Tea Time at the Top of the Mark

Dec 13, 2012 / By Serena
Posted in San Francisco Bay Area / Travel |

A few nights ago at Rick Prelinger’s screening of the Lost Landscapes of San Francisco – quickly becoming a favorite annual tradition – I caught some footage of ladies at tea at the Top of the Mark back in the 40s. Their hats were pinned just so, their pinky fingers alight with each lifting of the cup… It was a time and place I momentarily longed to enter as the film flickered along.

I’m happy to say that minus the hats, the experience is still awaiting. The Top of the Mark is open for tea and cocktails most nights of the year, and in the wintery months they serve special Holiday Tea and Magical Tea menus for those who want the complete and iconic experience. Three-tiered trays of dainty sandwiches, of course sans crust, arrive at your table with special sweets like mini pumpkin cheesecakes and fluffy house-made scones to slather with decadent Devonshire cream and quintessential lemon curd.

For younger tea-goers, the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins is putting on the aptly-named Magical Tea, complete with a magician and facepainter. From the buffet of tea sandwiches sample additional specialties like Kobe beef sliders and pulled pork sliders. Guests can design their own gingerbread creations to take home.

It’s an update on the classic 19th Floor experience Top of the Mark visitors have been treated to since 1939. (Check out the photos here of past and present views.)

Now I just have to see about getting some hat pins!

The Top of the Mark at the Intercontinental Mark Hopkins is in the Nob Hill neighborhood of San Francisco, a steep walk up from Union Square. Traditional Holiday Tea is offered from 2:30 to 5pm until December 19th and then again from December 26-28 and the Magical Tea is this Friday the 14th and also the 15th and the 20-22nd. Bring a toy for their drive and receive $2 off your tea service price.

(Thanks for your patience while GrassRoutes went on a mini-break these past few weeks!)

Top of the Mark then and now (1965 and 2012), photos courtesy of Intercontinental Mark Hopkins