Empress Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental - DC

4.1
72 reviews
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$31 to $50
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Afternoon Tea
An inviting escape from the rigors of the city, Empress Lounge is a relaxing venue for cocktails, light fare and of course afternoon tea. With house made pastries and signature tea sandwiches afternoon tea at Empress Lounge is truly a destination for all.
Dining Style
Casual Dining
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Cuisines
Afternoon Tea, Contemporary American, Contemporary Asian
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Hours of operation
Daily: 12:00pm - 12:00am
Tea Service: Friday. - Sunday 2:30pm - 4pm
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Phone number
(202) 787-6140
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Payment options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
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Dress code
Casual Dress
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Executive chef
Mark McDonnell
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Neighborhood
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Cross street
12th St SW and Maryland Ave SW
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Parking details
$11 per car
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Public transit
Walking distance to: L'Enfant Metro Station (Yellow, Green)
Walking distance to: Smithsonian Metro Station (Blue, Orange)
Additional
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Counter Seating, Entertainment, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, High Tea, Late Night, Outdoor dining, Outdoor Smoking Area, View, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine
What 72 People Are Saying
Overall ratings and reviews
Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant
4.1based on recent ratings
3.9
food
4.1
service
3.8
ambience
3.6
value
Noise · Moderate
71% of people would recommend it to a friend
5
4
3
2
1
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KH
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on December 2, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 3ambience 4

We enjoyed our afternoon tea at the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental Hotel! Everyone was lovely and our only complaint was the noise level (tea is served in the lounge area in the lobby, so it can be very noisy) and the service was a bit slow. However, there was a large party for tea, so that may be the reason why. The food and tea are delicious and the staff could not be nicer.

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BM
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on November 3, 2018
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 3

I was really looking forward to sharing a nice High Tea with my two friends. The pictures on the website was very misleading. The finger sandwiches were very small and more bread than meat. This was definitely a let down considering how much I enjoy the experience of High Teas. If you've done High Teas before and experienced great food, this well definitely be a let down.

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JC
Hawaii
7 reviews
Dined on October 14, 2018
Overall 2food 1service 3ambience 2

I love having Tea wherever I travel to and I have come to realize that DC does not have any good Tea houses. I was really disappointed with my experience at The Empress Lounge. The staff is the only positive thing I can say about this place. The Tea was average, the Tea was too strong and had to request for a new one. The food was a joke. When sitting for Tea, I expect white table clothes on the table, this place did not have one. The seat I sat on was uncomfortable and dirty (food remnants and dust was imbedded on the seams...gross). The Lounge area has potential, Afternoon Tea seams secondary, it's nice for evening cocktails or a place to kill time.

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A
Washington DC
10 reviews
Dined on September 16, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Delicious! We did the high tea for my mom’s birthday and it was wonderful. Perfect amount of food + overall great experience!

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K
Washington DC
10 reviews
Dined on September 2, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 4

We had a reservation for tea. I did not know that the area would be open for all of the hotel guests so we were a bit out of place dressed in hats and tea attire, while those around us were dressed in very casual attire. Notwithstanding, we had a great time because we were celebrating something special. The service was good and the tea treats were fresh and tasty. The price was reasonable for the area. Would come again, but would not fuss about our dress.

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M
Jacksonville
1 review
Dined on August 26, 2018
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful service and a nice afternoon tea. Missing some of the best frills of traditional tea (like porcelain teapots and warm scones) but overall very good for the price.

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S
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on August 19, 2018
Overall 1food 1service 1ambience 3

I went for tea. Awful. Just plain awful. I have never had service so bad.

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TG
1 review
Dined on August 11, 2018
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Wonderful tea, great server, great food choices. Only negative was our table was right beside the bar, not very conducive to afternoon tea. Would have much preferred no view of the TV and noisy afternoon bar patrons. Ours was the only table located beside the bar like that. The location really took away from our special occasion tea with my daughters.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on July 27, 2018
Overall 3food 5service 4ambience 3

Food and tea were great, but not the best spot if you're expecting a high tea experience. It's more of a general hotel lounge that just happens to also offer afternoon tea.

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IA
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on March 10, 2018
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

We all had such a lovely afternoon! The High Tea selections were great, the sandwiches and sweets were delicious, and our server was ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC. The only complaint is that the tables were really small and it was quite cramped for a party of 10. We had to adjust and readjust the settings often. Other than that, we had a delightful time. Thank you!

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on December 23, 2017
Overall 2food 1service 4ambience 3

The food, particularly the sweets, accompanying the afternoon tea service was almost inedible. We didn't finish the food and some members of our party became physically ill from the amount of sugar used. Although we've come here for several years at the holidays, we do not intend to return.

