24-Hour Room Service: W Hong Kong, Kowloon
Saturday 06 June 2009
Is the word "wait" in the lexicon of W, the design-hotel chain? Probably not. But that's precisely what I was asked to do when I tried to check into my "not ready" room at the W Hong Kong; slightly frustrating after a 12-hour flight from London. As the hotel had fully opened just a few months earlier, I put it down to them still finding their feet – and allowing guests to check out a lot later than the cleaners want them to. I was offered free drinks in the Living Room (the "lobby-cum-bar" of any non-W hotel) with breakfast thrown in on both days. Did I really look like someone who could be appeased by the offer of free food and drink? Excellent.
This property, on the Kowloon side of the harbour, is the first W to open anywhere in the People's Republic of China and is certainly one of the collection's sleekest, if not one of the most eye-catching hotels in Hong Kong. The soaring, two-storey Living Room's most startling feature is an ethereal folly above the cocktail bar. Rippling, mirrored panels bear scattered artwork of butterflies and fairies, so that the images look very different depending on where you stand. A contemporary array of low-slung chairs, sofas and small tables is dotted around and the lights are low. They want it to "wink, woo and wow" and it does, wonderfully.
But that's not it. On the food front there's Kitchen, the breakfast place open until midnight. It is pretty much like a kitchen, but it's not your turn to cook and the cupboards are far from bare. Chefs are poised to cook your favourite eggs or a selection of dim sum while you sit and watch. This being Kowloon, though, your best bet is to opt for a quieter spot in the main dining room, where floor-to-ceiling windows frame iconic views of Victoria Harbour and Hong Kong Island. If you want to step up the glamour, there's Fire, W's signature restaurant that serves steak and seafood. With glass banquettes and a red and black colour scheme, it makes for a very seductive atmosphere.
As with most W hotels, there's a Bliss Spa, and this one is Asia's first. Set over two floors, there are nine treatment suites as well as men's and women's lounges and relaxation rooms. But if you're not in the mood to bliss out, you can always Sweat at the hi-spec gym on the 73rd floor, or get Wet in the rooftop pool, 692 feet above the harbour.
I came here en route to Australia – a short stopover to break the journey – but I didn't want to leave. The wait? It was worth it.
W Hong Kong, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon Station, Hong Kong, People's Republic of China (00 852 3717 2222; whotels.com/hongkong ). The W sign dazzles amid Kowloon's urban infrastructure. The hotel occupies a glittering new waterfront skyscraper in the heart of the vibrant new commercial, entertainment and cultural district of West Kowloon. It's attached to the vast Elements shopping mall, where Kowloon railway station is also housed.
Time from international airport: Trains from Hong Kong International Airport take just 20 minutes (HK$100/£9 one-way) and it's a one stop ride to Central, the main station on Hong Kong Island. If you feel like taking the scenic route, take the Star Ferry across. It costs pennies and it's a must-do activity. Taxis from the airport will set you back about HK$350 (£28).
My room was so stylish that I felt rather underdressed. The design team really hasn't left a stone unturned with the choice of colour, design and fabrics. The hand-carved wall panel above the bed and the smatterings of pillar-box red, burnt orange and acid yellow, commonly found in classical Chinese art, make bold statements.
Contemporary lighting and furniture are a perfect complement, and sliding glass doors open up to a luxurious bathroom. A walk-in monsoon shower with a number of different jets and deep bath tub which looks as though it could comfortably fit a small family.
Freebies: Bliss smellies, naturally.
Keeping in touch: All 393 guest rooms and suites feature the latest in technology from Bang & Olufsen and the like. Tivoli clock radio with CD/DVD player, MP3 docking station, high-speed Wi-Fi and wired internet connection and high-definition 42-inch TV. Not forgetting the 15-inch LCD screen fitted into the wall above the bath taps.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Double rooms start at HK$2,365 (£188), room only.
I'm not paying that: The Mira Hotel in Kowloon is coming to the end of refurbishments that are transforming it into a swish, design-led hotel. Doubles start at HK$1,430 (£114), room only.
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