Afternoon Tea at Four Seasons Hotel, Shanghai, China

Four Seasons Hotel Lobby ©Four Seasons Hotels

It was Saturday afternoon in Shanghai and outside it was cold and stormy, but inside it was warm, peaceful and serene in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel.  As I entered the hotel, I could hear live background music in the distance and, as I approached the Lobby Lounge, a trio of young Chinese musicians (piano, violin and cello) was playing, “See the Pyramids Along the Nile/You Belong to Me, amid cushy chairs surrounded by faux palm trees.  It was quite a contrast as you could see the wind blowing and the rain falling just outside through the large glass windows.

The Four Seasons Hotel, Shanghai is a 37 story high rise building located in fashionable west Shanghai, just off Nanjing Road,  near many of the city’s major attractions and close to the Metro (subway) that I relied upon heavily during my trip. Since this is a city of 20,000,000, traffic can be an issue, but the Metro will express you to just about anywhere in the city in no time flat. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at JC Mandarin Hotel, Shanghai

JC Mandarin Hotel, Shanghai ©

The weather in Shanghai had been mild during my stay, a fortunate turn of events for a trip in the middle of February. However, today, as I walked to the JC Mandarin from my hotel, things began to deteriorate quickly.  The outside temperature nose dived, the wind began to howl, and some dark and threatening clouds pelted me with rain as I slogged my way over for afternoon tea.

Ironically, and despite the weather, everyone was outdoors on this Saturday afternoon, and the city of Shanghai was electric with activity.  The overall mood seemed positive and the activity level was high, as I continued walking west on Nanjing Road – soon arriving at the high rise JC Mandarin Hotel on my left.

The hotel has a highly desirable location in a very fashionable district of West Shanghai, directly across the street from the upscale Plaza 66 – an enclosed mall with high end retailers like Armani, Gucci, and Hermes. Outside, Nanjing Road West (Xi) is lined with fine watchmakers and jewelry stores. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at the Ritz Carlton, Shanghai, China

Portman Ritz-Carlton Shanghai © Portman Ritz Carlton

Afternoon Tea at the Shanghai Ritz Carlton is served in the Lobby Lounge, a room that was completely full with patrons and hotel guests on this February afternoon in Shanghai. I decided to wait for a few moments in the hope that a table would open up, and I would be able to have afternoon tea here.  I waited, waited, and waited. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at the Peninsula Shanghai Hotel

Peninsula Hotel, Shanghai © Peninsula Hotels

It was Friday afternoon in Shanghai – the largest city in China with a population exceeding 20,000,000 – and rush hour traffic was in full force.  In my taxi, I was observing how drivers fought for every square inch of pavement in an effort to make slow but steady forward progress. However, no one ever makes contact, at least not as far as I can tell. In my whole time there, I never witnessed a single sideswipe or glancing blow – it’s amazing, really, how so much iron and steel can squeeze through the streets of old Shanghai without so much as a scrape or a small dent.

After about 45 minutes or so, I arrived at “The Pen” – the Shanghai Peninsula Hotel, located right on the historic Bund and facing the river. It was quite an adjustment to step off the crowded Bund and into The Pen where it was, all-of-a-sudden, quiet and serene with string (violin) music playing from the mezzanine above.  It was remarkable, really, how different it was inside the hotel – an oasis, if there ever was one. Continue reading

Afternoon Tea at Old Shanghai Teahouse

Entrance to Old Shanghai Teahouse on Fangbang Rd. ©

I’ll be the first to admit that sitting down and having tea at the Old Shanghai Teahouse may not qualify as a true “afternoon tea.”  You won’t find scones, clotted cream or finger sandwiches on the menu here. However, there’s an old adage that says, “When in Rome…”  If you use a little imagination and think “outside the box,” you just might come up with something very similar at a small teahouse in old Shanghai. After all, when in Shanghai, do as the Shanghainese do.

With that said, I had a very interesting tea experience at the Old Shanghai Teahouse located on the 2nd floor of a building in the Old Town section of Shanghai on Fangbang Road. Some might call this place a little touristy or maybe kitschy, but I can tell you that I saw more than a handful of locals having their tea and spending some time relaxing here. The teahouse is open to the air, but there were some electrical space heaters in use on this early February day in Shanghai. Continue reading