The Plaza Hotel is one of New York’s most famous establishments, set right on the corner of Central Park and Fifth Ave. This illustrious hotel is out of reach for many staying in New York as nightly Rates are pretty steep. One popular way to experience a little bit of Plaza Luxury is via their world-famous Afternoon Tea.
However even Tea is expensive at the plaza and this is one of the priciest teas you are likely to have, so the question quickly comes up of is Afternoon Tea At The Plaza New York Worth It? Do you get anything really special that justifies the price or is it just operating on reputation and serving average tea and astronomical prices! Well, we headed over to experience Tea at the Plaza and bring you our Afternoon Tea At The Plaza’s Palm Court Review to help answer all of your questions about this Iconic Afternoon Treat.
What is Afternoon Tea at the Plaza!
Afternoon Tea is a very English Tradition that has been lovingly embraced by the Americans and is now a real staple treat in both counties. But we are pretty sure most people hunting out reviews of Afternoon tea are probably pretty aware of what Afternoon Tea actually is.
What you really want to know is what exactly is so special about the Plaza Tea to justify the high costs! Tea is Served in the Plaza’s Palm Court. Situated right behind the entrance this Opulent dining space boasts high ceilings, an intricate stain-glassed dome, and lashings of lush Green Palm Plants and shrubberies. A wonderful space right in the heart of NYC.
Served Daily 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
If you are really unsure what Afternoon Tea is maybe this experience is not for you as unless you really get the whole experience is can seem a colossal waste of money. This is definitely an experience, not just a meal.
How Much is Afternoon Tea At The Plaza?
The Prices change regularly but at the last time of checking the following prices were charged:
Manhattan Tea – $99 per Person
With A Glass Of Champagne
NV, Louis Roederer Brut, Reims – $123 Per Person
NV, Duval-Leroy Rosé Prestige, A Vertus – $129 Per Person
Louis Roederer Cristal – $165 Per Person
Signature Tea – $125 Per Person (Usually Seasonal)
With A Glass Of Champagne
NV, Louis Roederer Brut, Reims – $149 Per Person
NV, Duval-Leroy Rosé Prestige, A Vertus – $155 Per Person
Louis Roederer Cristal – $191 Per Person
Grand Imperial Tea – $595 Per Person
Including Two Glasses of Louis Roederer Cristal
What do You get for Afternoon Tea At the Plaza?
As you can see Tea at the Plaza is REALLY pricey! So you surely get a lot for your money? Well, there is a lot that goes into the Tea Service and it is certainly anything but your average soggy sandwich and cake!
The Three Options are actually very similar. The Manhattan and the Signature are very similar, the only difference is the type of sandwiches and Cakes you receive. The Signature uses more premium ingredients in its sandwiches, such as Lobster, Caviar, and Foie Gras. The Cakes tend to be more detailed and intricate but there is usually some crossover too.
The Manhattan changes very little throughout the year but the Signature is often Seasonal, for instance on our last visit it was the Holiday Tea, and they also have Summer Tea, Thanksgiving Tea, and various others throughout the year. If there is no special event on then the Regular Signature takes its place and really it’s never completely different.
The Grand Imperial Tea is the same as the Signature, only you get two glasses of very expensive Champagne, an ultra High-End Grand Cru Jasmine Pearl Tea, and a very extravagant Caviar Service. While we can just about stomach the MAnhattan and Signature Prices the Grand Imperial is a touch too far for us.
Each Tea consists of 3 courses. These are served simultaneously on a Silver Rack. The first course is the Sandwiches. Five Individual finger sandwiches per person decrusted naturally.
Then there is the Scones, the Mainstay of any Afternoon Tea. Served with Devonshire Cream, Preserve, and Grapefruit Rosemary Curd.
Finally, you get to the Dessert. A selection of daunting and fantastically detailed Petie Fours. When these arrive at your table they are really very striking and start to go some way as to explain the high cost of tea.
These are accompanied by a large pot of your chosen tea. There is a great selection of teas from black, green, oolong, and infusions, you can even upgrade to the rare and exquisite Jasmine Pearl Tea. You get a large pot that is good for 3-4 cups along with milk and tea to add as required. And naturally, you will also get your Champagne if you have included this.
So really you do get quite a bit for your money. But still, it’s a long way off $99-125 worth of product, even the Signature Tea that features Lobster, Caviar, Foie Gras, and Smoked Salmon, still falls short of the mark when you consider it really is just sandwiches, tea, scones, and cakes.
The Petie Fours are remarkable, but you could find such incredible and detailed artwork in any good french patisserie for a whole lot less. But there is more to the Plaza Tea than just a meal. The tea is far more about the experience as a whole, which we get into next.
Before we look at the Experience we will just touch on the Children’s Tea.
Children’s Eloise Tea – $80
The contents of the main teas are a little grown-up and while many kids would be able to eat the regular fair it’s just all a little boring. The Childen’s tea is far more exciting and really the fact it has a 12-year-old age limit on them is the only reason we do not order the children’s tea! We have to admit some rather envious glances at the kids enjoying their far more exciting Teas!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches, Cake Pop’s, and Cotten Candy are just some of the delights awaiting your little one if you take them for this treat. Tea is available but they can have a Shirly Temple or Pink Lemonade if they prefer.
It’s the perfect blend of grown-up sophistication and child-like joy! It’s obviously not for every Child, It would have been utterly wasted on me as a little one, but some kids will be utterly delighted by the experience!
So if we agree that despite being a pretty fancy spread, the overall quality of food delivered is not quite worth the lavishly expensive price tag the Plaza puts on its tea. Then we need to explain why there is a queue out the door and why reservations sell out months in advance.
Well, the answer is the whole experience. This is far more than just the food on the plate and it is a little slice of living like the other half. From the moment you walk into the opulent foyer, through being seated in the iconic and spectacular Palm Court, the presentation, the Service, it all excels and feels very special.
When we arrived at Check-in we were a little early and we were asked to come back closer to our booking time, we were only 15mins early but really we needed a bathroom break first anyway. When we return Chaos had ensured. A large clump of people were congregated at the check-in and there did not seem to be much order. Bank on our reservation time our names were called and we passed through the chaos and off to be seated.
The Crowd was mainly chancers, people who had not booked and were hoping for walk-up seating. We were visiting near Christmas on one of the busiest weekends so they had a long wait but most who persevered got a seat. But we do recommend booking, see below.
Our Table for two was fairly central and was overlooked by a large Palm Tree and looked over the bar with the Large Stain Glassed Dome towering above. The Table setting was extremely opulent with silver cutlery and a mirrored tabletop.
Service was exemplary with our order being taken promptly and everything striving as we required it. Once the Tea, Tray, and Champagne had arrived we were pretty much left to our own devices.
Food-wise it really is a mixed bag. We opted for the Signature Tea, this was a Seasonal Holiday tea and came with pretty standard Sandwiches but vaguely Christmassy Petite Fours.
The First two sandwiches were traditional finger sandwiches with crusts removed and were a bit non-descript. They also suffered from the Afternoon Tea Curse of being slightly stale on the outside. This has been the case for just about every Tea we have has worldwide regardless of price. It comes from pre-making the sandwiches and the bread drys out pretty fast.
From here on things got better as we moved through the more luxury items. The Salmon was incredible topped with a mustard seed chutney and horseradish cream. The Lobster came with a serving of Caviera and was a god chunk of Lobster Tail meat. The Foie Gras was seriously rich and while it is not to everyone’s taste or moral sense, a little bit of luxury every now and then can be forgiven.
The Two Scones were still warm after being wrapped up in their napkin duvet. There was a Fruit Scone and a Plane scone each. They both passed the twist test, good scones should be twisted apart not cut, and were excellent. The Preserve and Grapefruit Curd were really good but we were disappointed with being served whipped cream. For us, it’s Clotted Cream or nothing! The Whipped Devonshire just didn’t cut it.
Finally, we were on to the desserts and again there was some good and some bad. Visually they are incredible but some lacked a little in the taste department. They were just not as good as they looked.
The Macaron was mindblowing, we could have sunk a battleship worth of those, but the others were very sweet and a little bland. We expected the apple to be more tart and instead it was filled with an apple pie style filling.
The servers were really unhurried once we had our service and let us sit and enjoy things for as long as we required. This is not an experience to hurry. The tiny portions require your attention to really appreciate and take in the courses.
The Palm Court is filled with excited and happy diners all enjoying their tea and part of the experience is just taking in the ambiance. We were there on Kates’s Birthday and received a Box of chocolates adorned with a birthday candle and a Happy Birthday Serenade from the Staff.
All in we were there for a little over an hour and left well-fed, it can seem there is not that much food but the slow pace of eating and many many courses mean it fills you quite nicely.
Is Afternoon Tea At the Plaza Worth it?
We think an Afternoon Tea at the Plaza is absolutely worth every cent. It is definitely a rare and special treat, something to do on special occasions and get dressed up for. The Dress Code is fairly relaxed but you would feel pretty out of lace without making a little effort.
It definitely falls a little short from a purely culinary standpoint, when you compare the alternative meals you could have for this price it starts to feel very expensive indeed, you could dine at one of New Yorks incredible Steak Houses, dine on top of the world, or have two or three more basic meals, you could even get 99 Slices od Pizza at $99 Cent Pizza.
But still, there is something so unique and wonderful about dining here that seems to melt all that away. It feels like a meal from another time, another life. A step into a world you don’t really belong to and feels so luxurious and upper class that you might just forget the real world for a short while.
The Setting, the Service, the Clientele, along with the myriad of tasty little treats before you all help make the overall experience really amazing and there is a satisfaction of stumping up the huge bill when it comes. If it were cheap it wouldn’t be half as fun!
Of course, you need to be on a certain wavelength for this to make sense. The Plaza, The Palm Court, and the act of taking Tea there are all iconic and all have meaning. If you are just looking for somewhere nice to eat then you may be disappointed, but if you have dreamt of taking afternoon tea at the plaza for years then it really is a wonderful and worthwhile New York Experience.
Booking Tea At the Plaza
Despite the high price, Tea at the Plaza is still very popular and at busy times it does book up. Walk-ups are allowed but expect a long wait and nowhere to sit while you wait. Booking is highly recommended and if you are in town at a busy period book as soon as possible. The Booking window is two months in advance and it’s quite possible it will book up the day the date is released.
At quieter times you can book much closer, but we still really recommend getting a reservation if it is important to you.
Have You Say
Have you had Afternoon Tea at the Plaza? What did you make of it? Did you think it was worth it or were you disappointed by the high cost? Let us know your thoughts on the sandwiches and petite fours in the comments below and let us know if you have any questions.