Birthday Tea at Chicago’s Drake Hotel


Last Friday I celebrated my 28th birthday with an English style afternoon tea at the Palm Court in the luxurious Drake Hotel in downtown Chicago. Of course my friends and I decked ourselves in our best vintage to match the opulent setting.

The Drake Hotel, founded in 1920, was once visited by Golden Era celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe as well as several U.S. presidents during its heyday. It’s in a prime location, close to the Hancock Tower, Oak Street Beach (Lake Michigan) and shopping on Michigan Avenue. The ground floor of the hotel houses luxurious shops like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Georg Jensen jewelry. It was a treat to nibble on fresh scones and revel in the history of the building in which we sat.


We opted for the special “History Tea” that included a guided walking tour of the hotel. Each of us were able to choose our tea and it was served in an individual pot. We shared a 3-tiered tray of goodies that included: banana bread and scones on the first tier, finger sandwiches of roast beef, cucumber and turkey on the second tray and French eclairs, cream puffs and assorted pastries on the third tier. While it sounds dainty, we were all full after making our way through the trays, especially since we all slathered the scones with clotted cream, lemon curd and jam!


A sweet vintage birthday card from my friend Leah.


From left to right: Robyn, Richard, Me, Sarah & Leah.


A tiered tray of treats including cream puffs in the shapes of swans.



A huge floral centerpiece dominated the room.


Toasting with tea, I told everyone to stick out their pinky finger.


Since we were consuming so many sweet treats I opted for a traditional Earl Gray tea, it was delicious as is and I opted not to put sugar or cream in mine.


We were all taken with these tarts that had glittery sugar on top of it– inside was a caramel base and a meringue-like cream top.


The Drake was sweet enough to present me with a piece of chocolate birthday cake, the best part of the experience was having the birthday song played live on a harp by the resident musician.


Laura (far left) also celebrated her birthday on the 22nd! Throughout my life I’ve always had a classmate, co-worker or friend who shared my birthday.




The Drake’s mascot is a dragon so the motif appears throughout the hotel including the carpet above.



Carved lion handrests on a antique chair that resembled a throne.


An old fashioned letter box near the elevator that is still functioning.


The dining room of the private Club International. It felt like a 1940s supper club in there!









A big thank you goes to my friend Richard for organizing the outing and my friends Robyn, Sarah, Leah and Laura for attending!

If you’re curious, I was wearing a pale pink 1950s dress, a 1960s coat, a 1950s floral crown and tights from Nordstrom Rack.



Comments 0

  1. Happy Birthday! You all look so fabulous! LOVE that coat on you! It really makes the whole look come together! Wondering if you have any advice on laundering your vintage clothing? I have one of my first pieces I'd like to wear from the 40's and I want to treat it right! Have a great weekend!

  2. Happy Birthday to you! It looks glorious. I've never been to the Drake (though Mel's grandparents went there for their honeymoon!), but I'm definitely inspired to check out their tea. Wow!

Leave a Reply