‘Elevating’ Afternoon Tea at The Upper House in HK


As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, I LOVE having afternoon tea in different cities around the world. While afternoon tea has sentimental meaning to me, it’s so neat to see so many different renditions of this long time tradition. Today, I’m sharing my experiences at Café Gray Deluxe in Hong Kong!

Nestled on the 49th floor of one of Hong Kong’s hottest hotels, The Upper House, Café Gray Deluxe boasts some of the city’s best panoramic views of Victoria Harbor. But first, just to touch on the hotel itself for a bit, the Upper House embodies modern luxury. Once you step into the hotel, it’s an immediate escape from the bustling streets of Hong Kong. Interestingly, the sophisticated architecture manages to still feel warm and inviting.  While the ambience is very posh, the cordial staff and complimentary hot cocoa in the seating area help to make it feel more comfortable and less stuffy.


Now back to the star of the blog post – Café Gray Deluxe!  Complementing the chic theme of the hotel, Café Gray Deluxe provides modern European dining.  Though there are ample seats throughout the dining area, we were lucky to have reserved a corner booth to really witness the gorgeous views of the HK skyline and harbor.  The natural lighting was beautiful, though a bit tricky for photographs.  Needless to say, our fellow diners and we were pretty busy taking photos throughout our time there. Every aspect of the cafe was Instagram-worthy!



We came here for afternoon tea, which surprisingly is very reasonably priced! You have the option of either $295 (HKD) per person or $535 (HKD) for 2 people.  In US dollars, that’s roughly about $38 or $68, respectively.  Customarily, afternoon tea includes an assortment of savory and sweet bites accompanied by your choice of tea or coffee.  My favorites include the foie gras coupe, golden raisin scones with homemade preserves, and  the mint chocolate yoghurt pavé.  For drinks, we sought a recommendation from our server and opted for their signature Café Gray tea, which has lemongrass, lemon balm, and roselle.  I usually gravitate towards more traditional teas, but this was unique and delicious.  Also, since we were there during the holidays, we had a choice of a small serving of mulled wine or egg nog. We couldn’t resist the egg nog, and it turned out to be one of our favorite takes on this holiday treat.


The is a bit of a side note, but the modern architecture resonates throughout the cafe… even in the restrooms.  This reminded me of the restrooms at the Standard Hotel in New York City.  You can wash your hands while looking through floor to ceiling windows. Oddly, you can see the sinks in the men’s restroom from the women’s side and vice versa. Toilets were private and out of view though.

Overall, we enjoyed the delicious snacks and never saw our teacups go empty. The staff was very friendly, and most importantly, we really appreciated that we were never rushed to clear the table as is often very customary in many HK establishments.  Our experience here truly elevated my expectations of afternoon tea moving forward (pun intended)! Cheers!




‘RTW Travel Series: Cathay Pacific Business Lounge at HKG

‘RTW Travel Series: Cathay Pacific Business Lounge at HKG

As if it wasn’t hard enough to end our holiday in Hong Kong, the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge at The Pier was phenomenal! I could have easily spent the rest of the day here. Though I just recently noted that the oneworld Lounge was the largest airport lounge that I had encountered, this is easily the new winner by far.

The chic interior and wooden paneling throughout warm up the space as you watch aircrafts take off and land through floor to ceiling windows. The layout compliments the vast size of this lounge while still strategically stationing seating areas into comfortable nooks.

As we first entered the lounge, we were greeted warmly by the staff. In the first large room, there is an expresso cart and bakery station with pastries, breads, and desserts. This is one of the better lit rooms, so this is where families with small children seemed to gather around large welcoming dining tables.


As you proceed through the lounge, the next large room has an impressive full bar with lots of soft lounge chairs. We decided to post up here with window seats to watch the early flights arriving.

Next is the tea room. This was such a treat! No one was manning this station, but it was so neat to see this, nonetheless. Though no teas were being served at this time, there was a nice selection of fresh juice blends to help promote blood circulation, relaxation, or energy.

The next room is definitely one of the highlights of the lounge. Here you will find a row of self-serve siu mai, braised noodles, and vegetables. More impressively, there is also a made-to-order noodle bar. Today, our options were wonton noodles in soup, Dan Dan noodles, and Shanghai noodles with vegetable dumplings. Once your order comes out, there is a nice selection of toppings and condiments to flavor your dish to your liking. At the noodle bar you could also order dim sum: BBQ pork buns, xiao lung bao, and pan-fried vegetables bean curd roll. The pork buns and bao were excellent!

Finally, the last aspect of airport lounges worth visiting are the more private and more comfortable restrooms. Predictably, the washrooms here were clean. The soaps were from Aesop and smelled delightful.


Considering how impressive the Cathay Pacific Business Lounge is, I would definitely take up any opportunity to experience the First Class Lounge if I come across it. It is easy to understand how these lounges are some of the top rated globally. Cheers to more safe and comfortable travels!

‘RTW Travel Series: Lantau Island and Big Buddha

‘RTW Travel Series: Lantau Island and Big Buddha

On our first full day in Hong Kong, we made the early trip to Lantau Island, which is the largest of Hong Kong’s islands and prides city highlights and breathtaking views. After taking the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) to Tung Chung, we took a short walk to the Ngong Ping 360 station. Though we arrived before the station’s opening, there was already a decent queue (see right picture above). *Pro-tip: Pre-purchase tickets online via Klook. This expedited our wait for the ticket counter (in fact, this allowed us to be the first people in line).

The 25-minute ride on the Ngong Ping 360 aerial lift provides panoramic views of Tung Chung Bay, lush forestry, and Ngong Ping Village. For an additional fee, there is also an option to take a “Crystal Cabin,” which features a glass floor. However, the standard cabin was worthwhile without being too overwhelming for those with an aversion to heights or motion sickness.

Once at the village, you are free to wander. There are several food options including Starbucks, Subway, a tea house, a noodle cafe, and other quick stands. Everywhere you look is a photo-worthy spot. We were also surprised to see plenty of cattle, buffalo, and dogs freely wandering the grounds. The animals were all very calm and seemed very accustomed to their tourist fans.

While walking through the village, it’s very easy to make your way to the Tian Tan Buddha aka Big Buddha as it sits 34 meters high. It’s a breathtaking sight to see this massive bronze statue looking over the people of China amidst the lush greenery of the mountainside. From the base of the stairs, there are 268 steps to reach the statue and enjoy the scenic views. *Pro-tip: For clearer photo ops, arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds. We were fortunate to be there right before the crowd grew, so we were lucky to share the views with only a few other visitors (see comparison shots above above).

Across from the Tian Tan Buddha is Po Lin Monastery.  Since this is an active place of worship, photography was understandably prohibited in some areas.  As you approach the first building, you can see small crowds gather to pray and bring their incense offerings. There is a small temple housing statues of deities and guards protecting the entrance. Farther back, you can catch a glimpse of the 10,000 buddhas lining the walls of the Grand Hall. To say the least, there were vibrants colors, ornate paintings,  and buddhas everywhere you looked.

Another popular spot here is the Wisdom Path. We only made it to the beginning of the trail before we decided to head back as the crowd was growing and our stomachs were starting to grumble. However, the Wisdom Path is known for its 38 wooden posts that features verses from the Heart Sutra.

‘RTW Travel Series: Cathay Pacific Arrival Lounge at HKG


Upon arriving at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKG), we made a quick stop at the Cathay Pacific Arrival Lounge. This airport is massive, so we luckily found an information kiosk to help route us to the lounge. Upon entering, the staff graciously greeted us and held our baggage at the front desk as the lounge area is rather small and narrow. Since we arrived early in the morning, there were only a handful of other passengers there too. They offered a selection of breakfast breads and pastries, non-alcoholic beverages, expresso drinks, and a few hot items. This included congee (rice porridge), shrimp and pork siu mai, rice wrapped in lotus leaves, and scrambled eggs with onions and bell peppers. I was happy to have my fill of siu mai, but the congee was very bland; the only accompanying side options were green onions, salt, pepper, and peanuts. Unfortunately, I can’t speak much for the showers – just that they are available. When I went to wash up, the staff routed me to the public restrooms just outside of the lounge. The showers may have been occupied. Overall, this was a nice pitstop before we headed off on our HK adventures. I wouldn’t spend much time here or necessarily go out of my way if we were on a more strict schedule.

‘RTW Travel Series: The oneworld Lounge at LAX

‘RTW Travel Series: The oneworld Lounge at LAX

We arrived at the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) at LAX before 9pm, which gave us plenty of time to check in, go through security, and relax at the oneworld Lounge prior to our red-eye to Hong Kong. Disappointingly, TBIT does not offer a separate line for those with pre-TSA, so everyone follows the same lengthy queue. The only perk you get to keep is that you can keep yours shoes on walking through the metal detector. *Pro-Tip: Go through security in Terminal 4 as they do offer a pre-TSA line there. Then follow the connecting walkways to lead you back to TBIT. This is a major time saver that we’ll keep in mind for next time! Since we were taking one of the last flights out, I’m sure the line would have been much worse during peak hours. However, one issue that kept stalling our line was that several passengers were cutting the queue as they claimed to be late for their flights. Luckily it was Christmas night so we’ll credit the holiday spirit for giving everyone else a bit more patience.

