The Hunt: Hotels with Afternoon Tea Fit for Royalty

By , September 4th, 2015

It’s one of life’s most decadent luxuries to stop what you’re doing circa 3 o’clock, and simply pour yourself a cup of tea, tuck into a cucumber sandwich and indulge in a slice of cake (or two).

Afternoon tea is a tradition started by the 7th Duchess of Bedford who objected to having just two meals a day and rebelled by having tea and a light snack taken in her boudoir midafternoon. The trend caught on. Afternoon tea is now available in certain fine establishments in the Americas and thankfully we’ve whittled the list of the best hotels with afternoon tea down to just a few exquisite offerings.

The Lowell | New York

Lowell Hotel Exterior

Welcome to the oh so classy Lowell Hotel in New York City. Photo courtesy of the Lowell. 

New York City can be a tad overwhelming so take a step in from the hustle and bustle to spend an afternoon taking tea in The Pembroke Room at the fashionable boutique hotel, The Lowell. Elegant European surroundings with antique furnishings, original art, all belie the hotel’s state-of-the-art technology.

Brit Pick: Try a selection from the Wee Tea Company  now available at The Lowell for a spectacularly delicious tea infused with the taste of the Scottish highlands (where it is grown). A surprising location for a tea plantation this is Scotland’s first foray into tea growing and so far it has proven to be a huge success.

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Pembroke Room Lowell Hotel

The Pembroke Room at the Lowell Hotel. Photos courtesy of the Lowell. 

The Pfister Hotel | Milwaukee

Pfister Hotel Milwaukee

Afternoon tea designed for the contemporary traveler. Photo courtesy of The Pfister Hotel. 

Midwest and luxury aren’t normally in the same sentence, but the Pfister Hotel, a Grand dame of Victorian architecture built in 1893 in downtown Milwaukee, holds true to its iconic roots. Served on the 23rd floor by a Tea Butler surrounded by panoramic views of the city, it’s quite simply the epitome of luxury elegance.

Brit Pick: Opt for a traditional English Breakfast tea for an authentic Victorian experience. English Breakfast tea is a Black tea and the most popular tea consumed in the British Isles where 165 million cups of tea are consumed every single day.

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Afternoon Tea Pfister

A replica of an 18th century self-tipping teapot. Photo courtesy of The Pfister Hotel.

The Peabody | Memphis


The Peabody Hotel Dining Room. Photo by Trey Clark.

The only place in Memphis to experience the elegance of Afternoon Tea in the English manner is at the iconic Peabody Hotel. Enjoy a three-course menu of savory tea sandwiches, assorted sweets, and scones from the Peabody Pastry Shop in addition to a selection of teas and caffeine-free children’s teas.

Brit Pick: For warmer climates an Oolong tea is lighter and much more refreshing. Oolong tea is somewhere between a black tea and a green tea, only partially fermented. It’s lighter in color and therefore offsets the pure white china brilliantly.

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The Peabody Hotel Tea Time

Tea time at the Peabody. Photo by Trey Clark. 

The Taj | Boston

‘Opulent’ is how Afternoon Tea in the French Room at The Taj can be described. A harpist plays and a sense of gracious conviviality prevails, while guests sip their tea amidst original paintings, sculptures, high-backed upholstered chairs and inviting sofas. The finest loose leaf and herbal teas are sourced from across the globe and custom blended to the Taj’s specifications.

Brit Pick: When enjoying a spot of tea at the Taj, you must order the Spicy Chai, an Indian signature tea and custom blended for the Taj. Chai tea is often spicy and has a clove bite to it. It has a medium caffeine content and comes served with milk and honey to sweeten the taste.

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The Fairmont | San Francisco

Tea San Francisco

A classic and cozy afternoon tea atmosphere. Photo courtesy of the Fairmont. 

Afternoon tea has been taking place at the Fairmont San Francisco since its opening in 1907. Tea is served in the Laurel Court, the recently renovated beautiful centerpiece of the hotel’s lobby. Easily reached from almost anywhere in San Francisco, there really is no excuse not to treat yourself!

Brit Pick: The Prime Minister of England from 1830-1834 made Earl Grey Tea so fashionable they named it after him, and very nice it is too! Earl Grey tea is a very aromatic and fragrant tea, and this particular blend has hints of bergamot citrus.

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Fairmont Tea San Francisco

The Laurel Court. Photo courtesy of The Fairmont. 

Salish Lodge | Seattle

Seattle Salish Lodge

The Salish Lodge is nestled atop Snoqualmie Falls. Photo courtesy of the Salish Lodge. 

The chef at the Salish Lodge is also a native Brit who studied cooking in the Green and Pleasant land, so if you’re looking for a traditional experience then this is it! What’s more, you can take your afternoon tea right over the breathtaking Snoqualmie Falls.

Brit Pick: Choose the Honey Vanilla tea to relax with whilst gazing down at Snoqualmie Falls. The lodge is also a Spa so this is the perfect after thought to a decadent spa treatment for ultimate relaxation.

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Tea with a view Seattle

Tea time with a spectacular view of the Pacific North West. Photo courtesy of the Salish Lodge. 

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