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High Tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town

The world famous Mount Nelson Hotel sits amongst the trees at the top of the company gardens in Cape Town. Renowned for its stately elegance and charm, it is as iconic and historic a hotel as South Africa has.

The “Pink lady” opened her gates same year as the start of the Anglo-Boer war in 1899 and was modeled on the finest hostelries in London. It has hosted many a visiting dignitary (even a young Winston Churchill) and installed the first heated swimming pool in Africa. As things go, the rates are quite frightening: a high season double room starts at R5540 ($750) and climb seemingly to the stratosphere, when you start looking at suites etc.

Fortunately there is a way to enjoy the pleasures of the Mount Nelson without a bond, and that is to attend the celebrated and salubrious high tea on the terrace or gardens. Voted “Best Tea in the World” by Michael Winner (author and UK Sunday Times columnist) it is a truly grand affair and although the dress is informal, the crispness of the linen and scent of crustless cucumber sandwiches is thick in the air.


The buffet spread is something, but it is the obscene assortment of cakes, éclairs, cream horns, petit fours, tarts and torts on the Windsor table is the real show stopper and the stuff of childhood fantasy.

Afternoon tea is served between 14:30 and 17:30 and is quite reasonably charged at R135 ($18) for adults and R75 ($10) for children under 12. They obviously have no idea how many éclairs a 10 year old can eat!
There is also now a scaled down morning tea between 09:30 and 12:30 for R95 ($13)

You are well advised to book on +27 21 483 1737 or via the website.

This very special treat comes highly recommended by Winston and me, and easily makes it onto the “Best of Cape Town” list. 5 stars.