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The Grand Hotel High Tea in Nuwara Eliya was certainly not on my must do list before arriving in Sri Lanka.
To be honest, I’m not much of a tea person.
But, after a few rainy days in Haputale in Sri Lanka’s cultural center, we were looking for an activity that wasn’t weather-dependent.
So, we decided to give the High Tea at the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya a shot.
It ended up being one of the best things to do in Nuwara Eliya and a good opportunity to taste a selection of Sri Lanka’s finest teas.
In my opinion, enjoying an afternoon at Sri Lanka’s most famous afternoon tea is a must on any Sri Lanka itinerary. But what is it and how much does it cost? Do you need to book?
In this blog, I’ll answer all that and give you the review you need to add it to your Sri Lanka bucket list!
So, what is the Grand Hotel High Tea in Nuwara Eliya?
The High Tea at the Grand Hotel in Nuwara Eliya is a typical British afternoon tea party that happens on the grounds of the hotel. It’s an experience as well as a place to enjoy some good quality Sri Lankan tea and finger foods.
The tea party is on every day between 3:30 pm and 6 pm. Bookings are not essential (but advised during busy season) and anyone from the hotel or outside can join.
There are two tea experiences, one is inside and is served with only tea and food. The other is outside on the manicured lawn and gardens and is served with champagne.
You can book your tea experience on their website here.
What’s included and what does it cost?
I assumed an experience as fancy as this would come with a high price tag, however, considering what’s included and how amazing the experience was, it’s actually very cheap even for a budget traveler like myself.
The high tea included both tea and snacks. For tea, you can pick 3 teas from their menu. The range of tea was huge and they have many classics such as green tea, black tea, and flavored teas.
Each tea you chose comes in a plunger and would serve about 3 cups of tea. So 3 plungers x 3 cups means it includes 9 cups of tea per person! There was two of us so we tried a total of 6 teas – most of which had caffeine so we were buzzing!
For food, we chose the non-vegetarian option and wow, it was delicious! All up it came with 12 (per person) different finger foods from small tandoori wraps and salmon to the classic cream scone. It was all delicious and very well presented.
So what do I consider cheap for all that?
Well, the high tea experience at the Grand Hotel costs 1,500 Rupees or around 8 USD. A bargain if you ask me!
If you would like to upgrade to the champagne tea experience it’s 3,000 rupees.
Our Experience – Grand Hotel High Tea
Our experience at the Grand Hotel High tea was one to remember. We headed to the hotel at around 4 pm and (as it wasn’t busy season) got a table very easily. We were unfortunately not dressed appropriately and felt somewhat out of place!
After sitting down, we had the mammoth task of selecting our tea from the massive and somewhat overwhelming selection. I selected a classic black tea from the area, an almond tea, and fruit tea. All were amazing.
During this time a local musician played at the piano while we sat back and waited for our food with a cup of tea in hand.
After around 15 minutes our food came out on a 3 level tray. The top-level included meats and meat snacks, the second seafood, and the third desserts!
We enjoyed every last bite and tried very hard to savor them across the whole experience timing them with our cups of tea. It didn’t work though – they were too delicious!
We finished all of our tea at around 5:30, paid, and then headed out to the gardens. We were honestly shocked by how nice they were and would really recommend heading to the Grand Hotel just to walk the grounds.
After a brisk walk we left with full bellies and full of energy!
Tips for Visiting
Book a table – In the busy season, it’s best to book a table. Not only can you book the tables closer to the garden, but you’ll also guarantee yourself a spot.
Dress nice – We were dressed like bums and felt out of place. If you enjoy getting dressed up then this is a great place to do it in Sri Lanka.
Allow time – Although it’s just afternoon tea, it is nice to enjoy the experience and allow time to do it. The tea party finishes at 6 pm so try to arrive before 4 pm so you can relax and enjoy the gardens afterward.
Maybe don’t drink all of the tea – We ordered all our tea and drank every last sip. It was a lot of tea, maybe too much, so take it easy!
Nuwara Eliya is a beautiful place to visit in Sri Lanka and the Grand Hotel High Tea is the perfect complement to the city. Both Bailey and I highly recommend it and hope you have a fantastic time like us!
Where to stay in Nuwara Eliya
If you found this blog helpful then booking through the links below is a great way to say thanks. It won’t cost you anything extra but we will make a small commission to keep this blog up and running! Thanks a million!
Hi Lanka Hostel – This hostel is a great budget option for travelers. They are located close to town, have great reviews, and a dorm bed here will only cost $6 a night. They also have private rooms for around $20.
Huddle – This is the best-rated hotel in Nuwara Eliya. Most people say the beds are super comfy, breakfast is amazing, and the staff are very helpful. Their most basic room is around $30, a cheap price considering the reviews!
Grand Hotel – The Grand Hotel isn’t a budget option but if you can afford it you really won’t be disappointed. It’s such a beautiful place and in a really nice location.
If you didn’t find what you’re looking for here then use this link to browse all the properties in Nuwara Eliya.
Getting Around Sri Lanka
To visit all of the best places in Sri Lanka, you’re going to need a mode of transport. You have a few choices when it comes to getting around Sri Lanka:
Rent a Tuk-tuk
Easily the most popular (and most fun) way to travel around Sri Lanka. We actually rented a tuk-tuk on our trip and absolutely loved it! Tuk-tuks are easy to drive, cheap to rent, and the freedom that comes with your own wheels is unmatched.
If you do decide to rent a tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka, be sure to go with a reputable company that provides quality tuk-tuks, such as Tuktuk Rental (who we rented from.) These guys not only offer an amazing service, but their tuk-tuks are actually rented from local families, providing income for the local community.
If you decide to rent from Tuktuk Rental, be sure to use the coupon code ‘DEST‘ for 5% off!
For more info, read our blog: The Truth about Renting a Tuk-tuk in Sri Lanka.
Hire a Driver
If you’re only planning on going to a couple of destinations, then a private driver is not a bad idea. In the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle, your driver can take you to your next destination. All you have to do is sit back and relax!
You can hire highly-rated drivers in advance to pick you up right from the airport when you arrive in Sri Lanka. This driver will take you to your hotel in Mirissa, Galle, Bentota, or Unawatuna. Whereas this driver will take you to Kandy.
Of course, every time you want to change destinations you will have to arrange for another driver (unless you book this driver who will drive you around for an entire week). Car transfer can easily be organized through your hotel.
Take Public Transport
This is a choice I only recommend for those on a very tight budget and with plenty of time. Public transport is everywhere in Sri Lanka in the form of public buses and trains. It is also very cheap, costing less than a couple of dollars per journey.
However, it isn’t the most comfortable way to travel. The buses don’t have air conditioning and neither do many train services. They can also be slow-moving, stopping every couple of minutes to pick up more passengers.
With that said, public transport is popular with budget backpackers, and it is mostly safe. This is one way to travel for those who want to get around as the locals do!
Things to do in Ella, Sri Lanka – Ella was one of our favorite places in Sri Lanka. We were blown away by all the awesome things to do and the stunning scenery!
Lipton Seat Guide – Our guide to visiting Lipton Seat that includes everything you need to know before you go.