My ears popped seven times as a high speed elevator flew me upwards from the darkened and sombre entrance on the ground to the light-filled lobby of the Park Hyatt hotel on the eighty-seventh floor of the Shanghai World Financial Centre. As I stepped out, the intense updraft from the tiny gap at my feet blew my hair skywards and I suddenly felt the vertiginous weak-kneed realisation of how far above the ground I now was. Very far.
The floor-to-ceiling windows across the room exert a magnetic pull and the entire elevator crowd, like ants to honey, walked across over to lean out on the jaw-droppingly impressive view of the Chrysler-style Jin Mao Tower, the crazed pink and silver sputnik that is the Oriental Pearl Tower, and far, far below the river and the Bund, toy-size.
At this point, as I sank into a deeply comfortable linen-covered lounge, they could have served me any old thing to eat and drink and I would have been quite happy. We had visitors in town and had cycled across town from Nanchang Lu to the Bund, crossed the Huang Pu in a hulking 2 yuan ferry, then walked to the Shanghai World Financial Center from there, and we were thirsty, dusty, tired and famished.
But this being the Park Hyatt, and it being afternoon tea time, we opted for High Tea. At least, the four female members of our party did, imagining dainty pink cakes and bone china and tiny savory tarts, whilst the two males scoured the menu for a steak but had to settle instead for soup and red wine. Philistines.
The High Tea did not disappoint.
The sweet temptations, lemon sponges topped with lemon curd, raspberry and strawberry macarons, hazelnut chocloate cupcakes, canelles, and a vanilla custard sponge roll were all exquisite little morsels.
Served alongside is your choice of tea (English Breakfast or Xihu Longjing green tea) or coffee. I’m a terrible snob when it comes to drinking tea with an afternoon tea set, but I believe if you’re paying for a proper linen-napkins-and-silver-spoons experience, the tea should be done ‘properly’. There’s nothing worse than getting a silver teapot filled to the brim with hot water and a single, lonely tea bag swimming inside it, label and all. The Park Hyatt fulfilled all my minimum requirements – bone china cup, freshly brewed leaf tea, tea strainer, separate milk and sugar jugs. Perfect.
The savories on our two-tiered stand were, if anything, even better – a tiny crispy vol au vent filled to the brim with smooth mushroom cream, a miniature croque monsieur, a smoked salmon brioche, and a tiny ‘wonton’, actually a fine crepe filled with foie gras, a sliver of truffle, and sweet aspic, tied with a chive knot. Exceptional.
The Park Hyatt’s Lounge is a great spot for visitors to Shanghai, with its spectacular views and air of calm. They serve afternoon tea daily, as well as a selection of sweet and savory dishes and drinks. Reservations can’t be made, so come early or be prepared to wait for a window seat.
Got a favorite afternoon tea spot in Shanghai? Do tell! (but only if they make proper tea please)
Afternoon Tea at The Park Hyatt
Shanghai World Financial Centre
100 Century Avenue, Pudong
Phone: +86 21 68881234
Afternoon tea 2pm – 6pm
210 yuan per person plus service charge
Reservations not accepted