AT’s Aimee Chanthadavong discovers the delights of high tea on a rainy day at the Observatory Hotel in Sydney.

Walking through the timber doors of Globe Bar at the Observatory Hotel feels distinctly like travelling through a time warp and back into the colonial era. The sense of elegance and grandiosity that emanates from the room is a reminder of a British upper class social gathering spot. The room is a cross between a gentlemen’s cigar lounge – olive leather chairs, dimmed table lamps and the richness of a dark timber finishing that frames the room – and a ladies’ lounge where back in the day they would gather after dinner to gossip. Velvet lounges with floral patterns invitingly occupy the small (but not overcrowded) room. In-built shelving holding collections of dusty old books and decorated with framed sketches of fish lines the walls.

You’ll find no pompous service here. The friendly waiters and maitre de promptly greeted us with a warm welcome adding to the afternoon treat, which was once a working class person’s meal after nightfall, but is now treasured as a delectable delight in the 21st century.

Sipping on our glasses of chilled Pink Moet Chandon, we begin with the savoury plate of the three tier stand. Traditional servings of crustless finger cucumber sandwiches sit amongst other varieties as well as Quiche Lorraine. But the salmon and capers sandwich was the winner for me with a kick of mustard in every bite.

From the bar the sound of bubbling steaming water whistles from an antique gold-coloured coffee machine, so delicate it’s only used to boil water – that’s our pots of tea being made. The Observatory Hotel High Tea serves up a selection of 20 unique tea blends that have been carefully selected by Tea Master Tjok Gde Kerthya.

My order for Jasmine Dragon Eyes green tea comes served in glistening white crockery. Complimenting the intense flavour are decadent bite size servings of desserts – cheesecakes, cupcakes and crème brûlée – just to name a few. The infusion of tea intensifies with each new cup, as I gradually eat my way to the freshly baked scones served with strawberry jam and cream; so soft they crumble as I put them in my mouth.

I am feeling sated, and the soft percussion of jazz instrumental playing in the background, sends me into a drowsy trance. The time calls for an afternoon nap.


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During May, high tea at the Observatory Hotel can be enjoyed for a good cause as part of “Starlight Tea Delight” High Tea. Australian fashion designer Carla Zampatti has exclusively designed tea cups to help promote and raise funds for the Starlight Foundation. Five dollars from every bill will be donated and, as a thank you, each guest will be given the tea cups to take home.

Cost $57 per person. Bookings can be made on 02 9256 9103 or check out for more info.