Four Great Reasons to Have Afternoon Tea in New York’s Whitby Hotel
The Whitby, the latest in the mad genius collection of Tim and Kit Kemp’s Firmdale hotels, opened on Manhattan’s 56th Street in March. And while I suspected the 10th addition to their boutique hotel portfolio would demand to be Instagrammed (Kit’s quirky design sense is just so much fun), I had no idea their afternoon tea would feel like hearing Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band for the first time or like finally seeing Picasso's Guernica.
Every detail, from the collection of 52 British Isles baskets hanging over the 30-foot pewter bar to the mythical creature Wedgewood china on which the brown butter hazelnut cake and elderberry-Meyer lemon crisp is served, screams “Wake up! This is what’s possible.”
Here are four great reasons to have afternoon tea in Manhattan’s new Whitby Hotel.
You could potentially win a free night in one of the hotel’s 86 rooms or suites, each with floor to ceiling windows.
Although you can indulge in afternoon tea in any number of beautiful spots in the hotel, the Orangery, with its dramatic vaulted ceilings and skylight, gets my vote. Not only is it adorned with vintage English platters, but it has 47 illuminated porcelain pots, each etched with the outline of a New York landmark.
They were designed by English artist Martha Freud (the great great granddaughter of Sigmund), and Kit told Women’s Wear Daily that anybody who can correctly identify them all scores a free night in the hotel.
You can easily forego dinner.
Not that I would ever willingly choose to waive any meal when there are this many great restaurants nearby (in a three-block radius alone, you’ll find Nobu, Ma Peche and The Modern), but the goodies that accompany the Whitby’s three choices of afternoon tea include walnut pesto palmier, pretzel bite rarebit, grilled hanger steak tartine with horseradish cream, baby beet salad with saffron-marinated fennel...and that’s just on one tier of the three-tiered tray! There’s also black forest quinoa puffs, bananas Foster coconut dream cake, key lime icebox cake and, of course, warm scones, clotted cream, and preserves.
You might score the new Spider Man’s autograph.
Thanks to the Whitby’s oh-la-la screening room (it has 130 leather seats and state-of-the art lighting, sound, digital, and 3D technology), the photo call for Spider-Man: Homecoming that debuted July 7 was held at the Whitby (and, yes, Tom Ford, Michael Keaton, and Robert Downey Jr. were all there).
The Whitby’s basement theater has also screened (and held press junkets for) for this year’s The Mummy (Tom Cruise), The Hero (Sam Elliott), Guardians of the Galaxy (Zoe Saldana and J.J. Abrams) and Diane von Furstenberg’s Cezanne et Moi.
You’ll kill two birds with one stone. The Whitby and MoMA are practically neighbors, but why not get your contemporary art fix all in one place? Although the $1.5 million bronze cat by Fernando Botero ended up outside Kit Kemp’s other New York hotel (the Crosby in Soho), the Whitby’s art collection has everything from mosaic reproductions of Boris Anrep to a grandfather clock with an animated 3-D timekeeper who manually changes the time.