The Whitby Bar and Restaurant in New York City is a popular place for afternoon tea. While it’s a bit pricy at $75 per person, this is the perfect way for both locals and tourists to spend a few hours in the city. If you’re celebrating a special occassion or want to splurge, you can upgrade to the champagne option.
In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about afternoon tea at the Whitby including exactly what to expect.
Our NYC Expereince
Kristen is a New York State native and we lived in New York City for a few months in 2021. We chose to move to the city so we could create the best content possible because you can’t just visit NYC for a weekend and claim to be an expert. Read more about us.
While we no longer live here, we still travel to the city every year because it’s one of the best places to visit in the USA. We’ve personally enjoyed afternoon tea at the Whitby Hotel and the information we share is based on our own experience.
The Whitby Hotel
The Whitby Hotel is owned by Tim and Kit Kemp as a part of a collection called the Firmdale Hotels. This includes 12 boutique hotels or residences in both London and New York City.
You can find the Whitby Hotel located on 56th Street just a few steps away from 5th Avenue in Midtown Manhattan. Central Park is a short three block walk northeast from the hotel and Top of the Rock is only 6 blocks southwest.
This is the perfect location for enjoying a spot of afternoon tea in New York City after a long morning of shopping in world-class department stores.
As you walk into the Whitby Hotel, pops of bold and cheerful colors greet you when entering the main lobby. To the left of the lobby, you’ll find the bar at the Whitby Hotel. We loved the collection of baskets from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales hanging over the bar.
Afternoon tea is served Monday to Friday from 1:30pm to 5:00pm and Saturday to Sunday from 12:00pm to 5:00pm. You can also enjoy a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
Further Reading: How to see Central Park in winter
What Is Afternoon Tea?
Before we get into the details about the Whitby, it’s important you understand the tradition of afternoon tea. Mark is British after all and we highly recommend it.
Introduced in Great Britain in the 1840’s, afternoon tea was a small meal after lunch meant to curb hunger pains until dinner. It was typically served as bite sized sandwiches cut into fingers and scones with clotted cream served with tea.
Today, afternoon tea has evolved into an incredible filling 3 course spread consisting of savory finger sandwiches, tasty scones and sweet treats to be enjoyed on any occasion.
Travel Tip: High tea and afternoon tea are different. High tea is a larger meal served later in the day which includes tea, bread, cheese, meat, vegetables, pies and potatoes served on a dining room table or high counter.
Afternoon Tea Menu
In truth, afternoon tea is a bit of an luxury spend, but it’s certainly a lovely treat. At $75 per person, this price includes sandwiches, scones, sweet treats and specialty tea, coffee or hot chocolate. You can also upgrade to champagne or caviar as well. See the prices here.
If you’re looking to go the traditional tea route, you have many options including English breakfast, earl grey, wood dragon oolong, jade spring green tea, white peony bai mudan, assam chai, lemon verbena, roobios, peppermint and whole chamomile flowers.
The correct etiquette for eating afternoon tea is to go in order from savory to sweet. But this can be challenging if you have a sweet tooth. In true British fashion, you should start with the sandwiches, move onto the scones and then finish with the sweets.
Travel Tip: You can eat all 3 courses with your fingers.
1. The Savory Course
The Whitby Hotel regularly updates their menu, but you can expect four finger sandwiches per person. These can be easily eaten in 2 to 3 bites.
Our small sandwiches included:
- Classic egg salad
- Cucumber and cream cheese
- Smoked salmon and lemon crème fraîche
- Coronation chicken
Depending on your taste, you might like all or none of these options. But we found each sandwich to be very good so be sure to try each one.
Need help organizing your visit to NYC?
Our popular 50+ page New York City Guidebook can help you with planning every aspect of your trip.
2. The Scone Course
A scone is a delicious slightly sweetened baked good which has a short-cake like texture making them very crumbly and dense. But there is a difference between a British and American scone.
