Before you visit Hong Kong, decide what you want from your hotel. Stay on the island and you are closer to the city's attractions, but in Kowloon, rooms are cheaper and come with spectacular views of the famous skyline.

Before you visit Hong Kong, decide what you want from your hotel. Stay on the island and you are closer to the city's attractions, but in Kowloon, rooms are cheaper and come with spectacular views of the famous skyline.

The Kowloon Shangri-La is on the mainland and offers the classic wide-angle panorama of the harbour, with the futuristic cityscape and Victoria Peak looming on the horizon.

The Kowloon Shang (as it is known locally) opened back in 1981, which makes it almost prehistoric when compared to much of Hong Kong's architecture. But do not worry about the hotel's decor reflecting its age - all the rooms have been recently refurbished.

The Shang manages to combine grandeur and style while retaining an Asian flavour. The lobby lounge contains a huge fountain, crystal chandeliers and two murals based on James Hilton's Lost Horizon. The lobby, restaurants and rooms are full of chic, contemporary furniture, and the service is outstanding - a combination that makes the Shang a welcome retreat at the end of a long day on Hong Kong's chaotic streets.

The bedrooms are large and open-plan but be sure to ask for a harbour view (at the back of the hotel) - those at the front are on a busy road and face undistinguished office blocks. There's also a small indoor pool and the views from the Californian Restaurant on the 21st floor are superb.

LOCATION

Kowloon Shangri-La, 64 Mody Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong (00 852 2721 2111; www.shangri-la.com). The hotel is situated in Tsim Sha Tsui East, a reclaimed stretch of land in Kowloon that overlooks the island. It's a 15-minute walk to the Star Ferry, and later this year you will be able to take the train home to the UK. An extension to the Kowloon-Canton Railway will soon open right next door that will connect with services to Beijing, Moscow and ultimately London.

Time to international airport: Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport is a 40-minute drive by taxi, with fares around HK$300 (£23). Alternatively, take the express train from Kowloon station, which takes 20 minutes and costs HK$100 (£7.70), one way.

COMFORTABLE?

There are 699 rooms, 25 of which are suites. With the view from the window you could probably put up with a bed of nails, but the double beds are incredibly comfortable. The Shangri-La's wardrobes are all smooth curves, while in the harbour-facing rooms the mirrors reflect the view from all points.

Freebies: a prettily-painted Chinese teapot with hot tea is delivered to your room on your first night, and the soaps from Aigner are worth snaffling.

Keeping in touch: rooms have internet points, while executive harbour rooms have wireless telephones. There is also a business suite offering internet access for HK$180 (£15) per hour, but you can find cheaper cafés outside.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Harbour-view rooms cost from HK$2,800 (£224) and rooms with a city-view cost from HK$1,900 (£152), excluding breakfast. It is definitely worth scouring the hotel website ( www.shangri-la.com) for last minute discounts.

I'm not paying that: Nathan Road, one of Asia's backpacking centres, is a mere five minutes' walk away. Close to its southern end is the Salisbury YMCA at 41 Salisbury Road (00 852 2268 7888; www.ymcahk.org.hk), where a night in a four-bed dormitory costs HK$231 (£17.70).

Comments