It’s mid-afternoon, mid-week, and the mood is lively in the lobby of the new Sindhorn Kempinski Bangkok. You’d never guess the hotel only officially opened on October 1st, in the middle of a Covid border lockdown, judging from the energy in its elegant, cavernous lobby. A low murmur of polite chatter and the occasional clink of teaspoons on china emanate from the small groups clustered around coffee tables. The tables appear to sprout little nude trees, their branches proffering finger sandwiches and mini-rolls nesting inside dainty glass globes, with colorful pastries spread around the base.
It looks like the whole lobby is here for the signature Chevaa Afternoon Tea (THB 1,500++ per set for 2 people), and lucky for us, we were booked at the very best seat (yes, there is a best seat) – the long sofa set against the gazebo, where the gorgeous backdrop of thick orchids, drooping ferns and gilded chandeliers are the perfect spot to induce heart emojis.
This fabulous gazebo is the room’s grand centerpiece, with its potted tropical plants, marble tabletop displays evoking the feel of a Victorian era conservatory. Around the room, plush upholstery and silk-fringed velvet cushions signal the European luxury of the Kempinski brand.
The Chevaa (meaning “life”) Afternoon Tea offers a selection of two tea sets – the Indulgence Set or the Guilt-Free Vegan Set, with an upcoming Thai Set to be offered in future. We were ready for the full-on experience with the Indulgence Set, which, no surprise, is also the most popular selection.
This set starts with a selection of tea or coffee, a tangy citrus sherbet to cleanse the palate, and classic English scones served with freshly made strawberry jam, lemon cream and clotted cream, along with peanut butter brioche feulletine, a French pastry filled with peanut better to provide a contrasting texture.
After the starters, the tree arrives and we sit and admire at the whole display for a while, not wanting to disturb such a pretty arrangement by eating it. This is definitely not your standard English tea, and the chef has mixed some Asian flavors into the spread, featuring chicken satay sandwich rolls with pickled cucumber and peanut sauce rolled into bite-size morsels.
For European flavors there’s a French vol-au-vent with Paris ham mousseline and pickled mushroom base, a gravlax savoury éclair with avocado and lime emulsion, and more traditional English flavored egg sandwich with truffled egg duxelles and watercress.
We were advised to start off the desserts with the enticing lemon meringue tarte pop, a lemon pop cake coated with sweet meringue that’s meant to be popped into your mouth in one humongous mouthful. Some of the sweet highlights were a salted caramel, praline and chocolate plaisir, and a traditional French dessert of Paris Brest pistachio served with espresso crème for rich luxurious indulgence. The set is meant for two people but could easily be shared by three, as there were almost too many sweet indulgences to eat in one go.
This artful display was created by the Kempinski chef, who wanted to offer something more unusual than the usual 3-tier tea stand, and designed this eco-friendly presentation using all natural and sustainable materials, such as the wooden branches, leather flowers and the display stand made from rice husks.
In fact the eco theme is all in keeping with the hotel’s theme of “A City Wellness Sanctuary”- a garden hideaway where one comes to relax and rest in a peaceful green space in the middle of the hectic city. The building’s giant arches and apertures are designed to allow air and light to flow through, so that those inside feel connected to the gardens outside. We didn’t have time to fully explore the vast green gardens outside, so we’ll have to come back to see what else lies in this unexpected oasis in the middle of bustling Bangkok.
Do you like Afternoon Tea sets? What are you favorite tea-time goodies?