Being a huge fan of the Four Seasons Hotels brand, my first choice for afternoon tea while in Shanghai was in Four Seasons Shanghai’s Lobby Lounge.
Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai is located in Puxi, the historical area of Shanghai. Just a few minutes walk away is East Nanjing Road, a pedestrian road with stores leading to the Bund and Huangpu River.
It also takes less than five minutes to walk to Wujiang Road and a Line 2 subway station, one of the busiest subway lines with stops to both airports in Shanghai and popular locations like People’s Park, Jingan Temple and Lujiazui in Pudong.
Upon entering the hotel, on the left is the Lobby Lounge where afternoon tea at Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai is served. The lounge is decorated with red flowers and a few palm trees reminding me of the Garden Restaurant at Four Seasons New York. There’s a good amount of natural light coming from the ceiling high windows with a view of the street.
Accompanying me was my mother. We were seated next to a piano close to the entrance in the non smoking area. Yes, you can chose between a smoking or non smoking table. Though I wasn’t bothered by the smell of the smoke, the majority of guests at the lounge were men smoking and having tea in business attire (probably having a business meeting with colleagues).
Afternoon tea is from 2:30 to 6 pm and tables were nearly full when we arrived at 3:30 pm. A pianist was already playing and another woman was playing the flute. The two were talking to each other while playing and according to my piano playing mother, the pianist made several mistakes…
Although there isn’t a specific tea blended for the hotel (which I would normally get), there’s a good selection of the usual (earl grey, chamomile etc.) along with Chinese teas including a white tea, bai hao yin zhen. This tea is the most expensive type of white tea and is made in China’s Fujian province.
Tea was served on a black tray with a small teapot, cup and plate with two small shortbread cookies.
Two afternoon tea packages are offered at Four Seasons Shanghai- Western Afternoon Tea and Chinese Afternoon Tea. Both are the same price per person and per couple.
My mom and I split a one person portion to sample the Western Afternoon Tea package. On the bottom tier were two scones- raisin cranberry and mango almond with cream and apple jam. They did not seem freshly baked and were not warm.
On the middle tier- salmon crepe, watercress, cream cheese and cucumber; ham and tomato crisp tart, pear jam; honey mustard roast chicken, pumpernickel bread; prawn (shrimp) with roasted curry pecan, papaya chutney, whole grain bread.
And finally on top- mango almond tart, chocolate hazelnut mousse, pecan pie and stollen.
The presentation was cute in a small afternoon tea tray, the portion size was perfect though the food just wasn’t the most enjoyable.
Our server was attentive and spoke English. We felt a little rushed at times when they took away two of the tiers of our tea tray before we started on the third tier but my tea pot was always supplied with hot water. Someone came around to fill it twice and even asked if I wanted a third after we finished the food.
Social Media Aspect
I can’t emphasize enough how good Four Seasons utilizes social media and how good their content is. Four Seasons’ main Twitter account replied to my Twitter posts even without tagging them. Though Four Seasons Shanghai does not post on Twitter, they do occasionally on Instagram.
Prior to having afternoon tea at Four Seasons Shanghai, I commented on a photo on Four Seasons Shanghai’s Instagram account. I also tagged them in a Instagram post but did not receive a reply for either.
Overall, the highlight was the tea and this is the first time I’ve had free WiFi available at afternoon tea! I could have went without the food since the food highlight for me was the shortbread cookies that came with the tea.
As for the ambience, since it seems to be a business hotel, it may depend on the time of year and time when there are less people in business meetings and not smoking, if the smell of smoke bothers you.
I’d say to just go for tea and skip the food. The tea was worth it.
Time: 2:30 pm to 6 pm
Cost: Western Afternoon Tea 148 RMB per person (about USD $25) 258 RMB for two people (about USD $42)
Coffee 65 RMB (about USD $11)
Bai hao yin zhen white tea 80 RMB (about USD $13) – included with afternoon tea package
Note there is a 15% surcharge
Four Seasons Hotel Shanghai
500 Weihai Road,
Shanghai 200041, China