High Tea at The Four Seasons Hotel, Chicago

High Tea at The Lounge in The Four Seasons, Chicago - image ©Four Seasons Hotels

High Tea at The Lounge in The Four Seasons, Chicago – image ©Four Seasons Hotels

An unusually warm December afternoon found me in Chicago at one of the city’s premier luxury hotels, The Four Seasons, just off the Magnificent Mile. The hotel is in a high rise building above an upscale retail mall called The 900 Shops.

The hotel’s entire lobby is richly decorated in fine-plush furnishings but, The Lounge – where tea is served – certainly stands out in its striking beauty and decor.  Unlike several hotel venues that serve afternoon tea in a large airy room, this space is small and intimate.  Ironically, the room was full but it was also very private and quiet. The acoustic engineers must have worked overtime on this space. The Lounge’s dark wood, plush carpeting, and fine tapestries all speak of the luxury you are about to experience taking afternoon tea at The Four Seasons Chicago. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at Brown’s Hotel, London

Brown's Hotel English Tea Room © Rocco Forte Collection

Brown’s Hotel English Tea Room © Rocco Forte Collection

Although it was dark and overcast on this late November day in London, the air was unusually warm at 57F / 14C.  Walking up Albemarle Street in the heart of Mayfair, I came to the unmistakable entrance to Brown’s Hotel.  Built in 1837 by James Brown and his wife, Sarah, who were formerly butler and maid to Lord and Lady Byron, it was the first hotel in London that catered to “genteel” folk.

As of 2003, Brown’s is owned by The Rocco Forte Collection which invested 24 million GBP in refurbishments after acquiring this luxury hotel.

On a historical note, Alexander Graham Bell stayed here in 1876 to demonstrate his new invention, the telephone.  The English Tea Room is where Rudyard Kipling wrote much of his famous novel, The Jungle Book.  It is also believed that Agatha Christie wrote her novel (At Bertram’s Hotel) while at Brown’s Hotel and modeled the story after the hotel. United States Presidents Theodore and Franklin Roosevelt both selected Brown’s Hotel for their honeymoons. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at The Ritz Carlton, Chicago

Lobby of The Ritz Carlton, Chicago (image courtesy of The Ritz Carlton)

Lobby of The Ritz Carlton, Chicago (image courtesy of The Ritz Carlton)

Afternoon Tea at The Ritz Carlton, Chicago reminds me of spending a relaxing afternoon in someone’s luxurious parlor or living room. The mood is unhurried, the atmosphere is elegant, and the overstuffed sofas and chairs just make you want to stay and never leave.  In some ways, it reminds me of The Gallery at The George V in Paris, one of my all time favorite places for afternoon tea.

Tea is served in The Ritz Carlton Hotel’s lobby located on the 12th floor of Water Tower Place in Chicago, a high rise building on The Magnificent Mile that includes retail stores on the lower floors, the Ritz Carlton Hotel on the mid floors and luxury condominiums with views of Lake Michigan on the upper floors. You’re close to the high energy of the city yet, at the same time, twelve floors above it in a soundproof oasis. (This is also where U.S. television personality Oprah Winfrey lives in Chicago.) 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, 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