February 8, 2018
It’s hard to keep up with Hong Kong’s hospitality landscape – an army of fresh hotels and restaurants seem to burst onto the scene every month. From the recently opened to the brand spanking new, we delve into the buzziest venues currently hogging the limelight in Asia’s most alluring city.
Style conscious travellers have a new boutique haunt to call home in Hong Kong. The Fleming in Wan Chai first opened its doors in 2006, but a recent makeover has seen it transformed. All 66 rooms – which come in four sizes – feature an immaculate Art Moderne aesthetic inspired by the city’s industrial and maritime heritage, having been reimagined with extraordinary attention to detail. A major reference point is the nautical styling and colour palette of the cross-harbour Star Ferry, reflected in everything from the petrol green bathroom tiles and warm wood floors to the brushed brass fixtures and fittings. Every element is thoughtfully considered – the stationery, the light switches, the apothecary-style toiletries, the ribbed glass doors, even the rivets in the panelled walls. It all harks back to a bygone Hong Kong, yet leans more towards the contemporary than the nostalgic.
Two minutes from the MTR, the Fleming occupies an ideal Wan Chai location, moments from nightlife hotspots, the Star Ferry Pier and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. There’s little in the way of public spaces – no huge lobby or hotel lounge or fitness facilities to speak of (though guests have free access to a nearby full-service gym) – but what it does offer is faultless service, great value for money and a genuine sense of place – something hard to pin down in this increasingly globalised destination. The raved-about ground floor restaurant Osteria Marzia serves coastal Italian cuisine, alongside an excellent continental breakfast spread included in the room rate.
The Fleming, 41 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
You’ll need to book in advance to secure one of the nine tables at the diminutive New Punjab Club on Wyndham Street in Central. Five months after opening, this low-lit, intimate tandoor grill house still commands a three-week waiting list at times, but the buzz is entirely deserved.
The 15th establishment from local outfit Black Sheep Restaurants is the pet project of co-founder and Pakistani Hong Konger Syed Asim Hussain. Inspired in part by his childhood years spent at the original Punjab Club – a social and athletic club in Lahore – it also pays homage to his father’s 1980s Hong Kong curry house, the Mughal Room, salvaging and giving new life to its marble-topped tandoori ovens.
Styled with bombastic Punjabi flair, the decor mixes post-colonial campiness and swanky sophistication to great effect – think button-backed leather sofas, carved stone panels, trippy Indian and Pakistani artworks, and gold-tiled bathrooms complete with piped-in Urdu prose. It’s a striking backdrop to a meat-heavy menu rich in updated Punjabi classics. Don’t expect long lists of vegetarian curries and rice here. Food from this region revolves around the tandoor oven, with a focus on skewered, intensely flavourful meats and fish alongside plenty of flatbreads for scooping up all the rich gravies and sauces. With input from Hussain, it’s all devised by chef Palash Mitra, lured to Hong Kong from the Michelin-starred Gymkhana in London. Standout dishes include the street food favourite keema pau – spicy mutton mince sprinkled with crispy potatoes and spooned onto soft, buttery milk buns – and the exceptional tandoor-roasted sirloin, served with a burnt garlic chutney. Wash it all down with a (pricey) gin and tonic from the trolley.
New Punjab Club, 34 Wyndham Street, Central, Hong Kong
The Kerry Hotel sprawls along the Kowloon waterfront, away from Hong Kong’s main tourist hubs. Opened in April 2017, the property is pitched as an ‘urban resort’ which makes a lot of sense given its wealth of leisure amenities and landscaped gardens. Though its Hung Hom location feels slightly off-radar, the vast sense of space is a major draw in this built-up metropolis, and it’s only a 15-minute MTR ride back to Tsim Sha Tsui when the pull of the city takes hold.
Part of the Shangri-La hotel family, the new flagship Kerry draws inspiration from the harbourfront and surrounding residential neighbourhood in every aspect of its styling. The entire hotel, from rooms to sundeck to soaring glass-walled lobby and pillar-less ballroom (the largest in Hong Kong) has been meticulously rendered by homegrown designer André Fu, with subtle references to the watery setting at every turn. In such a large resort – 546 rooms, a health club, spa, infinity pool, dedicated events space, five dining and drinking venues – it’s Fu’s refined aesthetic that lends the property a consistent visual identity. Whether you’re sipping cocktails on Red Sugar’s 270-degree outdoor terrace, pounding away at a spin class, or gazing at the skyline through widescreen bedroom windows, the same sense of luxury minimalism prevails.
Decked out in soft tones of blue and grey, some 60 per cent of the rooms have harbour views and are well worth shelling out for. Suites and club room categories have access to a private lounge offering late check-out, complimentary breakfast, all-day snacks and evening cocktails, while all levels of room come with a free minibar upon arrival. But the real show-stealers are the public spaces and restaurants. Uniquely for a Hong Kong hotel, every dining venue comes with an outdoor terrace. The buffet-style Big Bay Café and laid-back Dockyard – a standalone digital food court featuring nine Asian-inspired kitchens which you can order from via an app – are as popular with locals as guests.
Kerry Hotel, 38 Hung Luen Rd, Hung Hom, Hong Kong
Tucked away on Lyndhurst Terrace in Central, TokyoLima is a convivial Japanese Izakaya-style bar and restaurant serving creative cocktails and a Nikkei-inspired menu; a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines. At first glance, this windowless restaurant in a nondescript commercial building above a car park might not seem like the most glamorous night out, but the stylish late-night venue has just celebrated its first year in operation and has become one of the hottest hangouts in Hong Kong.
Despite a long history dating back to the period when Japanese migrant farmers settled in Peru, Nikkei is still a fairly under the radar cuisine across the world, though prominent chefs like Nobu Matsuhisa have helped raise its profile tremendously. At TokyoLima, the open kitchen is helmed by Peruvian chef Arturo Melendez, whose HK$480 (£44) tasting menu is a great introduction to this blend of South American piquancy and the delicate flavours and fresh seafood of Japan.
If you’re more into signature cocktails and snacks, opt for a selection of small plates, seared seafood and ‘sticks’ – delicious Peruvian street food skewers known as anticuchos that originate from the Andes. Particular mention must go to the the outstanding prawn tempura-topped La Causa – a twist on Peru’s traditional potato based terrine – and a trio of finely balanced ceviches. Drinks-wise, sake reigns supreme, with an extensive selection served by the glass, carafe or bottle.
TokyoLima, G/F, 18-20 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central, Hong Kong
Opened on 15 January this year, the Murray is Hong Kong’s newest luxury hotel and occupies one of eight historic landmarks protected under the Conserving Central Initiative. Spectacularly reimagined by Foster + Partners, the 1969 former government headquarters has undergone an internal transformation, while the striking pure white modernist facade has been lovingly preserved with the utmost respect for its heritage. The result is a remarkable reinvention, both inside and out. Defining features from the original design include a vehicle ramp and a series of graceful three-storey arches, as well as the angular, recessed windows oriented to minimise the tropical heat – a sustainability feature way ahead of its time.
Inside, the formerly humdrum office floors have been redesigned to accommodate 336 apartment-like guest rooms. They feature a chic, restrained urban aesthetic that feels both modern and cocooning, with clear glass screens for zoning the space and large picture windows framing the views. The Murray might be in the heart of the action – adjacent to the Peak Tram terminus and overlooking the landscaped Hong Kong Park – but in the pared-back choice of furnishings, plush textiles and smooth polished stone, it feels like a Zen-like hideaway.
Five dining and drinking venues will eventually make up the food and beverage offerings at the Murray. Soon to be unveiled is the showstopping rooftop bar, restaurant and wraparound terrace Popinjays – set to immediately become one of the city’s hotspots – along with Chinese restaurant Guo Fu Lou, which sits in a separate low-slung building beside a protected cassia tree and is slated to open this spring. Up and running is modern-European restaurant The Tai Pan, which flows into the cosmopolitan Garden Lounge where glam-seekers gather for a stylish afternoon tea overlooking the Murray Lawns. Murray Lane, an off-lobby bar with a slick selection of whiskies, is also open for business.
The Murray, Hong Kong, a Niccolo Hotel, 22 Cotton Tree Drive, Central, Hong Kong
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