Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Famous Doesn't Mean Fabulous - The Peninsula Hotel Afternoon Tea

Old World Elegance
When you look at guidebooks for Hong Kong, or ask anyone about where to go for afternoon tea in Hong Kong, inevitably, you will find The Peninsula Hotel mentioned as the place to go, due to their long history of upholding this English tradition. However, long history and quality do not always go hand in hand. One of the oldest and most revered hotels in Hong Kong, The Peninsula Hotel has always been the place for those with money. The female human remembered coming here once on her last visit to Hong Kong as a teenager, and awing at the splendour and opulence of the hotel lobby. At the time she was there with her mother, meeting a family friend for coffee, jaw agape that she was spending time with a Hong Kong movie star, Josephine Siao Fong-Fong, when a famous Hong Kong director, whose movies she had seen stopped by briefly to say hello to their family friend. With a history of being the place for movie stars, as well as the rich and otherwise famous to be seen, one would hope that they would settle for nothing lest than the highest quality.

Simple Decor
When we arrived at The Peninsula Hotel around 1:15pm, we were told to come back around 1:30pm as afternoon tea began at 2:00pm, and although it was a first come, first serve situation, they would not be allowing people to line up until then. Apparently they were wrong! When we returned at 1:30pm, there was already a long lineup that snaked along the width of the lobby, into the hotel’s shopping centre, and down the hallway! Least to say had we stayed and lined up instead of returning when we were told, we would have been closer to the front of the line.

Delicate China
We dutifully waited in the line up for over an hour before we finally reached the front and were seated. Obviously The Peninsula Hotel’s afternoon tea had become more of a tourist attraction than a refined affair, as although their sign indicated smart casual dress, the majority of diners in the line up were wearing flip flops, sandals, tank tops, shorts, etc.
 When we were finally seated, it was obvious the goal of the staff were to get people in and out as quickly as humanly possible as everything felt rather rushed. The tray of goodies hit the table very shortly after ordering, and we dug in, hoping that our hour wait in line had been worth it.

Finger Sandwiches
The sandwiches were not put together very well, as each sandwich was limp and began to fall apart the moment they were picked up. There was also a sausage roll included, which turned out to be rather salty. I knew the scones were not right the moment I picked one up and felt how weighty it was. Both the plain and raisin scones were dense and doughy, making them difficult to swallow, and the clotted cream had a taste and texture more like butter than the clotted cream I’d tasted over and over again while in London.
Raisin Scones

The desserts did not fair much better, the macarons were filled with jam, which resulted in moist, chewy macarons. What we thought might be green tea pound cake due to the colour tasted more like plain pound cake, making us ponder why it was coloured green if it was not to indicate a particular flavour. What might have been cheesecake from the taste had more of a gelatinous texture to it, while a crisp roll that appeared to be filled with chocolate actually tasted overwhelmingly of raspberries. Lastly the strawberry mousse was decent, however the over abundance of sauce on top drowned out what could have be a subtle tasting and light dessert, instead making it cloyingly sweet.

It turned out that the afternoon tea was themed for Breast Cancer Awareness month, which was why the raspberry flavoured and pink items on the tray, and a portion of each order went towards charity. However, we were sorely disappointed that we waited in line for over an hour for a tea that was not enjoyable in the very least.

So if you are ever in Hong Kong and are looking to enjoy what should be a delightful British tradition of afternoon tea, skip The Peninsula Hotel, as you’ll only be wasting your time, money, and calories on an afternoon tea that is over hyped and utterly underwhelming.

More photos at PhotoBucket!

The Peninsula Hotel - Hong Kong
Salisbury Road
Tsim Sha Tsui
Kowloon, Hong Kong
011-852 2920 2888

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