Afternoon tea in Hong Kong is a bit of an institution… and the granddaddy of them all has to be the afternoon tea set at The Lobby in The Peninsula Hong Kong.
Just one look at the mammoth queues that appear there every weekend should be a sign as to quite how many guidebooks and television shows this tea set has appeared on – and with good reason too! The Peninsula is one of Hong Kong’s oldest five-star luxury hotels; in fact, it’s currently celebrating its 85th anniversary (yup, it first opened for business way back in 1928!), a milestone most definitely not to be sniffed at in ever-changing HK.
In commemoration of this very special birthday, the hotel has decided to revive one of its much-loved traditions from yesteryear – the Afternoon Tea Dance. Turning its already famous afternoon tea into something even more iconic for the first Sunday of every month for the rest of the year, you can now enjoy your scones and finger sandwiches to the sounds of a live band and lounge singer whilst watching waltzing couples spin across the dancefloor.
I’ve been to afternoon tea at The Peninsula quite a few times before, but there’s no doubt that the 10-piece big band and accompanying dancers certainly do add an extra something to proceedings. Meanwhile, the tea set itself boasts a few tweaks to the classic set, with a few more items than usual that are brought to your table during the meal – plus a mini bottle of rosé champagne!
Although I was a little disappointed with the lacklustre savouries, there should be something to please everyone in the larger array of sweets, which include macarons, a chocolate passionfruit pot de creme and a strawberry cream cake. A Hong Kong-style egg tart added a nice local touch, whilst my favourite item was probably the delectable sea salt caramel truffles, which are especially made for The Peninsula by chocolatiers in Switzerland; I actually liked them so much, I ended up buying another jar of them to take home!
As for the scones – there’s no messing around with weird new jams or fancy twists here. These are the traditional kind, served with good old strawberry jam and clotted cream, and they’re probably amongst the better scones in Hong Kong – dense and buttery, if a little gigantic!
However, the biggest draw about The Peninsula’s afternoon tea has to be the atmosphere. You can’t beat these historical surroundings and thankfully, the setting hasn’t changed much over the past 85 years; the classic architecture, plush armchairs, discreet suited-up waiters and nostalgic silver tea set all combine for that unique feel of old-school glamour, grandeur and luxury.
Although I personally prefer a somewhat quieter Sunday afternoon (I usually take my afternoon tea sessions as an opportunity to set the world to rights with my girlfriends – a fact made a little difficult by a live band and singer doing their stuff right next to you!) and the price makes this a little too indulgent to be a regular thing, the Afternoon Tea Dance would make a great destination for bringing out-of-towners or for celebrating a special occasion in style. Here’s to another 85 years of scones and finger sandwiches!
The Peninsula’s Afternoon Tea Dance runs the first Sunday of every month from 3-6pm until December 2013. It costs $988 per person (plus 10% service charge).
The regular afternoon tea costs $328 for one person and $578 for two people (plus 10% service charge).
The Lobby G/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, 19-21 Salisbury Rd, Tsim Sha Tsui
2315 3146 www.peninsula.com/hong_kong/en/dining/the_lobby/default.aspx