looking places for high tea. I really like the look and feel of the boutique hotel one. I too like finger sandwiches. They are the best – small and it leaves you room to try other sandwiches and of course other things on the menu, while filling enough that you feel full until the next meal time, if you get what I mean 🙂

    Here in Melbourne, Australia, high teas are popular. They are popping up everywhere in the city, from high end chocolate places to fancy scone places, and they are always packed on the weekends 🙂

    • Reply 2summers November 18, 2016 at 2:14 pm

      I guess high tea is hot throughout the world! Thanks for the comment, Mabel.

  • Reply Linda Theron March 20, 2017 at 7:56 am

    Please come and try the new Alice In Wonderland High Tea at In The Forest Venue – it’s really something magical.

    • Reply 2summers March 20, 2017 at 8:20 am

      Looks awesome! I’ll add it to the list. Thanks.

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: