It might be a stretch to call The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel a “café”, but my visit for Christmas tea this week more than earned it a place on my list of aesthetically pleasing hideaways.
I felt halfway between Gossip Girl and Downton Abbey as mom and I sipped bubbly and snacked on decadent bites in the midst of towering palms and a stunning interior. The prefix is pricey, but you know what? The experience was worth it.
The one word I’d use to describe Christmas Tea at The Plaza Hotel? Exquisite. Read on for stunning photos and a few insider tips that may be helpful if you’re planning your own visit.
We entered The Palm Court through the underground dining hall’s guarded passage. We had to give our reservation information to avoid being rerouted to the main entrance.
Once we were admitted, we traipsed into a magical interior that can barely be done justice with photos. Clearly, mom was hyped.
If you’ve never been to The Plaza, you’ll find yourself struggling to look straight ahead while walking. There’s so much to see: ornate architecture and motifs, chandeliers, and stained glass atrium-style windows are all begging to be soaked in.
I’m sure you can tell who is a first-timer by the way their eyes bounce around, but we quickly made peace with being excited Plaza newbies. There’s no shame in being mesmerized by this kind of beauty.
We were early, so we had time to explore the lobby. We saw a huge Christmas tree and a steady stream of guests coming and going from the main foyer. It was lively and festive while having a feeling of stillness that’s hard to find in Manhattan.
This world-famous hotel was converted largely into condos, though its renovation plan involved making it look like it did when it was first constructed over 100 years ago. A few important parts of the hotel received landmark status, including The Palm Court!
The highlight of The Palm Court is the decorative stained glass skylight—an updated version of the original 1907 skylight, which couldn’t be preserved during renovation. It’s said that only three pieces of the original stained glass were saved due to the deterioration of the structure.
I’m sure you’ll agree that this one is still magnificent! I couldn’t stop staring at it. Our table even had a glossy surface that reflected it clearly, so we could continue appreciating it as we dove into the menu.
There are a small handful of options for prefix tea menus, some with a light lunch vibe and others more decadent. We ordered the New Yorker Tea with champagne. It was around $100 per person and it included unlimited tea, coffee, and a glass of champagne each. Three tiers of savory sandwiches and sweet pastry bites arrived along with clotted cream and jam for the scones. The flavors were seriously rich and definitely Plaza-worthy.
While afternoon tea is traditionally a “light” meal, we were completely stuffed by the time we left, and even took a few bites to go!
Here’s a closer look at the sandwiches and pastries. Scones rested on the bottom tier below napkins. Looking back at these photos makes me ridiculously hungry. Everything was delicious.
During the holiday season, Christmas tea comes with a very special treat: large chocolate replicas of The Plaza Hotel. Inside, there are special gold-wrapped chocolate coins. Everything was packaged to go in a beautiful gift bag with a Palm Court postcard. How sweet!
The Café: The Palm Court at The Plaza Hotel
The deets: Fifth Avenue at Central Park South. Weekdays 6:30am—12am, Saturdays 7am—12am & Sundays 7am—10pm. Reservations required, dress code “smart casual”.
The perks: A decadent interior, world-class service, and a memory worth re-making over and over. Even if you can’t shell out for one of The Plaza’s multi-million dollar condos, you can capture a piece of the magic at The Palm Court.
Fully satisfied and enamored with the experience, our waiter bid us farewell and we traipsed back out into the chaos of the city. The whole experience was… for lack of a better word, delightful! We’re both set on turning this into an annual holiday tradition.
Where are your favorite places for celebratory tea and/or champagne around the holidays? I’d love to hear about them! Drop a comment or come visit me on Instagram.
Now, I’m going to hop offline and enjoy some serious downtime.