[Update: January 7, 2018.]
It may surprise some that you can actually enjoy civilized pursuits in “Sin City”. If you’re an art lover, you can find some amazing works of art in restaurants, hotels and public spaces around town–not to mention the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. Music lovers may be able to catch a symphony performance at the Smith Performing Arts Center. And tea lovers can always indulge in an afternoon tea.
What’s that, you say? Afternoon tea, that most civilized of activities handed down from our British forefathers? Why yes. There are a few places in Las Vegas where you can relax over a hot “cuppa,” little finger sandwiches and small, delectable pastries during the middle part of the day when you’re feeling a bit peckish between lunch and dinner.
Here are four locations for afternoon tea that are easily accessible to Las Vegas visitors:
The Tea Lounge, Mandarin Oriental
The Tea Lounge on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental is an experience everyone who enjoys tea (and amazing views) should have at least once in their Vegas-visiting lifetime. There are three seatings per day. You can order a traditional tea for $45, add on enhancements (such as champagne), or just order a tea and snack off the menu. (The latter is a great choice for those of us who have light appetites.) You must make reservations at least 24 hours in advance. They’re happy to accommodate vegans and those who require gluten-free offerings, but you need to let them know that when you make your reservation, too. You can see a PDF of their afternoon tea menu at their website.
I didn’t experience the full traditional tea here, because I wound up being sick that day (what else is new?) and didn’t think I could eat that much food, but I did have the most wonderful experience anyway. You can read about it here (review from 2014).
The Petrossian Bar, Bellagio
The Petrossian’s Afternoon Tea service is offered from 1pm-4pm daily. Enjoy a selection of open-faced sandwiches, English tea sandwiches, fresh scones with clotted cream and preserves, and various miniature pastries, along with a variety of teas, of course. I would recommend eating a very light breakfast and going to this tea with a hearty appetite. It’s quite a lot of food.
The location isn’t what I would call “tranquil,” as it’s in a high-traffic area next to the lobby and the casino (and the accompanying noise and cigarette smoke from the casino). But the tea is very good. The bar provides a classy setting, and if you’d like to do a spot of people-watching while you indulge, this is the tea for you. Click on the link for my 2013 review of the Petrossian’s Afternoon Tea.
Reservations are required at least 24 hours in advance. When I originally wrote this article in 2012, the cost was $35 per person, and an additional $2 if you chose the Jasmine Tea. You could add in sparkling wine for another $13. The website doesn’t list the current price, but count on it having gone up by a few dollars.
The Veranda, Four Seasons (Mandalay Bay)
The Veranda is an Italian restaurant located on the lobby level of the Four Seasons in Mandalay Bay. Afternoon tea at the Veranda is served Monday-Friday from 3pm-4pm, making it a bit more restrictive, time-wise. Reservations must be made at least 24 hours in advance. This tea offers seasonal menus. The current menu shows sandwich options including smoked salmon on pumpernickel and chicken apple salad on sesame cone, traditional scones with devonshire cream, pastry selections including Milk Chocolate and Candied Orange Velvet Cake (God, that sounds good) and almond and pear tart). When I originally wrote this article back in 2012, the cost per person was $30, or $38 if you wanted champagne or a martini with it. The website no longer lists a price, and it’s probably gone up over time, so be sure to call to inquire.
Ri Ra Irish Pub
My favorite Irish Pub in Las Vegas, Ri Ra, offers three different tea services between 11am and 5pm. (Reservations necessary.) Unfortunately for us solos, there is a 2 person minimum for two of these experiences, so unless you can convince a new friend (or stranger) to join you, your tea experience here is going to look very different from that of couples and groups.
The Dunbrody Afternoon Tea costs $24 per person (2 person minimum) and has 4 tea sandwich selections, including one made with Irish Cheddar and Ballymaloe Relish (a tomato relish), scones with Irish preserves (I am very curious about what in particular makes these preserves “Irish”), and various desserts (“cakes & fancies”) in addition to your tea choice.
The Macnean Afternoon Tea costs $35 per person (2 person minimum). The main difference between this one and Dunbrody seems to be a classier selection of tea sandwiches. The tea selection at Ri Ra is fairly limited, but with decent variety, so you should be able to find something that appeals to your palate. You can also pay extra to have champagne added (the “Champagne Tea” option).
The only Tea that doesn’t require a two-person minimum is known as the Cream Tea, which is essentially $8 for your tea of choice plus a scone with cream and Irish preserve. No fancy tea sandwiches for solos, apparently.
To be honest, as much as I love Ri Ra for all other meals and libations, it wouldn’t be my first choice for Afternoon Tea (or even my second choice). But if you’re staying on the South Strip and looking for an Irish spin on the classic afternoon tea experience, it’s there.