The ultimate hotel guide to Hong Kong

Between the steely skyscrapers and lush greenery, Hong Kong’s hotels are some of the finest in Asia, and with new openings and revamps across the city, the hotel scene is more spectacular than ever before.

This article was adapted from National Geographic Traveller (UK).

Political unrest, protests and a pandemic — it’s an understatement to say that Hong Kong has had a difficult time lately. But the city is waiting with open arms: hotels have been gearing up for tourists to return, adding new restaurants and revamping facilities, and there are stacks of new attractions, too, from micro-parks to gigantic museums. Thanks to its excellent and affordable transport system, Hong Kong’s puzzle of scenery and skyscrapers is a breeze to get around, but each neighbourhood has its own distinct identity: financial districts Central and Admiralty are all glitz and glamour, while nearby Wan Chai retains a gritty, urban feel. North Point, meanwhile, feels like the Hong Kong of 40 years ago and is a top spot for food-lovers. Kowloon, too, has no shortage of great places to stay, from five-star sky palaces to art-led hotels with rooftop pools. Venture further to the more peaceful Outlying Islands, and you’ll discover a whole other world again.

1. Mandarin Oriental

Best for social butterflies

There are many reasons the Mandarin Oriental has been topping the world’s best hotels lists for nearly seven decades, but one is its location in Central, where it sits at the heart of the city, both geographically and socially. The lobby is a spectacle: lashings of black marble, opulent chandeliers, magnificent artworks, smart businesspeople brokering deals and others clip-clopping to the superb spa. Rooms exude contemporary Asian luxury — thick Chinese rugs, golden silks, rosewood panelling — and, this year, there’s a slick new club lounge. Also new is The Aubrey, a madly exciting bar with maximalist interiors inspired by the 19th century European craze for Japanism. Rooms from HK$4,000 (£370). 

2. The Upper House

Best for the stylish set

Head through an unassuming door in Admiralty, up 49 floors and out into one of the most spectacular spaces in Hong Kong: The Upper House. The glass-topped atrium is strung with a sky bridge linking a mountain view lounge and new city-view restaurant Salisterra. Downstairs, rooms range from airy studios with big limestone tubs set in the window to the fabulous new André Fu suite. There’s no pool or spa (although in-room treatments can be arranged), but the elegant atmosphere, design and meticulous attention to detail are why the high-fliers scramble to stay here. Rooms from HK$5,016 (£464), B&B.

3. Island Shangri-La

Best for location

The Island Shangri-La has long been one of Hong Kong’s most consistently brilliant hotels. Situated above the Pacific Place mall with Hong Kong Park and the Peak Tram on its doorstep, the hotel is perfectly placed for shopping, sightseeing and socialising. Most of the rooms are classically decorated, but a few floors of Horizon Club rooms have recently been updated, with gorgeous hand-painted screen doors, daybeds and cocktail trolleys. The Summer Palace is a top spot for dim sum, and there’s an outdoor pool too. Rooms from HK$2,227 (£206), B&B.

4. The Murray

Best for gilded glamour

A former government office block refashioned by Foster + Partners, The Murray is flanked by Hong Kong’s financial district on one side and Hong Kong Park and Victoria Peak on the other. The views from the rooftop bar and restaurant, Popinjays, are fabulous. Elsewhere, there are three more restaurants, a lobby bar, an indoor swimming pool and a small spa. The spacious rooms are a marriage of mid-century and up-to-the-minute, with a white, gold and black colour scheme, lowslung velvet sofas and sleek bathrooms. Rooms from HK$2,800 (£259), room only.

5. The Hari

Best for hipsters

The Hari is smack-bang in the middle of Wan Chai, one of the city’s liveliest neighbourhoods, packed with shops, outlets, markets, foot massage joints, traditional cha chaan teng (cafes), restaurants and bars. Inside, warm velvety furnishings are paired against timber panelling, brass accents and digital artworks. The rooms are small but equally stylish — and are the first in Hong Kong to have voice-activated command systems. There are few facilities (no pool, no spa) but the restaurants are a highlight. Rooms from HK$1,287 (£119), B&B.

6. Cordis

Best for city slickers

Hotel club lounges are a big deal in Hong Kong and Cordis has one of the most generous. For about £40 extra for two you’ll get a bigger room, breakfast, afternoon tea, evening snacks, beer and wine for most of the day, plus spirits, liqueurs and cocktails. There’s also a well-priced spa, a rooftop swimming pool with a tiki bar, three restaurants and an outdoor lounge serving booze from vintage Citroën vans. The hotel also has one of the world’s largest hotel art collections. Rooms from HK$1,243 (£115), B&B. 

7. Hyatt Centric

Best for harbour views

It’s almost impossible to find a smart hotel on Hong Kong Island for less than £100 a night, never mind one with a view of Victoria Harbour. But even the entry-level rooms at the Hyatt Centric have eyefuls of the sparkling eastern waterfront. Just 10 minutes from the city centre, it’s also in the thick of North Point, one of Hong Kong’s oldest neighbourhoods, best known for colourful 1960s architecture like the Monster Building, and a wealth of restaurants. The terrace at rooftop bar and restaurant Cruise, meanwhile, is the place to be at sunset. Rooms from HK$951 (£88), room only.

8. Tai O Heritage Hotel

Best for village life

Hong Kong is skyscrapers and neon, but it’s also fishing villages, rambling mountains and golden beaches. For a taste of the latter, hop on the MTR to Tung Chung and then the ferry to Tai O on the far reaches of Lantau Island. A meticulous restoration of the former Marine Police Station, this nine-room hideaway is the ideal base to explore Tai O. The rooms’ crisp white decor and clever layout adds to the sense of tropical escape. Rooms from HK$2,108 (£195), B&B.

9. The Ritz-Carlton

Best for sky-high living

The Ritz-Carlton is one of the world’s loftiest hotels — occupying the top 16 floors of the 1,588ft International Commerce Centre — it’s worth the splurge for the views alone. Below the hotel is the new West Kowloon Cultural District, which features a multilevel public park, waterfront promenade and the new M+ Museum of contemporary art and visual culture. Or stay in and visit the hotel’s attractions, which include the world’s highest outdoor bar, the world’s highest swimming pool and the world’s highest spa. Rooms from HK$3,190 (£295). 

10. Eaton

Best for culture vultures

Hong Kong’s pricey members-only clubs wish they were as half as cool as this four-star hotel in blue-collar Yau Ma Tei. Along with a riveting location (opposite Temple Street Night Market), 1970s-inspired rooms and a rooftop pool, the hotel offers thoughtful cultural experiences, from free tai chi classes and film screenings to appointments with an astrologer. Eaton is also rooted in the community, promoting local artists and providing coworking spaces to charities. During the height of the pandemic, the Hong Kong Ballet gave a socially distanced performance across the terrace of the hotel’s trendy outdoor bar Terrible Baby, with rooms acting as viewing boxes. Don’t miss the inhouse food court, and Yat Tung Heen Chinese restaurant is also worth the splurge. Rooms from HK$1,287 (£119), B&B.

Published in the Jul/Aug 2021 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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