Hong Kong's Creative Side

The city continues to add stylish hotels

By: By Gary Bowerman


Hotel Jen
508 Queen’s Road, Western District

Luxe Manor
39 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon

Jia Hong Kong
1-5 Irving Street, Causeway Bay

W Hong Kong
1 Austin Road West, Kowloon

A deluxe king room at the Luxe Manor // (c) Luxe Manor
A deluxe king room at the Luxe
Manor // (c) Luxe Manor

Chairman Mao is in the lobby of the W Hong Kong hotel, and he is wearing lipstick and eye shadow. It sounds like a surreal joke, but this, of course, is Andy Warhol’s 1970’s portrait of the former Chinese leader, and it forms part of the W Hotel’s debut art exhibition showcasing the pop artist’s original prints.

Contemporary art is a visual influence throughout W’s first China hotel, which opened in August 2008. The artsy interior, bold colors and floor-to-ceiling windows with views over Kowloon are embellished with eye-catching collages, paintings, sculptures and digital-art installations.

The 393-room W Hong Kong aims to set the standard for slated W openings in mainland China, in Shanghai and Guangzhou. But the upbeat musical soundtrack, funky room designs and innovative service offerings — including a Bliss Spa and 76th-floor outdoor infinity pool — also form part of Hong Kong’s own style revolution, with a new generation of fine restaurants, concept bars and hotels diversifying the appeal of “Asia’s World City.”

Located in the up-and-coming West Kowloon district (beside the Kowloon Airport express train terminal), W Hong Kong sits adjacent to the soaring International Commerce Centre. When completed in 2010, this 118-floor sky tower will be Hong Kong’s tallest building and will feature a Ritz-Carlton hotel on the top floors. The surrounding area will become home to a new district of artistic and cultural attractions.

It’s a new destination for a new future. Long recognized as boasting some of Asia’s finest business hotels, Hong Kong now offers a handful of design-led properties for clients seeking a more stylish stay. Historically, Hong Kong’s hottest hotel action has been along Kowloon’s Victoria Harbor waterfront, and across the water in Central, Hong Kong Island. But look beyond the obvious locations, and clients can find stylish, inventive hotels — with more promised in the near future.

A short cab ride from the W is Luxe Manor, located just off the bustling Nathan Road shopping street in Tsim Sha Tsui, an area traditionally populated by mid-market hotels. Promoting itself as an “intriguing celebration of the abstract and unreal,” and similar to “a boutique hotel which has been designed by Salvador Dali,” this is the hospitality version of Pandora’s Box.

Luxe Manor’s 153 rooms are inspired by the charismatic art of Antoni Gaudi and Salvador Dali. The guestrooms are dressed with bespoke handpainted furnishings and faux-antiques seemingly imported from “Alice in Wonderland,” plus wall-mounted television screens in gold picture frames.

The six new individually themed suites marry luxe comfort with design eccentricity. Named Nordic, Safari, Liaison, Royale, Chic and Mirage, the suites’ stylistic touches range from Eskimo-style ice-cube chairs and tables to tiger-print embossed doors and from palatial 1940’s Hollywood sofas to a “romantic love nest” with a circular bed and Venetian mirrors. Seeing (or staying) really is believing.

Across the water, in Causeway Bay, is Hong Kong Island’s genre-leading boutique hotel. Created by Singaporean style queen Yenn Wong and designed by Philippe Starck, Jia opened in 2004. The 54 elegantly crafted rooms and suites are complemented by a new bar and restaurant concept set to open at the end of 2008. Jia Hong Kong has been so successful that it expanded into mainland China, where Jia Shanghai officially opened in spring 2008.

Also on Hong Kong Island, but in the less-explored Western district, is Hotel Jen. This smart, 280-room hotel raises the style bar for budget-conscious travelers. Owned by the group behind Shangri-La Hotels & Resorts, Hotel Jen is a template for a new design-led mid-range hotel brand.

The open-plan rooms are minimal in style and relatively small (ranging from 300 to 500 square feet), featuring blond-wood floors, wall-mounted, plasma-screen television, in-room broadband and Wi-Fi Internet, minibar and glass cubicle bathrooms with rainforest shower. The pared-down style is understated and modern, and the higher rooms in the 28-floor building offer fine harbor views. Moreover, the hotel is accessible from Central Hong Kong by tram, which adds a touch of romance.

Hotel Jen is targeting travelers in the three- to four-star category, but aims to exceed their expectations of standards of service and design. For clients seeking the higher life, the prize offering is the 28th-floor Sky Lounge. This pared-down club lounge offers evening drinks and snacks and satellite television. Best of all, it opens out onto a rooftop deck terrace with a 50-foot outdoor swimming pool — and stunning harbor views.