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brencara Nov 15th, 2008 11:43 AM

Location of Langham Place Hotel
I will be Hong Kong in February. Usually, for me, the most important aspect of a hotel is the location and how convenient it is to get about. I also like to be able to explore the area area the hotel.For my husband the most important thing is a first class / 5 star hotel. He is usually adament about picking the hotel, but I have come across Langham Place Hotel in Kowloon. The reviews seem to be great, and the price is half of what my husband was looking at. I guess my only question in the location. Is it convenient for a person who wants to explore all parts of Hong Kong or is it "way out of the way". Is it nice to wander around the surrounding areas. I keep reading that it is attached to a large shopping area, but I am not much of a "mall person." I am better off on the other side and not stay in Kowloon? Any comments or thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks,

rkkwan Nov 15th, 2008 05:39 PM

Langham Place is right in the middle of Mongkok, the area with all the night markets and all the shops and restaurants. Except for the shops and restaurants inside the Langham Place Mall, others are more downscale. If you're only shopping and dining at highend places, then it's not convenient.

But if you're there as a tourist to see all of Hong Kong, it is perfectly fine, as it has direct access to the MTR trains, and buses to almost anywhere in Hong Kong.

What makes the area iffy is that just to the south of the hotel, on Portland Street and Shanghai Street is the Hong Kong version of a red-light district. You won't see girls standing on the street, and you won't be bothered or solicited by anybody, but you'll see lots of yellow-colored neon signs for the "saunas", "health spas", and "nightclubs". But you can safely walk through those streets if you desire. Safety is not an issue.

Cicerone Nov 16th, 2008 10:07 PM

Taking your first criteria that you like to explore the area near your hotel, I would say that other than the “Ladies Market” (which I find to have little of interest and is mostly other tourists shopping for watches and bags and poor quality clothing), there is really nothing of interest in the neighborhood of the hotel. No historical sights and nothing of architectural interest. The flower market and the bird market are about a mile from your hotel, and are interesting; however I don’t think either are a reason to choose the hotel, as you can see both of them together in about an hour or so. I am not sure if you consider a mile to be within the “neighborhood” of your hotel in an event. While the Cultural Centre and the excellent Hong Kong Museum are in Kowloon, neither are near your hotel.

In addition, other than the Jade Market (which I like actually), and a few things like the Wong Tai Sin Temple -- which are perfectly pleasant but which can all be done together in a morning -- most everything else that you will want to see in Hong Kong is either ON Hong Kong Island, accessibly by ferry only from Hong Kong Island, or in the New Territories, for which being located in Kowloon is not really any significant advantage. The Peak, Central, Aberdeen, Stanley, the market areas of Wan Chai and Graham Street, Hollywood Road, Causeway Bay and Shek-O are all located on Hong Kong Island. For example, if you want to go to outlying islands like Lamma you need to get a ferry from the Hong Kong side; this means you first have to travel over to the Hong Kong side to start the trip (and the same on the way home.) Although the hotel is near a subway entrance, the subway may does not go to many of the tourist places you want to see, like the whole Southside of Hong Kong Island or the Peak, so you would take the subway for the first part of the trip, and then end up having to transfer to a bus; whereas if you were in Central, you could just walk to the bus or walk to the Peak Tram station or walk to the ferry.

If you plan to eat in good restaurants for lunch or dinner, you will be primarily eating on the Hong Kong side, other than a few exceptions in Kowloon which are located along the waterfront pretty much. This includes many moderate places; it’s not just expensive restaurants that are on the Hong Kong side, IMO, it’s just better quality. Mongkok and that Kowloon strip on both sides of Nathan Road is either a lot of noodle places or very average tourist restaurants; including many of the restaurants in the Knutsford Terrace (which is not walkable from your hotel in any event).

So you may begin to see that there is a reason that the Langham is cheaper than the other 5 stars, and the prime one is its location…. Unless you have a harbour view room along the waterfront in Kowloon, IMO, there is little reason to stay there. While the Langham is a perfectly fine hotel, I think you will spend more time in taxis and on the subway or buses than you want.

Personally, if this were my vacation, I would stay at the Peninsula right on the waterfront on the Kowloon side, which is a lovely hotel, and will provide THE VIEW, is close to some attractions, and can provide easy access by the wonderful Star Ferry over to Hong Kong (or subway if you feel you the need). The Intercon, also on Kowloon is also a good choice, I personally just don’t like it as much, but it certainly has The View as well. Otherwise, on Hong Kong Island, the Four Seasons is a good choice (I know you are staying at some FS in Thailand, perhaps you can do a package deal), and is an easy walk to some of the best restaurants in town as well as the Hollywood Road antique area. The Mandarin is also a good choice, it is almost impossible to beat their location. The trio of Island Shangri-La, Marriott and Conrad would be a fine choice as well, as you can walk to Central and the Peak Tram in one direction, and to the lively market and restaurant districts of Wan Chai in the other. Views from the Hong Kong side will not be as stunning, but location may make up for that. Also, the Four Seasons “mountain” view rooms actually have quite interesting views of the city and the Peak. Views from the Marriott are good as well, although rooms are on the small side. I don’t like the location of the Grand Hyatt.

rkkwan Nov 17th, 2008 08:54 AM

It's just a matter of whether or not the OP wants to save some money.

brencara Nov 18th, 2008 05:56 PM

Thank you Cicerone and Rkkwan. That is exactly the information that I was looking for.

We will be staying at the Four Seasons Golden Triangle and Chiang Mai - although not cheap, they do have a package for those destinations. They will not give any discount if we stay at 4 Seasons Hong Kong. We'll be at the Oriental in Bangkok.

I was just hoping to save some money on this part of the trip. I've booked the Langham Place in the interim, but I know I will be back at my computer later tonight and tomorrow to see if I can "find" something on the Hong Kong side that would be a more convenient location and maybe be somewhat "reasonable" in cost.

Thanks again.

rkkwan Nov 18th, 2008 06:25 PM

Langham Place should be one of the nicest hotels you'll find for that money in Hong Kong. An alternative is the Harbour Plaza in Hunghom, which is favored by Chinese leaders when they go to Hong Kong.

Harbour Plaza is right on the water, but it's in a mostly residential area with no access to the subway. There is a Star Ferry to get over to Hong Kong (on a different route than the more popular Tsimshatsui-Central) routing, and they have a shuttle to go to Tsimshatsui. And of course you can always take a taxi.

So if you want a nice room right by the water with harborview from Kowloon side, but cheaper than the Shangri-La or InterContinental, Harbour Plaza is worth considering. But I think Langham Place's location more convenient and more "exciting".

[Anyways, Cicerone and I often disagree on this forum. She and I come from very different backgrounds; and we have totally different preferences and budget for dining, for example. :D So, I respect most of her opinion and recommendations, though I may not agree with her.

For one, she hates the nightmarkets in Kowloon, where the Langham Place is. I also won't buy anything there or walk into Tung Choi Street (Ladies' Market) specifically. But I still think the area is interesting and is definitely worth visiting for tourists.]

Cicerone Nov 18th, 2008 09:48 PM

Without knowing what you consider to be “reasonable”, or the room type you have chosen at the Langham and the Four Seasons it’s hard to give advice. I do find it curious that for February next year, the Four Seasons is not discounting at this point; as most people I know here in the hotel business, even in luxury hotels, are panicked about the recession and its affect on bookings. And February is low season (sort of) and after Chinese New Year. You might want to sit on things a bit (with a confirmed but cancellable reservation someplace) and see how bad it gets and then see if the Four Seasons is willing to deal, as Hong Kong hotels may start to lower prices if bookings do not hold up through next year. Many people here are expecting the recession in the PRC and India to really start to affect things after the first of the year and during the first quarter of next year. By way of comparison, I can see that NYC luxury hotel prices are already down several hundred dollars from this time last year.

