Four Seasons Hong Kong
THE LOOK Reflecting the industrial style of César Pelli's glass-sheathed 2 IFC skyscraper next door, the twin towers of the Four Seasons are flooded with light—whether you're in the 22,000-square-foot spa or sitting on a velvet banquette in the marble-clad lobby. This is a rarity in a city as confining as Hong Kong.
THE SCENE Shipping tycoons, diplomats, and Hong Kong socialites have all made this hotel a hot spot for power lunches—though the crowd also includes a marked number of young Asian jet-setters.
THE ROOMS As a nod to the changing clientele of the city, there are two types of rooms: Chinese and Western. The former is outfitted (in a rather fussy way) with shiny lacquer, gold leafing, and dark teaks. The latter (and better) is clubbier, dominated by neutral tones, simple woods, and leather.
THE SERVICE So streamlined, you'd think the place has been open years, not months. The concierge was able to buy a local SIM card and help track down hard-to-find fashion magazines with equal ease. The biggest glitch was a bored lobby lounge waitress who took more than 40 minutes to serve an order of eggs, blaming the delay on the kitchen.
THE AMENITIES Spin Design Studio from Tokyo is responsible for the underlit catwalk and stingray-skin cupboards of Caprice, which has already become one of Asia's top French dining rooms. Its chef, fresh from the Michelin three-starred Le Cinq in Paris, takes on haute Gallic tastes in dishes such as langoustine tartare with watercress mousse and Iranian caviar (not to be missed). The pool area is a knockout: a sprawl of three pools with harbor and city views.
DIRTY SECRETS There's no eating allowed in your poolside daybed. Unfortunately, the hotel entrance was built just behind a series of loading docks and access roads.
NICE SURPRISE We love the special switch for mood lighting in the bathrooms.
8 Finance St., Central; 800/819-5053 or 852/3196-8888; www.fourseasons.com; doubles from $490.
Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
THE LOOK To get to the small lobby—rich with wooden cabinets, art books, and brass table lamps—guests must first ascend an angled staircase that hangs above a semicircular swath of creamy Italian marble. If you feel as though you're on water, that's the point: the hull-like shape of the staircase is meant to recall the famous junks that still ply Victoria Harbour. Other ways the Landmark (as those in the know call it) pushes the design envelope: a spa with heated lounge chairs made from mosaic tiles; the dramatic bar illuminated with a glass sculpture.
THE SCENE European fashion buyers and visiting designers have made this a regular hangout, mostly because of its proximity to A-list shopping: Armani, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton flagships are steps away; Harvey Nichols shares the same building façade.
THE ROOMS Los Angelesbased designer Peter Remedios put the focus of the 113 guest rooms on materials, using light black African wood for the floors and creating dark cabinets inlaid with sleek silver. The magic here is in the details: all phones display guests' names digitally, closets are equipped with yoga mats, and full-sized bath products are infused with lavender and ylang-ylang.
THE SERVICE A technology butler came to our room in minutes to fix a networking problem. The worldly concierge, Andrew McGregor, is tapped into the local scene and can secure tables at private dining clubs like Cipriani. However, the MO Bar and restaurant staff can be woefully slow—a midnight coffee order still had not arrived after a 30-minute wait.
THE AMENITIES New York designer Adam Tihany aimed to make a statement with the hotel's Amber restaurant, and he succeeds. Polished mahogany walls and a monumental hanging sculpture of 4,200-plus copper rods greet guests, who are then treated to Dutch chef Richard Ekkebus's exploration of flavors from North Africa, Europe, and Asia. The hotel's trump card, however, is Remedios's spa, a series of rooms where you can flit among "minted" showers, hot mists, and tropical saunas where the ceiling "rains."
DIRTY SECRET The location, in the heart of the Central district, is spectacular, but only if you're walking; it can take 30 minutes by car or taxi just to cross the last few traffic-choked blocks that lead to the hotel.
NICE SURPRISE Guests can use the hotel's $1,300 Vertu mobile phones—free.
15 Queen's Rd., Central; 866/526-6567 or 852/2132-0188; www.mandarinoriental.com; doubles from $513.