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Hotel advice in Hong Kong and some shopping tips

Hotel advice in Hong Kong and some shopping tips

Sep 12th, 2007, 09:07 PM
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Hotel advice in Hong Kong and some shopping tips

We are going to China next summer and need to pick a hotel in Hong Kong for a 4 night stay. Our choices are the Peninsula, Kowloon Shangri-La, Intercontinental, Ritz Carlton and the Mandarin Oriental. I have been reading posts on this site and others and know that these are all beautiful hotels so there is no "bad" choice, but if you had to pick between these top places, what would you recommend? Also, I assume from reading on this site that I should get a Harbour view room if that is an option (which it seems to be since we are booking so far in advance)... is that correct?

Also, we are very much looking forward to the shopping. We certainly are not flying 15 hours to buy fake Prada bags -- I live in NYC and if I wanted to buy such things I would hop on the subway down to Canal Street. We are looking for things we can only buy there. I saw in one of Cicerone's posts that in addition to custom suits (thanks for the tailor recommendations) you can get custom made shoes and bags, which we would love. Can you recommend places to get custom shoes and bags? Another thing I am interested in is furniture. I know shipping is pricey but would appreciate suggestions for antiques.
elysag is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 09:20 PM
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I grew up in Hong Kong and I visit often these days. I have never stayed at a highend hotel there, but if I were to spend only one night at one of the top hotels in HK, it would come down to only two choices - eithe the Peninsula or the Intercontinental. Harborview room, of course.

Doesn't matter if the other hotels have better rooms or facilities. There's just some special mystique in those two places in my mind.
rkkwan is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 10:23 PM
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I understand the Ritz Carlton will be closing at Christmas.

2 other hotels worth considering that should have great views from their harbour view rooms are The Four Seasons and The Island Shangri La.

The Kowloon Shangri La is one of my favourite hotels and it has fantastic harbour views from its full harbour view rooms. The hotel is a great 5 star but perhaps just a notch below the other hotels mentioned here (but it probably would be the cheapest)
Walter_Walltotti is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 11:25 PM
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I live in Hong Kong. I agree you could not go wrong with any of the hotels on your list. However, if this were MY vacation I would most likely take a room on a high floor at the Penn for view and location (although you won't spend much time in Kowloon, but it's close to the ferry). I actually would take one of the corner suites on the western end of the hotel (i.e., the Star Ferry pier end) as they will have the most unobstructed views, but that just me being really specific, any high floor room facing the harbour should be fine. If don't get a harbour view room at the Penn, the Intercon or the Kowloon Shangri-La, then IMO there is no point in staying on the Kowloon side. The only drawback to staying at the Penn or any hotel on the Kowloon side is that you may spend a fair bit of time traveling over to the Hong Kong side where you will do most of your sightseeing and where you should do most of your shopping and eating. The Star Ferry is an extremely nice way to go, but you may get tired of it twice a day.

The Mandarin-Oriental is really just such an excellent hotel. Perfect location for everything you want to do. Small enough to be personal. Fantastic room redo, although the rooms can feel a bit small. Great restaurants and bars. They do not really have any views, however, so I would not necessarily pay more for a harbour view. Either a full harbour view on Connaught Road or ask for a room facing Chater Garden/Statute Square, that will have more open views toward the little park, lower buildings and some water views. I would avoid rooms facing the tall buildings on Ice House Street and Chater Road.

The Intercon has The View also, a little bit further walk to the Star Ferry than the Penn, lots of construction going on in the roads around there (should not be a noise issue esp on the harbour side, but is a pain for walking). I would put it behind the Penn for rooms, location and service however.

The Kowloon Shangri-La is just that bit out of the way to make it inconvenient, IMO, for a stay. It's a long walk to the Star Ferry (esp in summer heat) and there is nothing interesting in the neighborhood other than an excellent Indian restaurant, although it is close to the very good Hong Kong Museum of History. But I would put it last of all of the ones on your list.

