The Kings of Hong Kong Hotels
Few cities rival Hong Kong when it comes to hotels. Choices range from some of the most expensive and indulgent in the world–the city boasts two Mandarin Orientals–to dirt-cheap hostels as well as a big range of hip yet reasonable new properties in between.
I recently spent four days checking in (and out) in Hong Kong and rounded up a list of my favorites.
> For Hipsters: Hotel Indigo
This Wan Chai newcomer makes its home in the city’s coolest neighborhood, which blends the best of old and new Hong Kong: traditional street markets rub against modern skyscraper malls, historic temples sit next to trendy cafes.
The Indigo fits well into the mix. Its young, in-the-know staff can share directions to the local artist collective or recommend a new cocktail lounge, while its reasonably-priced rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows that give guests the feeling of hovering above the chaotic street scene below.
Winner of a 2013 prize for best hotel architecture, the Indigo’s most famous feature is its glass-bottomed rooftop pool, which cantilevers out from the building, allowing swimmers to paddle 29 stories in the air.
> For Business Travelers: East
Business hotels should make work trips better, not worse. East, the sister hotel to Hong Kong’s super-luxe Upper House (see more below), might make you forget you’re not here to have fun.
With floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the harbor, contemporary interiors, an expansive pool, and a cool rooftop bar, East’s only real “business” amenity is its location on the eastern side of Hong Kong, home to various convention centers and corporate headquarters.
That being said, visitors on vacation, even families, should consider a stay here to get the perks of a great hotel at a lower price. The restaurants and sights of the Central District are just a 15-minute taxi ride away.
> For a Splurge: Upper House
Few hotels make me swoon. This one did. While the prices may be a bit higher than others, everything else is also kicked up a notch. Guests are taken straight to their room and check-in is handled via iPad, which saves the hassle of standing around, jet lagged, in a reception lobby.
Even the entry-level accommodations are massive (at a minimum of 730 square feet) and have huge bathrooms with freestanding tubs ideal for an end-of-day soak overlooking the city. Minibars? Everything’s included. Video and iPod Touch on demand? Ready and waiting. There are also weekend yoga classes, a hidden lawn tucked away on the 6th floor, and bikes to borrow if you’re feeling brave.
Café Gray, one of the city’s most lauded restaurants, sits on the top floor of the hotel. The only problem I found was that my room was so comfortable and calm, I almost couldn’t bring myself to head back into the fray below.
> For Families: The Peninsula
This grand dame recently emerged from a $58 million renovation with an updated look. While the restaurants and public rooms retain historic details (don’t miss the 76 faces from Greek mythology that top columns in the lobby), the rooms are sleek and modern.
Forget fussy details: the decor is simple and fresh, with clean-lined furniture, spacious marble baths, crisp white linens, and fluffy duvets. The entire room, from lighting to sound to television, is controlled by easy-to-use wall panels and tablets. Phone home with free international calls, or throw on the 3-D glasses to watch a movie on the high-tech TVs.
While this all sounds very adult, the hotel is fully equipped for families, with a huge pool, kids menus, and classes for children at the Peninsula Academy. Don’t miss the Dim Sum Experience, where you and your child join one of the hotel’s chefs to make traditional dumplings. Cook with him, tour the back house to meet the staff, and then eat the lunch you prepared in the kitchen. It is truly one of the most fun memories my daughter and I have of Hong Kong.
Though some will say the Kowloon location is less appealing, the Star Ferry into Central is easy, and spending your evenings on the Kowloon side offers the very best views of the daily Symphony of Lights laser show.
> For a Brand Name
Every big-name hotel brand has a home base in Hong Kong. Here’s what to know about them. There are two Mandarin Orientals, the Landmark and the original Mandarin. They are connected–literally–and in a good location in Central, but they look very different.
Expect contemporary decor at the Landmark and more traditional design at the Mandarin. The Four Seasons is around the corner and also a favorite for a convenient location. The two pools–an infinity and a lap pool overlooking the bay–are popular for good reason, as is the staff’s family-friendly attitude.
Across the harbor, on the same side as the Peninsula, is the W and the Ritz-Carlton. The W also has a great pool and lower prices than the Four Seasons, while the Ritz-Carlton boasts a bird’s eye view of the city. The hotel’s lobby is on the 102nd floor of the ICC building, making it the world’s highest hotel. Check your vertigo prior to entry.
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