Asia | Cafe Culture | Hong Kong | Reviews

Afternoon Tea at The Lobby – The Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong

May 27, 2018
Afternoon Tea @The Peninsula Hong Kong | In Search of the Best Afternoon Tea Hong Kong, I visited the Lobby at the iconic five-star hotel. Read all about my experience, why I chose the Peninsula and what you need to know before sipping your afternoon tea. #afternoontea #peninsula #peninsulahongkong #hongkong #hongkongfood #discoverhongkong

In Search of the Best Afternoon Tea in Hong Kong

Speaking of Britain’s cultural influence in Hong Kong’s food culture, there is no better example than afternoon tea (and maybe Cha Chaan Teng – a story for another time). Even after the British left the harbor city, Hong Kong carried on with the afternoon tea tradition adopted from the colonial era. No wonder why it is one of the must-do cultural experiences for visitors.

I missed out on the afternoon tea experience last time I visited the city a few years ago. If you follow me on my Instagram, you know I finally tried one on my recent trip to Hong Kong.

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Challenge: Finding the Best Afternoon Tea in Hong Kong

I asked a group of friends, including my trusty friend Google. You might ask what all the fuss is? It’s just a tea. Well, there are too many options to choose. While it’s usually a good problem to have, like many other travelers, I only had limited time in Hong Kong. If I can squeeze only one in my schedule, I wanted to choose the best, which made my quest more challenging.

In the end, I decided to go with The Lobby at the Peninsula. 

Afternoon Tea @The Peninsula Hong Kong | In Search of the Best Afternoon Tea Hong Kong, I visited the Lobby at the iconic five-star hotel. Read all about my experience, why I chose the Peninsula and what you need to know before sipping your afternoon tea. #afternoontea #peninsula #peninsulahongkong #hongkong #hongkongfood #discoverhongkong

Why the Peninsula Hong Kong?

The Peninsula Hotel has been serving afternoon tea in Hong Kong since 1929. While Hong Kong is flourished with five-star hotels and their afternoon tea services, Peninsula’s 90-year-long tradition has established its name for luxury and classic.

Peninsula was not my first afternoon tea at a five-star luxury hotel. It certainly won’t be my last. I will have many other opportunities to try the city’s famous afternoon teas at other establishments. However, I thought Peninsula would be an excellent place to try my first afternoon tea in Hong Kong so that I will have a good standard to compare with others in the future.

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Afternoon Tea @The Peninsula Hong Kong | In Search of the Best Afternoon Tea Hong Kong, I visited the Lobby at the iconic five-star hotel. Read all about my experience, why I chose the Peninsula and what you need to know before sipping your afternoon tea. #afternoontea #peninsula #peninsulahongkong #hongkong #hongkongfood #discoverhongkong

The Lobby at the Peninsula Hotel

The Peninsula hotel is a classic old charm. I casually walked past the iconic Rolls Royce parked in front of the hotel, which I heard was available for the hotel guests. Inside the high-ceiling lobby, as I glided through the marble floor, long carpeted stairs captured my eyes. Canon in D played by a string quartet on the upstairs balcony filled the air in the elaborately decorated space.

Before the afternoon tea hour began, the Lobby was already full of guests enjoying brunch or coffee. The clientele was quite international with a good mix of Asians and Westerners. Quite impressive.  

Classic British Afternoon Tea

Not disappointedly, I would say the afternoon tea at the Peninsula was as expected. It is the classic afternoon tea you would expect British ladies would have at Woburn Abbey.

The Lobby offers many selections of tea to choose from: the Peninsula classic (Earl Grey), flavored, organic blend and organic herbal infusions (Moroccan mint, chamomile orange blossom, verbena, rooibos tangerine and Swiss herbs). I debated between Moroccan mint and verbena. Per the waitress’ recommendation, I chose verbena. Initially, I was slighted concerned about the lemon-y flavor from its description; however, I was satisfied that it was rather refreshing than sour.

The afternoon tea set came with cucumber, ham and smoked salmon finger sandwiches, scones and assorted bite-size cakes on a 3-tier platter tower. Classic!

