Hong Kong was wowed by the opening, in March 2004, of its first boutique hotel. Not only was this Philippe Starck designed outfit hip but it also opened up a totally new market, providing a refreshing alternative to the monolithic luxury establishments elsewhere. JIA, which means “home” in Mandarin, was formerly an office block. The 25-storey building remains unremarkable from the exterior while its sleek interior offers added elements of typical Starck-style whimsy (a winged armchair in the lobby, draped standard lamps). Facilities include a sundeck on the second floor and a well regarded restaurant, Opia, serving modern Australian fusion cuisine. However, the 54- room hotel has become a slight victim of its own success, with staff blasé and bookings difficult to make.

LOCATION You don’t get views here, but you do feel that buzz of being right in the thick of things. JIA is set in the heart of bustling Causeway Bay (1-5 Irving Street; 00 852 3196 9000; www.jiahongkong.com). Across the road is a Chinese medicine shop selling birds nests and more, adjacent is Jardine’s Bazaar with its afternoon flower and veg market and its densely packed night market. TheSogo department store and Causeway Bay subway are just a street away while Victoria Park is a (very) short walk to the east.

COMFORTABLE? Yes, once you’ve got over the feeling that you should really be sleeping in Prada. Rooms are kitted out as studio apartments with kitchenette, workspace and cream sofa, and with a yellow painted sleeping area separated off by a sheer curtain. Gadgetry includes a flatscreen swivel TV that can bewatched from the bed or the couch. If the smaller studios feel cramped, you have only to reflect that this is how most of Hong Kong lives. Freebies: The tiny bathrooms offer lotus and white tea shampoos and gels in JIA-label bottles Keeping in touch: Free broadband is provided in each room

THE BOTTOM LINE Doubles cost from HK$2,000 (£126) including buffet breakfast. This you eat perched on tall stools around a marble table in the lobby or in at a small dining table in an enclave where a large TV is tuned permanently to BBCWorld. The buffet area also offers complimentary afternoon tea with cakes served after 3pm, and complimentary wine in the evenings.

OTHER DESIGN HOTEL OPTIONS The Fleming at 41 Fleming Road, Wan Chai, Hong Kong Island (00 852 3607 2288; www.thefleming.com.hk) has doubles from HK$1,880 (£118), without breakfast. TheLuxeManorat 39 Kimberley Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon (00 852 3763 8888; www.theluxemanor.com) has doubles from HK$2,000 (£126), including Aspasia’s Buffet Breakfast.

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