Raffles Singapore High Tea Honest Review

Raffles Hotel Singapore is one of the most iconic hotels in the world. And after seeing it featured in Crazy, Rich Asians, all I wanted was to experience it for myself. Raffles Singapore opened in 1887 and today is declared a National Monument thanks to its beautifully preserved colonial style.

Many celebrities stayed at Raffles, including Rudyard Kipling, Elizabeth Taylor and Queen Elizabeth II. Furthermore, Raffles bartender Ngiam Tong Boon created the iconic Singapore Sling in Long Bar in 1915. With such rich history and special credentials, it’s hard to imagine visiting Singapore without experiencing Raffles, if nothing else, for its afternoon tea.

Before I tell you about my Raffles afternoon tea, it’s fair to point out that I didn’t stay at the hotel. Partly because I couldn’t find a room during my Singapore itinerary, and partly because the average cost of a room is around £900 per night. Nevertheless, I didn’t let this stop me. I quickly realised that there’s another way to enter Raffles and that’s by booking their sought after afternoon tea in the Grand Lobby.

Raffles Singapore High tea

Whether you stay at Raffles or not, booking their afternoon tea is a must. I booked this for my 30th birthday, which made sense. Celebrating a special milestone at an exceptional hotel. The afternoon tea takes places in the Grand Lobby. Afternoon tea is a delightful traditional from Great Britain, which journeyed to Asian during the golden age of travel.

Afternoon tea at Raffles is a ritual fashioned since the inception of this hotel, which remains popular today. And I couldn’t wait to partake in this timeless tradition and have the Raffles experience.

Beautiful Raffles Hotel Singapore

My review of Raffles afternoon tea

My husband and I booked this experience in December, not that it makes any difference, as Singapore is always hot and welcoming. Dressed chic casual, we couldn’t wait to enjoy high tea at Raffles Singapore. We arrived a little earlier than our reservation in the hopes that we can wander around and take some pictures. Sadly, this was not possible, so we were directed towards the courtyard and Long Bar for a traditional Singapore Sling.

In all fairness, the courtyard was so lush and green, ideal for taking some snaps and enjoying the warm weather. And when I say lush and greens, I really mean it. Think tropical plants, ferns, and palms. Stunning! Definitely one of the best places to stay in Singapore if the budget permits.

Cory enjoying the courtyard at Raffles Singapore

A few minutes later we found ourselves back at the main hotel entrance where we greeted by the iconic doormen, recognisable thanks to their quintessential white turbans.

We were then guided to the restored Grand Lobby renowned for its grandiose appearance. To my surprise, and given how many Raffles is a stickler for tradition, white tablecloths did not cover the tables. Nevertheless, I believe this was a good call, as we could admire the dramatic contract of the dark wooden tables to the bright white floor-to-ceiling Victorian pillars.

Despite that we had already made our pick for the afternoon tea during the reservation process, the waiters did ask if there are any changes to our order. We were also given the option to upgrade to a champagne afternoon tea or include other drinks.

We ordered a signature classic afternoon tea which comes with 5 different types of finger sandwiches, 5 different types of sweet treats and classic scones. It’s worth noting that the menu changes regularly, keeping even returning customers excited to try something new.

Cory enjoying her loose leaf tea at Raffles Singapore

From time to time, Raffles creates a themed afternoon tea experience. In 2022, they created the Peru afternoon tea, a unique curated array of local delights inspired treats. The Peru afternoon tea experience is the same price as the classic afternoon tea, so if you wish to be adventurous, keep an eye on their latest menus and order something unique. For 2023, Raffles has a Seoul afternoon tea (2 January – 26 March 2023) and a Sakura afternoon tea (27 March – 4 June 2023) which is slightly pricier than the classic afternoon tea.

The service

I’m going to start with the service. When dining in a 5 star hotel, a faultless level of service is to be expected. I will say that while the service was great, it didn’t feel personal at all. The staff were polite but very matter of fact.

This surprised us a little, as we expected big smiles and a warmer welcome.

The menu for the afternoon tea dressed in leather

​The food

I know this is the part you’ve been waiting for: the food. Is the afternoon tea at Raffles delicious? Yes, the food is actually worth every penny. You can definitely taste Singapore’s culinary history in every single bite.

The afternoon tea comes on a three-tiered cake stand. The bottom tier has the finger sandwiches.

The three tiered afternoon tea at Raffles Singapore

On our visit we enjoyed the following savoury items:

  • Multigrain with Chicken
  • Wholemeal with Tuna
  • Classic Egg Mayonnaise
  • Curry with Crab
  • Squid Ink Smoked Salmon & Cucumber

My favourite was the Squid Ink Smoked Salmon & Cucumber, simply because it looked so unique.

