Located at 56 Irving Place, Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon with a view toward the waiting area
Afternoon tea emerged sometime between the 1830’s and 1840’s. So says the book “A Social History of Tea” by Jane Pettigrew, the well–known tea historian. Since lunch was light, and dinner no earlier than 7:30 pm, it was that pleasant bit of sustenance in mid–day. Called “Low Tea” because of the low chairs and tables, the offerings have not changed much over time, consisting of crustless finger sandwiches, scones, cakes, and other nibbles, in addition to a full complement of teas. It was very much a part of the fabric of the time, and has lasted, in various forms and in many Countries, through today.
Generally beginning sometime after 3 pm, Afternoon Tea in New York City runs the gamut, from the formal to the funky. Some with a bit of an ethnic twist and some designed specifically for kids. Some require sophisticated casual attire and others are just plain casual. Held in hotels and restaurants, they conjure up images of days gone by. But in fact, it is a wonderful break in our modern-day life, when friends can meet without the time and commitment of dinner, or without the noise you might find having a drink in a bar. It is a time and place where the frenetic urban air is left at the door. We’ve picked out twenty–five places, in no particular order, for you to have your Afternoon Tea, and hope you will add to our list with your favorites.
25. Astor Court at the St. Regis Hotel
Traditional afternoon tea is served in their elegant Astor Court dining area, surrounded by murals and in view of the famed King Cole Salon. Sweets and savories, with a wide selection of tea’s are served from 3 pm to 5 pm, and there is often a harpist. The Beaux-Arts St. Regis Hotel was completed in 1904 and designated a City Landmark in 1988. Located at 2 East 55th Street.
24. Baccarat Hotel New York
23. The King’s Carriage House
You will be surrounded by gilded paintings, crystal chandeliers and antique furnishings while having your Afternoon Tea at The King’s Carriage House. Located at 251 East 82nd Street, this adorable two–story brick structure resembles an English Country House. Afternoon Tea is offered Tuesday through Sunday from 3 pm to 5 pm. If you would prefer to take tea at your home or office, they now offer something new on the menu “Tea Party To Go”.
22. The Lamb’s Club
The Lamb’s Club, located in The Chatwal Hotel, is America’s oldest theatrical organization and social club for actors, songwriters and others involved in the theater. Located in a Stanford White designed building that opened in 1905, it was designated a City Landmark in 1974. Afternoon Tea is served Monday through Friday from 2:30 pm to 5 pm. They are located at 132 West 44th Street, and where else but in the Times Square area.
21. The Ritz Carlton Hotel on Central Park South
Located in the Star Lounge of The Ritz Carlton, Afternoon Tea is served daily from 2 pm to 4 pm, where you will find yourself surrounded by works of art by renowned artists. Their tea is specially blended for them by “T” Tea Company. Located at 50 Central Park South, reservations are required.
20. The Carlyle Hotel
Afternoon Tea at The Carlyle Hotel is held in The Gallery, which is inspired by the Sultan’s dining room at the Topikapi Palace in Turkey. Located at 35 East 76th Street, on the ground floor, the hours are from 3 pm to 5:30 pm daily. Although not yet reflected on their website, from late October through the Christmas Holidays, Madeline’s Tea is available on weekends for children.
19. The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel
Geoffrey Zakarian re–launched The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel, with an Afternoon Tea for adults and the famous Eloise Tea for kids. His goal was to bring Central Park indoors, while staying true to the original design. Located at 768 Fifth Avenue, Afternoon tea is served daily from Noon to 5 pm, and they also offer Gluten Free upon request. The Plaza Hotel was designated a City Landmark in 1969 and listed on the Register of Historic Places, and the only NYC hotel to be designated as a National Historic Landmark.
18. The Mandarin Oriental
Stepping off the elevator on the thirty-fifth floor of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, you will find yourself in the Sky Lobby reception area facing a very impressive Dale Chihuly sculpture rising out of an oriental moss garden. Beyond the sculpture is the Lobby Lounge, where Afternoon Tea is served from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm daily, with an impressive view of Central Park. They are located at 80 Columbus Circle and reservations are required.
17. The Upper East Side Hotel Plaza Athenee
Located at 37 East 64th Street, Afternoon Tea is held in the Bar Seine Lounge of the Hotel Plaza Athenee. Their teas are the luxury brand Le Palais Des Thes, which was founded in Paris in 1987, and they have nine different varieties to choose from. Afternoon Tea is served daily from 2:30 pm to 5pm.
16. Bosie Tea Parlor
Located at 10 Morton Street in the West Village, The Bosie Tea Parlor has a selection of over 100 hand-sourced and blended fine and loose leaf teas. Afternoon Tea is served all day here and they are open seven days a week. Their resident Tea Master, Kiley Holliday, can guide you through the tea menu and as an extra treat, their pastry is baked by Damien Herrgott, a third-generation French Pastry Chef.
15. Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon
Located at 56 Irving Place, you will find two townhouses without the hint of either rooms to rent or a tea salon behind their doors. But when you open the door and enter the parlor, you will find The Inn at Irving Place and Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon. Afternoon Tea from Wednesday through Friday from 1 pm to 4 pm, and on the weekends from Noon to 5 pm is held in this Victorian setting and served on Wedgwood china. Reservations are preferred, and no children under the age of 12 admitted.
