Asia's most glamorous city has always been home to some of the world's most glamorous hotels. With three new additions and a major renovation, the bar is being raised.
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.
InterContinental Hong Kong
THE LOOK It's been almost five years since the beloved Regent Hotel was re-branded as the InterContinental Hong Kong. Thankfully, the incredible views of the skyline are unchanged, and the lobby and pools are still just feet from the water. Everything else, however, has just gotten an upgrade, with subtle Asian touches.
THE SCENE Young ad and film execs in jeans and Puma sneakers pitch ideas over drinks in the lobby, while heavy hitters from Asian first-world economies like South Korea and Japan do major deals. There's also the occasional middle-American tourist group and a growing number of mainland Chinese.
THE ROOMS Guests used to complain about the drab interiors, but no more. The 495 rooms are now awash in earth tones with cheerful splashes of imperial yellow (on the headboards and tasseled silk throws) and have every possible high-tech gadget, from iPod docks and Bose surround-sound systems to Aquos flat-screen TV's. The desks are gently curved and big enough for spreading out work. Unfortunately, bathrooms seem to have missed the update (the marble is overworn and the lighting is too bright). But who cares when you're at the hotel that's got the most epic views of Victoria Harbour.
THE SERVICE There's a casual confidence about the staff, who are happy to impart recommendations on the best noodle stalls or shops in the area. An on-duty chef actually stopped to point us in the direction of the new Steak House restaurant; the concierge was able to compile an address list of eight hot restaurants, clubs, and cafés quicker than the best personal assistant.
THE AMENITIES You don't need to step outside to eat well here. Savory salads are served in the lobby. Decadent corn-fed chicken burgers and Wagyu rib eyes are delivered in the lipstick-red Steak House. Alain Ducasse's Spoon is overrated and overpriced for dinner (entrées push past the $60 mark), but at its demure Spoon Bar, you can curl up in an eel-skin chair for sweeping Hong Kong vistas and an à la carte menu (unusual for Asia). The next tenant will be Nobu, set to open in November.
DIRTY SECRETS The lobby empties out into a mall; the corridors are dark and configured in a zigzag, so it's easy to become disoriented every time you return to your room.
NICE SURPRISE Yoga and tai chi classes over-looking the skyline in the morning.
18 Salisbury Rd., Kowloon; 800/327-0200 or 852/2721-1211; www.intercontinental.com; doubles from $500.
Langham Place Hong Kong
Since it opened in March 2005, the glass-and-steel Langham Place, designed by the same team behind Tokyo's Roppongi Hills complex, has quietly become the city's hidden gem. Set among the markets and frenetic foot traffic of Mongkok on the Kowloon side of Victoria Harbour, the 665-room retreat mixes business, pleasure, and even art with the kind of smart and playful efficiency most design hotels aspire to achieve. The fun begins at arrival: guests are greeted by a pair of enormous, cartoonish sculptures of Mao's Red Guards, just one of the 1,700 pieces of Chinese art throughout the hotel. Forty floors up, it's all about relaxation, with the top three stories devoted to the Chuan, a Chinese-style spa that offers more than 60 treatments; a teak-floored gym; and a rooftop pool straight out of South Beach. And as Hong Kong Island turns into one sprawling, interconnected mall, Kowloon—which many argue is the authentic Hong Kong—is growing in appeal. To help guests get acquainted with this other side of Hong Kong, the concierge runs tours of the island's food and flower markets—the best kind of insider orientation.
555 Shanghai St., Kowloon; 800/223-5652 or 852/3552-3388; www.langhamhotels.com; doubles from $335.
Shaker Museum & Library
Housed in several beautifully laid out barns, converted into a museum space in 1950, is the world's premier collection of Shaker artifacts and archives, though the site itself had nothing to do with the Shakers.
Mount Lebanon Shaker Village
At the height of their membership, in the mid 1800's, the Shakers numbered just under 6,000 across 18 prosperous settlements from Maine to Kentucky. It is therefore all the more poignant that Mount Lebanon, the central Shaker ministry for 160 years, is such a haunted shadow of its former self.
