The British are coming; the British are coming! On Saturday, May 19, 2018, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle joined hands in Holy Matrimony at Windsor Castle. It was a royal affair as two cultures became one. A world-wide event as onlookers sat at the edge of their seats pondering – what will she be wearing, who will walk her down the aisle, will her estranger family ruin her big day, and to be a fly on the wall at those ragging after parties. The culture clash brought about by the Royal Wedding left many wanting to live vicariously through Markle as the bi-racial, American actress who finally got her happily ever after. At last, it was a Royal wedding filled with regalia, tradition, and impeccable British charm.
The Royal wedding exceeded our expectations following the four R’s, Romantic, Regal, Radiant and of course, Royal. The blushing bride’s ceremony dress was designed by newly appointed British designer, Clare Waight Keller the first female artistic director at the historic French fashion house Givenchy. Her dress was simple, elegant and modern accompanied by a bateau neckline and bracelet sleeves in a double bonded silk cady with a soft matte lustre. Markle also paid homage to the monarchy by wearing a borrowed crown from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II passed down from Queen Mary, which is also known as the Queen Mary diamond bandeau tiara. The diamonds weren’t the only showstopper as Markle’s 16.4-foot veil commanded the room incorporating all 53 commonwealth countries “representing the distinctive flora of each Commonwealth country united in one spectacular floral composition,” in a statement by Kensington Palace.
Markle wanted a dress that was timeless and demure but shows a sense of modernity as a new era for the Royal family is amongst us. Aside from the global spotlight and media-driven commentary she is a princess for the people. We were enamored with the glee-filled bride, but we were encompassed by the winsome couple, better known as The Duke and Duchess of Sussex. In true American form absorbing all things British culture is our forte, so what better way to commemorate the royal festivities than with a spot of tea.
Afternoon tea was introduced to Great Britain in the early 1840s, initially developed as a private social event for ladies who climbed the “echelons of society.” The genesis of ‘tea receptions’ as we know it today follow the royal protocol of the late Queen Victoria ranging from a large gathering to an intimate setting with an open ‘at home’ invitation between 4 pm and 7 pm. Today, afternoon tea is enjoyed as an occasional indulgence in not only Great Britain, but Americans have joined in on the elegant affair as well. Afternoon tea is often composed of delicate sandwiches, sweet pastries, and cake.
The signature scone, clotted cream, and jam combo were introduced to the menu in the twentieth century. The royal wedding called to action well-known New York City-based institutions such as Tea & Sympathy, Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon, Alice’s Tea Cup, BG Restaurant at Bergdorf Goodman, The Pembroke Room at the Lowell Hotel, and The Plaza Hotel. We couldn’t help but partake in the afternoon pastime when offered the chance to indulge as the Royals do at the Baccarat Hotel’s: Un Thé Royal/ Tale of Two Cities Royal Afternoon Tea program.
The Baccarat Hotel opened its Manhattan, New York City flagship location on March 18, 2015, located in the heart of Midtown across the street from the Museum of Modern Art and steps away from Fifth Avenue’s legendary shopping. The Baccarat Hotel opened with one initiative in mind, “reimage the elegance and perfection of the Legendary French Crystal maker into a luxury lifestyle hospitality brand.” Dating back to 1764, King Louis XV founded the storied luxury brand whose artisans and craftsman have received the title of Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. Today, the Baccarat Hotel is seen as a modern day ‘House of Baccarat’ brought to life, taking a brand which has never been compromised and created its first luxury lifestyle hotel masterpiece, says Barry Sternlicht, Chairman, and CEO of Starwood Capital Group.
The Baccarat hotel enables us to live grand as guests are transported to a lap of luxury that is alluring and sophisticated, but not overly formal. A celebration of light and shimmer is apparent as guests are greeted by a mesmerizing 20-by-25-foot wall adorned with more than 2,000 of Baccarat’s most iconic glasses in the lobby – talk about making an entrance. Each customized glass is lit by an LED light to create a 24-hour light show.
