For the last several years, my husband has taken me for afternoon tea on my birthday. It’s become kind of a tradition, and I look forward to it every year. This year we went to the Baccarat Hotel, which has an afternoon tea served in the Grand Salon on the second floor. In a word, the whole experience was exquisite. The ambiance is beautiful, a bit bling-y from all the crystal (because, well, Baccarat!) but in the most stunning way, not overly done. It’s not stuffy at all, but very comfortable and relaxed, and wonderfully luxurious. Most of the available teas are from Mariage Freres, but they also have Camellia Sinensis and In Pursuit of Tea, so everything on offer is of the highest quality. The food is absolutely delicious. There are a few types of tea services to choose from, but we went with the most traditional one, called The Prince of Wales. From the scrumptious scones and pastries to the delectable little savory sandwiches, everything was just perfect. Gabrielle, the tea sommelier, was wonderful, making sure the tea was superb. Friendly and lovely to chat with, she’s quite knowledgeable and it elevated the whole experience. I can’t recommend this enough, as long as you’re OK with a little bit of a hit to the wallet. Personally, I felt it was worth it, as it was the absolute best afternoon tea I’ve experienced in NYC so far.