A Singapore Treat: High Tea at Raffles Hotel

With its colonial atmosphere and luxurious ambience, Raffles Hotel hosts, each afternoon, a traditional English High Tea, with an Asian twist.

Raffles Hotel is one of Singapore's best known and most loved landmarks. For over a hundred years travellers have been coming through its doors to stay or dine in elegant and luxurious surroundings. Traditions started by English colonists have survived: partaking in a tiffin curry luncheon on Sundays, drinking the Singapore Sling cocktail, and taking high tea in the afternoons.

High Tea at Raffles

Every afternoon, between 3:30 and 5:30 p.m., High Tea is served in the Tiffin Room at Raffles. This is an elegant, high-ceilinged room with chandeliers and ceiling fans.The tall arched windows look out to Palm Garden with its ornate cast-iron fountain.

A talented musician plays the harp as gentle background music while uniformed waiters move quietly between the tables, making sure all the guests have tea and coffee.

Copied from old photographs, the furniture in the Tiffin Room replicates that used in the early days of the hotel. The teak tables are square; the chairs bentwood with palm design backs.

White linen tablecloths and silver cutlery, fine bone china crockery and a silver vase of orchids grace each table.

Reservations for High Tea at Raffles are recommended. Guests are requested to wear smart clothing.

The Food at Raffles High Tea

On arrival at the Tiffin Room, we were escorted to our reserved table. A three-tiered silver cake stand, complete with a variety of traditional afternoon tea delicacies, was the centrepiece. A waiter immediately filled our cups with our choice of tea or coffee.

On the day we were there, the bottom plate of the cake stand held a variety of finger sandwiches: smoked salmon, tuna in mayonnaise, egg, ham, and cucumber.

Two kinds of cake – lemon slice and squares of chocolate cake with a mousse topping – were on the middle tier. The top plate of the stand held strawberry tarts and those little cakes beloved by Proust -madeleines.

But that was not all. At the far end of the Tiffin Room, a sumptuous buffet was displayed. Guests were encouraged to go up and help themselves to more sweet and savoury treats.

On one tiled round table, there were trays of sliced fresh fruit – pineapple, two kinds of melons, and dragon fruit with its distinctive red skin and black-spotted flesh.

Another table held a surprise, a departure from the traditional English afternoon tea foods. In round bamboo steamers, Asian delicacies were warming – steamed chicken buns, and a selection of chicken and shrimp, seafood, and vegetable dumplings.

And there was still more food! Bread and butter pudding, blackberry and apple crumble, blueberry tarts, extra strawberry tarts, layer cake, jars of candies, and those special ingredients that no high tea would be complete without. Scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream!