Traditional Tea

Instead of staging a raucous destination bachelorette party, stay local (and luxurious) with tea at the Jefferson Hotel

By: Kathleen Bridges

Afternoon tea at the Jefferson Hotel is a classy alternative to a bridesmaid getaway in Vegas. Photograph courtesy of the Jefferson.

If you’re the type of bride who’s more Lady Di than Lady Gaga, a booze-soaked bender in Vegas is probably not your idea of a good time. The Champagne tea at the historic Jefferson Hotel is perhaps a more genteel choice for bachelorette parties and other bridal fêtes, and will spare you and your maids the airfare—and the hangover—required of a weekend in Sin City.

In 2009, the 86-year-old Jefferson Hotel reopened after a two-year overhaul, which revived former spaces and created new ones. The Greenhouse, which plays host to the hotel’s traditional afternoon teas, is an example; its elaborate skylight, hidden since World War II, was uncovered during the renovation. Bridal parties of up to eight can be accommodated in the Greenhouse, located just off the hotel’s lobby, where they can sip teas from a menu of greens and blacks and nibble on seasonal tea sandwiches (we’d like to try Chef Chris’s smoked salmon with lemon aioli or his braised roast beef on rye), an assortment of scones and clotted creams with homemade preserves, and miniature pastries (the Virginia Peanut Praline caught our eye). Traditional tea is $39 per guest; a Champagne tea is available for $55.

For a fall or winter event, you might prefer to take tea in the hotel’s Book Room, a cozy, 54-square-foot nook inspired by the hotel’s namesake’s love of literature. Book-lined shelves and a fireplace make for more intimate surroundings, but it’s a little pricier: $150 per hour on top of the tea service charges.

For larger parties, the Gallatin Room is also an option; up to 40 guests can be served, and custom décor can be added.

The party doesn’t need to end after tea. Make a day of it by arranging treatments for you and your ’maids in the hotel’s downstairs spa, consistently a favorite with visiting celebrities, and then end your day with a Sparkling Clementine at Quill, the sophisticated, multi-room lounge (which made our 2011 Great Bars list). And we love the idea of having an old-school slumber party taken up a few notches by sleeping over in the hotel’s luxurious rooms.

For more information, call Patricia at the Jefferson at 202-448-3253, or visit jeffersondc.com.