Afternoon tea is a great way to experience some of Chiang Maiís luxury hotels without actually staying there. Sit adjacent to rice paddies or dine by the river; four of Chiang Maiís most beautiful hotels are waiting to enchant your tastebuds.
Scattered amidst 32 acres of rice fields, jungle, pools and lakes, the Four Seasons Chiang Mai provides a breathtaking setting for afternoon tea. Pulling up our chairs on an outdoor terrace with a view over the rice paddies we readied ourselves for one of the best afternoon teas weíve had anywhere.
Four different coffees were on offer, both hot and iced along with four teas representing the seasons. The Ďspringí brew of High Mountain Green Tea was particularly refreshing.
The savouries started very well with vegetarian and non-vegetarian delights such as spicy chicken puff, skewered giant prawns, fluffy tofu sticks and mushroom-stuffed pastries. Clearly, all were made of the highest quality ingredients and all were delicious.
Up next, small tasty chocolate or plain scones, accompanied by homemade strawberry jam and clotted cream.
Finally, the grand finale, as extra tea and coffee arrived: the deserts. Accompanying the best macarons in town, were some delicate slabs of mango sticky rice, cooked to perfection with just the right amount of coconut milk. Keeping it traditional, there was also a Thai desert with coconut milk and jelly.
Itís well worth the trip out of town to enjoy a wonderful afternoon tea at this beautiful resort.
The setting is as just about as important as the food for an afternoon tea so 137 Pillars House scores highly before a crumb has passed our lips. Sitting in the tropical garden courtyard, close to a beautiful pool and under the shade of a giant banyan tree, we felt like special guests in a friendís very impressive home.† Indeed the centre piece of the hotel, the historic teak house with 137 pillars was, at one time, a private home and the hotel retains a rare sense of intimacy.
Our food arrived with a flourish: two stylish, tiered cake stands and small platters hosting, amongst other delights, deep fried ice cream which we tucked into before it had the chance to melt in the afternoon heat. The savouries were a mix of smoked salmon croissant, delicious and more-ish, vegetable spring rolls with sweet chilli sauce, and sandwiches.
Mango and strawberry spreads bursting with flavour accompanied the small scones before it was time to delve into the generous supply of cakes. The strawberry macarons were a favourite, especially the wonderfully thick and gooey filling.
Thais love everything green tea flavoured from Kit Kat bars to ice cream, and if itís possible to green tea it, theyíve tried it and weíve generally hated it. Hats off, then, to the chef at 137 Pillars House whose so-light-they-almost-float green tea cakes were very tasty Ė but still eclipsed by the mouth-watering strawberry cake.
A wonderful way to pass a relaxed afternoon in the heart of the city.
Visiting for afternoon tea is a good way to get a sneak peek at this unique hotel which is guaranteed to be unlike any other that youíve ever seen. The hotel is styled as an ancient Lanna kingdom, complete with Burmese, Thai and traditional Lanna buildings spread over a huge area and coming complete with its own rice fields and a Buddhist temple. The main buildings are off-limits to non-guests but you can walk part of the way into the complex and get some good photos before starting your afternoon tea.
The Cake Shop is a Victorian-style tea room just inside the perimeter wall of the hotel grounds and next to the glass-walled bakery, allowing you to watch the staff hard at work producing Dhara Dheviís famous macarons.
Afternoon tea comes with an array of savouries, delicious for meat-eaters, especially the spicy local sausage, wrapped in flaky pastry for a uniquely Chiang Mai sausage roll.
There is an interesting variety of cakes, including fairy cakes bulging with dried fruit, rose and blueberry macarons, raspberry and choux cream tart, and light brownies topped with sugared pistachios. To finish off we tried some utterly delicious coconut ice cream, served in a smooth wooden bowl and topped with a crumbly cookie.
Afternoon tea here is a delicious way to experience Dhara Dhevi if youíre not lucky enough to be a guest.
Anantara Chiang Mai, despite its central location, is an oasis on the banks of the River Ping. Their busy afternoon tea retains a relaxed atmosphere with tables spread around the courtyard and guests lulled by tunes from the live musical quartet. Teas as exotic-sounding as India Irish Malt or Slovenia Pure Chamomile and several different coffees vie for your attention alongside healthy, fruit-laden smoothies.
The cake stand arrived and looked so good I was sure there must be a law against eating anything on it. Undeterred by possible incarceration, we dived in. The mostly meat savouries – including ham quiche, chicken puff and a smoked salmon cracker – got a big thumbs up. The special treats, however, were the scones and cakes. The scones were, unusually, slightly crispy which was something that worked incredibly well. Tiny fruit tarts, mango custard pudding and rich, chocolate brownie with a white chocolate decoration provided the highlights of the sweet selection.
If the idea of gentle live music and people-watching appeals to you, this afternoon tea will hit the right note.
Candice Bain is Founder at†Desert to Jungle.