Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s London (in Pictures)

Ah, Claridge’s in London for afternoon tea – this is the epitome of “old school” British elegance, sophistication and style. Claridge’s has been in operation at this location since 1812, and I don’t think that I’d be going out on a limb in saying that afternoon tea at Claridge’s is an institution in and of itself.

The main entrance to the hotel is on Brook Street, in London’s Mayfair district …

Claridges Hotel Entrance in London Mayfair on Brook St

Claridges Hotel Entrance

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Afternoon Tea at Amstel Hotel Amsterdam (in Pictures)

You may or may not have an opportunity to visit the Amstel Hotel in The Netherlands for afternoon tea, but since I have, I will be more than happy to take you on a pictorial tour – just scroll down.  You’ll feel like you were there! The Intercontinental Amstel hotel  is located on the banks of the river Amstel in Amsterdam, and is probably the premier hotel in all of the Netherlands.

Intercontinental Amstel Hotel Exteior Amsterdam Netherlands

Intercontinental Amstel Hotel

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Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago (in Pictures)

The Four Seasons Chicago is a luxury hotel located in the midst of Chicago’s upscale shopping district known as the Magnificent Mile at 900 North Michigan. Afternoon Tea is now offered only seasonally in November and December. So I would highly recommend contacting the hotel to confirm dates and times.

The images here are from my earlier visit to the Four Seasons.  Since then, menu items have almost certainly changed, but I’m sure you’ll be able to get a feel for their afternoon tea experience nonetheless.

Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago Exterior Scene

Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago (image courtesy of Four Seasons Hotel)

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Afternoon Tea at The Peninsula Hotel Chicago (in Pictures)

There’s just no other way to say it, Peninsula Hotels just do it better.  I remember reading stories about the ultimate afternoon tea experience at The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong.  This is one of the most highly rated hotels in the world, if not the highest. And afternoon tea there was spoken about in hushed and reverent tones.

While I still haven’t made it to Hong Kong, I did manage to visit The Peninsula in Shanghai, which you can read about by clicking here.

The Peninsula Hotel in Chicago is, of course, no exception. Beyond the impressive hotel property itself,  I believe it’s the staff that helps make this hotel distinctive.  It’s old school, it’s gracious and it’s rare.

Read on for a picture tour of the Peninsula Chicago and the afternoon tea they serve in the 5th floor Lobby Lounge.

Let’s begin with the street level entrance to the hotel on East Superior Street, just steps away from Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, arguably the finest shopping neighborhood in the city.

Front entrance Peninsula Hotel Chicago on E Superior St

Entrance to Peninsula Hotel Chicago

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Afternoon Tea at The Pierre, New York (in Pictures)

There are many luxury hotels in Manhattan, but The Pierre stands out as a beacon of old-world charm and modern-day luxury.  Opened in 1930 by Charles Pierre, it fell upon economic hard times during the Great Depression and was sold to J. Paul Getty in 1932.  Four Seasons Hotels took over management in 1981, but – as of 2005 – it is now owned and operated by the Taj Hotels and Resorts Group.

Entrance to The Pierre Hotel New York City

Entrance to The Pierre Hotel (image CC-BY-SA-3.0)

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Afternoon Tea at The Plaza Hotel New York (in Pictures)

The Plaza Hotel, one of only two New York City hotels to be awarded landmark status, is located in one of the most exclusive areas of Manhattan at 59th Street and Central Park. The hotel has hosted many well known celebrities including Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor, the Beatles, Mark Twain and also appears in a scene from The Great Gatsby.

The Palm Court …

Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel in New York for Afternoon Tea

Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel in New York for Afternoon Tea

After a recently completed multi-million dollar renovation, afternoon tea is again served in the large and airy Palm Court with its mirrored walls, marble columns and dramatic leaded glass lay light overhead allowing natural light into the room. If you’re interested in an elegant venue for afternoon tea in New York City, you’d be hard pressed to find anything more classic or stylish than the Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel.

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Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons Hotel, Shanghai, China

Four Seasons Hotel Lobby ©Four Seasons Hotels

It was Saturday afternoon in Shanghai and outside it was cold and stormy, but inside it was warm, peaceful and serene in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel.  As I entered the hotel, I could hear live background music in the distance and, as I approached the Lobby Lounge, a trio of young Chinese musicians (piano, violin and cello) was playing, “See the Pyramids Along the Nile/You Belong to Me, amid cushy chairs surrounded by faux palm trees.  It was quite a contrast as you could see the wind blowing and the rain falling just outside through the large glass windows.

The Four Seasons Hotel, Shanghai is a 37 story high rise building located in fashionable west Shanghai, just off Nanjing Road,  near many of the city’s major attractions and close to the Metro (subway) that I relied upon heavily during my trip. Since this is a city of 20,000,000, traffic can be an issue, but the Metro will express you to just about anywhere in the city in no time flat. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at JC Mandarin Hotel, Shanghai

JC Mandarin Hotel, Shanghai ©

The weather in Shanghai had been mild during my stay, a fortunate turn of events for a trip in the middle of February. However, today, as I walked to the JC Mandarin from my hotel, things began to deteriorate quickly.  The outside temperature nose dived, the wind began to howl, and some dark and threatening clouds pelted me with rain as I slogged my way over for afternoon tea.

Ironically, and despite the weather, everyone was outdoors on this Saturday afternoon, and the city of Shanghai was electric with activity.  The overall mood seemed positive and the activity level was high, as I continued walking west on Nanjing Road – soon arriving at the high rise JC Mandarin Hotel on my left.

The hotel has a highly desirable location in a very fashionable district of West Shanghai, directly across the street from the upscale Plaza 66 – an enclosed mall with high end retailers like Armani, Gucci, and Hermes. Outside, Nanjing Road West (Xi) is lined with fine watchmakers and jewelry stores. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton, Shanghai, China

Portman Ritz-Carlton Shanghai © Portman Ritz Carlton

Afternoon Tea at the Shanghai Ritz Carlton is served in the Lobby Lounge, a room that was completely full with patrons and hotel guests on this February afternoon in Shanghai. I decided to wait for a few moments in the hope that a table would open up, and I would be able to have afternoon tea here.  I waited, waited, and waited. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula Shanghai Hotel

Peninsula Hotel, Shanghai © Peninsula Hotels

It was Friday afternoon in Shanghai – the largest city in China with a population exceeding 20,000,000 – and rush hour traffic was in full force.  In my taxi, I was observing how drivers fought for every square inch of pavement in an effort to make slow but steady forward progress. However, no one ever makes contact, at least not as far as I can tell. In my whole time there, I never witnessed a single sideswipe or glancing blow – it’s amazing, really, how so much iron and steel can squeeze through the streets of old Shanghai without so much as a scrape or a small dent.

After about 45 minutes or so, I arrived at “The Pen” – the Shanghai Peninsula Hotel, located right on the historic Bund and facing the river. It was quite an adjustment to step off the crowded Bund and into The Pen where it was, all-of-a-sudden, quiet and serene with string (violin) music playing from the mezzanine above.  It was remarkable, really, how different it was inside the hotel – an oasis, if there ever was one. Continue reading