Shanghai's best afternoon teas: luxury

Treat yourself to a decadent high tea in Shanghai

The Peninsula
Tea time! Here we represent Shanghai's best afternoon teas. Enjoy the delicate and delicious delights while you chat with friends in a cozy environment

The Fairmont Peace Hotel


Where Jasmine Lounge

What High Tea (Mon-Fri), Saturday Tea Dance, Sunday Tea Jazz

When 2-6pm daily

Price 308.20RMB per person Mon-Fri; 342.70RMB per person Sat-Sun (including 15 percent service charge)

What you get Tea or coffee plus a nicely presented tiered stand displaying an array of colourful cakes and biscuits, accompanied by raisin scones, jam and cream. There’s also a side plate of savoury treats, the likes of baby quiches and finger sandwiches. Sweets include a memorable cheesecake, as well as a lush little chocolate cake with flakes of gold.

The food While not quite as refined as some of the other afternoon teas on this list, on the weekends the Peace Hotel has a unique atmosphere thanks to its resident jazz band. On Saturdays, professional instructors are available to help spin you around the dance floor.

The locale Entering the Art Deco jewel of a lobby and continuing through to the impressive Jasmine Lounge, you feel as though you could be back in Shanghai’s roaring ’20s.

The verdict Food takes a step back to allow for wonderful music and dancing – best for weekend atmosphere.

Fairmont Peace Hotel is at 20 Nanjing Dong Lu, near Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, Huangpu district. See full address details

The Langham Xintiandi


Where Cachet Lobby Lounge

What Wedgewood Afternoon Tea

When 2.30pm-5pm daily

Price 368RMB per person (includes a 15 percent service charge)

What you get A picture-perfect three-tiered stand of savouries and sweets. While items change according to different seasons, expect options like salmon and crab sandwiches and foie gras toast; sweet options include strawberry tarts, macarons and éclairs, and a plate of fluffy fruit scones with homemade jam and cream. The price also includes a glass of Champagne or tea or coffee.

The food Faultless. Every bite decorating the Wedgwood crockery is delicate and fresh. The Langham is an institution when it comes to afternoon tea – serving it in London since 1865, they’ve had time to perfect their approach (particularly the fabulously light and fluffy scones).

The locale The relaxed, chic Cachet Lobby Lounge is a hub of activity making it perfect for people watching. Couples and small groups sharing dainty afternoon tea sets meld seamlessly with the tourists and business people that populate the lobby throughout the day.

The verdict Where style matches substance – best for scones.

The Langham Xintiandi is at 99 Madang Lu, near Taicang Lu, Huangpu district. See full address details

Madarin Oriental

Where Riviera Lounge

What Vitality Afternoon tea

When 2-5pm daily

Price 296.70RMB per person (including 15 percent service charge). Traditional Afternoon Tea also available for 250.70RMB per person (including 15 percent service charge)

What you get Savoury options include an egg finger sandwich on whole wheat toast, a ham and pineapple roll, smoked salmon on pumpernickel, cucumber mint tartare and a carrot and courgette muffin (vegetarian options are also available on request). Sweet treats feature offerings such as scones with jam and clotted cream, soy milk foam with mango coulis, a strawberry tart, summer pudding and a chocolate almond truffle. Also served with a pot of tea or coffee.

The food The Vitality Afternoon Tea is a new addition as par t of the ‘wellness gastronomy’ concept at the Mandarin Oriental. Served on a tiered stand, it looks pretty, and is healthy to boot. But it’s the sweets that really impress; light and mostly fruit-based, the delightful selection will even suit those who lack a sweet tooth.

The locale The Riviera Lounge feels light and breezy thanks to the large windows looking out onto the terrace and across the Huangpu outside. Weather permitting, the lounge chairs offer a comfortable al fresco spot to kick back and enjoy the afternoon tea’s delights.

The verdict For a healthier alternative, this afternoon tea is light and will leave you satisfied but not stuffed – best for presentation and wonderful tea.

