In the past two years, I have been fortunate enough to visit some of Cape Town’s most glamourous and time-honoured hotels. Why, you ask? Well, to experience their high teas… And although I have enjoyed at least five such experiences in and around the Mother City to date, there is something especially memorable about a high tea at The Table Bay.
Recently, I had the pleasure of being invited to enjoy this incredible experience, as The Table Bay enters into a fresh season with its new, talented pastry chef, Lee-Andra Govender… and this is how the tale unfolds:
Suspended in a Place of Beauty
While I can assure you that several of Cape Town’s most sumptuous hotels offer excellent high tea experiences, ticking all the right boxes – the service and setting of The Table Bay sets it apart for me.
If you have ever walked past that noble yellow-and-white building at the V&A Waterfront, you will already know of its grandeur from the outside… but it’s got nothing on the beauty of its interiors.
As you pass through its esteemed doors and sit down at the glass-topped, cherry wood-coloured tables or on one of the classic, antique-style couches – which ooze colour and old-world charm – time appears to halt.
You sit suspended in a place of incredible beauty, resplendent with lush interior decor. Overall, the result is absolutely gorgeous without a drop of pretentiousness.
In so many ways, The Table Bay Hotel is a stunning place to visit… Whether you are spending a luxurious night or simply popping by for a coffee at The Lounge.
But if you visit for the high tea, then I can guarantee, for an hour or so, you will feel like royalty.
New Beginnings in a Familiar Space
We visited for the first tea seating, which runs from 14:00 pm – 15:30 pm, to enjoy the three-course high tea. There are two tea sittings (Monday to Sunday), with the second seating running from 16:00 pm – 17:30 pm.
Now, back to the high tea experience itself… Once you are seated at your table (please book in advance), your host will explain everything to you.
At The Table Bay Hotel, you have two sinfully good choices. The first is the three-course High Tea (priced at R320 per person), which is inclusive of your choice of three TWG teas. Alternatively, there is the Sinful Delight option (R200 per person), which offers a selection of the numerous, gorgeous sweet treats, snacks and cheeses available from the Dessert Buffet. (Note: This choice is inclusive of one TWG tea only.)
First Course: Something Savoury
Your first and second courses are served at your table on a three-tiered high tea tray, while the third course you will get up and choose from around the Dessert Buffet.
For the first course, we enjoyed the following one of each off the tea tray:
- Butternut Aranchini;
- Deep-fried Rissoles;
- Mushroom, feta and garlic quiche (really yummy!)
We were also served these scrumptious savouries (on a truly beautifully patterned china plate):
- Cucumber and cheese on homemade white bread;
- Cured salmon, peppadew and dill on homemade brown bread (I particularly loved the ‘seal touch’, which pays tribute to the golden seal statue, Oscar, which stands proudly outside the hotel);
- Hibiscus egg mayo and watercress on baguette crostini (my favourite)
- Roast beef, horseradish and pickles on whole wheat bread.
Each of these savoury treats was delicious but I think I particularly loved the quiche and egg mayo baguette crostini. (And I don’t even normally eat egg unless it’s scrambled or poached, so you know it is a winner if it can convert me!)
TWG Teas of Plenty at The Table Bay
Now for the tea… You can certainly study your TWG Tea Menu on your own – but it is a good idea to ask the staff which they recommend. Mainly because here the options are endless. This means even the most decisive person will have trouble choosing!
With names like Jade of Africa, Red Christmas, Jasmine Queen, Pink Flamingo and many more, the teas are an experience on their own… With intricate flavours and blends to match!
For our first course, we both opted for the Jade of Africa, upon our high tea host’s recommendation. Honestly, it was, hands-down, one of the most beautifully fragrant, lovely tasting teas I have ever had – and I take my tea seriously.
This divine TWG South African red tea offers the delicate “fragrance of red berries… and a sprinkle of sunflower petals”. It makes for a wonderfully easy-drinking, beautiful tea.
We had this tea with both our first and second courses… Mainly because we really loved this tea. I think I had about four cups in the end. So while we only tried three tea blends as a result… I have zero regrets!
Looking Back Through the Ages
We decided to have quite a lengthy break between our first and second course, mainly because we thought pacing ourselves would help us be less full. (Confession: It didn’t.) But this also gave us a chance to really savour our plush, stunning surroundings.
I mentioned before that the views are amazing – but I am biased enough to also think we had one of the best tables in the whole, vast room. Overlooking the harbour, where the ships are berthed, we looked out of the huge, stunning window and door onto the finest Table of them all: Table Mountain.
It was a beautifully clear day and while it was warm, I think within The Lounge, you would always enjoy the perfect room temperature.
The Table Bay Hotel: Five-star Magic
Aside from the views, The Lounge is like a room of wonder, designed to keep you entranced and enthralled. Personally, I loved the old maps and paintings, with their ornate frames and majestic history scenes best. Spread across the room, these show settler’s ships on fierce seas.
Along with these, impressive vases, wooden chests and beautiful lamps and over-sized lights set a cosy, romantic mood. But it was the midnight velvet waiting couch that really sets the scene, demanding attention across the room.