Unique ink squid sandwich at Raffles Singapore

The second and top tier were full of desserts. The sweet treats were well balanced and not too sweet. Desserts change all the time, and this is especially true during special occasions like Christmas. As I mentioned before, we visited on my birthday, just before Christmas, so we got special items like a fruit cake.

The Pistachio Religieuse was especially delicious, and it’s one of the treats I very well remember because it was so delicate but full of rich flavours, sweet but balanced. The Coconut Panna Cotta with Passionfruit and Mango also deserves a round of applause.

We ended the afternoon tea with a round of home baked scones with rose petal jam and clotted cream. This was the time when we decided to order a class of Champagne rose. With the drink came an additional mince pie from the dessert trolley, as well as a dessert decorated with happy birthday chocolate plaque.

Cake at the Singapore Raffles with happy birthday chocolate plaque

The drinks

Every classic afternoon tea experience comes with loose leaf tea or Raffles custom blended coffee. There are a variety of exquisite teas with irresistible flavours to pick from, and we went with the Perles de Thé au Jasmin which is individually hand rolled pearls of fine tea, scented with jasmine.

While the tea tasted fantastic, sadly we were not offered a tea strainer holder. Given that we had ordered green tea which must only be steeped for as little as 60 seconds, the lack of tea strainer holder resulted in our second cup of tea filled with a bitter monstrosity rather than delicate jasmine tea. That sure left a bitter taste after the experience, no pun intended.

Jasmin tea in a large pot without tea strainer holder

How to book and is it expensive?

To book your afternoon tea experience at Raffles Singapore, simply head to their official website and make a reservation.

The afternoon tea at Raffles Singapore costs S$80 per person. Included are the savoury and sweet treats, the scones and either loose leaf tea or house blend coffee.

To enjoy the afternoon tea make sure you book during the following times:
Monday to Thursday 1:00pm to 5.00pm
Friday to Sunday 12:00pm to 6:00pm

You only have the table for 90 minutes which I think it’s plenty to enjoy your afternoon tea.

There is a dress code and ladies and gentlemen must dress casual chic. Slip-ons and flip-flops are now allowed.

Don’t miss the Raffles Boutique if you wish to purchase a fancy and unique souvenir from Singapore.

Cory enjoying her afternoon tea at Raffles Singapore

Final thoughts

It’s definitely worth booking a table to enjoy an afternoon tea at Raffles Singapore. The Grand Lobby looks incredible, the food is excellent and for the affordable price you get a decadent experience in an iconic location. After all, how many people can say they took their afternoon tea at the same place as Queen Elizabeth II once stayed.

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Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory is a published travel writer and award-winning photographer. She travels full time with her husband and is passionate about creating in-depth travel guides. Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan. She has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries. Cory is multilingual and an alumna from The University of Manchester.

Comments

7 responses to “Raffles Singapore High Tea Honest Review”

  1. I would agree with all your comments we went on Monday and had the same choice of sandwiches suprised on arrival we were 10 min early when checking in told table not ready with no alteratative place to wait given then had to wait 25 min to get our table. Tea experiance and surroundings very nice.
    Then we went to the long bar dont bother very commercial long wait to get in $37 for a poor Singapore sling had better in other bars in the city if possible as it was invented here.

    1. The tea experience and surroundings were fantastic, right? I agree, there are better places to enjoy a Singapore Sling. For first timers in Singapore, it’s always nice to have the option to order it from its bar of origin, tho.

  2. Thanks, you have done us a great service on describing afternoon tea @ Raffles
    Roberto & Laura
    Uk & IT

  3. Nancy Harrison Avatar
    Nancy Harrison

    I certainly get no flip-flops, but I’m a bit confused by the “slip ons not allowed.” Loafers are slip-ons. Mules are slip-ons. Pumps are slip-ons. Most dressier-looking womens shoes are slip-ons. Men are restricted to wing tips? Or they’d rather have us wear trainers?

    1. Honestly, Nancy, I’m with you. I have a super elegant pair of slip-ons which I think noticeably elevate my outfit. I was perplexed by the rule, too. I wore sandals and my husband wore smart trainers.

  4. Nicole Gardener Avatar
    Nicole Gardener

    We went for afternoon tea in 2016 where they also had a buffet table with scones fruit bread and butter pudding. Also dim sum at the side. Do they still do this as well?

    1. Hi Nicole, sadly no. Their afternoon tea is just formal without the buffet table.

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