Friday 12 August 2011

Beating the heat

At the Peninsula (where I stayed last time I was in Hong Kong, in a 6-room suite with a hallway and brass telescope) the string quartet was playing 'Roll Out the Barrel' as I sipped my Earl Grey at high tea. Were they being ironic? Because the Pen's afternoon tea is as far from a knees-up as you can get.

It's in the lobby, with high moulded ceiling, acres of shiny marble, potted palms and white-suited bellboys opening and closing the doors for everyone, even those who arrive, sweating, on their own feet instead of gliding up in one of the hotel's fleet of Rolls Royces.

The tea was well done, beautifully presented and very tasty: hot little pastries, cucumber and salmon sarnies, pretty petits fours (especially loved the almond friande with the maraschino cherry) and bottomless tea made from leaves. Lots to look at as people came in and out; and no hurry at all to vacate the table, despite the long queue of people waiting.

It was all very classy and elegant, and cool in every sense: unlike outside where it was stiflingly hot and muggy, people were huddled under their umbrellas, and others had given up entirely and composed themselves for sleep on shady benches and elsewhere, shoes off, folded cardboard under their heads and dead to the world.

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