I agree that the Four Seasons is a great hotel too, rooms are huge, they have some interesting views, although they are of the "wrong" side of the harbour, in that they don't have the famous view, and it's frankly not nearly as stunning especially at night, but still the busy harbuor with the boats can be interesting. I think a mountain view room on a very high floor there would be excellent as well, the outline of the mountains against the skyscrapers is something and you from some rooms you would see the Peak Tram building. This hotel has a great location for getting to the wonderful restaurants and boutiques and antique shops of Hollywood Road and Soho via the escalator and is only moments walking to Central. This hotel also has THE best pool of all the hotels on your list. They have two pools and a large pool deck and a nice outdoor restaurant open only to hotel guests. The Intercon is second with a very nice large pool deck with excellent views, the Penn is third with a very good view but really rather small. The Mandarin has only an indoor pool. With 4 nights and in summer a good pool may be a consideration to you.

As mentioned above, The Ritz-Carlton will be closing at the end of this year. Ritz-Carlton is opening a new hotel on top of a huge tower in Kowloon, but that won't be open until about 2009.

Glad you realize the shopping for a copy bag is so not necessary here with so much else to do. For custom made bags and shoes, please see below:

LIII Couture
Shop 75 Tower 2
Admiralty Centre
18 Harcourt Road
tel 2136-9739

To date, they have made me about a dozen paris of shoes, include four pairs of boots. First the good news on LIII: they make fantastic shoes in every material, color and style you can imagine. They have copies of designer shoes. They have copied shoes for me that are made better than the originals. They use very good quality materials and use leather linings and add arch paddings. They fit beautifully. They can copy from a photo. Now the bad news: they ain't cheap. The first pair will cost you a bit more than US$200, that is because they need to make a "last" that is, a mold of your foot. After that, subsequent pairs (in any style and most materials) will cost about US$160. These prices only apply if you can wait more than a week for the shoes, if you want them in 2-3 days you will probably pay a good bit more. Custom orders (not from their own models) may take more time. I believe they will ship, so you could order and them have them ship and pay the "cheaper" non-rush prices. However, I like to have a least one fitting to make sure the shoes are comfortable, so you may not want to just order them with no chance for a fitting.

Mayer Shoes
Mandarin Oriental Hotel
5 Connaught Road
Tel: 852 2524 3317

To date, they have made me about 5 bags. Mayer Shoes makes very good quality shoes, and will copy any bag you already have, just bring it along. They are even more expensive than LII, but then they have to pay rent to the Mandarin. Shoes will run about US$300 to start, bags are about the same. They will also ship and item, so you don't have to be there to collect it when it is finished.

Peninsula Hotel Shopping Arcade
Salisbury Road

Shop 114 Far East Mansions
5-6 Middle Road
Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowlon

I have not had anything made at either place, but they have a good reputation in Hong Kong.

For furniture, I would try as follows:

1. Hollywood Road/Wyndham Street area in Central. This is a long road literally lined with antique shops. Some reputable antique shops include Honeychurch Antiques (29 Hollywood Road), Contes D'orient (26 Lyndhurst Terrace), Hobbs & Bishops (28 Hollywood Road), but any on this street would probably be fine. Most shops on Hollywood Road are closed on Sundays. Hollywood Road is the most expensive place to look for furniture, other than Atfield Gallery, see below. Not a lot of bargaining here. Stop in at Teresa Coleman Fine Arts (79 Wyndham Street) and look at here wonderful textile collection as well.

2. Another good place (albeit quite pricey) is the Prince's Building in Central at 10 Chater Road, quite near the Star Ferry pier and across the street from the Mandarin Hotel. There are a few shops here furniture, a very good one is Altfield Gallery.

Altfield Gallery
248-249 Prince's Bldg.
10 Chater Rd.
Phone: 2537-6370

3. An excellent source for furniture is the warehouse out near Aberdeen called Horizon Plaza. Shops are open every day, including Sundays (lots of expats out on Sundays). You can take a taxi from Central to this area in about 20 minutes, will cost about HK$200-250. (You could take a bus, a change or two would be required, the trip would take about an hour, ask your hotel.) There are about a dozen furniture shops here, including several that do custom work, like the marvelous Alyssa Liang. Get a printed directory from reception on the ground floor, it lists shops by category. The lifts in this building are quite slow, so have some patience. There is only one coffee shop in the building in the Shambala furniture store, so have a good breakfast or lunch before you go. All the shops will ship for you.

Horizon Plaza
2 Lee Hing Street
Ap Lei Chau, Hong Kong

Furniture shops I would recommend in particular:

Shambala 2nd floor (good quality, good Tibetan furniture, good rug selection, mostly reproductions)

Rhymba Rhyme, 5th floor (mostly Indonesian, but some very interesting pieces, mostly reproductions)

Dynasty Antiques, 4th and 20th floors (two shops, may have two names)

Alyssa Liang, 11th floor (not antiques, simply gorgeous hand made furniture, clean-lined, she makes to order as well, she made me a beautiful four poster bed and other bedroom furniture)

The Birdcage, 22nd floor, (small selection of antiques but really of excellent quality and style; Clarence will also take orders for specific items if you describe what you want, and will then ship them on to you after he locates them from sources in the PRC, he has very good prices and does bargain)

Some funky homeware shops for new furniture you might try as well are:

G.O.D. (Goods of Desire)
48 Hollywood Road
Tel: 2805-1876

This store is in the Lan Kwai Fong/Hollywood Road area, they have other stores as well, check the website.

22nd Floor Fung House
19-20 Connaught Road
Tel: (852) 2530 2234

Closed Sundays.

In addition to the shipping cost, there will be duty to be paid and then there is the potential issue with the pieces drying out and cracking in the (potentially) drier climate of wherever you live, assuming it is not like Hong Kong where the relative humidty is high almost all year.

I have posted a shopping suggestion list some time ago, I would be happy to repost, it is now a bit updated from my last posting. What month are you here, there may be a festival going on that would be worth seeing. For example, August 1 is the anniversary of the return to the PRC and there are generally always fireworks in the harbour (another reason perhaps to have a harbour view room).

Cicerone is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 11:30 PM
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I should mention that LIII Couture also makes handbags and will copy a bag you have. They are cheaper than Mayer. I have not had them make me any bag so can't comment on their bag quality.
Cicerone is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 11:39 PM
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Sorry, one more thing. If you have a bag made, most cobblers will automatically include a mobile phone pocket in the inside lining (this is Hong Kong after all). Consider adding a pocket for sunglasses and eyeglasses and a Blackberry if you have one. These are very useful. Mayer has a great selection of linings, the red suede is my favourite, it is really easy to see things with this colour lining and it looks and feels great. It wears well too.
Cicerone is offline  
Sep 12th, 2007, 11:44 PM
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My God, forgive me, I keep adding to my own post. If you are coming next summer, you of course know that the Olympics are beng held in the PRC in August 2008. You may not know that the equistrian events are being held here in Hong Kong, out in the New Territories. There will be lots of celebrations, etc going on in the run-up to that as well, even if you are not going to be here during the actual events from Aug 8 - 22 or so.
Cicerone is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 07:44 AM
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Cicerone: what is the name (and address if possible) of the excellent Indian restaurant in Kowloon? My husband and I found one a couple of years back but I don't know if I could wander my way to it again when I'm there in early November.
evecolorado is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 09:34 AM
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Wow..what great advice, Cicerone. Saving for a future trip! Thanks.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 10:45 AM
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Thank you so much for all of the advice. We will follow Cicerone's advice and try for a room at the Peninsula, which hopefully won't be a problem so far in advance. Thank you also for the shopping advice. I have 9 1/2 months to collect pictures of bags and shoes I want copied! I am sure I will be asking mere questions as the trip gets closer but thanks again for these early tips.
elysag is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 11:05 AM
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Oh, and I will be there in mid-July. I know it's among the hottest times of the year but I am traveling with a teacher so summer was our only choice. We are starting off in Beijing on June 29th and then have a 13 day tour after which we will go to Hong Kong on our own.
elysag is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 06:24 PM
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Evecolorado, the Indian restaurant is:

Ground Floor
61 Moody Road
Mirror Tower
Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon
Tel 852-2369-3718

This is Indian vegetarian. I can't stress enough how extremely casual this place is, so go for lunch for a very very casual dinner. It does not have any atmosphere to speak of, but does have good food. It is also not expensive at all. There is a little garden at the back and some of the tables face this, that is about the only atmosphere they have. Great thalis. Thalis start at HK$60, dosas and most other entrees average about HK$40. This is just across the street from the Kowloon Shangri-la, you can also take the MTR and get out at the Mody Road stop, door P2.

