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I sighed with relief as I stumbled out of the car into the chilly night, extremely grateful to see the friendly, expectant face of a well-dressed bellman after a long drive from the airport.
This is the first thing clients might notice about The Fleming: a warm welcome.
At this intimate hotel in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai district, it isn’t unusual to pause and chat with the concierge at a small cozy outpost near the entrance, or to joke around with the restaurant staff during the property’s daily complimentary breakfast.
The second thing guests will notice, especially if they’re already familiar with the city’s historic sites, is that the hotel is obviously and unapologetically Hong Kong — or at least, a suave throwback to the city’s golden age, when it was still elegantly pottering along with Streamline Moderne architecture peppering its more laid-back skyline.
Now, the city has evolved from just a few skyscrapers to an ocean of them, and from being known as the biggest seaport in the world to merely a destination for 20-something rich kids to do their luxury shopping. Yet inside The Fleming, Hong Kong’s roots flourish, and its old-fashioned aesthetic lives on, in part thanks to a total overhaul last year.
This is especially evident in the hotel’s new design, from its porthole mirrors, round-edge entryways, antiquated front desk and blue-and-white-striped fabrics to the lobby sofa designed to emulate the city’s Star Ferry’s backrest-flipping seats.
Yet it’s more than just a shout-out to the city’s history. The Fleming’s new retro look also appeals to discerning millennial travelers, who tend to be a large part of Hong Kong’s main clientele.
In each guestroom, nonhomogeneous details more than make up for the slightly tight space. Brass lamp fixtures, sinks and switches dominate the peacock-green-trimmed rooms, complemented by accents of reds and navy blues. Bathrooms, which are accessed by an industrial-style sliding door, feature Shen Nong toiletries. Instead of being hung on the walls, framed photos are propped up on mantels.
These details, in addition to the lovely bed in my 270-square-foot Medium room, certainly appealed to my millennial side. As did the in-room one-cup French press, unexpectedly great coffee and swanky minibar. (The Fleming’s guestrooms categories are Small, Medium, Large and Extra Large; the Medium and Large guestrooms have two twin beds or one king bed, while the Small and Extra Large guestrooms feature a king-size bed.)
Also appealing was the open friendliness of The Fleming’s staff and the modest sophistication of the property’s atmosphere and trimmings. After all, Hong Kong is in The Fleming, and The Fleming is in Hong Kong — how could you even consider staying anywhere else?