Scones are my favorite part of afternoon tea. Those scones did not disappoint me. For one, I loved its generous portion – two scones per person. Score! And they were delicious, seriously! How can I say no to freshly-baked, warm and soft raisin scones with fruit jam and heavenly clotted cream? Even though I came in with a full stomach after Michelin 3-star dim sum, I couldn’t pass up on those yummies. I stuffed my stomach with scones, so I had to use a doggie bag for dessert cakes.

READ MORE | A Foodie’s Guide: Classic Cantonese Food in Hong Kong

Afternoon Tea @The Peninsula Hong Kong | In Search of the Best Afternoon Tea Hong Kong, I visited the Lobby at the iconic five-star hotel. Read all about my experience, why I chose the Peninsula and what you need to know before sipping your afternoon tea. #afternoontea #peninsula #peninsulahongkong #hongkong #hongkongfood #discoverhongkong
The Peninsula Dessert Boutique at the Hong Kong International Airport

Side note: Did you know Peninsula Hotel has a dessert shop at the Hong Kong Airport? If you like to bring home some of Peninsula’s beautiful desserts, you can find assorted truffles and chocolates, chocolate-coated orange peel, coffee egg rolls, traditional cookies, etc. These delicious sweets come in a beautiful package, making them a great gift. My favorite is the dark chocolate-dipped cookies, which are presented in a beautiful tin box with a branded magnet.

Know This Before You Go

Show up early.

Like many other popular establishments, The Lobby at the Peninsula does not accept reservation. It’s a first-come, first-serve base. By 1:40 p.m.,  there was a long line of people (I’d say about 30) for afternoon tea while the Lobby was full of guests still enjoying brunch.

Follow the dress code.

It’s common sense to dress appropriately for afternoon tea at such a classy place like the Peninsula Hotel. Because I like to dress comfortably for travel otherwise, I planned afternoon tea on a day I would be ok wearing a decent outfit. You don’t need to wear a fancy dress and high heels, but flip-flops are definitely no, no.

It’s not just for women.

The afternoon tea tradition is originated and developed in Britain as a social function among high-class women. Understandably, in the U.S., men seem to shy away from afternoon tea. So I was pleasantly surprised to see many gentlemen at the Peninsula Lobby sipping afternoon tea.

Afternoon Tea vs. High Tea

Many people mistakenly use the terms afternoon tea and high tea interchangeably. However, they are not the same. Originally, high-class British women enjoyed afternoon tea on low, comfortable chairs as a way to have a light snack before dinner while socializing. On the other hand, working-class families had high tea that consists of a hearty meal and tea in the placement of dinner. “High” in high tea refers to the height of a dining chair the tea was served, not the social status.

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Afternoon Tea @The Peninsula Hong Kong | In Search of the Best Afternoon Tea Hong Kong, I visited the Lobby at the iconic five-star hotel. Read all about my experience, why I chose the Peninsula and what you need to know before sipping your afternoon tea. #afternoontea #peninsula #peninsulahongkong #hongkong #hongkongfood #discoverhongkong

Is the Peninsula the best afternoon tea in Hong Kong?

I enjoyed my first Hong Kong afternoon tea experience at the Peninsula Hotel. I was glad I chose to have it at the famous Lobby.    

Afternoon tea at the Peninsula is not a cheap affair. It’s $388 HKD  (roughly $50 USD) for one or $688 HKD ($88 USD) for two, plus 10% service charge. If you add a glass of brut champagne, the price goes up by $200 HKD. Do I think it’s still worth it?

I don’t always go luxury when I travel. But I do like to treat myself with the well-worth experience from time to time. Call me biased because I love afternoon tea, but I believe afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hong Kong was one of those affairs.

While I can’t say that the Peninsula offers the best afternoon tea in Hong Kong – simply because I haven’t had the others in the city, I would recommend it without hesitation. Based on its reputation and my previous afternoon tea experiences, I have no doubt that it would be among top 5 in Hong Kong anyway.