There is a similar place, with even less atmosphere, sort of behind the Peninsula which is convenient if you want a quick lunch in that area:

9 Lockhart Road
Tel: 852-2366-8171

A very good Indian veg on the Hong Kong side is:

Khana Khazana
20 Luard Road
1st Floor
Wan Chai
Tel: 852-2520-5308

Vegetarian, the sister and a bit more "fancy" version of Branto. Still somewhat modest décor, but great food. This is in the old Suzie Wong area of Wan Chai, close to the Hyatt. Prices are good, about HK$70 for a thali, things like dosas, kormas etc run about HK$35-55. They have live music on some evenings. The entrance to this restaurant is actually on Jaffe Road, go around the corner and look for the side entrance into the building. Take the lift to the first floor.

India Today
1/F, Shop 1A
26-30 Elgin Street
Tel: 2801 5959

Veg and non-veg. Many people think this is the best Indian restaurant in Hong Kong. I think it is very good, it also has south Indian food, esp Goan food, which is hard to find elsewhere. In Soho, so a great location for lunch when shopping or touring, or in the evening you can have a drink before or afterwards somewhere in Elgin or Stauton Streets. A little more expensive than the ones above, a little more atmosphere too.

If you want a little more upmarket and non-veg Indian (and more expensive naturally), try these:

8 Arbuthnot Road
(Hollywood Road area)

Almost fusion Indian, but quite good. (It is a bit lighter, curries are not as heavy, you may or may not like that.) Nice decor and ambience. They have brunch on Sunday (Indian.)

Bombay Dreams
1/F, Carfield Commercial Building
75-77 Wyndham St
Tel 2971 0001

Very good food, very popular with Hong Kongers, nice decor and atmosphere. I believe there is another outlet in TST.

1/F Lyndhurst Tower
1 Lyndhurst Terrace
Central, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2845 2262

North Indian. This has long been a favourite of mine. It has been around for years, but is still good. In Lan Kwai Fong. They have live music most evenings. Not quite as modern an atmosphere as the first two, but the food is just as good.

Finally, the Peak Lookout on the Peak has some good tandoor dishes if you are up on the Peak and want to have a meal. (http://www.thepeaklookout.com.hk/) They have a lovely tree-shaded terrace out the back with some nice water views of the Southside which is very nice for an afternoon meal (or brunch on weekends), however, for the real full-on view of the city harbour from the Peak, which is worth it, you need to eat at Pearl on the Peak (excellent, a bit expensive, good seafood and other dishes) or Cafe Deco (perfectly fine food, but a bit like an upscale TFIG, you have to have a window table to see the view).

Cicerone is offline  
Sep 13th, 2007, 08:42 PM
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elysag, on the weather in July. You already know it will be hot. It is normally quite rainy as well, bring an umbrella for sure. Take a look at weatherbase.com for historical info on temps and rainfall. We had a very dry summer this year, about 5 days of rain between May 6 and August 6 where we normally would have about 45 days of rain, but I would not expect a repeat of that. The PRC should be drier, but they had a very wet summer this year, so you never know. Humidity in Hong Kong is truly unbelievable, over 90% days most of the summer. You will sweat just walking slowly on flat streets. Drink lots of water. Conversely, the air con in buildings and on public transport is fierce so bring a light sweater esp for the evening. Humidity in interior PRC is not quite so bad, but you may find some hot temps. The umbrella is actually extremely useful for hot sunny days in places like the Forbidden City where there is little shade (and no air con). A hat is useful too. Shorts can be worn anywhere, there are no clothing restrictions in temples, etc in the PRC or Hong Kong.

I will say that I believe that the air pollution will be substantially less in the summer than in the winter so that is one benefit for you, esp next summer with the Olympics. We had an extremely clear summer this year for 3 months, the best in the 8 years I have lived here. The winds shift in the summer and carry the smog away and I am hopeful that this will occur again, plus the dates you are coming will be just about the time, IMO, when the PRC will start shutting down factories en masse until after the Olympics and prohibiting a good bit of driving in certain cities like Beijing. They are very worried about the air pollution levels (as is the Olympic committee) and I believe that they will take this option. (The benefits of totalitariansim; they are also planning on firing army cannons at clouds during the games to break up potential rainstorms, I kid you not.) You should find quite clear skies in Beijing and most likely Shanghai (are normally quite smoggy) and I am hoping that Hong Kong will benefit as well as most of our smog comes from the PRC. You cannot see accross parts of the harbour today.
Cicerone is offline  
Sep 14th, 2007, 07:23 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 591
Thank you, Cicerone. I want to try them all!

