Ok so I’ll admit I’m a pretty simple dude, riding in Rolls Royce Phantoms and flying around the world in First Class aside. I like nice things I guess but don’t really do a lot of the pomp and circumstance of the higher class things in the world. Which brings me to the concept of afternoon tea. As you’ll recall from my report about the absolutely insane afternoon tea at the Burj al Arab in Dubai, I don’t really get the concept. Granted I know it’s a British tradition and I’m very much a Texan, but to me it just seems like what brunch is except between lunch and dinner. But then again I’m pretty uncultured so oh well.
ANYWAY, I stayed at the Peninsula hotel in Hong Kong a week or so ago. The Peninsula is known for many things and one of them is their Afternoon Tea. It’s a high society event where people go to see and be seen. It’s open to all, but only guests at The Peninsula can make reservations, everyone else must wait in a line that gets quite long. Why is it such a big deal? The service is supposed to be good and it takes place in the grand lobby of a hotel that takes you back to the British colonial days of Hong Kong (for better or worse).
So what was it like? Read on to find out.
The Peninsula Hotel sits on Salisbury Road next to the Victoria Harbour promenade, where it’s been an icon for well over 100 years. Everything about it is steeped in luxury, and by that I also mean everything is REALLY EXPENSIVE. Anyhow, I was staying there for a night so luckily I was able to make an afternoon tea reservation by calling the concierge. My tea time (golf joke, heh) was 2:30pm and my check-out time at the hotel was 4:00pm so I went ahead and got packed and ready before tea and then made my way down to the hotel lobby.
The lobby of the Peninsula can best be described as “palatial” and harkens you immediately back to the colonial days, much like the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. It’s absolutely gorgeous and well decorated.
Like I mentioned, there was quite a long line waiting for tea, but a jazz band was playing so nobody seemed too angry about the wait. If nothing else, I’m sure it was nice to get out of the humidity for a while.
I checked in with the concierge about 10 minutes before my reservation time and was promptly escorted to my table. I had a great view of the rest of the lobby and the table had a nice little Easter-themed decoration (it was Easter weekend).
I was presented with a gold-embossed menu.
The price for tea was 368HKD for one person or 658HKD for two people (roughly $47 and $84 USD, respectively). If you wanted to add a glass of champagne (duh) that was 220HKD ($28 USD, ok maybe not as duh, but I still got one). I’m not much of a tea enthusiast and have no idea how to choose the right tea so I just chose a passion fruit tea somewhat authoritatively to act like I knew what I was doing.
My table was set before me with what was apparently fancy silverware so I had to get a picture of it for the
millions hundreds of thousands three or four silverware enthusiasts who read my blog.
A server came up and offered me a lovely glass of champagne, Deutz Cuvee Peninsula.
Since I was paying out the nose for the glass I tried to drink it slowly and savor it. Taste-wise it was solid but a little dry for my taste. It’s no Dom 2000 by any stretch.
After champagne time was over they brought a three-tier serving platter, the levels containing the scones, sandwiches, and pastries that are part of your typical high tea service.
First things first were the scones. I enjoy a scone but prefer good ol’ southern biscuits, but still the scones were very good. And yes I had the clotted cream and jam as well.
After a minute I thought to myself “wait where’s the tea?” Almost on cue, my tea set was delivered in all of the pomp and circumstance you’d expect (not like a chorus of angels or anything, just a lot of various china cups and plates and teaware, I dunno).
My passion fruit tea was absolutely lovely, to the degree that I think that I might actually start making tea on the regular. I slowly drank my tea and enjoyed the rest of my snackies.
I think my favorite finger sandwich thing was the salmon tart (because gold leaf) and my favorite pastry was the apple tart (because apple tart).
Finally I came to the last bit of my tea and it also wrapped up the last bit of my stay at The Peninsula. Full review of the Peninsula stay is coming soon, but I’ll put it simply and say that I think it was actually worth the money (and I paid for the room with my own money, no blogger rate or anything). The afternoon tea seemed hectic at first but the Peninsula staff handled everything efficiently and with sufficient aplomb. The wait staff left plenty of time between each service offering, which would’ve been perfect had I been dining with someone, but even dining alone it was nice that they didn’t rush me or anything.
Would I have waited in line to do the tea service? Not a chance, but that’s not because it wasn’t incredibly nice, moreso that I just don’t like waiting in lines for really anything. If you’re staying at The Peninsula you absolutely have to do high tea, if you’re not and you don’t mind a relatively comfortable wait serenaded by jazz music then I think it’s a decent value for your money and a really memorable experience.
Have you done afternoon tea at The Peninsula? What did you think? Tell me in the comments below!