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Are we the only ones who steal a glance at the brand of chinaware used in a hotel, and make a quick judgment of the overall experience based on the label embossed under a tea cup?
During a recent afternoon tea at Palm Court in The Langham in Hong Kong, this contributor did exactly that. The chinaware is designed by Wedgwood exclusively for The Langham hotels worldwide, which says something about this hotel brand’s attitude towards afternoon tea.
Those who know their Langhams will know that the original Palm Court is at The Langham London, which has been serving English afternoon tea as early as 150 years ago. The Palm Court at The Langham in Hong Kong is inspired by its London cousin. It was launched in September 2014 as part of the hotel’s $30 million renovation program, which also covered 230 rooms and suites and the completion of Artesian Bar, another concept inspired by The Langham London.
The best tea in London?
It’s a question of such monumental proportions that it will ruin your trip to London if you get it wrong. Which London hotel does the best afternoon tea?
The easy answer used to be to consult the Tea Guild’s anonymous reviews – but the guild has rebranded now (as the UK Tea and Infusions Association) and as part of the revamp, has ditched its reviews. Big mistake. Huge.
London Hotels Insight is equally outraged, so they have created their own list. How? By calculating the “excellent” and “very good” ratings for tea on TripAdvisor. Doing it this way, they have come out with some surprising results. Their list reads:
If it aint broke, of course, there’s no need to fix it – unless the unbroken thing we’re talking about is afternoon tea, and the ‘fix’ is a gin injection.
Dukes St James in London is bringing together these two great British institutions with its G&Tea: basically afternoon tea, except with a tea-infused G&T instead of the hot stuff.
The gin in question is Beefeater infused with black tea leaves – either Earl Grey or Black Vanilla. It’s served Prohibition-style in a china teacup, either cold with ice and tonic, or as a hot punch on cold days like this week. Could it get more magnificent? Yes – you also get your normal food spread of finger sandwiches, scones and pastries. It costs £35, which is pretty great value for London, considering the alcohol.
As much as we like shiny new hotels and seeking out the latest places to lay our heads when we’re traveling, there is something about hotels that have seen the years come and go, withstood trends rushing in and passing just as quickly, and over time been woven into the very fabric of a city.
That’s why we sought out Mandarin Oriental Bangkok recently, one of the city’s oldest luxe hotels, having had its place on the banks of the Chao Phraya River since 1876 – that’s more than a hundred and thirty years of history. Specifically, we headed to the Author’s Lounge, so named in honor of the various literary greats that have walked through the doors of the hotel (from Somerset Maugham to John Le Carré and Joseph Conrad to Barbara Cartland).
Here, inside its whitewashed walls, sitting on white wicker furniture, and among potted palms and bamboo, is a window to a different time, one of steam trunk travel, genteel afternoons spent at leisure between cricket matches (or so we imagine), and of course – taking high tea.
High tea service can be fun, but most of the time it can be stuffy. Really, how many cucumber sandwiches can one person eat? The Westin Sydney has broken the chains of sipping tea with an extended pinky finger with a new take on tradtion, the Mad Hatter Tea.
Full of whimsy, this service is a flagrant nod to Alice in Wonderland and her adventures. Think beyond the 'Eat Me' cakes and move towards a super-chocolatey cake decorated like the Mad Hatter's hat or blueberry macaron 'painted' like the White Rabbit's pocket watch. From sweet to savory, the multi-tiered plates would even make a fan out of the Queen of Hearts.
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We have been spending so much time on cocktail culture (well, it has been a rough few months), we figured we should be a little more balanced with our beverage coverage.
We started a bit by paying some attention to another one of our favorite pasttimes--afternoon tea. That can mean a simple cuppa for some of you--a jolt of caffeine to carry you through the day, or for more leisurely sorts, a more elaborate weekend high-tea filled with all sorts of yummy delights. We want to focus on that one--so much more fun, yes?
Now that chillier climates prevail in many parts of the country, the call for afternoon tea is in full demand and these hotels put out what we think are mighty fine spreads. We’ve seen quite a few people duck in to a hotel around the 4’o clock hour and chill over a demitasse of Darjeeling, a curried-chicken finger sandwich, and a jam-filled tart. We heartily approve.
