Barely a year after the “I do’s" heard round the world, yet another royal baby — the first for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, Duke and Duchess of Sussex — has arrived. Just as they celebrated the births of Charles and Kate’s Prince George, Princess Charlotte, and Prince Louis, Brits from London to Belfast are busy feting the arrival of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. This time, though, those of us across the pond also have some skin in the game, and what better way to honor America’s biggest contribution to the royal family (sorry, Wallis Simpson) than with a classic afternoon tea? Whether you’re a cucumber sandwich aficionado or in search of New York’s best clotted cream, these impressive afternoon tea offerings are so authentic that you’ll swear you’re in the midst of Buckingham Palace surrounded by the Queen’s corgis. Pinkies up!
The Palm Court at The Plaza
Perhaps the most obvious destination for a proper tea in the city, The Plaza’s Palm Court has been a favorite of both the hotel’s international clientele and born-and-bred New Yorkers for generations.
Sitting proudly on Fifth Avenue right across from Central Park and alongside iconic spots like Bergdorf Goodman and The Paris Theatre, The Plaza’s location can’t be beat, and the 172-year-old building’s French Renaissance-style white brick and marble facade is about as regal as it gets. The grandeur only continues inside the recently remodeled Palm Court, where gold-adorned ceilings and marble pillars rise high above patrons’ Chanel pearls and Birkin bags, and vintage flooring is topped with forest green plush chairs and potted palm trees. The scene is made complete by sleek, mirrored tables, custom-made Bernardaud tableware, and live music that delightfully bounces off of the venue’s famed stained-glass roof.
Guests can select from one of three afternoon tea options at the Palm Court. The Champagne Tea, a $99 offering, includes sandwiches and savories like herb-roasted prime rib and peekytoe crab, freshly baked scones, a selection of pastries like a lemon and poppy seed cake and a mandarin orange chocolate éclair, and of course, a glass of Veuve Clicquot or Moët & Chandon. The $79 New Yorker Tea features classic sandwiches like smoked salmon and English cucumber, fresh scones, and sweets like a chocolate gianduja cake and a passion fruit and cranberry custard s’more. Finally, for the little ones (12 and younger), there’s the Children’s Eloise Tea, which serves as the perfect blend of the Kay Thompson character’s love of all things fancy and her penchant for life’s simplicities. The $60 option, which includes egg salad and cucumber sandwiches alongside peanut butter and jelly, scones, and seven desserts, is even served on Eloise’s signature teacups and tableware, complete with pink napkins. Champagne and New Yorker tea drinkers can choose from a menu of 29 Palais des Thés teas, while kids are invited to sip on one of four “hot hot teas,” a cold pink lemonade, or a vanilla iced tea.
Afternoon tea at Palm Court is available Monday through Sunday from noon to 4:45 p.m., with the last seating at 4:30 p.m., and reservations can be made here.
The Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel
The Baccarat, located in midtown directly across from the Museum of Modern Art, is a shimmering crystal palace that would make even Queen Elsa from “Frozen” jealous.
Opened in 2015, it’s the first hotel from the eponymous French crystal brand and boasts roughly 15,000 sparkling crystal pieces throughout its 50 stories. Baccarat was in fact founded by King Louis XV and has been synonymous with royalty for more than 250 years, with works commissioned by the queen of Portugal, the Ottoman Empire and Nicholas II of Russia, so it seems a very fitting place to celebrate Archie’s birth.
Located on the Baccarat’s second floor, the Grand Salon features Jouffre silk-covered walls, high-backed banquets atop parquet hardwood floors, and of course, an array of crystal 64-armed chandeliers and décor. The space serves as the hotel’s glistening epicenter, the dazzling marriage of Baccarat’s lavish history and its modern 21st-century existence.
Afternoon tea at the Baccarat is an experience built upon the brand’s strikingly global and aristocratic past. Patrons choose from four menu options, each with savories and sweets reminiscent of a particular corner of the world. The Prince of Wales, arguably the most obvious choice in feting the Duke and Duchess’s royal arrival, features classically British bites like quail egg toast, lavender cake, and warm homemade scones and costs $90 per person. The $65 King Louis XV tea is the Baccarat’s simplest (and cheapest) offering. Essentially a parred down version of the Prince of Wales, this “French tea at Versailles” includes just two savories, two pastries and a scone. The Sultan Abdülaziz, a $300 selection, features Turkish-inspired foods like lamb Merguez, baba ghanoush and candied kumquats, while the $400 Tsar Nicholas II tea includes enough caviar to fill about a dozen Fabergé eggs. Although each of the four menus has its own tea recommendation, the Baccarat has partnered with renowned French teahouse Mariage Fréres to offer guests a selection of 20 teas to choose from.
Afternoon tea is served at the Baccarat’s Grand Salon Monday through Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m., but on Mondays and Tuesdays, only the Prince of Wales tea is available. Reservations can be made here.
Bosie Tea Parlour
Tucked away on the corner of Morton Street right off Bleecker in the West Village, Bosie Tea Parlor is the perfect place for those times when you crave a spot of tea and a scone but want to skip the fanfare and hassle of a proper afternoon tea.
The look at Bosie is simple: wooden tables and chairs are topped with petite vases of garden-grown flowers; food is served on plain, white china; and several display cases show off the pastries of the day. The tearoom feels more like a café. There are no gold ceilings or marble floors, and the artwork is sparse, but Bosie is not without its charm. The focal point of the parlor, literally and figuratively, is its oversized, gold tea canisters, which sit above the small bar. There’s black tea and white tea and green, oh my, and inventive flavors like caramel chocolate rooibos, apple crumble, and Kyoto cherry rose. Look past the L’Age de Thé blends, and you’ll notice a ceiling covered in ornate medallions and molding, a delectable reminder of the neighborhood’s rich architectural history.