14. The Crosby Street Hotel in Soho
Afternoon Tea at The Crosby Street Hotel can be had in either the private drawing-room or the bar and terrace. Although not a specific room for tea, it is quite traditional with a three–tiered tray consisting of the expected nibbles. Located at 79 Crosby Street in Soho, Afternoon Tea begins at 2 pm.
13. The Russian Tea Room
Founded by members of the Russian Imperial Ballet in 1927, The Russian Tea Room was opened as a gathering place for Russian expatriates. The restaurant has been sold several times since then, but they are as dedicated to Tea as their name suggests. Afternoon Tea comes in many variations including Vegetarian, Gluten Free and a Children’s Tea. Served daily from 2 pm to 4:30 pm.
12. Tea and Sympathy is Like Being in England for Your Afternoon Tea
Tea and Sympathy is like a little bit of England in the middle of the West Village. Afternoon Tea is for one, and you must not share. They do offer a vegetarian version upon request. In addition to their restaurant, they have a fabulous shop next door carrying classic British groceries. They are located at 108 Greenwich Avenue.
11. The Pierre
The Pierre Hotel has had a traditional Afternoon Tea since the hotel opened in 1930 when tea was served in the Rotunda with its famous trompe l’oeil murals. Today Afternoon Tea is held in their Art Deco designed E Bar Lounge with its cozy sofas and oversized pillows, chairs and low tables. Located at Two East 61st Street, Afternoon Tea is served daily from 3 pm to 6pm. Keep an eye open for a Groupon for this special treat.
10. The Pembroke Room at The Lowell Hotel
9. The Gotham Lounge in The Peninsula Hotel
In the heart of the Fifth Avenue Midtown shopping district, you can find Afternoon Tea in the Gotham Lounge at The Peninsula Hotel. Located at 700 Fifth Avenue, The Peninsula was constructed in 1905 as The Hotel Gotham, going bankrupt just three years later due to its proximity to the Presbyterian church, and the lack of the ability to sell liquor. Afternoon Tea is served on the mezzanine level of the lobby from 2:30 pm to 5 pm. However reservations are required. They also have an Afternoon Tea for children.
8. Bergdorf Goodman’s BG Restaurant
You will find Afternoon Tea at Bergdorf Goodman on the seventh floor BG Restaurant. Reservations are required and when doing so, you might like to request seating in a pair of their “Whisper” chairs. Located on Fifth Avenue at 58th Street, Afternoon Tea is served from 3 pm to 5 pm.
7. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Petrie Court Cafe
The Metropolitan Museum of Art offers Traditional High Tea service or tea service with sparkling wine in their Petrie Court Cafe’. And to add to your Tea experience, you might enjoy exploring the museum’s treasure trove of tea related art, since they will tell you that the museum houses over eighty-thousand tea related objects of art. Located at 1000 Fifth Avenue, tea is served from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm in the Petrie Court Cafe’ overlooking Central Park.
6. The New Museum
Afternoon Tea is a bit more casual at The New Museum. Held in the Museum Cafe’ on the main floor, it is run by the Hester Street Cafe with tea’s from McNulty’s. Located at 235 Bowery, Afternoon Tea is served all day during regular cafe hours.
Beginning in her kitchen in 1981, Sarabeth’s has grown to five restaurants in New York City. Take your pick for Afternoon Tea, which is served weekdays from 3:30 pm to 5 pm and from 4:00 pm to 5:00 pm on weekends.
4. Alice’s Tea Cup
With locations in three different parts of the City, Afternoon Tea is easy to find at Alice’s Tea Cup. Their devotion to tea shines through with a variety that includes The Mad Hatter Tea Party Menu, The Mad Happy Hour, The Mad Morning Tea, Vegan’s Tea, Gluten Free Tea, Wee Tea for kids and more! Afternoon Tea is a casual and fun affair. Check individual tea shops for times.
3. Sanctuary T
With a goal of creating a brief retreat from busy City life, Sanctuary T is for serious tea lovers. Located at 337 West Broadway, corner of Grand Street in Chinatown, this tiny shop serves Afternoon Tea by reservation only between 3 pm and 5 pm.
Opening their doors in 2004, the Cha-An Tea House is for lovers of tea and what they call elegant Japanese snacks. The Chef is trained in Japanese cooking as well as French pastry making, having apprenticed at Bouley Bakery with short stints at both The Russian Tea Room and Le Bernardin. Here, in her own shop, she offers a Japanese version of the traditional Afternoon Tea with mini bagel sandwiches stuffed with preserves, cream, smoked salmon, watercress, and a thick buttery pound-cake. Located at 230 East 9th Street, Afternoon Tea is served from Noon to 7 pm. Cash only.
1. The Morgan Library
Inspired by the exhibit “Alice, 150 Years of Wonderland”, The Morgan Library offers Afternoon Tea in The Morgan Cafe. You don’t have to pay admission, since the cafe is off the lobby entrance. Located at 225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street, Afternoon Tea is available during regular cafe hours.
You can contact the author at AFineLyne.