Penne 4 Your Thoughts

Penne Cole's thoughts on food, travel and more

High tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town


Contemplating the tea

Some say that high tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town is among the best in the world, so when I found myself in that beautiful city, I couldn’t help but pay it a visit.


Taking tea in the sun room

It was a beautifully sunny day in Cape Town, and our last in the city. After a week packed with activities, the Happy Gwailo and I decided to take it easy, so we headed to the Mount Nelson Hotel for high tea.

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Premium rooibos tea

Somewhat misleadingly, high tea is served at 1.30pm at the Mount Nelson, making it more lunch than tea. However, they did have an amazing array of tea available. I kicked off the meal with a lovely pot of rooibos tea – when in South Africa, do as the South Africans do!


Cold savouries

Next, a two-tier platter of savouries was brought to the table – cold on top and warm on the bottom. Of course there were classics like finger sandwiches filled with cucumber, roast beef, smoked salmon and egg salad. But I found the warm savouries to be more interesting. The mushroom empanada was crispy and delicious and the quiche and tart had a hint of Indian spices.


Warm savouries


The star of the show, however, has to be the incredible dessert selection. A giant table laden with every kind of pastry and cake imaginable sits in the middle of the dining room. As I wander around the table, trying to make the impossible choice on which sweet treat to load my plate with, I am serenaded by the pianist behind the baby grand in the corner.


The dessert table at the Mount Nelson


Dessert – first round

I am very restrained at the start, taking only four dainty morsels from the vast selection. The signature “melktert” or milk tart in front turns out to be a custard tart – delicious but not quite as life-changing as they made it sound. I am a little more heavy-handed in my second round, including a giant slab of chocolate cake that proves to be my undoing. The meal is rounded out by scones with all the trimmings.

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The dessert table


The Mount Nelson Hotel from the back

By the time we finish, we are fit to burst and I feel the need to swear off sweets for at least one day. We head out into the grounds to try and walk off some of the sugar. The  hotel is truly impressive in all its pink glory, especially considering that it is more than a hundred years old. To think that Rudyard Kipling and Winston Churchill would have dined in the same room!


Courtyard of the Mount Nelson

So was it one of the best high teas in the world? Most definitely. The selection of teas is amazing and while the savouries are so-so, the range of desserts was mind blowing. The service was excellent as well, and the location and ambience second to none.

This post was inspired by the Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus.

Practical Information

Mount Nelson Hotel

76 Orange Street, Cape Town

South Africa

+27 (0) 21 483 1000


18 comments on “High tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel, Cape Town

  1. Anne N
    June 18, 2017

    I love tea and I’m gonna need to visit Mount Nelson Hotel next time visiting Cape Town. Thanks for sharing!

  2. James
    June 19, 2017

    I am so glad to be eating breakfast soon after reading this. As always, great job Penne. FYI “Penne Cole Serves Exquisite Traveling Dishes”

  3. Blue Flamingo
    June 19, 2017

    That looks quite amazing. Nice photos 🙂

  4. Mabel Kwong
    June 19, 2017

    This does look like a great high tea. Clean and bright ambience, and both warm and cold food. The savouries look quite sizable but pity so-so 😂 Dessert always makes everything better 😊

    • Penne Cole
      June 20, 2017

      Haha I’m more of a dessert person so no matter how amazing the savouries are, I’d probably say the dessert is better :p

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  6. upsidedownralu
    July 15, 2017

    this looks wonderfulicious! What’s the cost for the high tea? and do you have to book in advance?

    • Penne Cole
      July 15, 2017

      The cost is R325 per adult and R185 per child. They have two seatings – 1.30 – 3.30pm, and 3.30 – 5.30pm. They do encourage you to book in advance. You can do so via their website.

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  8. Pooja Thapliyal
    August 10, 2017

    I am already drooling. High tea is my favorite 😍

  9. biltong101
    August 12, 2017

    If you’re into that sort of thing you should also try High Tea at One and Only Hotel next time you’re visiting Cape Town. I found the whole idea of high tea weird and felt totally sugar high after the experience. They have the best Earl Grey with blue flower I’ve drank in my life, though. They also prepared vegetarian options on the spot as nothing veggie was available in the savory section.

    • Penne Cole
      August 13, 2017

      Great, thanks for the tip! Yes, I did feel like I couldn’t eat another dessert in my life after I finished at Mount Nelson. More balance between sweet and savoury required.

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    June 15, 2020

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This entry was posted on June 18, 2017 by in Africa, Food, Restaurant reviews, South Africa, Travel, Weekly Photo Challenge and tagged , , .

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