Tea at the Peninsula – Hong Kong, China

The Grand Duchess of the Far East

If it’s late afternoon in Hong Kong, what better way to absorb the city’s colonial past than beneath the gilded, coffered ceiling of the Peninsula’s exquisite lobby? A virtual shrine to past empires, it has been the venue of choice for a sedate afternoon tea for lucky hotel guests, and those who wish they were, since its doors opened in 1928.

Everyone is here: international business­men, frazzled shoppers, impeccably groomed tai tais from Hong Kong’s old-moneyed families, the wide-eyed and curi­ous. Cognoscenti know to order the traditional Peninsula tea of trimmed finger sandwiches, delicate French pastries, and scones with clotted cream, which arrive on three-tiered silver servers carried by waiters in starched uniforms. The graciousness and grandeur are palpable, keeping the blunt and impatient city at bay.

This is a cool oasis of civilization, in both the neoclassical landmark building or its new thirty-story state-of-the-art tower topped with the theatrical Philippe Starck-designed restaurant Felix, as cutting-edge and high-energy as the lobby is dignified and resplen­dent. In between, classically appointed rooms-with-a-view are some of the most invit­ing accommodations anywhere.

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