The Langham Place Hong Kong

Here is the link to the hotel’s website.

I decided to try something new in Hong Kong this time. Staying at a place like the Peninsula is all very well, but in a way the place is more like a museum than a real hotel, although indeed the rooms are very beautiful. So this time round I am staying at the Langham Place in lively Mong Kok.

In contrast to the Langham in Chicago, which is very grand and elegant, the Langham Place Hotel in Mong Kok is very modern and chic but somehow manages not to be pretentious about it. The design is modern with the elegant opulence only Asian hotels have. There is also a decidedly oriental touch to the Langham Place.

There are many different room types and packages that can be booked via the hotel’s website. Initially it may all seem a bit confusing, but in a way I think whatever you choose, you can hardly go wrong in this place.

I am staying in one of the Chuan Infinity Club rooms which are on the upper level of the hotel. The rate includes:

  • All day access to the club lounge.
  • Breakfast at the club lounge or downstairs in the main restaurant.
  • Free wifi.
  • Free unlimited access to the gym, spa and pool.

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The club lounge is very nice and comfortable. Save perhaps for the three loud Americans determined to let everybody know that they have just been to Japan and ‘the people of that culture are so small they are just so cute…’. The breakfast in the lounge is tasty and quite extensive. Moreover, the staff are really friendly and helpful. I can also highly recommend their afternoon tea, which is divine. The hotel gets extra brownie points for having the consideration to provide scones without raisins for people like myself who absolutely detest raisins.

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The gym is well equipped. It is mostly cardio machines and a few machines for weight lifting. There are only few free weights but you can still have a decent workout. The pool on the rooftop is great. The only downside is that it is only 20 metres long. I went for a swim just when the pool opened at 06h30 in the morning and had the place to myself. But space is rather limited and I can imagine it getting crowded on a sunny summer’s day (Which you do not get that many of in Hong Kong because it is usually grey from the humidity…)

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The Conrad by Hilton, Hong Kong

In Hong Kong I’m staying at the Conrad by Hilton. The hotel lies in close proximity to Admiralty MTR, half way between Wan Chai and Central. I’ve booked an Executive Peak View Suite, which has a separate living room. The rooms are quite large, there are tea and coffee making facilities and there’s even a Nespresso machine. Included in the rate is the access to the executive lounge on the 59th floor where breakfast is served, as well as afternoon tea from 15:00 to 17:00 and snacks from 17:00 to 19:00.

The hotel also has a gym, which is pretty well equipped. Complimentary earphones and water are available at the gym; and if you go there after 20h, you are likely to have the entire place to yourself.

Pros

  • The view from the executive lounge of the harbour and the mainland beyond is quite spectacular
  • Complimentary wifi in the lounge
  • Good gym
  • Location
  • Good breakfast spread
  • Professionalism of the staff

Cons

  • The executive lounge is too small, you’re constantly bumping into people
  • Long waits for the lifts, there don’t seem to be enough for the whole building

Over all, it is a good experience at the Conrad. Having said that, I think the hotel is starting to look a bit dated, even if the place is very well maintained. The style of the rooms is a bit old fashioned, and you get the feeling it may all start to look a bit worn in just a short while.

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Weekend in Hong Kong

Afternoon tea at the Peninsula Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui

In every city around the world there are things one does as a tourist, things to see or do, to tick off the list. In London for example, you visit Buckingham Palace and you buy yourself one of those green Harrods branded shopping bags or a teddy bear in the Harrods uniform – very likely because they are just about the only things you are able to afford buying there. Paris is an easy one too: queuing for hours at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower, just to spend ten minutes on the top platform before you realise the wind is in fact ruining your coiffure and that you could really murder a café au lait and a pain au chocolat (that is so awfully parisien…), both of which you can’t get up there.

But please don’t get me wrong. In no way am I trying to make fun of these people, the tourists. After all, people who live in glass houses should not throw stones…

So what is a typically touristy thing to do at the weekend in Hong Kong? Well, I have an appointment with three lovely ladies to have afternoon tea at the Peninsula in Tsim Sha Tsui on the mainland.

There are various options to get from the Conrad on Hong Kong island to the Peninsula on the other side of Victoria harbour. I’ve decided to go for the classic approach, shall we say. I exit the Conrad and walk down to Hennessy Road. I turn left onto Hennessy and keep on walking in a westerly direction towards Central. Eventually Hennessy Road merges with Queensway just before the Bank of China building. From there it’s just a short walk to the IFC and the Star Ferry Terminal beyond.

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The fare for a one way ticket on the Star Ferry is HKD3.40. The crossing only takes a bit more than five minutes and lands you in Tsim Sha Tsui proper, on the southern tip of the Kowloon peninsula, hence the name of the hotel. From there it’s only another five minutes walk to the grand old Peninsula Hotel.

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Just a piece of advice, if I may. Afternoon tea in the Peninsula lobby starts at 14:00 and it is not possible to make reservations. The lobby is usually very busy with people just standing around taking in the grandeur of the building. And at the weekend it’s even worse and the queue for a table at the lobby tearoom is seemingly endless. If however, you’re able to arrive say half an hour earlier and don’t mind having a drink before the afternoon tea, you will be shown to a table immediately, bypassing the queue. And if you happen to still be sitting there when tea starts at 14:00, then obviously you’re very welcome to stay on.

The Peninsula has a large selection of teas and infusions to choose from. The food is served from an étagère. At the bottom are the raisin scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The scones are fluffy and light. In the middle you have the savouries, a plate of very tasty cucumber sandwiches, ham sandwiches, mini Quiche Lorraines and small glasses of smoked salmon on a gazpacho. And then on top there are the sweet things, and lots of them too.

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It’s definitely a very pleasant and relaxing way to spend the afternoon – talking, drinking tea and eating. Of course the whole thing is a bit of a cliché, but even so it’s certainly worth it, especially if you’re in good company.

We leave at around 16h30 and I decide to return the same way I came, on the Star Ferry. The good thing about the buildings in Central is that many of them are connected via walkways above the street and many of them are air conditioned to offer some respite from the heat and the extraordinary humidity. From the Star Ferry Pier I walk past the IFC and the Mandarin Oriental into the Prince’s Building. From there I go down to ground and step outside to catch the tram just in front of the HSBC. It’s two or three stop from there to the Conrad. A single journey on the tramway will cost you HKD2.30.

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R., R. and J. thank you for the company. It was nice seeing you again.