Just remember, pinkie's up!
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Typically, high tea is an experience we recommend everyone to experience at least once in their life. The pomp and tradition of well-decorated petits fours, delicious finger sandwiches and scones with clotted cream is highly regarded amongst a large segment. This can get a little stuffy sometimes especially if you are not part of said segment. This is where the Hilton Surfers Paradise comes to the rescue with their High Tea with a Twist.
The mere mention of 'high tea' conjures up thoughts of well-healed ladies donning large hats and nibbling on crustless cucumber sandwiches from white gloved fingers. Well, you can throw that image out of the window once we tell you about Fix Cocktail Bar's most unique high tea we have ever been part of. Gloved-hands down.
All of the traditional elements are present; hotel, three-tiers of goodies, and, of course, tea. But like we said--with a twist. The entire menu is themed off of popular cocktails and we're not talking the virgin kinds. Think of mini mojito, vodka martini Jell-O shot or a jellied Bloody Mary served on a cucumber slice; get what we're talking about?
If you couldn’t make it to Marc Jacobs’ New York City fashion show last night, perhaps you can try his tea instead?
MO Bar, at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong has linked with the designer to create an afternoon tea modeled after…a handbag.
We know it’s early in the week and day and the coffee may not have sunk in yet, so we’re going to try and explain this the best we can. “The Lindy” is a handbag from Jacobs’ Fall 2012 collection and the MO’s Exec Sous Chef Sidney Schutte thought it would be cute to bring some elements of the bag's shape, color, and print into the tea presentation—namely the bow and the mini studs.
High Tea has become one of the best litmus tests of how a hotel can impress its guests. Singapore's Raffles Hotel is no different. The entire hotel, a vintage colonial building surrounded by gardens and lush tropical plants, is one of the must-see attractions for visitors. Not only is it the original property of the hotel chain, it is a landmark building for the city.
Lots of planning needs to go into partaking in this tea service. No, we're not talking about which hat to wear or whether the finger sandwiches have crusts or not. Although very important, these thoughts can't happen until you make a booking for high tea. And The Tiffin Room at The Raffles takes reservations no more than three weeks before you want to partake in the pomp and circumstance. Fortunately, we planned ahead for our own tea time. Here's how it went:
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How many US hotels do you know that've reached 125 years of business? Well, The Grand Hotel of Michigan's Mackinac Island is one of 'em, as well as being one of the last surviving wooden construction hotels. Its history is long and tumultuous, but its summers are sunny. This week, we'll take a look around the Victorian property and the features and amenities that have made it a top seasonal destination for the last century-and-a-quarter.
Today: Afternoon Tea at The Grand Hotel
We may have spent nearly all week showing you the nooks and crannies that guests may enjoy at the 125-year-old Grand Hotel, but there is one very large way they welcome non-guests: with traditional afternoon tea.
Mackinac Island has its share of daytrippers and budget travelers just as it has the luxury and season-long visitors. Paying $400/night for the Grand isn't always feasible; for some it's a dream stay to work towards, but in the meantime there's always tea. The Grand Hotel charges non-guests $10 per person and enforces a basic dress code to enter the building, to prevent the place being overrun. While you're there, afternoon tea is only $25 per person (compare to $30+ in Chicago and $36+ in New York).
We've already told you a great way to celebrate Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee is an elegant high tea at a fancy schmancy London Hotel. Since we assume that a Jubilee party is teaming with royals dressed in haute couture, we can introduce you to the high tea at Palazzo Versace.
Located in Australia's playground, the Gold Coast, the fashion house's hotel is nothing short of extravagant. Situated 'off-the-beaten-track', just north of the heart of Surfers Paradise, the property boasts a dazzling pool, marble lobby and everything Versace. It is a little slice of Donatella in Oz.
It's a special weekend in England this weekend as the country is kicking off the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth's ascension to the throne. Called the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the celebration will be happening over four days and will involve a series of major events in London including a concert at Buckingham Palace and the Thames River Pageant during which the Queen will lead a giant flotilla of a thousand boats up the river.
Of course, if you're not in town this weekend (and that might be a good thing as it is going to be nuts) you can still celebrate with at a hotel of course--thanks to these Diamond Jubilee-themed afternoon teas at these three hotels: