Chrissy's Collection: Hotel Icon, Kowloon, Hong Kong
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What is Chrissy’s Collection?With her lengthy travel background, Chrissy has years of experience assessing accommodation with quality and customer satisfaction firmly in mind. She was also a hands-on Director of an upmarket Kensington apartment-hotel for five years.
As our own Silver Travel Advisor we are delighted that Chrissy brings her experience and eye for stylish detail when she reviews Boutique and Country house hotels. Chrissy’s Collection are her personal recommendations of hotels with something extra that makes them stand out from the rest: discreet and exceptional levels of personal service; stylish, contemporary and comfortable interiors where relaxation is key; smaller, quirky or character properties; luxury hotels with super spa facilities, exquisite dining or amazing locations. In short, very special places
A life well lived should be full of contrasts. And nowhere delivers more than Hong Kong in that respect.
We stayed in a very stylish, swish, designer boutique hotel, The Icon, designed by a consortium of well-known Asian architects and designers plus our very own Sir Terence Conran. As you would expect: design orientated, elegant, easy on the eye and extremely comfortable. Yet, literally a few blocks away, the pulsating heart of the masses ticks away in grainy places like Temple market. The contrast couldn’t be more stark. All of which makes for a very interesting experience.
Not far from the water-front, five minutes by cab from the ferry terminal to Hong Kong Island, handy for both upmarket and mid-range shopping, the Icon is well located. Many hotels boast spectacular views in this panoramic city, but I can’t believe the view from my bedroom (room 2517 if you want to know) could possibly be beaten. Overlooking Kowloon and across the harbour to Hong Kong Island, with full length glass windows to maximize the breathtaking panorama, it’s hard to tear yourself away from the view. And that’s just during the day. At night it becomes even more magical when countless neon signs and laser lightshows beam down from the towering buildings to illuminate the skyline. We watched for ages, mesmerized by the free show.
We opted for a Club 36 room with guaranteed harbour view and several attractive complimentary add-ons: breakfast, afternoon tea, canapés and drinks in the ultra-stylish 28th floor lounge, (available only to guests staying in the top room categories), late check-out, free wireless and other benefits that would appeal to the business market. A fabulously designed and extremely comfortable room that, apparently, by Hong Kong standards, is very spacious.
The first night we dined at the hotel in the Above and Beyond Restaurant. Located on the 28th floor with spectacular views and Conranesque in style, both the food and ambience, as you would expect, did not disappoint. With complimentary canapés and drinks beforehand this was a very special experience. Dinner was Chinese fine-dining, specializing in Cantonese cuisine, with an excellent wine list. The cost for two with a bottle of Pouilly Fume was £90. A memorable evening and start to our holiday in South East Asia.
With an eight-hour time difference we were raring to go and wide awake. We headed off for a stroll around the streets, still buzzing at midnight. We wandered over to the famous Peninsula Hotel that, by this time, looked a little like the Marie Celeste, not a soul in sight. That was until we headed up to the Felix Bar at the top of the hotel. Designed by Phillippe Starck, this beautiful cocktail bar with wonderful views across to HK island, is open to non-residents and, although a tad pricey, definitely worth a visit.
Jet lag set in next day and we slept through breakfast. However, we had croissants and Danish in the all-day Green café, adjacent to the hotel lobby. Café is not a description that does justice to this spectacular space. With its contemporary design and furniture, a beautiful vertical wall indoor-garden - apparently one of the world’s largest - it was definitely no hardship that we had missed breakfast: sitting in this wonderful space was a real treat.
We did most of the classic Hong Kong tourist trail: Star ferry from Kowloon to Hong Kong Island; train to the Peak for spectacular 360 degree views with lunch at the Peak Look Out, one of HK’s oldest restaurants; Temple Street Night Market where we also ate at one of the excellent street cafes; local bus across the island to Stanley and its’ famous market. And, of course, a wee bit of shopping. Although not too much, as I didn’t find HK particularly cheap. Certainly, you can buy many items cheaper at home, including the tat. But I did manage to find a couple of handbags. Well, I had to buy something.
The rooftop open-air heated swimming pool on level 9, next to the well-equipped gym, both had fabulous views over Kowloon. As we were only staying in Hong Kong for two days (before joining our Azamara cruise around S.E. Asia) we didn’t have time to sample everything the hotel offered and see all the sights. However, as he usually does, he managed to fit in a massage in the sumptuous spa that he said was top-notch. Just what was needed after the lengthy flight at the back of the plane!
The Icon’s Market restaurant has clearly become one of the HK hotspots for dining. As we were leaving the hotel on Sunday lunchtime it was jammed. Mostly with local families enjoying the wide selection of buffet food, beautifully presented in a well-designed, contemporary and interesting space.
It’s the kind of hotel that would appeal to James Bond. It certainly appealed to us. I recommend it highly for a top stay in this fascinating destination.
Kowloon, Hong Kong
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