Guests can choose from three afternoon tea options, detailed inside Bosie’s paper menu booklets. There’s the $36 Bosie Tea Service ($69 for two), which includes one pot of tea, two mini scones with clotted cream and jam, three tea sandwiches, two mini tea cakes, two mini cookies, and two macarons. Perhaps the best part about this tea parlor is the freedom it allows guests in choosing their foods. There are six classic sandwich offerings available, including egg salad, cucumber and cream cheese, and smoked salmon, and diners can choose which three they would like. Macaron options change daily, but those choices too are under guests’ duress.
The second afternoon tea is the $51 Champagne Tea Service ($99 for two), which is essentially the same thing as the Bosie Tea Service but includes a glass of champagne and lets patrons select their pastries as well as macarons from the display case. Finally, there’s the Chef’s Tea Service, available only for two for $125 and requiring a reservation at least 24 hours in advance. With this option, each person gets a glass of Perrier-Jouët champagne, a pot of premium tea, two mini scones with the works, 12 canapés (two of each kind), elevated sandwiches like quail egg with black truffle and duck breast with roasted plum, a pastry of your choice, two macarons, and two mini madeleines.
And if none of those three afternoon tea offerings float your boat, menu items are also available á la carte, with a two-flavor platter of tea sandwiches going for $8.50 and a three-flavor platter for $12. Pastries and macarons are available individually as well, and you can even order a scone on its own. Bosie additionally offers a lunch and dinner menu that includes full-size sandwiches and salads and serves beer and wine for when tea just won’t do the trick. You can purchase any of the tea parlor’s loose-leaf teas in a take-home package, and your extremely budget-friendly bill will be delivered in a copy of E.B. White’s “Here is New York.”
Bosie Tea Parlor is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., on Fridays from 9 a.m. to midnight, on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to midnight, and on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. The West Village spot does not accept reservations for parties under six, so be prepared for a short wait during busy hours.
The Crosby Bar, Crosby Street Hotel
For those in search of a more bohemian but still sumptuous afternoon tea experience — that is, you seek the tradition and grandeur that places like The Plaza and The Baccarat offer but can do without the uptown pretentiousness — look no further than Crosby Street Hotel.
Nestled just below SoHo’s busy Lafayette Street is a separate entrance to The Crosby Bar, home to the hotel’s tea service every day. The space is eclectic, to say the least. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows cover the eastern wall and lead to a back patio, while chairs and banquets, all striped in every hue, line metal-topped tables, and multicolored orbs descend from above. The walls are covered in geometric patterns and earthy paints, and some even have butterflies affixed to them. An expansive bar runs along one side of the venue, its green velvet chairs seemingly always topped with thirsty downtowners. The Crosby Bar is huge, and at any given point, some tables will be finishing lunch while others will be in the midst of a quick coffee with a co-worker and still others are busy sipping on cocktails. And it’s perhaps this very multi-tasking nature that makes afternoon tea at the Crosby Street Hotel feel at once like a treat and not such a production.
The Crosby Bar offers two options for afternoon tea, the Traditional Afternoon Tea and a Gluten-Free Afternoon Tea, both $55 a person. Included in both offerings is a choice of either the Bespoke English Tea Blend or the Rare Earl Grey, while any other of the nine available teas come with a $3 upcharge. The traditional afternoon tea features four types of finger sandwiches, including cucumber, smoked salmon, and an inventive croquet monsieur served on a pretzel bun, and four sweets, as well as the customary scones. The gluten-free option remains loyal to the savory selections, opting for gluten-free versions of their bread, with the exception of the smoked salmon, which is replaced entirely with quinoa and spinach stuffed mushrooms. While both menus provide scones, the gluten-free versions are accompanied by cashew cream instead of clotted, meanwhile, the desserts are almost all different. While traditionalists will find violet chiffon cake and chocolate truffle torte at the tops of their three-tiered plates, those skipping gluten will enjoy lemon verbena poppy seed cake and chocolate and banana cake. Both, however, include the berry pavlova with pineapple curd.
Afternoon tea is served all day at the Crosby Street Hotel’s Crosby Bar, which is open Monday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m., and reservations, although not required, are recommended.
The BG Restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman
Relax after a day of shopping at this famous department store’s seventh floor restaurant, where a $45 afternoon tea is served amongst Kelly Wearstler-designed furnishings with a view of Central Park.
Astor Court at the St. Regis New York
Home to a classic afternoon tea experience, the Astor Court at the St. Regis boasts painted ceilings, plush seating and delicious sweet and savory bites. Guests can choose from the $65 Lady Astor’s Tea and the $85 Caroline’s Tea, or if you’re really looking to spend, the Veuve Clicquot La Grand Dame Tea and the Caviar Tea, both $600 for two people.
American Girl Place
This spot is for the little ones who enjoy a cup of tea and a sweet as much of the rest of us, but definitely don’t expect a traditional afternoon tea here. Instead, find kid- and doll-friendly snacks like Samantha’s Cinnamon Buns and Nanea’s Pig-in-a-Blanket, all named for the brand’s dolls and followed by three desserts, all for just $21 (or $26 for the moms who need a mimosa to help them through).
IF YOU GO:
- The Palm Court at the Plaza: noon to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Sunday
- The Grand Salon at the Baccarat Hotel: 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Sunday
- Bosie Tea Parlour: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to midnight Friday; 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday
- The Crosby Bar: 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Monday through Sunday