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Aug 4, 2005 01:30 PM

Which Hotels serve the best high tea in San Francisco?

  • h

I am planning to take my wife to a high tea session since she has never been to one.

Are there any recommendations?


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    Robert Lauriston

    The Garden Court of the Palace Hotel.


    4 Replies
    1. re: Robert Lauriston

      i was about to suggest garden court.

      definately seconded. and i'm from england so what i say, goes.

      kidding, kidding.

      1. re: violet

        My vote for Garden Court in Palace Hotel too!!!

        1. re: MargotB
          ChowFun (derek)

          The Garden Court is a National Landmark and considered by many to be the most beautiful room in San Francisco....created after the '06 quake it is a Post-Victorian (Edwardian) fantasy...High arches, stained glass ceiling, with potted palms and live is definitely a place to go if you've never experienced it!

    2. Not in a hotel, but high tea in the Neiman Marcus Rotunda in Union Square is quite good. The stained glass roof and tables by the windows over looking Union Square are favorites.

      1 Reply
      1. re: caliston

        The atmosphere is good at Neimans but the actual tea isn't my favorite. Ritz Carlton does a far superior tea.

      2. I've done tea at The Ritz and The Palace...they're comparable, but the Ritz is a bit more cozy and the people watching is fantastic.

        1. Here's my resource list of all the hotels that serve English style tea. I would NOT recommend the Ritz - its the most expensive, least amount of food, and poor service.

          High Tea v. Afternoon Tea - At the hotels,I think only the Windsor Tea room comes even close to serving high tea. If you want high tea, you need to go to Lovejoy's in Noe Valley. If you want afternoon tea, any of the hotels would be fine.

          BEST - "best" is very subjective so the afternoon tea I prefer may not be the ones that you prefer. While I judge an afternoon tea experience on many factors, the two most important are the quality of tea service and the scones. I like places that I can order additional scones or substitute the other crap for more scones. I like places that have timers so my tea doesn't over-steep. I like places that don't just advertize bottom-less pots of tea but back it up with SERVICE. Many places will curb a patron's consumption by disappearing (like the Ritz-for $41 are they really losing money if I have 3 pots of tea?!). I guess, you'll just have to go to them all and let us know which one you think is the best! ;-)

          I like the small scones at the Stanford. I like the comfy atmosphere of the Windsor. The Rotunda is a little too ladies-who-lunch but their food is nice. Laurel Court had lovely tea service last time I was there. The Garden Court is sooo "historic San Francisco" its just a marvelous place to dawdle.

          Ritz Carlton
          600 Stockton St (@ California)(415) 296-7465
          Mon – Thurs 3:30 – 4:30 pm, Fri 2:30 – 4:30 pm, Sat – Sun 1 – 4:30pm
          Tea services ranging from: $29 - $41
          One of the most luxurious teas in San Francisco, and its Lobby Lounge. Famous for their children's Teddy Bear Christmas Tea. The Traditional Tea ($29) arrives on a tiered carousel with tea sandwiches, a scone with Devonshire Cream, lemon curd, and preserves, English Tea cakes, a fresh fruit tartlet, a Madeleine, a Florentine, and shortbread. Add a champagne cocktail, to the Traditional Tea for the Premier Tea ($34), or add champagne, chocolate, and strawberries for the Royal Tea ($41). A vegetarian option is also available.

          Garden Court (Sheraton Palace Hotel)
          2 New Montgomery St. (415) 392-8600
          Tues - Sat 2 - 4 pm

          Tea services ranging from $22 - $85
          Beautiful dining room in San Francisco with gilded marble columns, a leaded glass-dome ceiling, crystal chandeliers, and gold leaf sconces. A harpist provides soothing background music at tea time. The Garden Court Tea ($28) includes scones with thick cream, marmalade, honey and lemon curd, an assortment of pastries and fruit tarts, and tea sandwiches. For only $4 more, you can upgrade your tea with a glass of sparkling wine, or for $11 make it a glass of champagne. A party of two can order the Exclusive Tea for Two ($85), which includes the equivalent of two full tea services with a half-bottle of Pommery champagne instead of two glasses. Has children's Prince and Princess Tea ($22) option.

          Windsor Tea Room (The King George Hotel
          )334 Mason Street (@ Geary) (415) 781-5050
          Sat - Sun 2 – 5 pm

          Tea services ranging from $8.50 - $18.00
          Very British experience with a portrait of Queen Elizabeth peering down from the wall. Their most elaborate tea service, the King George’s tea ($18.00), includes a bottomless pot of tea, a scone with preserves and Double Devon Cream, a refreshing mixed green salad and a selection of two tea sandwiches. The tea concludes with a choice of tea cookies or a fresh fruit tart. For a service that more closely approximates an English High Tea, there's the Cheese and Fresh Fruit Platter ($8.25).

          The Rotunda (Neiman-Marcus)
          150 Stockton Street (415) 362-4777
          Daily 2:30 - 5 pm
          Tea services ranging from $18.50 - $29.00
          The Rotunda is a circular restaurant under the NM glass dome and is a gorgeous setting. Full Tea ($18.50) includes a selection of finger sandwiches, flaky scones, petite cookies, tarts, and other house-made sweets. Add a glass of champagne for an additional $10.50. If you want one of the coveted booths overlooking the lower shopping levels and Union Square, call ahead for a reservation.

          Laurel Court (The Fairmont)
          950 Mason (@ California) (415) 772-5260
          Mon - Sun 2:30 - 4:30 pm
          Tea services ranging from $32.00 - $57.00 for adults, $25.00 for children
          Laurel Court restaurant in the lobby the Fairmont. The standard tea ($32 adults/$25 children), starts with homemade scones served with lemon curd, Devonshire Cream and Sonoma preserves. This is followed by an array of finger sandwiches, a selection of French pastries, and a glass of Champagne. For an additional $25, you can also upgrade your tea with caviar and a higher quality Champagne. An á la carte menu offers all the components of the complete tea service plus seasonal berries with Devonshire Cream and a selection of English tea biscuits. Sparkling wine, port, and sherry can also be ordered by the glass.

          Renaissance Stanford Court Hotel
          905 California St. (@ Powell) (415) 989-3500
          Daily 2:30 - 5 pm in the Lobby Lounge
          Tea service: $25.00 - $35.00
          Reservations required at least 24 hours in advance.
          The High Tea ($25.00) at the Stanford Court includes finger sandwiches, miniature scones with lemon curd, Devonshire Cream, and preserves, petit fours, a fruit tartlets, and assorted tea cookies. For an additional $10 you can add a glass of Mumm Cuvée champagne.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Pssst
            Joan Kureczka

            The food included in the tea setting at the Stanford Court was very good, but the service was pretty poor -- we had to wait forever for the food to arrive (long after we finished the first pot of tea). So I would not recommend it for that reason.

            1. re: Pssst

              Wonderful writeup. I've bookmarked it.

              Glad to hear the King George is still serving tea. I enjoyed it very much when I had tea there long ago ... decades ago. I don't get in that neighborhood at that time often.

            2. Thank you everyone for the great recommendations.

              2 Replies
              1. re: HJ
                Joan Kureczka

                Just a comment on "high tea" versus "afternoon tea" or even "cream tea".

                One might think "high tea" the classy version, but it isn't. It's just a light supper and was the middleclass Victorian term.

                So the classy version is "afternoon tea" or if particularly featuring scones and clotted cream, a "cream tea."

                1. re: Joan Kureczka

                  cream tea?! in the states? really?

                  i hadn't heard of that..... at least not a proper one. that would really be something for me to see.