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, former 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 east 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. Update: The Palm Court is now open, click here for updated pictures. 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

Afternoon Tea at Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse Interior (image courtesy of The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse)

Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse Interior (image courtesy of The Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse)

One would not normally expect to find a Teahouse from Tajikstan in Colorado, USA, near the world famous ski areas of Aspen and Vail. Yet you will, if you travel to the city of Boulder, about an hour’s drive from Denver International Airport. To celebrate the establishment of sister city ties, the mayor of Dushanbe, Tajikstan (Maksud Ikramov), announced in 1987 that his city would be presenting a Teahouse to Boulder.

Over the next few years, Tajik artisans and master craftsmen produced the decorative elements that adorn the magnificent Boulder Dushanbe Teahouse. These include the hand carved and hand painted ceiling, twelve intricately carved Siberian-cedar columns, and eight exterior ceramic panels, all completed using 2,000 year old techniques and traditions. Lado Shanidze traveled to Boulder to act as chief archtect during the construction. In the center of the teahouse is another gift of seven hammered-copper sculptures displayed in a fountain that commemorates a 12th century poem entitled, “The Seven Beauties.” Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula Hotel, Chicago

The Lobby (image courtesy of Peninsula Hotels)

The Lobby (image courtesy of Peninsula Hotels)

It was 2:45 pm and I had arrived early for the Afternoon Tea Service at The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago. From the moment you walk in, you sense something different, elegant. You get the feeling that if you simply think of a request, someone would appear to fulfill it without any further effort on your part. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at The Drake Hotel, Chicago

Palm Court Fountain (image courtesy of Drake Hotel)

Palm Court Fountain (image courtesy of Drake Hotel)

Outside, it was warm and humid – unusual for an early autumn afternoon in Chicago.  As I arrived at the Drake Hotel and proceeded into the hotel lobby, I couldn’t help but relax after sensing the palpable calm inside.  Leaving the noise of the city behind, the interior of the Drake was a welcome oasis.

As I walked up a short flight of stairs, I could already hear faint harp music drifting through the air. “Afternoon Tea, Sir?”  “Yes,” I said, “Thank you.” I was shown to my table and immediately began to unwind.

The Drake Hotel is located on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile overlooking Lake Michigan and was built in 1920, designed in the Italian Renaissance style. Visitors to Chicago are often advised to take Afternoon Tea at the Drake as one of the not-to-be-missed things to do in the city. Past visitors to the hotel include Winston Churchill, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor, Judy Garland, and Frank Sinatra. Continue reading