Review / Does Four Seasons Hotel Hong Kong’s new look live up to the hype? The lavishly renovated harbour-view suites and gorgeous new Argo bar sure make for a sumptuous staycation
The past two years have not been kind to the Hong Kong tourism sector, with the double whammy of both social unrest and then the Covid-19 pandemic. Not everyone has survived unscathed, but it has given many of us a chance to take stock and make improvements, which is what the Four Seasons has done.
The new Grand Harbour-view Suites are part of the hotel’s first phase of refurbishment for its 399 rooms, which is only about a third done, with the rest of the rooms expected to be completed in 2022. The suite takes up the prime corner location on each of the guest room floors, from the ninth to the 20th, making for only 12 in total. As the name suggests, it is a grand view indeed: looking directly at the International Commerce Centre (ICC) and stretching as far as Stonecutters Island to the west and right up to the Hong Kong Coliseum to the east.
The expanse that covers the Central Plaza and the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, all the way to IFC, is a feast for the eyes. Unfortunately, the view from Hong Kong Island to the peninsula is slightly less stunning, unless you happen to face ICC in West Kowloon – which is what greets me when I walk into my suite.
Large glass windows open up a view of ICC in the distance with Hong Kong’s outlying islands ferry piers in the foreground; it’s impossible not to stop and catch your breath at the skyline.
The suite itself, designed by Remedios Studio, has a homey feel. Wooden shelves stretch along the wall, decorated with art pieces and posh coffee table books.
At one end of the living room area is a large L-shaped sofa; at the other end nearer to the entrance is a huge flat screen television and, surprisingly close to it, a small dining table that doubles as a workspace. The beige and pastel tones complement the warm rays of sunlight that stream in, adding to the bright and cheery vibe. On the way to the bedroom, you pass a nook where the minibar – including a bottle of the infamous Caprice Negroni – and coffee machine are.
The bedroom area itself is not big, but it has the best seat in the house, being at the corner of the building. With the refurbishment, Four Seasons has made the best use of its view and the space. The bed now faces the window, set against a partition that separates the sleeping area from the wardrobe and the bathroom, with a full view of the ICC. I can already see that come bedtime, I will have a hard time deciding whether to close the drapes or keep them open.
But first, the Spa, where I have been scheduled for a two-hour Reawakening Ritual. I am greeted by the same harbour view, but decide to forego it for darkness since I would be face down anyway. My therapist starts on my three-step treatment that starts with a full body exfoliation, followed by a body wrap. I can feel my stress melt away with the massage and emerge from my pampering ready to make the most of my stay.
The Spa has made improvements since the last time I was there, with a proper resting area now for before and after. The gym is state-of-the-art and the hotel has two pools, which is heaven sent during these Covid-19 times when staycation guests have to queue for a 30-minute slot at other hotels.
It’s not the only the rooms that are new; the Four Seasons has basically gone through a complete reboot. It has also added two new food and beverage outlets: Gallery, serving speciality coffees, teas and comfort food; and Argo, a bar and dining destination that replaces the hotel’s previous watering hole, Blue Bar.
Both Gallery and Argo, designed by local design firm AB Concept, add to an already impressive range of F&B options for guests, starting with the three-Michelin starred Caprice and Lung King Heen, followed by the two-starred Sushi Saito, and the fairly new Tempura Uchitsu, to the hotel’s lounge and pool terraces. With only 24 hours to enjoy them all, I was certainly spoiled for choice.
So after an in-room Negroni, I check out Argo. I’d always found the Blue Bar a little dark, probably because I was rarely there before sundown but, like the suite, I found the generous rays of natural light in Argo refreshing. Cosy cushioned seats in an alcove, whimsically decorated with hanging terrariums, offer comfort and convenience for those who might prefer a bite or two with their drinks.
Argo offers a menu of creative cocktails using ingredients such as honey, cacao, vanilla, coffee, rice and apple – most of which are ethically sourced from farms in Hong Kong’s New Territories and Malaysia. The bar has also debuted Argo Gin as its first collaboration, created in conjunction with the award-winning Australian distillery Never Never Distilling Co.
Since it doesn’t seem likely that I’ll be able to fly to Tokyo to try Tempura Uchitsu any time soon, I am eager to see if the Hong Kong outpost lives up to expectations. In a nutshell, it does. As delicate course after course is served, it is hard not to marvel at the freshness of the ingredients and the light fluffiness of the batter. Certainly one of the best tempura meals we’ve had in Hong Kong.
Nice as Argo is, a nightcap – not to mention the amazing 40-month Comté cheese board – at Caprice Bar seems like the perfect way to end the day. And as I crawl into what is possibly the most comfortable hotel bed I have ever slept in (and I have slept in a lot), the dancing light display on the ICC’s facade is the last thing I remember as I drift off.
- The luxury hotel is undergoing a complete reboot, adding two new restaurants to the three-Michelin-starred Caprice and Lung King Heen, as well as sprucing up all 399 rooms
- Not only does the hotel boast two swimming pools – goodbye, long queues for socially distanced slots – those sprawling Victoria Harbour views make for a memorable Hong Kong staycation, too