The hotel’s design concept was conceived by French design duo Gilles & Boissier to combine the “classic elegance of a Parisian hôtel particular with the contemporary aesthetic of its midtown New York City location.” The color scheme offered in black, white, ivory, and an accent of red mimic the theme found throughout the Baccarat chandeliers. Classic pieces were also curated from the brands’ archival and contemporary collections that incorporated the legacy of the Baccarat name while finding a perfect balance of an evolution for the brand.
The décor of the rooms is a mix between contemporary sensibility with classic elements. The Baccarat Hotel offer guests a vast selection of room categories beginning with Classic King and ascend to the Baccarat Suite, the hotel’s “pièce de résistance.” Each room is also accompanied by exclusive amenities created for the hotel by Parisian perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Making our way to the Grand Salon – upon arrival guests will notice the classic silk covered walls, banquet seating, marble tables, and crystal galore. The opulent dining space features afternoon tea, breakfast, lunch and dinner service as guests enjoy the grandiose views of barrel-vaulted ceilings, a 60-foot tall bar, and an outdoor terrace overlooking the Museum of Modern Art.
Afternoon tea is a service the Baccarat Hotel prides themselves in having an “extensive afternoon tea program.” How extensive could a cup of tea and scones be, right? Gabrielle Jammal, designated tea sommelier for the Baccarat Hotel New York, says “Tea is such a significant part of our lives and a very personal passion for so many around the world.” Tea receptions, as stated prior are genuinely ingrained in culture and wellness, but also a time of social gathering and experiences for all ages.
The Baccarat Hotel hosts an afternoon tea reception that is reflective of those enjoyed in palaces around the world. Although, Baccarat is a traditionally French brand they value culture globally and what better place to showcase this initiative than the epicenter known as the ‘mixing pot’ of culture that is New York City. The fine art of tea is presented through a celebration of historical personalities from Europe to the Middle East.
The hotel’s signature afternoon tea offerings include four specialized teas:
- Sultan Abdülaziz – A Turkish Tea at Dolmabahçe Palace
- King Louis XV – A French Tea at Versailles
- Prince of Wales – An English Tea at Windsor
- Tsar Nicholas II – A Caviar Tea for Two at Tsarskoye Selo
To commemorate the upcoming British Royal Wedding, the Baccarat Hotel has enlisted another tea offering, “A Tale of Two Cities.” This afternoon tea reception creates a happy medium between British and American cultures to reflect the union between Prince Harry and Meghan Markel; signature dishes include – Shepard’s pie, “Fish & Chips,” Yorkshire pudding, Avocado toast, Maine lobster salad, Bakewell tart, and Strawberry shortcake. But, what would an afternoon tea be without the inclusion of scones accompanied by Devonshire Cream and Seasonal Gelée?
Photo Credit: The Baccarat Hotel
We can’t give the entire menu away, so you’ll have to witness this royal affair for yourself. Let’s say our inner-Brit came out in full swing, and we may or may not have waved the Union Jack for good measure. The Royal Afternoon Tea: A Tale of Two Cities is offered throughout May, so if you’re still reeling from the Royal Wedding and want to recap the momentous occasion there’s plenty of time to join in on the royal festivities.
If you simply fancy a ‘cuppa’ in an extraordinary setting, you can also partake in the hotel’s other tea receptions long after the Royal Wedding has come and gone. The Prince of Wales Tea is offered Monday through Sunday, with all other tea presentations offered Wednesday through Sunday. Tea service occurs between1 pm to 4 pm.
The Baccarat Hotel is the crystal palace of New York city filled with opulence and French glamor. An oasis of luxury and an escape from one’s pattern lifestyle and into an alternate reality where crystal dreams are made. Baccarat opened its doors as not only a staple name within French culture, but incorporates culture from around the globe to encompass a curated tea reception to bring these “imaginary journeys to life.” A hotel that exudes poise and stature in every sense of the word, but also presents an ear of modernity and a reflection of the current times.