Having looked at the websites for the Langham and the Four Seasons for mythical February 2009 dates mid-week during the second week, I see the Langham is at about HK$1450 for a “Classic” room and the Four Seasons is about HK$4200 for their lowest category room, the deluxe. I don’t know if those are the same prices you are being quoted. Just to make sure you are comparing apples to apples, the Langham “Classic” room is 320 square feet, appears to have a small bathroom with a single sink and may not have any views. (The Langham Deluxe and Grand rooms are the same size as the Classic, but may have better views or be on a higher floor and bathrooms may be bigger; 320 square feet is just about the minimum size you would want for 2 adults for more than 1 night, IMO. ) The Four Seasons room is almost 500 square feet and has a large bathroom with double sinks (I have seen the rooms, have not seen the Langham rooms). All rooms have either a harbour view or a city/mountain view, both of which I would say are quite interesting. The pools and deck area are really something and have great views, but in February I would not say that is a big issue so would not choose the hotel for that reason.
So armed with that, some suggestion would be for alternatives:

Conrad - HK$2300
JW Marriott - HK$2790
<u>Island Shangri-La – HK$3400</u>

This three hotels share the same location, and it is a very good one on Hong Kong Island: lots of interesting things within walking distance, including the Peak Tram and Central, and the markets and restaurants of Wan Chai. The Island Shangri-La and the Conrad have larger rooms than the Marriott (Marriott rooms are just slightly larger than the Langham classic). All are quite nice hotels. Prices above are not harbour view, but are “mountain view” can still be quite pretty and interesting.

<u>Salisbury YMCA HK$1750 Harbour View Suite </u>

This hotel has an unbeatable location in Kowloon: the same views as the Penn next door for a fraction of the cost. Of course, you ain’t getting the Penn’s luxury (or even the Langham’s) for those prices; however, this hotel gets solid reviews on this board and elsewhere and is a good choice in your budget range for location and price. This harbour view suite would be the nicest room in the place and is almost 500 square feet. If you can give up luxe but want good location, this is a choice. IMO the neighborhood is not that interesting - - which I know is your first criteria -- but the views, esp. from this large suite, and the excellent location are a plus. (One neighborhood plus is the Chinese Arts and Craft shop next door.) See This hotel is often booked almost a year out, so contact them now if you are interested.

<u>Kowloon Shangri-La – HK$2150</u>

This is a very nice luxury hotel and would give you very good harbour views. It is on the Kowloon side, and I generally am not crazy about its location as it is just outside of the main harbour waterfront area, but I would prefer it over the Langham as it is walkable to the Hong Kong Museum, and the eastern end of TST like Chatham Road, and if you want a goodish walk, to the Star Ferry as well (15-20 minutes), flat and along the Esplanade so a nice view. There are a few good restaurants around, notably a very cheap and cheerful vegetarian Indian place across the road.

Otherwise, if you want to stay in the less than HK$2000 range but be in an interesting neighborhood, I would suggest you get the Grand Harbour View suite at the <b>Bishop Lei</b>. The Bishop Lei is not going to be anywhere near as luxurious as the Langham, but will be larger than the Classic room, is a top-floor suite, and will have quite nice views over the city and across the water. This hotel is in mid-levels in Hong Kong, and is walkable to the escalator and a large number of good restaurants. It also has good bus service down to Central in about 5-10 minutes. It is an unusual choice, but you may enjoy it. It is in a residential neighborhood. If you feel energetic, you an walk UP to the Peak from here, or certainly down from it, which is easier and quite a nice walk. See for info.

Also for completeness, the Mandarin Oriental’s smallest rooms are the Garden Wing rooms at 377 square feet. My recco would be the Superior River Wing rooms, they are like 450 square feet, and I would suggest a high floor and a room <i>facing the pools</i> if you can, as IMO the views are better over the river in that direction. This is one of my favourite hotels anywhere; please make a spa booking, esp for an ayurvedic treatment, as they are excellent. They offer cooking lessons as well, don’t know if you have looked into that. Cannot say enough good things about the staff at this hotel. Rooms at the Four Seasons in Chiang Mai and the tented camp are 750 and about 550 square feet, and have large decks, but those are all villas so its hard to compare.

