The oldest hotel in the dynamic territory, the five-star Peninsula Hong Kong, makes for a luxurious base from which to explore
Where to stay
With spectacular views across Victoria Harbour, the Peninsula Hong Kong – situated in Kowloon, on the southern tip of the mainland – lives up to its reputation as the “grand dame of the Far East”. When it opened in 1928, the Peninsula was designed to be “the finest hotel east of the Suez”. Travel’s golden age permeates today in what is one of the few historic buildings to survive in the highly developed commercial district. First-class treatment begins as you step off the plane with a buggy to whisk you to passport control. More impressive is the Peninsula’s 14-strong fleet of WiFi-enabled Rolls-Royce Phantoms that transport you to the hotel in style. Or beat the traffic by chartering a chopper to the Peninsula’s rooftop helipad instead (a 30-storey rear tower extension opened in 1994 bringing the total number of rooms to 300).
Inside the spacious suites, luxurious furnishings, marbled bathrooms and dark wood fixtures pay homage to both the Art Deco era and traditional Asian interiors. Nespresso machines, phone chargers and nail dryers come as standard, with bespoke tablets to control amenities such as curtains, lights, room service and widescreen TVs. Upon arrival, guests receive a complimentary chocolate ‘bellboy’, sculpted by the hotel’s award-winning onsite chocolatiers, which can be worked off in the impressive gym, pool and spa. Guide continues below after the slideshow
Slideshow (click to enlarge)
Where to eat
Afternoon tea at the Peninsula’s grand lobby is an institution. And for lunch and dinner there are seven restaurants, including the Chesa – a replica Swiss chalet that’s served Alpine specialities for five decades – and the Cantonese Spring Moon whose tea master can advise on the best (non-alcoholic) liquid refreshment. Try French haute cuisine at Gaddi’s or keep meetings confidential by reserving the chef’s table within the kitchen. When Philippe Starck designed the 28th-floor Felix restaurant he decreed floor-to-ceiling venetian blinds so the contemporary menu wasn’t overshadowed by the view. Every seat cover features the face of a long-serving staff member, including senior bartender, septuagenarian Johnny Chung, who joined the Peninsula at the age of 14. Away from the hotel, the foodie scene of SoHo reflects its position as a magnet for global expats. For business meetings try the Buenos Aires Polo Club, an Argentinian steakhouse in the LKF Tower.
What to see
Catch an underground train (MTR) or slower ferry to Hong Kong Island. With Hong Kong’s hilly terrain and stifling humidity, don’t make Director’s mistake of initially missing the covered escalator system (800m long, it climbs 135m), which takes in the restaurant and shopping areas of the Central and Western districts. When the mist disperses, take the funicular to the summit of Victoria Peak for breathtaking views. Board a double-decker tram to Tai Hang, a low-rise district once dominated by alleyways and car repair shops, now overlooked by apartment towers and popular for its mix of traditional street food and design shops. Families and hipsters alike queue for artisan coffee shop Unar and Hong Kong’s first liquid nitrogen ice-cream store Lab Made.
“Business etiquette is about straightforward good manners,” says Andrew Seaton of the British Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. “Be punctual; use both hands to give and receive business cards; and be reasonably formal in dress and manner. Show respect to senior figures and offer lunch or dinner if there is scope for a further business conversation. And respond quickly to any follow-up emails. Do not blow your nose with a handkerchief pulled from your pocket, making a trumpet sound – it’s considered unhygienic.”
For the flight
For a flavour of Hong Kong in the late 1950s, Richard Mason’s international bestseller The World of Suzie Wong follows the love affair between a young British artist and a Chinese prostitute. Movie buffs, meanwhile, should download Hong Kong-filmed Enter The Dragon, the last film appearance of the legendary Bruce Lee. Lee’s legendary “kick me” scene takes place at Tsing Shan Monastery, while architecture buffs should look out for the Two International Finance Centre in 2008’s Batman reboot The Dark Knight.
Peninsula Hong Kong
Rates at the Peninsula Hong Kong start at HK$7,000 (£710) per night for a superior room. Director stayed in a deluxe harbour view suite; rates start at HK$17,400.