5 best afternoon tea places to watch the world roll on by

5 best afternoon tea places to watch the world roll on by

There's no maddening crowds with these Singapore spots -- just sit, relax and forget about things for awhile
Afternoon tea at Raffles Hotel
The quinessential colonial pasttime still endures in the iconic Raffles hotel.

With coffee shops and cafes springing everywhere, it's tough to find a decent place for a chill-out afternoon in Singapore. Here's our pick of 5 places to stay, put up your legs and breathe. Oh, and endure the rigours of high tea.

Afternoon tea spread at Raffles HotelThe afternoon tea spread at Raffles Hotel.

Raffles Hotel's Tiffin Room -- Quintessentially English

It's the iconic hotel and the iconic afternoon tea. Even though the tourist hoards put it on the top of the 'To Do' list, you can't deny the fact that Raffles Hotel still rocks -- if afternoon tea can actually 'rock.' In the elegant and lofty Tiffin Room, it's easy to slip back into Singapore Past, and the polished silverware and crisp white linens add to the experience that everyone expects from this world renowned hotel. High tea here includes a mix of petite finger sandwiches, freshly baked pastries and soft, moist, scones served with clotted cream and sweet homemade jams.

In addition, local dishes such as curries are offered to mix it up -- West and East meet. Once inside the Tiffin Room, it's hard not to love the old world charm of it all. Square teak tables, many of Raffles' originals are paired with palm back bentwood chairs, while the lofty ceilings just make us wish we could stay for the night, and do it all again. There are two seatings at 3.30pm and 4.30pm. Priced at S$49 for adults and S$25 for children.

1 Beach Road Singapore. tel +65 6412 1305. www.raffles.com


Outdoor splendor at HaliaOutdoor splendor at Halia.

Halia -- For nature lovers

We love the locale of Halia -- set amidst the lush foliage of the Botanical Gardens -- with a birdsong soundtrack. It's pretty hard to top for scenery. If you like your high tea in the garden, this is it. But it not just good looks that entice foodies here. The traditional English tea makes the grade with open-faced smoked salmon and egg sandwiches, scones with ginger perfumed fresh cream, and a fine selection of choux pastry and cakes. Add to this the huge selection of teas, such as organic Darjeeling and Moroccan mint, and this place steps up.

The attractive price really is a draw, especially in a city where people think nothing of spending $50 on high tea. At just $19 per person, it's good for a girl’s afternoon, or the same for mum. Traditional English high tea is served between 3pm and 5pm, Monday to Saturday.

1 Cluny Rd, Singapore. tel +65 6476 6711. www.halia.com.sg


Coffee at Marmalade PantryCoffee at Marmalade Pantry.

Marmalade Pantry -- For those stylish cupcakes

Based in the mega mall that is ION, Marmalade dishes up a big dose of casual chic, with its French pantry style fare. Relaxed yet buzzy, this place is perfect for a catch up with friends -- its non stuffy ambiance makes for a great lazy weekend choice. We love the beef and horseradish sandwiches (where can you get horseradish in Singapore, these days?), shrimp finger sandwiches, and crumbly, buttermilk scones served with clotted cream and jams. But, the real winner here are the cupcakes.

We love the Granny's Apple -- spiced apple and cinnamon cake with cream cheese. A soft, flavorful, decent sized cupcake, with more than a hint of nostalgia. Add a dollop of spiced apple in the centre, and topped with creamy icing -- it took us back to our granny's own. This can be washed down with a pot of tea from the selection, or, if you are feeling particularly fruity, a glass of Billecart Salmon Champagne. Afternoon tea, 3pm to 5pm. With teas, $20, with champagne, $35.

ION Shopping Mall 2 Orchard Turn, #03-22, Singapore. tel +65 6734 2700. www.themarmaladepantry.com


Al fresco dining at St Regis SingaporeAl fresco dining at St Regis Singapore.

St Regis -- For art loving ladies

Picasso or Miro? If you want a real high maintenance high tea, then look no further than the St Regis. Based in the ultra glamorous, luxury hotel on Orchard, this one not only includes the usual decadent fare and bubbly, but a private art viewing. So if you fancy yourself as a bit of a culture vulture, then head here for the ultimate afternoon tea experience.

The private art tour is centred on the St Regis and guests can find out more about Picasso and Miro, amongst others,  including local artist, Chua Ek Kay (who was commissioned by the St Regis, and is well known for his Lotus Ponds series). When it gets down to tea time though, a fine assortment of pastries, scones and finger sandwiches abound, with the added option of a glass of Moet Chandon Rose. Afternoon tea is served Fridays and Saturdays only, 3pm to 6pm, at S$53 per person.

St Regis Singapore, 29 Tanglin Road, Singapore; +65 650 66860; www.brasserielessaveurs.com


Macaroons and madeleines from TWG TeaMacaroons and madeleines from TWG Tea.

TWG Tea Salon -- High brow macaroons

Is it just us, or have macaroons become the new chocolate fondant? Take a step inside TWG Tea Salon, and you will see queues of people waiting to get their next fix of these blissfully sweet delicacies. Get them to go, or book a table for high tea in this manicured, luxury tea outfit. There are two cafes to choose from -- in ION and at Raffles Place. From the minute you enter, waiters in their preened and polished white and black uniforms rush to your aid. Do you want to try the rare Tie Ken Yin blend? Would you like to smell this tea from Myanmar? The celebration tea time set consists of a choice of TWG tea, a selection of three finger sandwiches including foie gras, smoked salmon with Mascarpone and chives, and the rather adventurous, Roma tomatoes and Moroccan mint tea infused sauce.

For an extra sweet touch, you can also choose two homemade scones or muffins with TWG jelly and whipped cream, or a patisserie, and a choice of three macaroons. The macaroons come in quirky flavours such as Napoleon tea and caramel, earl grey and chocolate and lemon bush tea. These moist, super sweet delicacies are addictive washed down with a cup of TWG's finest brews. To round off a shopping spree -- with style -- pop into the ION branch, for a super swish high tea. Celebration Tea Time, 3pm to 6pm, daily. $29++ per person.

ION Shopping Mall 2 Orchard Turn, #02-21, Singapore. tel +65 6735 1837. www.twgtea.com


Rachel's favorite subjects are food and travel. She edits and writes for Time Out magazines and guides, Conde Nast Traveller, CNNGo and Associated Newspapers.

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