Tea at the Peninsula Hong Kong with Toddlers
Taking Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula Hong Kong is quintessential. But going with toddlers? Well, it can be done, here’s our experience and a few tips to make it an enjoyable moment for everyone.
Peninsula is one of my favorite chains around the world. I used to visit Peninsula Hotels in Beijing, Shanghai, and Hong Kong quite often. Not for tea, but for work. You see, I worked in the luxury retail industry a few years ago, and the Peninsula Hotels in Asia are hosts of splendid watch, jewellery, and fashion boutiques. Walking through the Arcades with sounds of clinking bone china and notes from the grand pianos is an experience in itself. But even with such niceties around, negotiations for space, store location, and rent terms were a game of chess that would best be sweetened by a dainty cake or two.
So on our last trip to Hong Kong, I had to pop into “the Pen”, the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong (香港半島酒店). Not only because I was feeling slightly nostalgic, but also because the Peninsula Hong Kong is an institution with some substantial stories to tell (more on this soon), and that no trip to Hong Kong is complete without taking Afternoon Tea at the Lobby.
Hong Kong in May can be quite hot and humid, and the moment you enter the hotel lobby, you enter an oasis with cool air. We were greeted by the Peninsula Pages in their iconic white uniforms, and what met the eyes were the handsome columns and sculpted ceilings that reminisced the bygone colonial years of Hong Kong.
As Afternoon Tea was served starting from 2PM, we first headed upstairs for a tour of the Arcade, took the kids to the restrooms, and admired the Lobby from above.
The stroller walk was instrumental in bringing our younger one to nap, which proved very helpful for our quiet tea time that ensued.
We walked pass the pianist that was perched on a corner overlooking downstairs, playing soothing notes that trickled down to the lobby.
Tip One for taking tea at the Peninsula: go on a weekday right before 2PM to make sure you get a table fast. This is especially important if you go with kids, otherwise the line can get pretty long, on weekends the wait is known to last for two hours. Reservation is only taken for hotel guests, otherwise it’s a fair first-come-first-serve system.
We got a table within 10 minutes and were presented the menu with a white and gold cover that echoed the gilded interior of the lobby.
Ordering the Peninsula Classic Afternoon Tea set was a no-brainer, and if you’re in the mood, why not add a glass of Champagne to make it a Royal Tea. We ordered Afternoon Tea for one and added a Club Sandwich with fries as we skipped lunch due to jet-lag. Travel Chic Dad, being French, preferred coffee to tea, so we added a cappuccino as well.
Tip Two for taking afternoon tea with toddlers: they have to be somehow hungry. If you feed them a big lunch, they won’t be interested in tea, and you’ll find it a bit harder to keep them entertained while you pursue your gastronomic pleasures.
Tip Three for taking tea at the Peninsula with toddlers: be prepared and bring mess-free games for the kids for the wait. We brought reusable static stickers that proved highly entertaining for our three-year-old, and they peeled off easily from the marble tables. We brought one with zoo animals, but this World Map version is one of my all-time favorites for the travel-minded because you learn about world geography together.
Thanks to the attentive and well-trained staff, the service was swift despite the full lobby. The table was already set with crisp bone china and Sheffield silverware.
With metal tea and hot water pots, the little handle cozies were a thoughtful touch. And for drinking loose-leaf tea, the strainer set was a must. I ordered the Organic Peninsula Blend out of the vast selection. Since we had just traveled to the tea plantations in the mountains of Taiwan, I now have a higher appreciation for organic teas.
The cappuccino with two shots of espresso arrived, just in time for the coffee addict that is my travel and life companion.
And then the three-tiered stand arrived.
On the bottom were the freshly-baked buttery raisin scones and a cannelé. They come with a hefty amount of organic strawberry jam and a golf ball-sized Devonshire clotted cream.
On the second shelf were finger savories including a baby quiche and the classic cucumber sandwich that is particularly refreshing in the Hong Kong climate at this time of year.
And on the top tier, four little bite-sized pastries that are perfectly balanced in taste. A mini lemon cupcake, a pink berry tart, a cream puff with hazelnut mousse, and a macaron with a delicate daisy on top.
The club sandwich is made with thick slices of whole grain toasts, and the thick-cut fries were served in faux newspaper, a reminder of the British times?
And here’s one of the reasons why we were able to have a very quiet tea time. Thanks to the park time before stepping into the hotel, and thanks to the stroll around the Arcade before sitting down.
I know that nowadays people tend to dress more casual than chic when they go to tea, but I happen to think that Afternoon Tea at a place like the Peninsula deserves some pearls. We were both dressed in navy stripes, a pure coincidence and an accidental tribute to Hong Kong’s maritime past.
Taking tea at the Peninsula Hong Kong with kids turned out smoother than I anticipated. Perhaps sometime in the future we’ll return with them. I’d take them to the Hong Kong History Museum and the Hong Kong Maritime Museum first, so when they sit down in the splendid Lobby, they’d get a deeper sense of understanding and appreciation. After all, you don’t go merely for tea, you go for history.