Is the Afternoon Tea at the Plaza Hotel in NYC Worth It? Review of Plaza Hotel Afternoon Tea

Thinking about getting afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel in NYC? This post shows you if the Palm Court afternoon tea is worth the hefty price as well as other useful information about the afternoon tea set.

When you think of afternoon tea in New York City, your mind probably automatically jumps to the Palm Court at the Plaza. Located right across from Central Park, the iconic Plaza Hotel is one of the most iconic hotels in New York City.

Boasted as the epitome of elegance, the afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel is truly an experience to be had. Not only are sandwiches and desserts tasty, but the exquisite ambiance of the Palm Court and the excellent services are also something to enjoy.

This post will answer all your questions on the Palm Court afternoon tea, including what’s so special about it, how much it costs, and whether it’s really worth the money.

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What is Afternoon Tea?

Afternoon tea is a quintessential British tradition that originated in the 1840s by The Duchess of Bedford, Anna. It is essentially a light meal with tea and small bites in the late afternoon.

Afternoon tea traditionally takes place between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. It is typically served in elegant tearooms, historic hotels, or charming venues, creating a refined and relaxed atmosphere.

Traditional afternoon tea typically is served on a 3 tier tray consisting of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries and sweets. Of course afternoon tea must have tea, and usually the British afternoon tea has Earl Grey, English breakfast and other herbal teas.

New York City Plaza Hotel

Where is the Plaza Afternoon Tea?

The Plaza hotel is located right across from Central Park between 58th and 59th street. It is easily accessible by the N, R and W train at 5 Av/ 59 St station.

The afternoon tea takes place inside the beautiful Palm Court, famous for its stained glass dome ceiling and plants and flower decorations.

You will be seated at one of the smaller tables (if you have two people) or a booth with comfy green couch for a larger party.

Palm Court inside the Plaza hotel New York City

What Do You Get With the Palm Court Afternoon Tea at the Plaza

Similar to the traditional British afternoon tea set, you get a 3 tier tray with savory sandwiches, scones and sweets at the Plaza afternoon tea:

  • 5 savory finger sandwiches
  • 2 scones
  • 5 pieces of sweets
The afternoon tea at the Plaza Hotel

In particular, for the savory finger sandwiches, the Plaza afternoon tea usually includes English cucumber sandwich, chicken sandwich, salmon sandwich, and two other sandwiches that change seasonally.

There are usually two different types of scones with the Plaza afternoon tea, a savory truffle scone and a mildly sweet fruity scone. The scones come with Devonshire Cream, Lemon or Yuzu Curd, and a house-made fruit preserves.

There are more variations when it comes to the 5 pieces of sweets. In general you can expect a combination of macrons, cheese cakes, Choux, tart or other sorts of sweets.

Plaza hotel holiday afternoon tea set

The menu does change seasonally so you can expect slight variations in the food you get. If you visit during the month of December you can get the holiday menu like I did featuring a Santa Claus pastry!

Cost of the Afternoon Tea at the Plaza Hotel

There are 3 different afternoon tea sets at the Plaza hotel:

  • The Children’s Eloise Tea: $118 per child (up to age 12)
  • The Plaza Signature Tea: $155 per person with additional cost for champagne
  • The Grand Imperial Tea: $599 for two adults. It comes with caviar, Cristal champagne, and special green tea, otherwise the menu is the same as the Plaza signature tea set.

You can find the most updated menu here.

One thing to keep in mind is that the basic Plaza Signature afternoon tea set comes with a choice of black tea, green tea, fruit tea, and herbal tea. If you want special tea you will need to pay additional.

Another thing I noticed is that the price for the afternoon tea does increase every year. The menu for last year was $118 for the signature tea whereas it is $155 this year (that’s a crazy increase).

The Plaza automatically adds 18% gratuity to the bill and you can tip more if you liked the service. With tax and tips combined you are looking at about $200 USD for the standard set of afternoon tea.

