Best afternoon tea on the Gold Coast

High Coffee, The Fireplace, InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort

Words and photos: Monica Tindall

Forget afternoon “tea”… in Australia we have a LOVE for coffee and the team at the InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort has recognized this passion with their recent introduction of High Coffee!

The Fireplace, the resort’s elegant dining restaurant, is the location for the affair. Stone floors, white clothed tables and French glass windows overlooking landscaped gardens and water features provide the setting.

High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove
The Fireplace

The usual scones, sandwiches and sweet treats are in plentiful proportions, but chefs have made a concerted effort to ensure each nibble is a fitting partner to coffee based concoctions. Barista coffee is not only the highlighted partner to the treats, but is discerned in a subtle thread throughout the food – seen in cream infusions and whispers of flavour in a number of items.

High Coffee is served in progressive courses, beginning with sandwiches and a warm savoury, followed by a palate cleanser, and lastly a tiered presentation of sweets and scones. I’m here with my sister, teen niece and young nephew, so I’m curious to see their reaction to the twist on the classic.

Afternoon Sandwiches

Afternoon Sandwiches commence the line up with a trio of flavours: beetroot cured salmon with cream cheese and caper spread, baby cos and Spanish onion on charcoal slices; smoked beef strip loin with Witches Chase triple (!) cream brie, gherkin and red onion and apple relish between slices of white bread; and applewood smoked chicken, fruit, chutney and baby spinach on multi-grain bread. Our hands down favourite is the salmon – and for all four of us to agree is a grand achievement.

Sandwiches and Meat Pie
Sandwiches and Meat Pie

Warm Savouries

The hot dish accompanying the sandwiches is an iconic Australian pastry – beef pie with caramelized onion and mushy peas. The pastry is just thick enough to ensure the moist meat doesn’t leak through, and the chef has been generous with his filling. My sister and I both think this is a well-executed rendition of an Aussie classic, while the two kids have eyed the sweet tray and claim they are “saving themselves.”

Palate Cleanser

A smooth mango sorbet cleanses the palate between courses and is good enough to make me wonder if it can be ordered as a poolside treat.

High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove
Palate Cleanser

A three-tiered platter is delivered next holding scones and sweets.

Warm Afternoon Sweets

Smoked pumpkin scones and plain scones base the tray wrapped in a cloth napkin to hold in their warmth. They’re chaperoned with coffee scented Chantilly cream and Cutaway Creek berry jam. The smokiness through the scones is subtle and reminds me of the same made by dad in the camp oven. To savour the taste we choose to just top them with cream alone, and save the jam for the plain scones. Thumbs up from all.

High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove


Pretty bite sized sweets weigh in the middle layer: seasonal mini fruit tartlets;

Oreo chocolate bites; Earl Grey macarons with chocolate-coffee curd; and espresso lamingtons. While my teen niece Laura is over the moon with the dense rich chocolate cube, the lamingtons with a light fluffy middle and moist outer crust rolled in dessicated coconut turn out to be another hit for both my sister and myself.

High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove
High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove
Fruit Tart
High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove
Espresso Lamington

High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove

The Fireplace signature éclairs with coffee-custard crown the tower and are beautiful not only to eat, but also to behold. A long strip of white chocolate has been elegantly printed with a musical score that crosses the top, and the sides bulge with the scrumptious filling.  I ask if the notes form a specific tune and our friendly waitress says yes, but is unable to get a hold of the pastry chef to reveal the song. We giggle that he probably just makes it up depending on how he’s feeling on the day.

High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove


The High Coffee comes with your choice of barista espresso based coffees or a Chemex slow brew using single origin beans. For a little extra you can upgrade with an Espresso Martini, which is superbly made (I hint that these should be available at breakfast), or a glass of bubbly. We choose both, and regret neither option.

High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove
Espresso Martini
High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove
Chemex Coffee
High Coffee, The Fireplace, Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove

High Coffee is available from 12:30pm Saturday and Sunday at a price of $35 per person. Upgrade with an Espresso Martini with an additional $10 and an extra pot of Chemex coffee is priced at $10 and serves two.

Reasons to visit: pretty setting; unique coffee experience; definitely upgrade to the Espresso Martini; reasonably priced in comparison to other luxury hotels on the Gold Coast.

The Fireplace
InterContinental Sanctuary Cove Resort
Manor Circle, Sanctuary Cove
QLD, 4212, Australia
+61 7 5530 1234
1800 781 066

(Visited 101 times, 1 visits today)


  1. I’m a coffee person, count me in!

  2. I quite liked this hotel on the Gold Coast – away from the
    maddening crowds somewhat.
    I MUCH prefer the Sunshine Coast beaches and accommodation
    which runs at a slower and SAFER rate.
    El Colin Cordobes
    PS: I hope El Canning is cheering for Juan Martin del Potro at the
    US Open? The most boisterous and ill-informed spectators at
    any of the Grand Slams.

    • Monica Tindall

      I think the charm in this resort is that it’s removed from the crowds, but still accessible to all of the sights. I do have to take you up on your tips one day soon to explore the Sunshine Coast. Oh yes, El Potro has been ringing in my ears from the play by play recounts from El Caning. 😉

  3. Oh wow, after tea snacks certainly caught my attention, dear! xoxo

  4. What a fabulous sister get-together :). As you know I’m not a huge coffee fan, but I ADORE afternoon tea. Yes, I wouldn’t mind sitting in this lovely place and devour all those tasty little things 🙂

    • Monica Tindall

      I’ll have your coffee, and they can serve you tea – I bet you’d share a glass of bubbly with me though. 😉

  5. All look so inviting. I want to try a bit of everything with coffee!

  6. Although I prefer coffee to tea, I must say that this is something I would definitely enjoy trying! And the sandwiches and other goodies look fabulous! The place looks elegant and warm.

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