Hong Kong's hotel scene is booming, thanks to ever-increasing numbers of visitors drawn in by the city's nonstop dining, shopping, and cultural events, like the annual Art Basel, International Film Festival, and Wine & Dine Festival. Separated by Victoria Harbour, both sides of this visually stunning, electrifying Asian metropolis—Kowloon to the north, Hong Kong Island to the south—have seen impressive numbers of new and extensively renovated hotels this past year, including a bevy of budget-friendly boutique properties. We've rounded up a variety of properties, many of which have already snagged industry awards. Here are Hong Kong's 10 best new and renovated hotels.
by Lawrence Ferber
Opened during spring 2013, the Wan Chai district's 138-room Indigo, part of InterContinental's boutique arm, has garnered a 2013 Asia Pacific Property Award for Best Hotel Architecture and countless passersby do a double take upon passing the glass-bottomed rooftop pool that juts out overhead. Rooms, filled with work by local artists, include complimentary Wi-Fi, while the rooftop pool demands a visit.
Insider Tip: Take note of the building's exterior pattern, which is meant to resemble a wraparound dragon.
A luxurious, Colonial-era grande dame smack dab in Kowloon's Tsim Tsa Tsui district, the 86-year-old Peninsula added another chapter to its storied history—its third floor served as Japanese headquarters during part of WWII—by unveiling a $58-million, tech-forward, contemporary overhaul in 2013. Rooms and suites, dominated by cool creamy tones, dark woods, and minimalist graphics, now feature tricked-out media centers with Blu-ray players and complimentary movies; touchscreen tablets controlling everything from lighting to room service orders; universal power outlets and converters; and wireless phones with free VoIP international calling.
Insider Tip: The Peninsula's daily afternoon tea, replete with raisin scones and a live chamber orchestra on the lobby balcony, remains a quintessentially classy Hong Kong experience.
Situated just steps from hip Star Street and the posh Pacific Place shopping center, Ozo Wesley took over the site of a former Admiralty district property, the Wesley, in September 2013. The 251 cleanly designed rooms in cool, neutral tones—a graphic of Hong Kong Island decorates one wall—make smart use of their modest square footage with cute, utilitarian details including headboards with pull-down trays for snacking in bed, free coffee and tea, and a small mini-fridge. Guests also receive a 40% dinner discount at the in-house, upscale dim sum venue Zaan.
Insider Tip: The block across the street is being developed into a hip, Soho-esque strip, scheduled for completion by 2016.
Kid sister to Kowloon's glam and clubby Mira, the 91-room Mira Moon straddles Hong Kong Island's Wan Chai and bustling Causeway Bay districts. Opened in late 2013 with a theme dedicated to the mythical story of China's Moon Festival, the hotel was designed by Marcel Wanders with a nod to traditional Chinese iconography blended with chic, colorful, and whimsical contemporary art. Winged flying pigs suspend lamps over the lobby's check-in desk, while stunning textures and eye-popping graphics inform every crevice.
Insider Tip: In-house restaurant Super Giant serves up Guillermo Delavault's imaginative Cantonese-Spanish fusion tapas creations, like Typhoon Shelter garlic frog legs and a Chinese waffle with Serrano ham.
Marco Polo Gateway
Part of Kowloon's sprawling Harbour City shopping complex, this 400-room 1980s property received a thorough renovation between 2012 and September 2013. The Gateway, Hong Kong now boasts a fresh contemporary palate, dominated by greys, purples, and pale wood, while rooms include Nespresso machines, free Wi-Fi, and bedside power outlets.
Insider Tip: Harbour City is a goldmine for French macaron fans, with offerings from agnes b., Fauchon, Paul Lafayet, Pierre Hermé, Jean-Paul Hevin, and Laduree.
Bustling entertainment district Causeway Bay is home to Hong Kong's first design boutique hotel, the 10-year-old JIA (now known as J Plus). The budget-friendly Pennington (rooms start at $140) joined the party in November 2013. The room design calls to mind Portland, Oregon as seen through 2001: A Space Odyssey—woodsy, yet retro-futuristic with rounded edges and glowing accents—and gizmo-friendly amenities and details (USB and traditional power outlets, Wi-Fi, LAN) have already helped snag several hotel awards.
Insider Tip: One of Hong Kong's newest shopping centers, Hysan Place, is nearby; check out its multi-level flagship of Taiwan's incredible Eslite Bookstore and slurp-worthy, Michelin-starred wonton noodle spot, Ho Hung Kee.
Auberge Discovery Bay
Rich with greenery, hiking trails, and beaches, Discovery Bay on Lantau Island, accessible by MTR or 24-hour ferry, became home to a 325-room resort property in early 2013. Oceanic colors and dominate the Auberge Discovery Bay, while rooms boast sweeping floor-to-ceiling views of the ocean or mountains. Sound romantic? That's what they’re hoping: Auberge snagged the 2013 Bridal Award for Best New Hotel Wedding Banquet and Darizi's Most Romantic Wedding Venue Award for its facilities and services, including a stunning, glass-enclosed chapel, spa, and horse-drawn carriage rides.
Insider Tip: Urban Hong Kong isn't exactly bicycle-friendly, but Auberge can arrange a bike tour along Discovery Bay's lovely, car-free trails.
Helping to vitalize East Kowloon, which saw the addition of the futuristic, $1 billion-plus Kai Tak cruise terminal last summer, the 32-story, 695-room Pentahotel opened in August 2013. Embracing a “contemporary rustic” design aesthetic, young vibe, and budget traveler-friendly price point (rooms start at $100 for HK and Macau residents, $116 for international visitors), the European chain pays tribute to Hong Kong's local culture in its lounge's eatstreet, a 230-seat restaurant that offers street food and Cantonese fare all day.
Insider Tip: Make new friends while taking advantage of Wii and music stations, pool tables, and more in two game rooms and the chain's signature “pentalounge.”
Abacus-inspired lattices decorate the exterior and lobby of the V Wanchai2 opened in March 2013, from Hong Kong's V serviced apartment brand. The 79 budget-friendly rooms ($128 and up), decked out in neutral tones and clean lines, still aim to make one feel at home with amenities like complimentary wi-fi, beverages, and daily snacks and cocktails between 5–8 p.m.
Insider Tips: Some units even have washer and dryer machines.
Wong Chuk Hang, an industrial district peppered with small art galleries, creative spaces, indie shops, and tucked-away foodie treasures, is fast becoming Hong Kong's version of Miami's Wynwood and NYC's West Chelsea, and with an MTR (subway) station scheduled to open in 2015, the neighborhood will truly explode. Ovolo Hotels wisely planted a stake early in 2010, converting a warehouse into a slick, ultramodern 162-room property set to open in July 2014 with a rooftop bar, clubby lounge, and event-friendly spaces.
Insider Tip: Ocean Park, Hong Kong's premiere theme park, is within walking distance of the hotel.