High tea at the King David Hotel

The high tea is served from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and there is currently a promotion that offers it to anyone who books a room.

High Tea at the King David Hotel (photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
High Tea at the King David Hotel
(photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
There is a new advertising campaign in Jerusalem proclaiming it “the most abroad there is.” If you are looking for an abroad experience within Jerusalem, in this case one from Britain, look no further than the King David Hotel.
The King David has a new manager, Tamir Kobrin, who was born in Jerusalem but has run hotels around the world. In fact, he ran the front desk at the King David 20 years ago. He is enthusiastic and is overflowing with ideas on how to appeal to the Israeli market. When he invited me to try the hotel’s high tea, I decided it was a perfect way to celebrate my birthday.
I took my favorite daughter with me, and just walking into the lobby of the famed King David, you feel your blood pressure go down. It even smells luxurious. When we arrived, there were several groups sitting outside on the terrace, facing the Old City walls, but it was still warm outside, and we wanted to hear the talented young man playing classical piano.
His name, by the way, is Benjamin Goodman, and he is originally from the UK, and currently doing a doctorate in piano performance. He is immensely talented, and it was simply a pleasure to listen to him. Each day a different young musician plays during the tea.
The high tea is served from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., and there is currently a promotion that offers it to anyone who books a room. Because of the pandemic and lack of tourists, the King David has dropped its prices, which are now between NIS 1,500 and NIS 1,800 per night, including breakfast. You can also come just for the high tea for NIS 120 per person, but you must reserve in advance. There is an option to add a glass of champagne for NIS 10, but as it was the week before Tisha Be’av when it’s traditional not to drink wine, we did not partake.
I’M NOT British, so I can’t really speak to the liquid part of the tea. Each diner receives a pot of tea and a choice of nine teas from a large wooden box, all from Salon de The. The teas come in small cloth bags, and there is a small dish to both cover your cup as it is steeping, and to put your used tea bag on. My one complaint was that while the water was hot, it was not boiling, and cooled rather quickly in the pot. When I asked for more hot water, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a new pot, new cup, and to be offered more tea. Still, hotter water would have made a stronger brew, which I personally prefer.
The food was lovely, and the service even better. As a food critic, I’ve come to realize that good service is as important as good food, and here we had both. Several staff members wished me a Happy Birthday and seemed genuinely happy that I was there.
The tea itself is a three-tiered tray with yummy treats on each level.

High tea at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem (Courtesy)
At the bottom are small crustless sandwiches of smoked salmon, cream cheese and labaneh, and Camembert with onion jam. One of my British friends on Facebook quibbled that they should be cut in triangles, not rectangles, but as a classless American I didn’t care.
The middle level contains small, delicious, bite-size pastries – a fruit tart, lemon meringue pie and a strawberry pie. My hands-down favorite was the lemon meringue.
The top level contains small scones served with little jars of strawberry jam and honey, and with a choice of cream and butter. My favorite combination was strawberry jam and cream. So, so good.
The portions are not huge. They are clearly going for elegance rather than bulk, although I thought there was plenty for a light meal.
There was also a surprise. After we finished a waiter appeared with a trolley offering a small cup of Arab coffee and a plate with three tiny Middle Eastern sweets – baklava, Turkish delight and a third I couldn’t identify.
“We want people to have a real Jerusalem experience,” Kobrin said. “So you have the high tea, but you also have this Jerusalem trolley with traditional sweets.”
It was so pleasant sitting in the lobby that we didn’t want it to end. Suddenly, I looked at my watch and realized two hours had passed. I enjoyed every minute.
King David Hotel
23 King David Street
Tel: (02) 620-8888
Kashrut: Rabbinate
High Tea is served Sunday-Friday, 4-6 p.m. Reservations mandatory.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.