Hong Kong Travel Guide
The view from a room at The Upper House
One of Hong Kong's most luxurious hotels, The Upper House, was forced to cancel its Anniversary Party, which was scheduled for Wednesday, October 1, due to the pro-democracy demonstrations in the city's Admiralty and Central districts.
The demonstrations began over the weekend and have carried on today, forcing the city to cancel its fireworks show in honor of National China Day. A central issue for the protestors are the 2017 elections for the city's chief executives. Hong Kong, formerly a British colony, was promised full "universal suffrage" but then China said only candidates fully-vetted by a Beijing-friendly committee could participate. A police crackdown on Sunday involved the use of tear gas, pepper spray and batons but only resulted in having the opposite effect as people, outrage by the use of force, joined the protests .
As the demonstrations continue, more and more of Hong Kong's hotels are being affected. Here's a snapshot taken about an hour ago of the Mandarin Oriental Landmark Hotel:
Hong Kong's top Mandarin hotel is barricaded by protesters. Road access is blocked pic.twitter.com/Bt5NS08atg— Richard Frost (@frostyhk) September 29, 2014
Indeed the hotel has even pulled down steel gates over its entrance:
Not your usual Mandarin Hotel welcome in Hong Kong pic.twitter.com/jVjymRq8MB— Richard Frost (@frostyhk) September 29, 2014
Rising from Hong Kong's oldest historic stone slab street is the city's newest addition to the bustling hotel scene. The Pottinger is a perfect balance of Eastern service and sensibility with Western amenities.
Located in the vibrant neighborhood of Central, Pottinger offers 68 guest rooms that showcase Hong Kong's romantic rich heritage, reflecting the wealth of its diverse culture. The standard rooms are perfect enough, but the seven suites, each named after streets in the neighborhood, are a bit more special with bespoke decor. Besides a calming and relaxing palate, all rooms include free wifi, bottled water and toiletries by Acca Kappa.
While the rooms might be elegantly appointed, each room also displays photography from Chinese artist, Fan Ho. The artist is best known for stunning black & white shots from around Central so they may offer up some inspiration to capture your own Hong Kong memories.
Over on Jaunted, you can get our inside looks at some of the world’s best airline lounges, so we thought we’d do something similar here and start talking about some of the hotel lounges we’ve frequented for our series on Hotel Club Lounges. Today, we're having a look inside the Executive Club Lounge at the Four Seasons Hong Kong.
Set within the International Finance Centre, the Four Seasons sits nearly on the water’s edge on Hong Kong Island. Before we zoomed up to the 45th floor to peek inside the hotel’s Executive Club Lounge, we had breakfast in The Lounge downstairs, which had us pleasantly surprised for its relatively affordable menu. Hong Kong’s luxury hotels are notoriously expensive, so we wouldn’t have thought scrambled eggs on toasted English muffins with bacon and avocado, a fresh orange juice, and a latte would take the total only up to just over US$20. It was delicious too, and the free WiFi for 2 hours helped us take care of a few things as well.
Stepping out of the lift on level 45, you turn to face the reception desk at the end of a short hallway. We liked the dramatic black high-gloss walls, the sculpture, and the colorful painting at the back. The hotel has 399 rooms and suites, with some categories having either a Western or contemporary Chinese design. Club access costs HKD1,400 (about $180) a night for two people, and is included with Club Rooms and Suites.
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We knew Peninsula Hotels was spending some serious money to refresh its Hong Kong flagship, and that lovers of tech would be well looked after. Having just stopped by the hotel, we now know what those proprietary bedside tablets look like in their natural environment, and spotted a number of other cool room amenities – including the futuristic-looking thing above.
We honestly had no clue what it was, but in this case we’re not the target audience. Ladies, any guesses? Read on to find out.
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Does the Hotel Indigo make us covet its guestrooms and manage to stand out in the Hong Kong hotel crowd? A HotelChatter Review
Guess the Hotel revealed! The blue staircase and blue pool did indeed belong to the Hotel Indigo Hong Kong, which is where we laid our head during a short stopover in the city. Hong Kong has an impressive hotel game, and our expectations were high given what Indigo pulled off further north in Shanghai. Read on to find out what we thought.
Pop Quiz! How many different kinds of seating can you find in the label-defying lounge of the new J Plus Hotel by Y00?
A face lift at age 10? Only in hotel years, where hitting the “refresh” button on design is a pre-requisite for any savvy hotelier who wants to keep the in-crowd coming back for more. In the case of yoo Hotels, founded by John Hitchcox and Renaissance man Philippe Starck, their truly undefinable style just keeps getting better and better and, yes, we want to come back for more.
Celebrating 10 years and $10,000,000 on cosmetic upgrades to J Plus in Causeway Bay, the "first boutique hotel in Asia," the new J Plus Hotel by YOO unveils next month as a new brand for the next decade.
With the holiday season just a month or so away (sorry to be the bearer of bad news), Shangri-La is giving members of its Golden Circle rewards program the opportunity to help out two Hong Kong based charities, Oxfam Hong Kong (which aids poverty and disaster relief) and MedArt (which brings care to those in long-term confinement, such as prisons, psychiatric institutions, hospices, homes for the elderly, etc).