Then, there is the piano in the corner… which a masterful pianist played from the moment we arrived until the moment we reluctantly left. At first, we just had great fun guessing the songs – some new, some old, all beautifully played…
But then we realised it wasn’t a recording of classical music. Rather, it turned out to be an incredibly talented and tireless pianist seated in the far corner. (It’s perhaps particularly fitting that he played Billy Joel’s Piano Man, while the high tea carried on around him.) Honestly, it’s long since I’ve been that impressed…
And that is just one small taster of what awaits within The Lounge and the hotel proper… It is every bit the five-star hotel – and more… Pure magic, aesthetically and professionally.
Second Course: Still-warm Scones… Need I Say More?
For our second course, also served at our table, we enjoyed quite possibly one of my favourite things: buttermilk scones with whipped cream, lemon curd (simply divine; try it!) and two homemade jams.
Those were one set; our other half of the scones was a lovely savoury cheese and sweet corn scone.
The scones were still warm from the oven and gloriously light and fresh. While the accompanying cream, lemon curd and jams were excellent.
Towards our third course, we had two different teas. The Pink Flamingo (a graceful green tea) and Pai Mu Tan (a fine white tea) respectively.
Both of these teas were good but were a more acquired taste than the Jade of Africa blend. I did, however, love the colours – especially the pale pink-ish tinge of mine.
Most TWG teas don’t require milk (hence why none is brought to your table) but for certain teas, like the stronger green teas, I recommend that sweet tooths add a sugar cube or two, as they are not naturally sweet teas.
Three for Treats: Dessert Buffet
Now, it was time for the eagerly awaited third course: Dessert Buffet.
In the centre of the room, atop a gorgeous, vast wooden table with a colourful mosaic top, you will find the incredible spread of sinful treats.
Brace your tastebuds for an influx of decadent and wonderfully rich sweet treats, cakes, cheeses, truffles, snacks and so much more.
This is self-service in the sense that you have to go get your choice of sweets from the table. However, there is a waiter on-hand to serve and present you with your desserts. They also provide a detailed explanation of each item so you know best what to choose.
Chef Govender has completely reinvented the Dessert Buffet, bringing her own spin to it. She has created a host of delightful treats, which are beautiful both to the eye and taste.
I love what she has done with the spread, as there is something for everyone to enjoy and you are well and truly spoilt for choice! 🙂
While you can have as much as you like from the buffet, at 16:00 pm, the desserts are replenished for the next seating. So by the time you get to your third course, you will probably be nearing the end of your visit anyway.
Also, because everything is of the highest quality, using only the freshest, best ingredients and flavours, expect it to be quite rich and filling.
We anticipated this but, despite only filling our large plates with three or four goodies each (including a slice of incredible chocolate cake), I regrettably still couldn’t finish everything. As such, rather take a few things and go back if you feel you can manage more.
Tantalising Treats at The Table Bay Hotel
For our dessert, we ended off with things like a slice of cake, The Cherry (think: “dark chocolate mousse, chocolate sponge and Fabbri Amerena Cherries on a dark chocolate croustillant base, and loaded with chocolate twigs and other delights”), The Strawberry Shortcake (my favourite!) and an Espresso Blonde Brownie, perfect for coffee lovers.
Each dessert is immaculately presented, with thoughtful touches, like chocolate twigs, a seal coin and much more. More than that though, they are indulgent, smooth and positively great. I couldn’t fault one even if I tried.
There were also lovely Lemon Meringues, truffles, stunning colourful macaroons and much more!
A handy tip is to take sips of tea in between, to combat the richness and take a moment to enjoy your setting, if you need a break in between.
An Experience to Remember at Cape Town’s The Table Bay Hotel
Overall, our high tea experience and first visit to The Table Bay Hotel was absolutely wonderful. I am so grateful for the opportunity we had to visit and enjoy this memorable treat.
In every way, it is a quality, highly professional encounter: the setting is glorious, the food and drinks are sublime and perhaps above all, service is exemplary.
How It Rates
I am both thrilled to award The Table Bay Hotel a much deserved 10/10 rating for this special high tea – and indeed, overall for The Lounge and all it offers guests. (It is certainly not hard to see why it has been such a much loved high tea venue since its opening in 1997!)
During our visit, fellow guests enjoyed bridal showers and birthday treats. So keep in mind that The Lounge can cater to your more festive needs too. And of course, if you simply wish to pop in for coffee or a delicious light meal.
I highly recommend a visit – it will honestly be one of the most memorable ones you have in the Mother City!
A Word of Thanks
Thank you very much to The Table Bay Hotel and staff and The Mail Room Communications PR team for this incredible high tea experience! It was faultless from start to finish.
In particular, I must extend a special word of thanks to Azelle Evans, Sune Morton, Miscka Arendse and Sarah Prins.
For more information on The Table Bay’s special high tea, please contact: +27 (021) 406 5988 or email them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also visit their website or find The Table Bay Hotel for yourself at: The Table Bay Hotel, Quay 6, V&A Waterfront, Cape Town, South Africa.
Author: Tamlyn Ryan
Content writer by day and blogger by night, Tamlyn Ryan passionately runs her own travel blog, called Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust, from her home base of Cape Town, South Africa. And, despite a national diploma in Journalism, in her free time, Tamlyn’s preferred niche remains travel writing.
Tamlyn is a hopeless wanderer, equipped with an endless passion for road trips, carefully planned, holiday itineraries and, above all else, an innate love for the great outdoors.