Review of the Plaza Afternoon Tea

Now you know what food is offered, you may wonder how the food is at the Plaza afternoon tea. Is the afternoon tea really tasty? What’s so special about it? Here is my detailed review of the food at afternoon tea in the Plaza.


The Scones are on the lowest layer of the 3 tier tray and you get two different scones. The savory scone is generally a truffle scone (not sweet) and the sweet one is a fruity scone. You will also get the cream, curd and preserves with the scones (even if you have more than one person).

Keep in mind the sweet scone is only mildly sweet and you see bits and pieces of the fruit inside.

truffle scone afternoon tea at the plaza hotel in new york

The scones were warm and buttery so they always suggest you eat the scones first. The truffle-flavored one really surprised me since I’ve only had sweet scones at all the other afternoon tea places in New York City and London (I’ve done 3 different afternoon teas in London).

The truffle flavor was very apparent even and the sweet scone tasted like what you usually expect. However I am not sure how I feel about the truffle scone with the cream and sweet preserves but it was definitely an unique flavor.

Overall the scones were quite good and I would give bonus points to truffle scone for its uniqueness (if you like that). But if you only want sweet scones you may be disappointed since you only get one!

Finger Sandwiches

I had 5 finger sandwiches with my Plaza afternoon tea: English cucumber, Smoked Pearl Salmon, Roasted Chicken Salad, Roast Beef, and Foie Gras Macaron.

English cucumber sandwich

The plaza hotel afternoon tea with British cucumber sandwich

This is the lightest of all the savory sandwiches and it is your typical cucumber sandwich with white bread, tarragon and seeds.

The flavor is light and creamy and the presentation is nice. But to be honest I am never a fan of the cucumber sandwiches.

Smoked salmon sandwich

Plaza hotel afternoon tea Salmon sandwich

This salmon sandwich is one of my favorites out of all the finger sandwiches at the plaza (in fact I ate two of these!). As expected, the sandwich was nicely presented and the flavor exploded in my mouth.

Roast chicken salad sandwich

Roast Chicken salad sandwich at the Palm Court afternoon tea at the Plaza hotel

I didn’t have super high expectations since how good can chicken salad be? But this actually exceeded my expectations. The ratio of cream cheese and chicken was perfect and I really enjoyed this sandwich.

Roast beef sandwich

Beef sandwich Plaza afternoon tea

This is literally my favorite finger sandwich at the Plaza afternoon tea. It didn’t look too special but the crispy shallot on the sandwich really added to the flavor.

The beef was soft and tender (and of course flavorful with the Wasabi Dijonnaise). I was already really full but they gave me an extra beef sandwich so I had to finish it.

Foie Gras Macaron

Plaza afternoon tea macron with caviar

This is a very unique combination and not what I had expected to see. I can see why the afternoon tea cost $155 just from this finger sandwich alone.

As the name implies, the macaron comes with Foie Gras Mousse (instead of sweet mousse in regular macarons), truffle kewpie mayo and topped with caviar. Can you think of a more fancy combination?

The macaron was definitely a combination of unique flavors and worth trying. But I still think I prefer a regular sweet macaron.

Overall, I really enjoyed the finger sandwiches and the unique flavors that went into them.

Pastries & Sweets

My Plaza signature afternoon tea set came with 5 different pastries: Duals Sesame Choux, Oolong Tea cheesecake, Mont Blanc Cassis, Pecan Pie, Mango Coconut Tart.

Duals Sesame Choux

Duals Sesame Choux dessert pastries at the Plaza afternoon tea

This choux is heavily sesame flavored as you can expect and melts in your mouth. If you are someone that loves sesame you would absolutely love this pastry. You may not like this too much if you are not into sesame.

Mont Blanc Cassis

desserts and pastries at the afternoon tea in the Plaza hotel NYC

This classic dessert is a must have at any afternoon tea set and this one does not disappoint. Topped with Suisse vanilla meringue, the chestnut cream blends in perfectly with the blackcurrant confit and the taste lingers in your mouth even after you eat it.

