Americans have embraced all things British — from the Royals to Harry Potter to high tea. The latter is a time-honored afternoon tradition that has become somewhat of a weekend ritual in New York City, a time for busy locals and tourists alike to enjoy a civilized cup of tea in some of the most posh settings in town. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a bit of solitude, some gossip with the girls or fun with the family, there’s a tea time especially for you — after all, every lid has its pot. So, give in to the inviting aromas of cinnamon and scones… And remember, pinkies up!
The Gallery at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Carlyle’s traditional high tea, served in The Gallery, is inspired by a sultan’s dining room at Turkey’s Topkapı Palace. The fringed red velvet chairs and roomy banquettes made from antique kilims transport guests to a far off place. If you’re going with kids, be sure and get tickets to Madeline’s Tea. Enjoy delicious pours and kid-friendly treats while you’re delighted by the vocal stylings of Tina de Varon and songs from the Madeline Song Book. Tea in the Gallery is served from 3:00 to 5:30 p.m. daily. Madeline Tea is every Saturday through December 26, 2015 with seatings at 10:30 a.m and 1:00 p.m.
The Palm Court at The Plaza
No establishment is more New York than Four-Star The Plaza, a Fairmont Managed Hotel, and no high tea more iconic than The Palm Court’s. The grand dining room marries the city’s glamour and the feeling of being outside in Central Park while retaining its elegant charm. Adults can nosh on high tea classics like seasonal scones and sandwiches (turkey and cranberry aïoli, roasted chicken salad) served on custom tableware and china. Up the ante with literary-inspired cocktails like the Gatsby Mint Julep and Hemingway Daiquiri from renowned mixologist Brian Van Flandern.
For kids, enjoy a rawther lovely afternoon tea inspired by Eloise, the Plaza’s most famous resident. Children will enjoy treats suited to their tastes: organic peanut butter and jelly tea sandwiches, vanilla iced tea and even Eloise’s famous peppermint cotton candy. No trip to the Plaza is complete without a visit to Eloise’s pinked-out shop, which is filled with one-of-a-kind merchandise. Afternoon tea is served daily from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (last reservation available at 4:45 p.m.). There will be a holiday tea menu through January 3, 2016 as well as an exclusive Christmas and Eloise Christmas tea available December 24 through 27.
Star Lounge at The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park
Stop at Five-Star The Ritz-Carlton New York Central Park for a luxe experience you won’t soon forget. Tea is served in Star Lounge, just off the main lobby. While reclining in the room’s plush chairs and couches, have a civilized celebration with specialty teas and oversized scones fresh out of the oven paired with Devonshire cream and blueberry jam. Then, nibble on a seemingly endless parade of delectable tea sandwiches and whimsical desserts like cream puffs and cakes. Served daily from 2 to 4 p.m. in the Star Lounge. Reservations are required.
Gotham Lounge at The Peninsula New York
Pop into Five-Star The Peninsula New York’s recently renovated Gotham Lounge if you’re looking for a sophisticated, modern ambience reminiscent of a chic townhouse where you can enjoy a refined cup of tea. Service is impeccable and presentation is beautiful — the petit fours and finger sandwiches are tiny works of art. Though the ridiculously cute Polar Express Holiday Tea concluded on December 5, children of all ages can still partake in the goodie-filled Holiday Afternoon Tea every day (Mon-Thurs, 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Fri-Sun, 2 to 3:30 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.) through January 3, 2016.
Alice’s Tea Cup
This Alice in Wonderland-themed spot is guaranteed to enchant anyone with its magical atmosphere. Children and adults can borrow whimsical butterfly wings and sport sparkly glitter to get in the mood for a tea party fit for the Mad Hatter himself. With an enormous tea selection (which can be purchased to take home as well), overstuffed sandwiches, outstanding scones (go for the pumpkin) and even crisp salads all served on a mismatched collection of tea cups, saucers and plates, everyone will enjoy a trip down this rabbit hole. Who says tea can only be enjoyed in the afternoon? Come by for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert but, unless you know the Queen of Hearts personally, expect a wait at each of the three area locations.