Open kitchens equipped with Staub cookware and tabletop coffee machines, a comfy sofa around a low table crafted from wine cases, long dining tables with mismatched chairs under vintage lighting; everything at Loft 23 in Kowloon Bay looks like it comes from a designer flat, except you can own it - albeit for a short period of time.
Loft 23 is the newest destination among the city's growing number of social spaces, venues to rent for parties, cooking classes and promotions.
"We love throwing parties and gatherings but the small flats we have, like most Hong Kong people, means a rather congested experience, which makes it less enjoyable," says Loft 23 co-founder Aaron Kuan Kun-hong.
A lot of thought has gone into designing the space, which can be divided into two separate areas to host two parties simultaneously.
"We've thought of starting a private kitchen, since Edwin [Ho Yiu-tung, a co-founder] loves cooking, but we figured it's even better to make it into a venue where people can cook on their own or do whatever they like in a cosy space," says Kuan.
11/F International Plaza, 20 Sheung Yuet Road, Kowloon Bay, tel: 2517 7199, loft23.hk
One of the city's first social spaces, Comma Party in Kwun Tong opened two years ago. The idea was to provide people with a second home, says the venue's co-founder Au Kin-lun. "You can't always shove your family out of the door to invite friends over. Plus we're all bored of the clichéd spots such as cafes and karaoke bars, which are inflexible and overpriced."
Au and his partner, both recent graduates at the time, transformed their space on the top floor of an industrial building into a range of themed rooms, making it ideal for fancy dress parties.
The idea became so popular that they have expanded to two other locations, and now offer 10 themed rooms. One room has a classroom feel - complete with a blackboard and school desks - for uniform parties; another has been transformed into a bedroom for pyjama parties, and a third has a vintage theme with nostalgic decor.
Comma Party is a pet-friendly space, so pet owners can throw parties with their furry friends, especially in the room with green artificial turf.
With the recent openings of competing venues, and with more venues likely, Au says Comma Party is not afraid it will lose its edge.
"Competition is healthy. There weren't many, if any, social spaces like ours when we started. At the end of the day, it's about giving more choices to meet different people's needs," says Au.
"We all have different styles and we all appeal to different clients. The cake is so big, we will continue to go strong as long as the parties go on."
15/F Crown Industrial Building, 106 How Ming Street, Kwun Tong, tel: 9779 2741, facebook.com/commaparty1502
Fill in the Blank
ill in the Blank in Wan Chai opened as a shared office in August last year, but the venue soon took off as a destination for parties and events. "Our name is basically to do with the versatility of the space," says director Tulika Agarwal, whose sister-in-law and husband co-founded the business.
"We've had bazaars, music nights, comedy nights and different types of parties. It's a blank space and you can fill it with whatever you like."
The 1,000 sq ft space has room for 60 guests and has everything from table football to board games, a projector and screen, and a wall covered with whiteboard paint. Agarwal says the interior changes every few months.
"It's a comfortable, home-like environment that people enjoy being in, as opposed to a bar or restaurant, where you sit down for dinner and you might only get to talk to the people next to you," says Agarwal.
Part of the draw is the add-on party planning service. They brainstorm with clients and work within their budget to personalise the parties, and they can also provide staff. They have also started a delivery service in case you want to take the party elsewhere.
13/F Hang Wai Commercial Building, 231-233 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai; tel: 2891 7792, fillintheblank.hk
The 2,400 sq ft Spark Studios, is a sprawling cooking studio which doubles as a brilliant party space. The fully equipped kitchen has everything you could possibly need to prepare a fine celebratory feast. There is a television lounge, dining area and outdoor terrace. They also conduct cooking classes by arrangement.
3/F Westlands Centre, 20 Westlands Road, Quarry Bay, tel: 2682 3411, sparkstudioshk.com
Plantation was started by tea aficionado and Teakha owner Nana Chan, who has injected a calm, laid-back ambience into both her popular teahouse on Tai Ping Shan Street and now this social space on Tai On Terrace. The space opens up to embrace the vibrant, PoHo area.
1-4 Tai On Terrace, Sheung Wan, tel: 3482 2660, plantation.hk
How to plan the perfect party
Here's some dos and don'ts from party planners Christine Smith-Mann of Eezy Peezy Parties and Lauren Roberts of Sweet Soirées
- Avoid last-minute multitasking. You don't want to rush around once your guests arrive.
- Make sure you have enough food and drinks for everyone and don't overlook special dietary requirements.
- Bring boxes or doggy bags - guests (and their pets) will love the leftovers the next day.
- Don't try to plan the whole party by yourself. There are lots of elements to planning a party, it can be overwhelming.
- Make a master list of everything that needs to be done. All the elements of your party should compliment each other and follow the same theme.
- Select a venue that's convenient for most guests.
- Bring a camera or hire a photographer - reliving the party afterwards can be just as fun.
- Finally, and most importantly, don't forget to have fun and enjoy your party.
All tomorrow's parties …
The 8th Estate Winery
Hong Kong's first winery also doubles as a social space. For instance, they host yoga classes on weekends. But this is also a glam party venue, set against rows of wine barrels. Tastings can also be arranged, and there is a large alfresco area.
3/F Harbour Industrial Centre, 10 Lee Hing Street, Ap Lei Chau, tel: 2518 0922, the8estatewinery.com
This comfortable workshop and handicraft supplies store can host arts-and-crafts parties for those looking to bring home a souvenir, be it a basic skill or one-of-a-kind gift.
1/F Sing Kui Commercial Building, 27 Des Voeux Road West, Sheung Wan, tel: 3461 1368, thecrafties.hk
A relatively small and stripped-down space, Happy Corner is a popular destination for parents because it's easy to keep an eye on the children.
10/F Fully Industrial Building, 6 Tsun Yip Lane, Kwun Tong, tel: 9682 8829, facebook.com/happycornerhk
Kasily's House is actually two, fancy, pastel-coloured spaces decorated with candy jars and flowers, where guests can enjoy a candy buffet, chocolate tasting or other sweet party ideas. Definitely suits female groups. Use their instant photo machine to take photos and make your own scrapbook to take home.
3/F Cheung Fai Building, 44 Lyndhurst Terrace, Central; 219 Jaffe Road, Wan Chai, tel: 2511 0809 or 9010 1698, facebook.com/Kasily.house
More than 2,000 sq ft of open space is the selling point at The Venue. It's all quite bare, except for the basics, such as the bathrooms, some storage, a kitchen, projectors and a sound system. The rest is up to you, which means optimal flexibility for transforming this location into exactly the party space you want.
7A Po Chai Building, 28 Wong Chuk Hang Road, Aberdeen, tel: 2555 7225, thevenue.com.hk
Hide n" Seek
This venue in Kwun Tong boasts a 2,000 sq ft space that can accommodate more than 100 people. It has a large living room with an open kitchen ideally suited to cook-offs, three themed rooms, and a terrace if for barbecues.
5/F Hewlett Centre, 54 Hoi Yuen Road, Kwun Tong, tel: 9232 6536, facebook.com/hidenseekhk