Hong Kong has some of the finest hotels in the world, but the new boutique establishments springing up around the city offer an intimacy and quirkiness that their bigger rivals sometimes lack.
FOR MOST OF US, choosing a hotel is about finding the best room-service menu and a cosy bed to sleep in. But let's face it - beyond the branded bathroom amenities and whatever/whenever services, all hotels are essentially the same. Until recently, that is. Boutique hotels provide an alternative option for sophisticated travellers looking for something more than the expected.
Small and intimate, with unique interiors and quirky details, boutique hotels make a welcome change from the impersonal hustle-and-bustle of larger chains. Catering to hipsters and urbanites, they offer guests a distinctive and chic experience. Luckily for Hongkongers, there are plenty to choose from, and all are only a hop, skip, or cab ride away.
Located in one of the quieter corners of Hong Kong's busiest district, the winner of this year's SCMP/Harper's Bazaar StyleAwards Best Boutique Hotel of the Year, Lanson Place Hotel (133 Leighton Road, tel: 3477 6888; from HK$2,000 to HK$9,800
a night) brings a classic touch to Causeway Bay. 'The hotel took the idea of a Parisian 19th-century hotel that has been refitted tastefully to reflect modern living aspirations and style,' says its designer Joseph Fung. 'It is a surprising boutique full of hidden treasures.'
Traditional white chandeliers hang delicately from the ceilings while cubist and Impressionist paintings adorn the walls of the 26-storey colonial-inspired building. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out on to mountain and park views so rarely found in the city, giving the impression of another era. But the flat-screen televisions, DVD library and personal mobile phones guests are provided with upon check-in are welcome reminders of the 21st century.
The first floor, which covers 5,900 sq ft, is reminiscent of a gentleman's club, with a martini bar, private room, piano and small library. The 133 Lounge is only open to hotel guests, giving it a feeling of exclusivity. The dim lighting and candles also make for a cosy hideaway from the frenetic pace of the city.
Down the road, 'urban lifestyle' hotel The Fleming (41 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, tel: 3607 2288; from HK$1,200 to HK$2,460 a night) has taken a retro-minimalist approach to its decor. With high ceilings, an expansive space and only 66 guest rooms, it offers a private retreat from the chaos of the business district.
Women looking to pamper themselves can request to stay on The Fleming's women-only floor - the first of its kind in Hong Kong. Rooms are equipped with amenities catering specifically for female travellers, such as facial steamers, beauty kits and leg-massage machines.
For a truly glam experience, you can't go wrong with Hotel LKF (33 Wyndham Street, Central,
tel: 3518 9688; from HK$3,000 to HK$6,500 a night). Smack in the middle of Hong Kong's nightlife
scene, the hotel pulls out all the stops with its Bulgari fittings, leather, suede and dark-wood interiors, creating a plush environment to please any luxaholic. Rooms feature specially commissioned pieces by renowned local artists including Wing Shya, Virgile Simon Bertrand and Patrick Lee.
Dine to be seen at Azure, the two-level supper lounge designed by last year's StyleAwards Stylemaker of the Year nominee Andre Fu. The interior-design sensation behind chic nightspot Opia has this time created an understated yet sophisticated venue bathed in a vibrant combination of violet and green hues.