If you plan to have an afternoon tea in Hong Kong, I hope that my experience helped you decide whether the afternoon tea at the Lobby, The Peninsula Hong Kong is worthwhile for you. After all, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

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Afternoon Tea at the Lobby Peninsula

  • Location: Google Map 
  • Hours: 2 pm – 6 p.m. (First-come, First-served)
  • Phone: +852- 2696-6772 (for inquiries only; no reservation available)
  • Dress Code: Smart Casual

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Have you had an amazing afternoon tea that you’d like to recommend? Please drop me a line with your suggestion.

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Afternoon Tea @The Peninsula Hong Kong | In Search of the Best Afternoon Tea Hong Kong, I visited the Lobby at the iconic five-star hotel. Read all about my experience, why I chose the Peninsula and what you need to know before sipping your afternoon tea. #afternoontea #peninsula #peninsulahongkong #hongkong #hongkongfood #discoverhongkong

  1. With family in Hong Kong and my mom originally from here, this is actually something I have had the privilege to do as well. Having had tea at just one other hotel, I can’t say if it’s the best either, but I agree – it’s definitely an experience worth having (especially if your parents are footing the bill haha)

    1. Oh, I’m glad you got to try! Yeah, it’s great to taste a bit of luxury on parents’ tap, isn’t it? 🙂

  2. Your pictures are making me so sad that I missed this last year when I was in HK. Sounds like a fun experience even if a little pricey. PS – thanks for the afternoon vs. high tea clarification. Had no idea it was based on chair height!

    1. There is always next time! I read about the afternoon tea vs. high tea a while ago. Thought someone would appreciate this bit of information, like I did! Yay!

    1. I’m sure you had fun in Hong Kong. Did you stay through New Year’s Eve? Heard it’s a great place to celebrate New Year.

  3. Ok my new goals for visiting Hong Kong, morning tea (yum cha) in the morning and afternoon tea in the afternoon. That would be the most amazing day I think haha Oh my this hotel looks fancy and the treats look delicious!

    1. Are you sure you can sleep at night? That will leave me “Sleepless in Hong Kong” for sure. Hmm…actually, it’s not a bad idea. Hong Kong is such a lively city at night!

  4. From the name to the decor of the lobby, this tea reminds me so much of that at the Palm Court at the Plaza Hotel here in New York. Would love to try tea at the Peninsula Hotel should I ever make it there – the raisin scones look scrumptious, add some cream or lemon curd and I’d be in heaven.

    1. Hey, I do see the resemblance! I should try to visit the Palm Court for afternoon tea when I’m in NYC next time. Thanks for the suggestion.

  5. I was surprised to find out afternoon tea is a thing in Hong Kong, though it seems so obvious now. Love that you included so much of its history. I was definitely one of those people who thought afternoon tea and high tea referred to the same meal.

    1. Since so many people use two terms interchangeably nowadays, it’s probably okay to do so. But I think it’s good to understand how they originally differ. I’m not one of those afternoon tea snobs (if one exists), you know… 🙂

  6. Being from Britain and having Afternoon Tea in London, it feels an odd experience to have it elsewhere!
    I was in HKG back in 2013 and treated myself to a Peninsula High Tea too – yes, it was magnificent.
    Great post!

    1. Good to hear that the Peninsula afternoon tea was magnificent, especially coming from a lady from Britain. 🙂

  7. I love drinking tea and would love to have afternoon tea again! I remember having afternoon tea in San Francisco for a baby shower and it was a lot of fun. The herbal teas at the Lobby sound amazing and anything with smoked salmon gets a thumbs up from me.

    1. I love those ladies’ events over afternoon tea! I have a feeling that you will enjoy the Lobby because their finger sandwiches were pretty tasty.

  8. I am a tea drinker and everything here looks so delicious. Great pictures, would definitely love to try this in the future

  9. Wonderful tips, in the dress code and timing, thank you! I also love a little bit of luxury every once in awhile in my travels, and I would agree that an afternoon tea would be a lovely way to achieve it! I do kind of wonder how much a ride in that Rolls Royce would have been! 😉

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