Tea at the Lalu Sun Moon Lake
The Lalu Hotel（涵碧樓）at Sun Moon Lake in Taiwan is a mythical destination. Mythical not only because of it faces the Lalu island in Sun Moon Lake, the ancestral island of the Thao tribe, but also because of its history. We didn't stay at the Lalu on our most recent visit, but we stopped by for afternoon tea, and were able to take a glimpse of this famed institution of a hotel. Come join us for tea in discreet Chinese luxury.
As early as 1901, the crown Prince of Japan visited Sun Moon Lake and stayed at this location. Half a century later, it became the holiday resort of Chiang Kai Shek, the president of the Republic of China based in Taiwan. Finally, in the beginning of the 2000s, a modern hotel opened on this premise, and many travelers came to experience this lodging that was once reserved for heads of states.
I heard about the Lalu through friends that stayed there on their honeymoon. We opted for the more family-friendly Fleur de Chine Hotel on another side of the lake for our stay, but I was tempted to check out the Lalu. Afternoon tea seemed like a perfectly valid excuse for a detour.
The Lalu features a zen minimalist architecture style that reflects (literally) the surrounding views of the mountains and Sun Moon Lake itself. A wave of tranquility washes over you as you step into the main entrance.
We then headed downstairs to enter the Oriental Brasserie that served an international buffet afternoon tea.
It is rather customary to have a full buffet for afternoon tea in Taiwan, and the Lalu is no exception. There is a mix of Chinese (Taiwanese, Cantonese), Japanese, and Italian dishes, fresh fruit and salad bars, delicate bite-sized cakes, and a very complete bar serving juice, soft drinks, coffee, and a full selection of tea, many of which are local hand-crafted tea varieties.
The Chinese cuisine area surrounds the open kitchen, every dish comes out fresh and hot.
The interior of the restaurant is luminous with views of the lake through art deco screens. The furniture and floral display on the tables are also minimalist, with wooden tables and chairs in simple straight lines, and a single flamingo flower on each table.
Even though the Lalu is not known to be a family-friendly resort, it is one of the top destination hotels for babymoons in Taiwan, and many families with young children come for the afternoon tea. We were provided highchairs and kids' tableware almost immediately after being seated.
Having afternoon tea at the Lalu is basically having high tea, you're practically combining lunch and dinner. The ice cream cones at the end of the meal were particularly appreciated by our toddlers. Satisfied, we headed back upstairs to the main entrance, right on time to watch the birds' bathing time. We learned why the caged birds sing. (Please forgive me, Maya Angelou.)
Besides the birds, the stone lions were quite intriguing for the little ones, too.
Have you ever imagined what'd happen if Pinocchio meets la Bocca della Verità (mouth of truth)? Funny image, right? Luckily he's not Pinocchio and this is not the famous bocca. But I guess it can feel pretty scary to put your hand in a lion's mouth, albeit a stone one. It's actually set in an amazing place, at the Lalu Sun Moon Lake, a beautiful hotel. #pinocchio #laboccadellaverità #stonelion #chinesestonelion #thelalu #lalusunmoonlake
We took a final look at the peaceful surroundings at the Lalu, admired the bonsais, the mountains, and the lake view, and bid farewell to this mythical place on the Sun Moon Lake. So long, Lalu!
Keep Calm and Drink Tea,