British scones are round with a simple flavor profile because they are meant to be enjoyed with clotted cream, preserves, butter or lemon curd. It would be considered weird to eat one of these scones plain.
American scones on the other hand are a triangle shaped sugary pastry. They are much more dense and are meant to be eaten on their own. Sometimes they even come with a layer of icing.
The Whitby Hotel serves British scones and this is what we had for our scone course:
- Plain scone
- Apple cinnamon scone
- Generous serving of clotted cream
- Apricot preserve
- Raspberry preserve
Travel Tip: The best way to eat a scone is to break it in half with your fingers. You can then use a knife to slather on the clotted cream or preserves.
3. The Sweet Course
Now onto the last course, the delicious sweets. You can expect this plate to be filled with small pastries that can be eaten in 2 to 3 bites like the rest of the meal.
Here are the sweets we had with our afternoon tea:
- Pear and ginger layer cake
- Red velvet macaroon
- Wild berry opera cake
- Chocolate and raspberry chiboust tart
The pear and ginger cake was our favorite, but we found every single pastry to be light and delicious. It was the perfect finale for our afternoon tea.
Ambiance And Presentation
Afternoon tea can be enjoyed in the Whitby Bar or the much quieter and secluded Orangery (pictured above). Both are great options, but we personally preferred the upbeat cosmopolitan vibe in the bar.
The Orangery offers a stark contrast to the bar, thus serving the needs of many personalities. There is also a defined space where orange trees can grow in a protected environment away from the cold.
Even if you don’t eat in the Orangery, stop by to check out the 40 illuminated porcelain pots beautifully etched with a unique New York City building or landmark. This space can be rented our for private functions or intimate dinners and the colors are much more subtle compared to the hotel.
In addition to our meal, we loved the amazing attention to detail. Kit Kemp’s stunning Wedgewood china featuring a sailors farewell was used for our place settings at the hotel. The red sailboat, whales and lighthouses created a tranquil ocean theme that perfectly mimicked our relaxed feeling.
There was also an excellent music selection playing in the bar which gave our tea time a calming pool side mood.
Further Reading: The best New York City itinerary
Our afternoon tea experience at the Whitby Hotel was fantastic. We thoroughly enjoyed the escapism and retreat from the hustle and bustle of relentless Manhattan.
One of our favorite thing about this experience was the wait staff. To us, good service is when staff are attentive, but not over bearing and this is precisely what we received at the Whitby Hotel.
We could enjoy our meal at a leisurely pace without feeling rushed. But at the same time, we also has exactly what we needed at the right moments. Since we visited during New York in winter, we were grateful to have the hot tea keeping us warm.
We think afternoon tea at the Whitby Hotel is a wonderful way to enjoy a slice of traditional British fare with friends in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. So if you’re looking for a spot to enjoy afternoon tea in New York, we highly recommend you stop in at the Whitby Hotel.
More New York Guides
- Best things to do in New York City
- How to spend 4 incredible days in NYC
- Where to find the best NYC hotels
- Tips for visiting New York in winter
- Best observation decks in New York
- The best New York passes compared
Want more New York content? Head over to our New York Travel Guides to explore the Finger Lakes, Adirondacks and the best of NYC.
We hope this review featuring afternoon tea at the Whitby Hotel helps you decide if this is something you want to do during your NYC trip!
Please let us know if you have any questions about afternoon tea or New York City in the comments below.
Mark and Kristen
Enjoy this Whitby Hotel Afternoon Tea guide? Pin it for later!
Note: This article contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.
All Rights Reserved © Where Are Those Morgans, LLC. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, maps, graphics, etc.) in whole or in part is strictly prohibited.
Mark and Kristen Morgan are travel, hiking and photography experts. Over the last 6 years traveling full time, they have explored more than 40 countries and 30 US states.
Where Are Those Morgans has been featured in USA Today, Gestalten, Get Your Guide, CityPASS and Condé Nast Traveler along with various other publications. Read more about us.