The art of afternoon tea is not lost on Budapest. At major hotels, this can stretch from a refreshing daytime drink to a near banquet with smoked trout, sturgeon and cured mangalica ham coming into play. Cakes and pastries take center stage, though, with delicacies such as passion fruit marzipan, caramelized white-chocolate panna cotta and apricot macaroons delicately presented on various platters across town. Classic Hungarian confectioneries – Eszterházy and Dobos cakes – can also be sampled. As for the teas themselves, there’s Lapsang Souchong, Darjeeling and Himalayan Orange, to name but three.
Tea ceremonies originated in Asia thousands of years ago, so to enjoy an upscale afternoon-tea experience with authentic Oriental flavor here in Hungary, look no further than Budapest’s five-star Buddha-Bar Hotel, housed within downtown’s historic Klotild Palace at the juncture of Ferenciek Square and Váci Street. Here tea ceremonies are available every afternoon between 3pm and 6pm in the sumptuous lounge, decorated with a gigantic golden Buddha statue. Along with devouring a delicious variety of sweet and savory bites prepared with Asian culinary influences, visitors can sip top-quality cupfuls of specialty decoctions ranging from oolong to rooibos to health-boosting Japanese green teas.
Price: 5,800 HUF + 12% service charge
Nestled amid the Buda Hills, Émile is a casually elegant family-friendly eatery housed within a stylishly renovated villa, and every day between 3pm and 6pm guests can enjoy a delightful afternoon tea service amid a colorfully sophisticated setting while their kids frolic downstairs in the large playroom. Savory delicacies include several types of tramezzini Italian-style finger sandwiches, while sweet bites like macarons and fruit mousse provide plenty of temptation for daytime indulgence – and for those who like the tea-ceremony format but would prefer a stronger beverage, guests can choose to forgo the tea selection and instead enjoy a glass of Hungary’s own Sauska extra brut rosé sparkling wine.
Price: 3,950 HUF
Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace
The Herend Afternoon Tea at the sumptuous Gresham Palace is unsurprisingly luxurious. A choice of a half-a-dozen sandwich bites – smoked trout & sturgeon, beef salami spread – is accompanied by braised mustard seeds and red radish, with cranberry scones and apple strudel beckoning on a separate tray. To follow, you’ll find hazelnut praliné sponge, Linzer cookies and passion fruit marzipan. White tea, Asian Green tea, fruit and herbal varieties number among the loose-leaf brews available, exotic options including lemon verbena, mountain berry and sencha fukujyu from Japan. A glass of Sauska brut blanc is extra but suits the mood provided by a live pianist most afternoons. Reservations are recommended.
Price: 5,800 HUF + 12.5% service charge
At the InterContinental on the banks of the Danube, Afternoon Tea Moments take place between 3pm and 5pm every day at the Corso Bar. Here, along with the unbeatable views from the terrace, the tea choice is key. Fresh ginger, vanilla rooibos, golden Assam, rosehip and Yunnan black mao feng all feature among the 20-plus loose-leaf varieties. Finger sandwiches include goose-liver and smoked-salmon, with a home-made touch to the jam filling the brioche. Cheesecake, chocolate tart and Eszterházy cake provide a sweet ending to proceedings, a more bubbly one available to those who lay out an extra 1,000 forints for the glass of Sauska sparkling rosé.
Price: 5,900 HUF + 10% service charge
With a glass of sparkling Sauska rosé wine: 6,900 HUF + 10% service charge
Kempinski Hotel Corvinus Budapest
At the Kempinski, the reasonably priced afternoon tea in the Living Room bar runs as late as 9pm, meaning that it can be a post-work treat as well as a midday one. Finger sandwiches are carefully arranged onto a three-tier stand, cured mangalica ham with chive butter the one that carnivores will be reaching for. The cakes to follow include apple & curd strudel with vanilla sauce, and Sacher torte from Vienna. For that extra fizz, the pricier afternoon tea comes with a glass of sparkling Sauska.
Price: 4,900 HUF + 12% service charge
With a glass of sparkling Sauska rosé wine 6,900 HUF
New York Café
Calling itself, with some justification, ‘The Most Beautiful Café In The World’, the New York today spreads ornately from the lobby of the Boscolo Budapest hotel. Here legend and architectural splendor meet, this gilded coffee palace dating back to 1894, a main meeting place for Budapest’s writers and leading film people in the early years of the 20th century. With this heritage in mind, the establishment can set the bar high where prices are concerned, its New York Afternoon tea for two running at 18,000 forints plus 15% service, passing the Ft20,000 mark in total. For this you can help yourselves to finger sandwiches, scones and cakes, washed down with tea and fresh orange juice. To push the boat out, treat yourselves to a glass of rosé prosecco each.
Price: 18,000 HUF/two persons + 15% service charge
With two glasses of New York rosé prosecco: 21,000 HUF + 15% service charge
Beneath the namesake stained-glass cupola and a sparkling crystal chandelier, the Kupola Lounge hosts afternoon teas at The Ritz-Carlton between noon and 5pm every day. Here the cake selection claims prominence, ranging from a Hungarian poppy-seed macaron to lemon merengue tart. A current co-promotion with Budapest cosmetics firm Omorovicza provides the welcome surprise of a delicately created individual chocolate cake, its filling inspired by the rejuvenating night cream in the Omorovicza range. Customers are then treated to a 20% discount on Omorovicza products. Teas are provided by Zhao Zhou, sourced from the subtropical forests of the Sino-Burmese border, China’s eastern coastline and the slopes of the Himalayas.
Price: 4,900 HUF + service charge