Hancock Shaker Village
Head west along the Mass Pike toward Hancock Shaker Village, the Shaker Museum & Library in Old Chatham, and what is left of the buildings that once made up Mount Lebanon.
Enfield Shaker Museum (and the Great Stone Dwelling)
The once-haunted inn is now closed, taken over by the nearby Enfield Shaker Museum. Beginning in April, visitors can tour the Great Stone Dwelling in search of ghosts.
Canterbury Shaker Village
Canterbury was a prominent Shaker village for 200 years and stands as a remarkable—and picturesque—example of how Shaker life evolved over time.
The Langham, Hong Kong
Italianate grandeur is the aesthetic of choice at this Kowloon property, set a few blocks away from the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront (with its Star Ferry dock and hulking Harbour Plaza shopping center). The lobby is over-the-top ornate, with a high domed ceiling, Dale Chihuly glass sculpture, and inlaid marble floors that evoke a luxe Tuscan estate. Of the 495 rooms, the 270 Grand Rooms have been gorgeously and recently renovated, with leather-paneled walls and vintage black-and-white phtography; slick glass, chrome, and cherry wood furniture; and opulent baths with deep soaking tubs, elegant wall sconces, and piles of fluffy white towels. All have bedside controls for lights, temperature, drapes, and door chimes (the last can be disabled with a “Do Not Disturb” switch). There’s a state-of-the-art fitness center, open around the clock, and a lovely rooftop pool, surrounded by mosaic tile and flowering bougainvillea (very popular during warm weather months—plan to stake out your chaise lounge early).
Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong
Brand new in 2005, this 399-room waterfront property has a gargantuan, decadent spa (try a Chinese Wellness Ritual, which begins with a tea ceremony and includes a scrub and a massage), and spacious rooms and suites (the smallest of which are about 500 square feet). Room design tends toward clean-lined, modern minimalism, with Asian-infused touches like lacquered-wood tables and silk cushions and throws. All have 42-inch plasma-screen TV’s, and luxurious bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and walk-in showers with rainfall showerheads. Of the on-site dining options, two are excellent: Lung King Heen, a three-Michelin-star restaurant serving innovative Cantonese cuisine, and French eatery Caprice, which has two Michelin stars. Though the property’s real showstopper is the rooftop deck, where twin swimming pools overlook the harbor.
Landmark Mandarin Oriental
Home to some of the largest hotel rooms in Hong Kong, this stylish sanctuary, just two minutes’ walk from Lan Kwai Fong (the city’s bustling nightlife nucleus), epitomizes contemporary design. Many of the 113 guest rooms, all with clean lines and neutral tones, contain sunken hourglass tubs and sleek, LCD flat-screen TVs. Visit the sprawling spa, which spans the hotel’s fifth and sixth floors, and choose from one of the most extensive treatment menus in Asia, ranging from Experience Showers (an exhilarating combination of colored lights, therapeutic scents, and cold and warm body jets) to Hamam Scrubs. Chef Richard Ekkebus’ in-house Amber restaurant earned two Michelin stars in 2012 for the modern French menu (don’t miss the duck foie gras). The hotel’s MO Bar serves cocktails and afternoon tea, and eclectic à la carte items including Moroccan chicken and a decadent Wagyu beef burger.
InterContinental Hong Kong
The infinity pool on the terrace of the new $12,468-a-night Presidential Suite at the InterContinental appears to share water with Victoria Harbour. (If only the pool had regular edges, you could rest your scotch on one of them as you gazed through the mist at those luminous skyscrapers.) The 7,000-square-foot suite comes with two 24-hour butlers, a gymnasium, and high-tech toilet seats that rise automatically when you enter the room. This over-the-top lair is just one of the impressive additions to the property, which has undergone an overhaul to stay competitive in the city’s heated hotel market. There’s also a fleet of butlers for guests in the 495 spiffed-up rooms (with iPod docks and Bose surround sound), and outposts of Nobu and Alain Ducasse’s Spoon. One thing didn’t require improvement: the hotel’s unrivaled views of Hong Kong.