One way to save on this trip might be to skip the Four Seasons in Chiang Mai and just stay in the FS tented camp, and choose a cheaper accommodation in Chiang Mai, that is closer to the city. You can’t really walk to anything from the Four Seasons Chiang Mai, you have to take the shuttle. If you want to be in near the markets and street life, you might want something like the Chedi which would be cheaper, and then you can spend on other hotels elsewhere. (You don’t really need a long time in Chiang Mai, and may want to do more outdoor activities from the FS tented camp in any event an stay longer there.)

And finally, please, for the record, I like my dinner at a <i>dai pai dong</i> as much as the next Hong Konger (probably more, as I lived in Singapore for 5 years where cheap and fantastic hawker food is what we eat all the time). I have nothing against a cheap noodle meal. I just don’t think you can get a good one in Mongkok. That area, and most of the Nathan Road strip is like Times Square or Fisherman’s Wharf to me: it is tourists looking at other tourists more than people going about their daily lives. I simply don’t find it interesting.

rkkwan Nov 18th, 2008 10:06 PM

Basic rooms at the Langham Place is 280 sq feet. I think Cicerone is looking at the site for the Langham in Tsimshatsui and not the Langham Place in Mongkok, as the room types there are called &quot;Vital Place&quot;, &quot;Essential Place&quot;, and so on... But I do agree that's pretty small.

Anyways, while Nathan Road in Tsimshatsui can have plenty of tourists, it's really NOT like Time Square. Just stand in front of the Kowloon Park MTR exit and count the people who walks by. Vast majority are local Chinese.

And in Mongkok, it's even much higher. To imply that Kowloon is a tourist trap is doing a great disservice.

BTW, I have lived in Hong Kong, Kowloon, New Terrorities; and now when I visit, I stay on both sides of the harbor. I don't have a preference. I always cringe when people say &quot;Oh, you should stay on HK Island&quot;, or &quot;Oh, Tsimshatsui is the best&quot;, blah blah blah... As a tourist, it doesn't matter as long as it has good transportation.

Cicerone Nov 18th, 2008 11:27 PM

Well, not to hijack the thread too much, but first off: the average person cannot, IMO, tell from merely looking at a Chinese person walking past them whether or not that person is from Hong Kong or is a Singaporean, a PRC national, or is from Taiwan or elsewhere. You have to listen to them speak to know that. And there are thousands of Chinese tourists from all parts of Asia (and the US and Canada and the UK) who stay in the Mongkok area, just like there are thousands of European and US tourists who stay there too.

I once made the mistake of thinking that a group of middle-aged overweight white women wearing shorts, sun visors and fanny-packs and wandering the art museum were American, and imagine my surprise when they passed me and were speaking <i>French</i>. So you just can’t make assumptions based on appearances.

Secondly, many many many people choose a hotel for more than just “good transportation”. Location, service, views, star rating, history, preferred chain and ability to redeem or earn points at a chain are just a few of the criteria people use when choosing a hotel. Price is another. The Marriott at the airport in Hong Kong has excellent access to transportation, as does the Novotel Citygate, but hardly anyone on this board would advise a tourist coming to Hong Kong to stay there.

Thirdly, and most importantly, everything here is OPINION and should not be taken as fact by anyone. I am pretty clear to say that “IMO” one should do this or that. This is a forum for advice and that is what is given.

Andy yes, I was wrong on the room size, the smallest room at the Langham Mongkok at HK$1300 is the Vital Place at 280 square feet. That is pretty small esp for 2 people for more than 1 night. It has a combined bath and shower, not a separate stall shower. I would not call that luxury standard. <b>You may want to stay at the Langham Kowloon for just a little more money, it has a better location IMO</b>. Walkable to the Star Ferry and you can walk to Kowloon Park, which is interesting, and to Shanghai Street which has a very nice Tin Hau temple and has a number of shops selling incense and temple goods like incense burners, altar tables, gods for the altar table, ancestor tablets, etc which are worth a look.

rkkwan Nov 19th, 2008 06:36 AM

Cicerone - You know what I mean by good transportation. Not just because it has subway. You're bending my words, which I don't appreciate.

I have said enough here, the OP can decide if Mongkok is where they want to stay, and after their trip, what Kowloon is like.

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