As Miami locals we think 3p is cafecito time (actually 3:05p give that 305 is our area code!). We get cafecito at random corners on 8th street or Lincoln Road, pay $1 and call it a day. This weekend, we did something a little bit different. We had afternoon tea at the Biltmore Hotel.
The Biltmore Hotel is a “luxury resort destination with an award-wining spa.” It sounds incredibly fancy. As it should. Because that’s exactly the Biltmore. As we sat down at 3:15pm to have petite fours and loose leaf tea in real China, we saw three brides and their respective bridal parties, a few photographers, and the best of Miami’s society pages – really cute eight-year olds dressed in ballerina outfits extremely excited about the fact that the harp music was indeed from Beauty and the Beast (okay, I was really excited too, but let’s keep that between us).
The full tea service is $34.5 per person, and it includes a pretty generous three-tier tower of sweet and savory treats (the raspberry macarons were our favorite, followed by the flavored scones), plus three hot water refills of your own fancy hot tea pot. You can choose from white teas, black teas, and herbal teas, which is pretty hard, as all of them were pretty delicious. However, the tea service and the caring and smiling staff were actually not my favorite part of my first ever afternoon tea experience. The Biltmore Hotel was.
The Biltmore Hotel was designed by Schultze and Weaver and was built in 1926 by John McEntee Bowman and George Merrick as part of the Biltmore Hotel chain. When completed it became the tallest building in Florida at 315 feet holding the record until 1928 when the Dade County Courthouse was built. The Biltmore actually served as a hospital during World War II and as a VA Hospital and campus of the University of Miami medical school until 1968. In 1966, it was designated as a National Historic Landmark. The hotel was used for a setting for the movie Bad Boys, as well as TV shows such as CSI: Miami, and Miami Vice.
And, my total favorite part? Some said this hotel is actually HAUNTED, most often by the spirit of Thomas Walsh, or Thomas “Fatty” Walsh. He was a New York mobster who was killed at the Biltmore on March 4th, 1929 during a gambling dispute. Often, you hear Miami locals talk about how his ghost haunts the hotel elevator, which doors have been seen opening and closing and lights blinking on and off. The elevator usually stops and opens on the 13th floor, where Thomas Walsh was killed…oh my.
Fast-forward a few years later, and we are listening to classical music and smearing strawberry jam on buttery scones, and talking about the hotel’s amazing decor!
You can read more about Biltmore Hotel’s history here.