4209 is an Upper Suite, which runs about $1,000 per night while the lowest room categorya Studio 70will set you back closer to $420. That said, there are some massive perks besides the impressive Upper House name for guests. There's free WiFi, free snacks, beer and other refreshments (besides qine & liquor) in each room's "Maxi-bar," and the views...well, the views are priceless.
As far as the lack of a lobby and check-in here, it's all been modernized to respond to the needs of the traveler versus the needs of a hotel. When you arrivethrough a secretish small entrance at the foot of the building, well around the corner from the more bustling J. W. Marriott doorsthere is a small valet desk just inside before you set up the escalators and on the path to your room.
This valet-looking desk will set you up with a member of the staff, iPad in hand, to personally escort you to your room and check you in in a mobile manner (and show you how to work the in-room iPod Touch with Upper House app) so that you're able to sit down, rest, and make yourself at home as soon as possible.
Our favorite detail? Besides the jaw-dropping views of course and that fantasy bathtub is the fact that there's no clutter, no hotel handbook to sift through for information. The iPod Touch takes care of all that, and even the remote controls and decks of playing cards in the room get their own little boxes to stay out of sight and in harmony with the clean design.
That's another thing: make yourself at home. As you can tell from the photo gallery above, the Upper House rooms are so decorated and designed to feel like upscale apartments. Indeed that's what they actually were before becoming this hotel in late 2009. The former tenants' loss is your gain though, because these rooms are way sweet.
Did you see that bathtub? Yeahif we got to get sudsy in that, we maybe wouldn't mind the neighboring skyscrapers looking in; we know the peeping toms would be angling for more eyefuls of the tub and shower than of us. As far as the bathroom goes, one huge and very unexpected bonus is the complimentary toiletry kit you can use throughout your stay and take home, like an advanced airline kit. It contains everything from hand sanitizer to Ren face moisturizer to a compact mirror and nail polish remover wipes. And the toiletries next to bathtub are just as thorough: bath salts, bath oil, a pumice stone, a loofah and exfoliating bar.
As far as public spaces go, we've already covered the no-lobby issue. With only 117 rooms and a clientele that prefers peace and quiet though, it's hardly an issue. Head up to the top floor, right under the oculus that beams down into the atrium, and there you'll find a sitting room perfect for reading with tea, having an informal business meeting with a colleague or just perusing the paper in the morning with a cappuccino. If you've got a room with Victoria Harbour views, you'll be able to see the other sidethe mountains and Hong Kong Island's skyscrapersfrom here.
Cross the atrium bridge under the oculus to reach Cafe Gray Deluxe, the only true public portion of the hotel as it's the restaurant and bar. Thanks to the zig-zag design of the sides of the building, almost every room has an enviable room and so too does each dining nook up here. During our tour, the restaurant was just rousing itself for the lunch hour and few guests and non-guests had ventured up this far, and thus it was almost as serene as the rest of the Upper House, although we're sure that turns quite quickly in the evening, when the city's skyline shines and the cocktail crowd gets hungry.
Now you may be wondering...who'd stay here? The Upper House is owned by Swire, a giant name in Hong Kong and world business, and they even own Cathay Pacific Airways. The heads of the various branches of Swire would be at home at The Upper House, to give you an idea of level of clientele. It's a very private place, like for those who've tired of the occasional sceney-ness of Park Hyatt hotels. And although we aren't a captain of industry to any extent, we did feel immediately at home. Perhaps it's all the techthe iPod Touch, the room control panels and moreor maybe it's just cause we'll totally city people and the Upper House is a consummate city person's oasis. Regardless, the feeling the Upper House instills is a difficult one to describe with words.
[Photos and video: Cynthia Drescher for HotelChatter]