The holidays are quickly approaching, and that means one thing in Chicago. No, not sub-zero temps (at least not yet) — SHOPPING!! We live in one of the best cities in the world for exercising the plastic, but all that spending can be exhausting. Take a much needed time out for afternoon tea to rest and recharge. Several of our fair city’s hotels offer the time-old tradition that will turn a day of holiday shopping with the kids into a cherished memory. Here are our picks for getting in touch with your inner Brit with a spot o’ tea.
The Peninsula: The Lobby
Looking for an opportunity to indulge charitably this holiday season? Beginning Nov. 25, a donation of $5 will be made to the Make-A-Wish® Foundation of Illinois with each purchase of afternoon tea at The Lobby in the Peninsula hotel.
Though that’s reason enough to stop in for a spot of tea, you’ll also enjoy live music around The Peninsula’s beautiful Christmas tree while drinking your (included!) glass of Prosecco and a beautiful selection of house- made scones, finger sandwiches and pastries (vegan and gluten-free options available). You’ll leave with a warm fuzzy feeling and a special holiday ornament to commemorate the day.
If you really want to make their day, try The Peninsula’s special Children’s Annual Holiday Tea. Offered on Saturday and Sunday afternoons beginning December 3 until Christmas, children can listen to stories from Mrs. Claus, decorate holiday cookies and enjoy other activities in anticipation of the big day.
108 E. Superior St.
Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 30
Seatings: Mon.-Sat., 2:30pm & 4:30 p.m.; Sun., 3:30 p.m.–5 p.m.
Cost: $75/adults (includes glass of Prosecco); $35/kids
The Four Seasons: Allium Restaurant and Bar
We hope you’re not planning on bringing your Aunt Sally to the Four Seasons for afternoon tea, because it’s literally called “Not Your Aunt Sally’s High Tea.” At this chic contemporary midwestern restaurant inside the Four Seasons hotel, traditional tea fare meets Allium’s modern version of a sharing tower. Enjoy old faithfuls such as House Smoked Salmon and Everything Bagels alongside innovative culinary treats like Deviled Eggs with Caviar. The kids will love the PB&J or Ham and Cheese Sandwiches followed by Raspberry Sugar Cookies, Chocolate Cupcakes and Rice Krispy Treats.
If that’s not enough to make you want to get your tea on, the Four Seasons serves hot chocolate Fridays and Saturdays during the holidays in the lower lobby and tea and cookies in the main lobby.
120 E. Delaware Place
Dates: Nov. 5-Dec. 31
Seatings: 2:30 p.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $58/adults; $21/ages 12 & under
photo: Tea at The Drake courtesy of Sarah Larsen
The Drake: Palm Court
If you want to feel like royalty, afternoon tea at the Drake is for you. After all, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Diana and the Empress of Japan – each of whom has enjoyed tea at the famous hotel – wouldn’t settle for just any cuppa. All year long, Palm Court at the Drake offers both an adult menu with traditional afternoon tea fare (a variety of tiny crust-less sandwiches, scones and petit fours) as well as a “Little Prince and Princess Tea” including PB&J finger sandwiches and hot chocolate or a kiddie cocktail. BONUS POINTS: Palm Court offers gluten-free and vegetarian options if you let them know that’s how you roll in advance.
Deck the halls! During the holiday season Palm Court will transform into a “winter wonderland” complete with festive decorations, seasonal pastries, a harpist and even a merry band of carolers on select days in November and December and throughout the “12 days of Christmas.”
140 E. Walton Place
Dates: Nov. 18-Jan. 3
Seatings: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Cost: $49/adults; $24/kids
The Langham Hotel: Pavilion
For the die-hard holiday shopper who starts on State Street and treks to North Michigan Ave, the Langham hotel is the perfect place for a shopping halftime. Pavilion is hosting Wonderland Tea which includes cucumber sandwiches, orange cranberry and gingerbread scones and desserts including the Speculoos Cookie with milk chocolate ganache and raspberry caramel. Guests can choose from a variety of teas such as The Langham Blend, a sophisticated twist on a classic English breakfast and Palm Court Blend, a unique blend of the finest quality Chinese white tea, with hibiscus flowers, rosehip, and pink rose petals.
330 N. Wabash
Dates: Nov. 19-Jan. 7
Seatings: Mon.-Wed., 3 p.m.-5 p.m.; Thurs.-Sun., 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: $75/adults (includes glass of prosecco and parting gift)
Palmer House Hilton: Lockwood Restaurant & Bar
If spending the day on Michigan Avenue is the holiday outing equivalent of getting coal in your stocking, spend the day ice skating in Millennium Park and refuel with afternoon tea at the nearby Palmer House Hilton hotel. For the holidays, the Palmer House’s Lockwood restaurant adds a seasonal flare to its traditional tea menu (mmmm … pepperminty chocolate). A separate kids’ menu is also available at Lockwood, with foolproof finger sandwiches and sweets for even the pickiest eaters on your “nice” list.
17 E. Monroe
Dates: Nov. 25-Jan. 1
Seatings: 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Cost: Regular tea, $40/adults; $20/kids; Holiday Tea, $45/person
Reservations: 312-917-3404 (requires at least 24 hours notice)
Vanilla’s French-inspired Afternoon tea with signature pastries, house made jams and curds and finger sandwiches is a one-of-a-kind experience that will transport you and your bébés to the city of lights. The new Holiday Tea menu includes all of the standard Afternoon Tea items with the addition of lemon pepper quiche, pumpkin curd, gingerbread macaron, and pecan tart. No worries! They didn’t forget the chocolate lovers in the house, the Holiday Tea is topped off with Vanille’s signature hot chocolate, a house made marshmallow, and peppermint macaron.
2108 N. Clark St.
Dates: Nov. 25-Dec. 31
Seatings: noon, 2 p.m. & 4 p.m.
Where’s your favorite location to grab a spot of tea with the kiddos? Share in the Comments below!
—Maria Chambers & MaryKate Hickey