Afternoon Tea at The Waldorf Astoria, New York City

Afternoon Tea on The Cocktail Terrace at The Waldorf Astoria (image courtesy of The Waldorf Astoria)

Afternoon Tea on The Cocktail Terrace at The Waldorf Astoria (image courtesy of The Waldorf Astoria)

If there ever was a luxury hotel that embodies New York,  it’s the Waldorf Astoria. Of course it’s a landmark luxury hotel, but it’s steeped in so much history that it’s difficult to talk about New York without mentioning the Waldorf.  From Guy Lombardo’s annual New Year’s celebrations broadcast from the Grand Ballroom to guests including heads of state and Hollywood royalty too numerous to mention, the hotel has a long and storied past.

Historically, The Waldorf is responsible for transforming the role of major urban hotels into establishments that do more than just provide temporary accommodations to travelers. These grand urban hotels were to become social centers in cities and prestigious destinations for visitors.  The Waldorf was also at the forefront of advancing the status of women by being one of the earliest to admit women singly, without escorts. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at The Pierre, New York City

Afternoon Tea is served in The Pierre's 2E Lounge

Afternoon Tea is served in The Pierre's 2E Lounge

Ah, The Pierre, a luxury hotel in New York City and one time home to actress Elizabeth Taylor, Harrods owner Mohamed al-Fayed, and the French designer Yves Saint-Laurent.  Charles Pierre, an immigrant from Corsica, began in the restaurant business in New York and over the years established social ties with some of Wall Street’s largest financiers. In 1930, they joined together to form a venture to build The Pierre, a 42 story hotel on Fifth Avenue and 61st Street, in Manhattan. The Great Depression doomed the prospects for this and many other hotels, and it was forced into bankruptcy in 1932.  J Paul Getty then purchased the building in 1938 and converted some of the hotel’s rooms into cooperative apartments. As of 2005, The Pierre is a Taj Hotel, a global chain of fine luxury hotels and resorts.  Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at The Plaza Hotel, New York City

The Plaza Hotel Entrance (image courtesy of The Plaza Hotel)

The Plaza Hotel Entrance (image courtesy of The Plaza Hotel)

The Plaza Hotel in New York City is a landmark and a Beaux-arts masterpiece, built in 1907 and occupying a prime piece of New York City real estate near the fabled corner of Fifth Avenue and Central Park South. While it normally offers a superb and elegant afternoon tea in its dramatic Palm Court with stained glass ceiling, that room is temporarily closed for refurbishment. Afternoon Tea is now being offered in The Champagne Bar, but it is not the “featured” event that one would expect to find in the Palm Court.

That being said, I still couldn’t resist visiting this grande dame of all New York hotels to sample their afternoon tea service . On the Champagne Room’s menu are caviar, oysters, cocktails, light food, afternoon tea and, of course, champagne. It is an elegant two-story space that is carved out of the Hotel’s main lobby area and has Fifth Avenue views overlooking the Pulitzer Fountain.  Seating options are varied and include free standing tables and chairs, sofas, and high-backed upholstered chairs arranged two by two near the windows. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at St. Regis Hotel, New York City

Afternoon Tea at Astor Court (image courtesy of St. Regis Hotels)

Afternoon Tea at Astor Court (image courtesy of St. Regis Hotels)

It was a beautiful, sunny day in New York City so I decided to walk to the St. Regis Hotel’s afternoon tea from Grand Central Station.  As I made my way up Madison Avenue to 55th Street, I couldn’t help thinking about a television series that’s popular in the U.S. right now.  In case you’re unfamiliar, Madison Avenue is the iconic street that is home to New York’s storied advertising agencies, and it’s also the inspiration for the critically acclaimed television series, Mad Men, broadcast in the United States on the AMC Network.

By way of background, the St. Regis Hotel in New York City was built by John Jacob Astor in 1904, the same Astor who was to later give up his seat  on an RMS Titanic lifeboat to his young wife and die tragically in the 1912 sinking. Afternoon Tea today is served in the Astor Court of the hotel. Continue reading