For every 1,000 points given by a member, Golden Circle will donate $20 to one of the charities on the member’s behalf. The minimum donation starts at 2,000 points and can be increased by increments of 1,000 up until a maximum of 10,000, equivalent to a $200 cash donation. Members may donate by visiting the “Redeem Points” section on Golden Circle's website.
The donated points are forfeited from your account in exchange for the donation made by Golden Circle. How much these points are actually worth varies. For example, at a Shangri-La "collection A" hotel, a standard room is worth 1,000 points/night. At the highest tier of hotels, "collection G," a standard room is worth 20,000 points. So, a guest who donates 2,000 points sacrifices a two-night stay and the hotel donates $40 to charity.
We've long been suspicious of the in-room hotel safe after personally encountering safes that simply didn't work and after hearing several tales of the safe getting robbed, like this one. But if you were still trusting the hotel safe to keep your valuables protected, this story may really cause you to think again.
At the posh Peninsula Hong Kong, one of the most high-tech hotels in the world, a man wearing hotel slippers tricked the staff into thinking he was a guest, not only gaining access to a hotel room but also getting the password to the in-room safe. Here's how he did it:
"Speaking in English, he told hotel staff that he had lost his room key and demanded another one," the [South China Morning Post] cited a Hong Kong police officer as saying, adding that the man provided details of the 47-year-old male occupant including name and birthdate, without saying how he had obtained such information.
After entering the room, the man "telephoned the front desk from the room saying he had forgotten the password of the safe and asked for assistance to open it", the officer was quoted by the SCMP as saying.
The thief managed to walk away with about $4,900 in cash, a computer, a wallet and a piece of luggage. So far, no arrests have been made but we're pretty sure that couple will never, ever, ever, use the hotel safe again. Or maybe, Hong Kong just needs to beef up their hotel security. After all, a HotelChatter tipster was able to uncover where NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was hiding out, thanks to a very nice hotel operator.
Traveling with some pretty nice stuff but don't want to use the hotel safe? Read our tips after the jump!
If you ever need to track down someone in a hotel, it helps to put someone who works in a hotel on the job. When we guessed the whereabouts of the PRISM whistleblower, Edward Snowden, this morning, we threw out a couple of not-so-serious hotel guesses. But someone reading our story took it very seriously.
Our own Macau Deepthroat, as we call him, noticed the interview setting that Snowden did for the Guardian UK looked very similar to the rooms at The Mira Hong Kong in Kowloon Park. A quick Google image search confirmed this for him. Then MD went to the next level. Here's what he did:
With this bit of information I called to the hotel and claimed that I had sent a fax to Mr Snowden but it had never reached his room. The friendly operator confirmed then that Mr Edward Snowden had checked out at 12:30 pm and explained that this may have been the reason why he never received my fax message. I thanked her and ended the call.
I then called a second time to the hotel, this time I asked for the reservations department and pretended to be interested in extending Mr Edward Snowden's stay as he had to remain in Hong Kong due to unforeseen circumstances. I only provide the name and the fact that he had checked out of a Parkview Room today and a second later the reservations agent happily provides me the room number (on 10th floor) and quotes the rates for an extension of stay...
As I work in hotels, I know how to play the game and get the information one wants...
Where Snowden has gone is anyone's guess but we're sure the CIA and the NSA are on it. Meanwhile, the Mira might need to have a conversation with their "friendly" operators.
UPDATE: Our own Macau Deepthroat has uncovered Snowden's hotel. Alas, he has already checked out.
Yesterday, the Guardian UK published (with his permission) the identity of the 29-year-old man responsible for leaking the National Security Administrations's classified surveillance program, PRISM to the public. His name is Edward Snowden and he is currently hiding in a hotel in Hong Kong, fearful of the repercussions yet convinced he has done the right thing.
As you can imagine, he's pretty paranoid. But at least he's making good of the hotel's room service, something he can't do at the Hilton New York. The Guardian reports:
In the three weeks since he arrived, he has been ensconced in a hotel room. "I've left the room maybe a total of three times during my entire stay," he said. It is a plush hotel and, what with eating meals in his room too, he has run up big bills.
He is deeply worried about being spied on. He lines the door of his hotel room with pillows to prevent eavesdropping. He puts a large red hood over his head and laptop when entering his passwords to prevent any hidden cameras from detecting them.
With the identity of the leak revealed, now the new mystery iswhere is Snowden spending his (limited) days?
The boutique brand will feature a burnished bronze "dragon" that will wrap around the facade of the new building acting as a screen for shielding the interior from heat and harnessing solar power.
Each of the 138 rooms is individually designed to reflect the flare of the historic Wan Chai neighborhood. Keeping with Hong Kong's colonial heritage, the rooms will marry both Asian and European influences with a modern touch. Along with the unique design, the entire property will offer complimentary WiFi throughout.
Mandarin Oriental is in a serious party-mood these days. We’ve already talked about the $60,000 New Year’s Eve package that lets you ring in 2013 baller-style in Las Vegas, but next year will bring a whole range of celebrations on the other side of the world when Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong turns the big five-o.
Difficult as it may be to imagine, given the maze of skyscrapers in the city today, but when the hotel opened in 1963, its 27 floors made it the tallest building on Hong Kong Island, and the first in Asia with bathtubs in every room.