It costs just HK$1.70 (0.28 CAD) to take the Star Ferry between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon and reach views of the Victoria Harbour and skyline like this. That has to be one of the biggest bargains in the travelling world.
Subway stops and road tunnels have been built since the ferry opened in 1888, but this is by far the most scenic, least stressful and shortest way to get across the harbour.
You can splurge and pay HK$2.20 (0.36 CAD) for the upper deck, but I like sitting on the lower deck for the five-minute ride. I enjoy the reversible bench backs so you never have to ride sitting backwards.
Our destination on this day was English-style high tea at one of Hong Kong’s many fine hotels. The one at The Peninsula is by far the most famous, but I had some apprehension about it.
No reservations are taken and lineups, especially on weekends, are long. And for some reason, I couldn’t find the price of the afternoon tea online before we left.
I assumed that a hotel that placed the largest single order in Rolls Royce history — for a fleet of 14 Phantoms — and had Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Cartier stores in its lobby would have a pricey high tea.
Instead, I opted for the lesser known afternoon tea at the Intercontinental Hong Kong’s Lobby Lounge which does take reservations. It doesn’t have the Peninsula’s ornate high ceilings or silver tea sets but it does have huge windows that offer Kowloon’s best view of Victoria Harbour.
Our tea service came on a three-tiered stand with a top level of sweets, a middle one of finger sandwiches and the bottom one of pastries.
I kept joking to Jason that we were going for “tea and cucumber sandwiches” and voilà, there was a finger of thinly sliced cucumber and cream cheese on white bread. There was also egg salad, smoked salmon, prosciutto, and smoked chicken sandwiches too — all with the crusts cut off.
The pastry tier was my favourite. I’m not sure how British it is but there was a delicious churro, two golden madeleines, and a fluffy canelé, which I’ve never had before but sure do want more of now.
Jason enjoyed the scones — which I smeared with big dollops of Devonshire cream and jam.
Frankly, the sweets didn’t leave much of an impression with me; I think a chocolatey thing was way too sweet and the others were a little bland.
Admittedly, we both had coffee instead of tea; it came in a silver carafe and was refilled efficiently.
Our high tea splurge came to HK$368 for two ($60 CAD). In the end, I think that’s on par with the other hotels including the Peninsula.
Don’t make our mistake and follow the Avenue of the Stars through Salisbury Garden, thinking it would take us to the hotel’s entrance. We saw Jackie Chan’s cement hand prints, but took a very winding trip through the New World Centre shopping mall to get into the Intercontinental from the back.
If you’re walking from the Star Ferry, keep going on Salisbury Road, past the garden and the front entrance should be right there.
Intercontinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Rd., Kowloon, 2721-1211. Afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge, 2:30-6 p.m.