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OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on December 17, 2017
Overall 2food 1service 3ambience 3

Tea time $50 include tip was horrible, worse than eating at McDonald’s. Not expecting big portion but it was soooo little

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KT
Washington DC
6 reviews
Dined on December 16, 2017
Overall 3food 3service 2ambience 2

This was a holiday afternoon tea with friends. We've been doing it ever year for a long time, and the first time we'd tried the Mandarin Oriental. Given the cost, it was disappointing on many levels. We waited quite a while to be seated and there was nobody at the entry to meet us. Afternoon, this time of year, there is direct sun from the large windows and no blinds to block it so it's right in your eyes, very annoying. The tea was very good, food was OK but not special, although they did honor a request for an all-vegetarian plate for one of our party. Service was less prompt than it could have been. Appeared to be too few staff for the number of people.

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OT
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on November 19, 2017
Overall 4food 5service 3ambience 4

Adults daughter home for the week. Enjoying family time

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MM
Washington DC
14 reviews
Dined on August 26, 2017
Overall 3food 2service 5ambience 3

Service is remarkable. We were given a complimentary dessert or appetizer of our choosing as a gift for our anniversary - we were there celebrating 14 years. The gesture was lovely, but the cheese plate we selected was surprisingly inelegant, populated almost exclusively by 3 hunks of cheese of a size and variety you'd commonly find at the grocery store. Pong, the bartender, is fun. He's as serious about being a showman as he is a top notch mixologist. The Tom Kha-Rita, a recipe of his own design, was gorgeous and yummy, but the J'aime Paris was a light and refreshing delight. Good people-watching. Lots of new money looking to impress.

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OT
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on June 30, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

We chose the Empress Lounge for high tea to celebrate a 90th birthday. Fantastic setting, baked goods, sandwiches and desserts were exceptional and inventive. Truffled egg salad in pastry puff will not to be forgotten.

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O
Washington DC
34 reviews
Dined on June 11, 2017
Overall 3food 4service 5ambience 2

Afternoon Tea in a bar lounge? Around people with T-shirts, shorts, flip-flops? Infants crawling on stair entrance? Guests storing large pieces of luggage on the stair entrance, while they dine? Employees holding personal conversations in speaker in the ladies room??

Was the manager asleep on the job???

Food and Service was superior... atmosphere was horrible... this Afternoon Tea is OVER-RATED!!!!

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l
Washington DC
50 reviews
Dined on May 21, 2017
Overall 3food 3service 4ambience 4

By the end of tea service, the food had grown a little dry and stale so the sandwiches that came at 4 pm were decidedly not fresh. Same with the scones. The service was fine and the lounge is lovely. I'd recommend getting an earlier reservation. It was fine but I don't know that I'd go back anytime soon.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on May 12, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

Great place for high tea

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OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on May 6, 2017
Overall 4food 5service 2ambience 5

The afternoon tea selection was excellent and the ambience was lovely; my only issue was it was practically impossible to get the attention of the server. We waited half an hour before anyone came to take our drink orders and then were there for another hour afterwards waiting on a check. I'd still recommend the Empress Lounge though as I'm sure it was just a luck-of-the-draw problem with service.

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d
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined on April 9, 2017
Overall 2food 2service 1ambience 1

Not a great afternoon tea experience. We were seated at the window next to a door that is used to get in and out to the outdoor seating area. Every time the servers went in and out the wind blew my hair and there was a loud crash as the door closed -- very jarring. Also, because we were at the window, it was uncomfortably hot and sunny because of the angle of the sun. Our desserts actually melted into each other and we had to ask for the damaged desserts to be replaced. The server was very nice but not attentive.

Separately, because we were seated close to the bar, I saw a lot of food orders going out. I saw some unsanitary handling of the food -- food that fell off the plate and onto the counter being scooped up and placed on the plate and out to customers! At that point I lost my appetite.

If you are interested in afternoon tea, the Willard's Peacock Alley and St. Regis are much better options.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on February 12, 2017
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Went here for high tea as a small birthday celebration. Absolutely wonderful! Great tea and excellent food! However, I didn't know I had to request the Chinese New Year menu prior to the day of the reservation, because I booked through Opentable instead of directly calling the restaurant. So fyi, if you want a different menu than the standard, make sure you tell the staff when they call to confirm your reservation. Otherwise, this was great! And they were very accommodating as they made my friend a special lactose free tea service!

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OT
New York Area
4 reviews
Dined on February 4, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 5ambience 5

They did not have our open table reservation on their list, but after a bit of a wait, they made room for us.