Once through security, the oneworld Lounge is one flight up (Level 5) and a short walk over. This used to be shared by business and first class, but now there is a separate lounge for first class and Emerald tier frequent flyers. The oneworld Lounge is quite massive for an airport lounge and is the largest lounge I’ve encountered on my travels so far. The contemporary design connotes both a sense of trendy Californian style as well as comfort. There is ample seating with lots of electrical outlets surrounding a central glass atrium that serves as a beautiful focal point.

Upon entering, there is a cocktail bar to the right serving signature drinks and wines. Adjacent to the bar, there is also a circular fireplace with plenty of cushion seating surrounding it. In addition to the cocktail bar, there are self-serve wines and non-alcoholic drinks throughout the lounge.

Since it was rather late when we arrived at the lounge, I was still pleasantly surprised to see some food offerings. Sadly, we had just missed the taco bar. However, there was still a nice selection of food. The hot menu that night featured spiced carrot soup (really good!), roasted turkey breast with cornbread stuffing, mixed vegetables, and Thai stir fry. Salads included sliced chorizo potato and cannellini beans with roasted peppers; Mexican bean salad with coriander, feta, and salsa verde; and bell peppers with chickpea, corn and coriander in mango and jalapeno dressing.


As for the bathrooms, I was disappointed to see one closed off completely for cleaning. The remaining bathroom that was available offered a nice, clean sink area with a large mirror and great lighting for touch-ups. However, two of the four bathroom stalls were out of service. The two that were available were either occupied or out of toilet paper.

Overall, the oneworld Lounge is a great pitstop if you are flying business class out of TBIT via Qantas, British Airways, or Cathay Pacific.  It offers a trendy yet calming ambiance to unwind amidst travels. However, the bathrooms (or lack thereof) was disappointing, though I’ll attribute this to the late hours when we were there. The food and drinks are good with a decent selection to help you re-fuel. I’m more intrigued now about the oneworld’s first class lounge to see how it compares.

Intro to My ‘RTW Travel Series

Intro to My ‘RTW Travel Series

Merry Christmas! This year, we are spending the rest of the holiday season on a special trip that is actually a first for us in many ways. After spending a few days with our loved ones, my husband and I headed off to our international vacation. This will be our first ‘round the world (‘RTW) adventure as we travel to Hong Kong, Paris, and Amsterdam – each city with its own climate, culture, and food scene! I will be taking lots of pictures and sharing our experiences on the blog, so follow along as we go ‘RTW!

Tea Time at London’s classic Claridge’s

Tea Time at London’s classic Claridge’s

It’s finally starting to feel like Fall in the West Coast, and these chills have me wanting to curl up with a warm cup of tea! Growing up, my grandmother and I used to have afternoon tea with sweet toast and milk tea. I like to think that this early intake of caffeine contributed to my petite sub-5′ height, but there’s probably more to that. Anyway, whenever we find ourselves across the pond in London town,  it’s always a special experience for me to have afternoon tea. We’ve been to a couple popular tea rooms, but Claridge’s epitomizes classic afternoon tea.

Located in Claridge’s luxury hotel in the West End, the Foyer and Reading Room create a beautiful backdrop for any occasion.  The art deco of the Foyer is highlighted by a Chihuly light sculpture (yes, the same Chihuly known to many Americans for his glass garden in Seattle). To keep things simple, it’s beautiful!

On to the dining experience… we opted for the traditional tea experience, but there is an option to upgrade for a glass of Laurent-Perrier brut or rosé. Either choice comes with a classic display of finger sandwiches, pastries, and scones accompanied with Marco Polo jelly and Cornish Clotted cream. Everything is baked fresh daily in-house with every ingredient having been well thought out. It doesn’t sound like much, but you definitely won’t leave hungry. At some point, we were begging them to stop bringing us food! We even received boxes of treats to take home. Now the highlight of the experience, of course, is the tea. You can choose from about 24 teas selected from all around the world.  The menu explains where each tea is sourced, and the staff is more than helpful in helping you decide on drink pairings with your food. The service is attentive but still warm and friendly.  Our tea cups were never empty and they were very generous with the food servings. No need to raise a finger (especially your pinky!). This was such a fun experience that I would highly recommend in London.

Pro tip: Reservations can be made up to 90 days in advance, so you can plan ahead.

You can also check out a sample menu here