Mandarin Oriental is at 111 Pudong Nan Lu, near Yincheng Lu, Pudong district. See full address details

The Peninsula


Where The Lobby

What Peninsula Heritage Afternoon Tea

When 2-6pm daily

Price 345RMB per person (including 15 percent service charge)

What you get Tea or coffee plus an elegant three-tiered stand with savouries, scones and sweets. The savoury selection includes a crab meat brioche, an egg salad finger sandwich, smoked salmon with fennel bread and a sweet-pea tart. Scones are served with clotted cream, lemon curd and homemade strawberry jam, alongside an array of cookies, a citrus-honey madeleine and a pistachio macaron. For sweets, there’s a lemon and lime pie, a milk chocolate cupcake, an almond choux puff, a red fruit cheesecake and a double chocolate brownie.

The food Spectacular, especially considering the size of the lobby and the number of other diners also partaking in afternoon tea. From the savoury to the sweet, every bite is balanced, beautiful and well-crafted. The very generous portions would be difficult for one to finish, and could easily be shared among two.

The locale From the white tablecloths and flourishing flower arrangements to the pianist and string band, The Lobby at The Peninsula is wonder fully glam.

The verdict An indulgent but exceptional experience – best for mid-week atmosphere.

The Peninsula is at 32 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Beijing Dong Lu, Huangpu district. See full address details.

The PuLi Hotel & Spa


Where The Library, Long Bar, Jingan Restaurant or the Garden Terrace (April-November and weather permitting)

What PuLi Afternoon Tea

When 2.30-5.30pm daily

Price 322RMB per person (including 15 percent service charge)

What you get A double-tiered, rectangular service tray of savoury nibbles includes a chicken and truffle pretzel, corned beef and leek baby burger, a smoked salmon and cream cheese brioche and a square of duck terrine with quince paste. Large scones are served with a generous bowl of strawberry jam and cream; sweets include a yoyo, financier, cannoli, citrus polenta cake, a cannelé, lemon meringue tart and a Berliner.

The food Plentiful and tasty. Savoury highlights include the roast beef mini burger and the terrine. The scones, while texturally successful, are one occasion slightly bitter from the liberal addition of baking powder, but the delightfully smooth lemon meringue tart and the sticky, chewy cannelé are highly memorable.

The locale With four seating areas to choose from, you get to set the tone for the experience yourself. The lobby lounge is breezy and buzzy, while outside in the Garden Terrace people lounge on day beds in the sun. The wonder fully zen Library has a selection of nooks making it an ideal spot for dining solo. For a bit of calm, try the level one Jingan Restaurant, which overlooks the neighbouring park.

The verdict Tasty food in a zen setting – best for the variety of seating options.

The PuLi Hotel and Spa is at 1 Changde Lu, near Yanan Lu, Jingan district. See full address details

Waldorf Astoria on The Bund


Where Salon de Ville

What Red Velvet Afternoon Tea

When 2-6pm Mon-Fri; 1.30-6.30pm Sat-Sun

Price 388RMB per person (including 15 percent service charge)

What you get Tea or coffee plus a mix of sandwiches and savouries, scones and pastries. From the savoury selection, there is a chicken and egg salad sandwich and a foie gras pastry, plus a salmon bagel and a confit of duck with whole wheat bread. The raft of warm savoury bites also includes a beef samosa, mushroom quiche and a white fish and shrimp roll. Desserts abound, starting with freshly baked scones served with cherry jam and vanilla cream and followed by even sweeter options including a red velvet cake, hazelnut choux, red berry mousse, raspberry cheese cake and a lemon meringue tart.

The food Overall a tasty selection, but definitely on the sweeter end of the spectrum of afternoon teas we tried. The scones are large and flavoursome, while the raspberry cheesecake and red velvet cake are remarkable.

The locale The Salon de Ville used to be where Shanghai Club members would read the newspapers. Now it’s filled with beautiful soft couches, armchairs and traditional China cabinets, lending it a very regal vibe. It’s the perfect place to hide away for an afternoon – perhaps catching up on the news yourself – and enjoy the plush surrounds and peaceful atmosphere.

The verdict Pristinely put together and hearty all at once – best for a more private afternoon tea in a gorgeous setting.

Waldorf Astoria on The Bund is at 2 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Guangdong Lu, Huangpu district. See full address details