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H
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on January 29, 2017
Overall 4food 3service 5ambience 4

Wonderful service. Food was good, wish we had a better table.

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K
Washington DC
5 reviews
Dined on January 28, 2017
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

Quite enjoyable afternoon tea with good food and service. The sun beaming through the windows made it uncomfortable.

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OT
Washington DC
1 review
Dined on December 25, 2016
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 4

Wanted to do something a little different for Christmas

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LA
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on December 18, 2016
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 4

By far, a more delightful experience and much better value for the steep price than THE WILLARD PEACOCK ALLEY Afternoon Tea in Intercontinental Hotel in DC. This must be more highly publicized as THE Afternoon Tea Experience of DC!!!

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OT
Washington DC
2 reviews
Dined on December 3, 2016
Overall 4food 5service 5ambience 5

Had our annual Ladies Holiday Tea here this year. Holiday atmosphere was nice, wait staff was friendly and the food we received was very good. Only negatives were we were 4 people and we felt cramped at a small table trying to accommodate 2 tiered tea servers, 4 tea pots, 4 plates, 4 glasses of water, glasses of wine, jam, sugar, etc.. Also, the scones were the smallest scones I've ever seen. 2 bites and I was done. They were more like a small cookie than a scone. Probably because the scones were so small, we didn't leave a crumb when we usually have leftovers. For the price, we felt that the scones could have been bigger and we could have been seated at a larger table so that we weren't so crowded.

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OT
Washington DC
4 reviews
Dined on October 21, 2016
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

The concierge at the lounge was excellent and very attentive. The high tea service was fantastic, lots of variety in the sandwiches and pastries, and the tea selection was great.

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GT
Washington DC
3 reviews
Dined on October 8, 2016
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 3

This is my second time at the Empress Lounge for tea. I think the change from a buffet to a tea service was great. However, there was a lot of noise from bar patrons that made it difficult to talk to my group.

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OT
Washington DC
10 reviews
Dined on September 24, 2016
Overall 4food 3service 2ambience 4

While lovely environment, service was not what you would expect at a 5-star hotel. Tea was slow to arrive. Hot water refresh was not offered, had to be requested for each guest. Too many sweet, too few savory offerings.

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FL
Washington DC
21 reviews
Dined on September 17, 2016
Overall 1food 4service 1ambience 2

My friend and I went for Afternoon Tea. My experience was less than satisfactory. Upon arrival, we were not greeted. Our table was not ready and we were told to wait at the bar. When we finally did get seated our wait time was disappointing. The attention that you normally get at Tea service was lacking. We had to ask for a manager. The manager was extremely nice and ended up giving us our Tea complim

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S
Washington DC
25 reviews
Dined on August 12, 2016
Overall 5food 4service 5ambience 5

Lovely, relaxed, delicious tea selection. Excellent champagne , if you want to add it. Service - outstanding.

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RK
Jacksonville
8 reviews
Dined on August 7, 2016
Overall 3food 2service 3ambience 4

Some of the food was stale and dry. Atmosphere great but they placed us in the back corner yet the place was nearly empty.

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k
New York Area
6 reviews
Dined on July 15, 2016
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Empress Lounge was fabulous! We went there for tea. Really wonderful!

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f
Washington DC
9 reviews
Dined on June 3, 2016
Overall 3food 2service 4ambience 4

The scones were cool as if they had been baked much earlier and refrigerated and the savories were nothing special. I expected more given the review in the Washingtonian.

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AH
Washington DC
34 reviews
Dined on February 7, 2016
Overall 4food 3service 4ambience 3

Tea for two and two for tea. As a guy who was never to tea before. I didn't know what to expect. Cute little sammies and cakes. Hot tea. Big hats. Say no more. Wifey loved it.

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SO
Washington DC
10 reviews
Dined on January 10, 2016
Overall 5food 5service 5ambience 5

Wonderful afternoon tea--savory and sweet--all delicious! Large selection of high quality teas. Great ambiance and beautiful decor. Friendly and helpful service, but not obtrusive. It's not cheap, but it's a great special treat.

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C
Washington DC
39 reviews
Dined on January 9, 2016
Overall 4food 4service 4ambience 4

Lovely afternoon tea - really enjoyed it. Very tasty sandwiches, scones and cakes.

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P
Washington DC
75 reviews
Dined on January 2, 2016
Overall 5food 4service 4ambience 4

Went for New Year's tea with a friend. Very busy, recommend a reservation. Everything went extremely well, not rushed, good tea food courses, replenished hot water as needed. An afternoon with elegance.

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