Pecan Pie

is the plaza afternoon tea in nYC worth it?

This is probably the most moist pecan pie I have ever tasted. Even though I am not a pecan fan, I actually thought the pie was great. It’s not too sweet (in fact none of the desserts are too sweet) but it is super soft and moist.

The Vanilla Creme Fraiche on top definitely added to the flavor and made it more interesting.

Mango Coconut Tart

Mango Coconut Tart sweets at the palm court plaza afternoon tea in new york

This mango coconut tart would be amazing for someone who likes tart and anything sour.

I actually tasted more of the passion fruit gel than the mango and coconut. I have to say it is not my favorite piece of dessert but it could be for someone who likes tarts.

Oolong Tea Cheesecake

The plaza hotel NYC Santa holiday afternoon tea review

This cheesecake is the centerpiece of the entire afternoon tea set because it had a cute Santa on it! Fun fact: I didn’t even realize it was the holiday set until I saw the Santa topper. If you have multiple people they have different toppers.

Anyway this is my favorite piece of the pastries and it is not hard to see why. I am a HUGE fan of oolong tea and cheesecake and when you combine them, it tastes like heaven.

Again, the cheesecake is super moist and you certainly taste the tea flavor. The bottom of the cheesecake is an Oolong graham cracker (another favorite of mine). The entire thing is not too sweet (when an Asian person says this, you know they approve of this dessert).

Overall, I loved some of the pastries in the Plaza afternoon tea set and I could appreciate the creativity from the pastry chef. But I don’t know if everyone will love every dessert since some do have stronger flavors.

Read Next: Review of Tea Around Town Afternoon Tea Bus Tour in NYC

The Tea

The tea is perhaps the most overlooked part of the afternoon tea but actually an important one (I mean it does say tea after all).

Plaza hotel tea pot

You get a choice of black tea, green tea, white team, herbal tea and fruit tea. However I was not given a choice on which particular type of tea at the time when I was ordering. I realized later on that there were a lot of choices at the back of the menu and some of the tea costs extra $10 to $15.

Despite that, I got the fruit tea and I liked it. It was light and flavorful and went really well with the rest of the tea set, especially with the stronger flavor pieces.

Overall Impression of the Plaza Palm Court Afternoon Tea

In terms of just food, the Plaza afternoon tea stands out in terms of creativity and presentation.

Out of all the afternoon teas I have had before, the Plaza afternoon tea set is one of the most unique and memorable afternoon tea sets (the other memorable afternoon tea was a Banksy themed one at the Rosewood Hotel in London).

The Plaza managed to make a traditional set of sandwiches and pastries into something different, such as the truffle scone and the truffle macaron with caviar.

The environment was nice and the waiter was really friendly, which added to the entire experience. They also give out chocolates as take home gifts if you dine there.

Chocolate from the Plaza hotel nyc

Other Questions You May Have About the Plaza Afternoon Tea

Hours of the Plaza Afternoon Tea

The Plaza afternoon tea is from 10:30am to 4pm daily.

Do I need a Reservation for the Plaza Afternoon Tea

You absolutely need a reservation for the Plaza afternoon tea. In fact it can be difficult to even make a reservation since it is so popular, especially on the weekend and during the holiday season.

When I tried to make a reservation, I literally could not find anything on the weekend for a month so it’s pretty popular.

How to Make a Reservation for the Plaza Afternoon Tea

You can make a reservation on OpenTable and input your credit card information. Keep in mind that you will be charged $75 for no show and you can only cancel up to 24 hours before the reservation time.

Do you get refills on the finger sandwiches at the Plaza Afternoon Tea?

Technically you do not get refills on any of the sandwiches. I heard in the previous years you can ask for more but not when I went recently.

