How to beat the queues
Although there is no shortage of quality furniture and interior retailers in Hong Kong, wouldn't it be good if you could search the world for your favourite piece?
There is now a simple way to do that - by going to the internet, instead of having to fly to Milan.
Shopping for interiors online has its pros and cons. For a start, you can tailor the search so you don't have to visit a store and end up wasting half a day. Shopping online also makes it easier to compare prices.
For example, One Kings Lane (www.onekingslane.com) has been selling Vera Wang's new bedding range for less than half price.
On the other hand, buying furniture online is not for the faint of heart. You need to be certain about your purchases as it can turn out to be a costly or disappointing experience, especially for larger items or if you need to return things.
Be sure to check the dimensions, delivery terms and return policies. And if buying antique furniture, that is 30 to 100 years old, be sure to ask lots of questions, so that your expectations about the condition of the piece are met.
The range of products offered by online interior stores is enormous. American online store Design Within Reach (www.dwr.com) has launched an online 3D modelling tool which allows shoppers to visually sample furniture and accessories in their homes. All that's needed is to upload blueprints of your interior to the 3D room planner and the store's in-house designers will convert it into a workable floor plan.
Then you can create your dream room by altering the colours, patterns and dimensions.
British online bed linen store Sleep Naked (www.sleepnaked.com) supplies bed linen to five-star hotels and also sells to customers around the world including Hong Kong.
Founder Robin Beaumont estimates sheets of comparable quality would cost twice as much from a traditional department store.
For reasonably priced items, Crate&Barrel (www.crateandbarrel.com) has started shipping to 90 different countries, including Hong Kong. It also offers the option to shop in Hong Kong dollars.
Although there are less British or European-based firms offering international delivery, Liberty of London and Marks & Spencer ship to Hong Kong.
For something less mass-market there are also stores such as Etsy (www.etsy.com), which sells one-of-a-kind quirky handmade pieces.
Some stores, such as Horchow (www.horchow.com) and Neiman Marcus (www.neimanmarcus.com), do not have online provisions to ship, but it is possible to arrange shipping around the world directly with the store if you call or e-mail them.