Fortunately, the friend I'm travelling with loves Indian, too, and we are starved for it in this part of Colorado unless we make it ourselves.

My husband and I and my sister and her husband, all visited China a couple of years ago and now I'm disappointed with the local Chinese restaurants' cooking, so I guess I'll be "stocking up" on that, too.

What a nice person you are to take the huge amount of time involved in giving such great information to people visiting Hong Kong.

evecolorado is offline  
Sep 14th, 2007, 02:11 PM
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Cicerone: After reading many other posts, including some of yours, we are thinking that we will stay on the Hong Kong side, not Kowloon because it seems like most of the things we will want to be doing will not be in Kowloon. I'm sure the view from Kowloon is beautiful but we will get that by eating at one of the many restaurants you recommended in another post. We certainly aren't going to spend the limited time of our vacation in our rooms looking out the window. So now we need to decide between the Four Seasons and the Mandarin Oriental. Which would you pick?
elysag is offline  
Sep 15th, 2007, 11:31 PM
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Cicerone, I heard it was rockets that they'll fire at the rain clouds, not cannons. And that when they did a test run of shutting down all the factories, the skies really did clear!

My umbrella came in good use this summer to block the sun - and was a lifesaver in the Forbidden City. I only wished I had a lighter colored one like the locals, rather than my NY black one that sucked in a lot of heat... I did find A/C in the Forbidden City: in the gift shops, of course! I was so happy to have relief I gladly let the salesgirl talk me into some small purchases.
ggreen is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 12:32 AM
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Elysag as for what hotel, that's a tough decision, and a personal one, and I am not sure I could make it. I would say that in the summer, you might want to have an outdoor pool, which the Mandarin does not have. (They have a quite small indoor pool and no outdoor sun deck area.) You probably will want to have a least one afternoon or morning relaxing by the pool, it's just so hot and humid and you can't be out all the time sightseeing. The rooms at the Four Seasons are also appreciably larger than the Mandarin's. With 2 friends who may have a good bit of luggage that may be a real consideration. However, the Mandarin is very centrally located, within close walking distance of lots of things that you will want to see and do, as well as major public transpiration. It is a longer walk to things like the Star Ferry and an MTR station from the Four Seasons, although the hotel is connected to the pedestrian escalator up through Soho/mid-levels which is very nice esp. in the evenings for dinner. Hong Kong, and esp. the tourist bits, is of course small so it is relative and taxis are cheap, and even the walk to the escalator from the Mandarin is only a matter of a few blocks. (It's also very safe so you can walk home at night from anyplace as long as you have the energy and time.) Staff at both are really great; I belong to the heath club at the Mandarin and go to the spa at the Four Seasons once a month and think both are wonderful in terms of staff service levels.

I would not rule out the Penn entirely. Views from the rooms at night will really be something, and in the mornings too, so you might actually spend more time appreciating the view than you think. They do have a nice pool area with that great great view, although it is smaller than the Four Seasons' two pools and is an indoor/outdoor pool (the bulk of it is inside, but the sun deck is out in the open). Although Kowloon is not my favourite place for things other than the view and a few musuems, restaurants and shops, the Penn is bascially steps from the Star Ferry so it is quite conveniently located really. You might compare prices and room types, sizes, etc and see if that helps with the decision process. You may get a good deal at one that will make the decision easier.

When asking for rooms at the Mandarin, I would ask about the “Verandah”, style rooms, these have a sitting area at the window with a big lounge chair good for relaxing and which IMO gives the room a larger feel. Their other style of room is called the Tai Pan and is set up and decorated differently which makes it seem smaller.
Cicerone is offline  
Sep 17th, 2007, 08:48 AM
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Thanks again Cicerone. We are now down to the Peninsula and the Four Seasons and will be comparing rates to make the decision. I looked back through old posts about both hotels and agree that we won't go wrong with either one. I am so excited for the trip that I wish it were sooner. 9 more months is a long time to wait! But with your posts and others on this site we will certainly be well prepared.
elysag is offline  

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