However, when I asked if they would give refills, my waiter was nice enough to bring out two extra sandwiches for me (and they happen to be the ones I liked the most: the salmon and beef sandwiches)!

extra food at plaza afternoon tea refill

How crowded is the Plaza Afternoon Tea?

Since reservations are always sold out, you can expect afternoon tea at the Plaza to be relatively full. The Palm Court is pretty spacious and tables are decently spread out, but if you are looking for that Instagram photo it may be hard to get it unless you go right at 10am or be one of the last ones to leave.

Is the Plaza Afternoon Tea Good for Kids?

The Plaza afternoon tea is great for kids as there is a kids menu.

I saw many moms with their daughters at the Plaza for afternoon tea while I was there. The kids I saw ranged from 3 – 10 and they all had their own tea set.

Would I take a 3 year old to get afternoon tea at the Plaza? Definitely not for over $100. But if you have money then go for it!

Dress code for afternoon at the Plaza

Yes there is a dress code for afternoon tea at the Plaza. According to their website, you cannot wear shorts, men’s sleeveless shirts, casual hats, ripped denim and athletic gear, so keep your Lululemon tights at home please.

You want to look the part for the Plaza afternoon tea, and I saw people dressed up with dresses, sweater + skirt, and slacks while I was there.

How long will afternoon tea at the Plaza take?

The entire afternoon tea experience at the Plaza can take as little as one hour and as long as two hours.

It took me an hour and 15 minutes to go through the entire set, enjoy the tea and relax a little but you can certainly stay longer.

Does the Plaza afternoon tea have enough food?

I can guarantee you that there is enough food for the afternoon tea set. Most people I saw could not even finish their entire set. I was super stuffed trying to finish everything and drinking a pot of tea doesn’t help!

Plaza Hotel Palm Court NYC

Other Things You Should Know About the Plaza Afternoon Tea

  • Leave your camera at home. The Plaza does not allow guests to use cameras inside. I did not know this and was told to put the camera away and only use phone
  • The bathrooms are upstairs. I guess this is to prevent non-guests from using the bathroom. It was actually really hard to find the bathrooms at the Plaza. You will need to go through the lobby (guests and diners only) and go upstairs. There is a security guard at the entrance of the lobby.
  • They may not let you into the hotel without a reservation, especially in December. In the previous years security outside of the Plaza hotel would not let anyone in unless they were guests at the hotel or dining/ grabbing a drink at the hotel.
  • The Afternoon Tea has Halal options. If you have dietary restrictions or want Halal options, you will need to contact them at least 72 hours prior for them to accommodate your request.
  • You should go during lunch hour. I know the name is “afternoon” tea, but really, you should go during lunch. The whole set is so filling I simply do not see how someone can finish it if they had lunch beforehand. You certainly won’t be eating dinner if you get this for the afternoon.
  • You can take the leftovers home. So we’ve established there is a lot of food. If you really can’t finish it, don’t worry, you can take the leftover home. Everyone I saw at the Plaza took leftovers home.
  • You can just grab a drink at the bar. Really couldn’t get a reservation for the afternoon tea? You can still enjoy the Palm Court by grabbing a drink at its center bar. Apparently another trick is to go early (before 10am) to get breakfast there.
NYC Plaza hotel Palm Court afternoon tea review

Is the Plaza Afternoon Tea Worth It?

I will be honest by saying that the Plaza afternoon tea is not for everyone. It is the most expensive afternoon tea in New York City and you are clearly not just paying for the food, but also the atmosphere and the prestige.

The Plaza afternoon tea is worth it at least once if you want to taste uniquely created sandwiches and pastries, celebrate a special event, or perhaps just want to say you did it.

But if you are on the fence about spending up to $200 for a meal or you don’t like some of the things on the menu, or you simply just want to try something more simple and less fancy, then perhaps you should consider a cheaper afternoon tea option.

Personally I knew I wanted to experience the Plaza afternoon tea at least once while living in New York City so it was quite worth the experience and memories.

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