It was another nice morning from my room at the Hyatt Regency in Sha Tin, as the welcoming rays of sunshine shine through the room! Considering that the Hyatt Regency in Sha Tin is far away from any breakfast locations, it was another good choice to have Club access since breakfast would be complimentary. I was greeted and provided seating facing the waterfront view at the lounge that morning. Upon being seated, I was offered a choice of tea or coffee, and I went along with a cup of Cappuccino. I also ordered their breakfast from the menu which was Onion, Spinach Frittata with bacon, sausages and hash browns by the side. There was also a choice of Chinese style congee for that day, and breakfast from the menu was a really nice touch in the lounge. On top of that, there were still the buffet counter which has more food choices available. I had intended to take the shuttle service back to Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui after checking out from the Sha Tin property, retrieve my luggage from that hotel and head to the W Hong Kong where I will spend a further 2 nights in the city. However, the morning departure to Tsim Sha Tsui from Sha Tin had been packed and I wasn’t able to get a seat on the shuttle bus, which meant I boarded a taxi instead. I requested for the taxi driver to first proceed to Hyatt Regency Tsim Sha Tsui where he waited for me to collect my luggage which I had deposited with them. From there, it was another short drive to W Hong Kong which is one of the newest hotels in town located above the Elements Shopping Mall just right on top of Kowloon Station.
The W Hotel in Hong Kong was picked due to its amazing location atop the Kowloon Station which is similar to the Hong Kong Station in that both have check-in facilities for international flights and with the Airport Express departing from both locations towards the Airport. Being located in a huge development, the first floor of the hotel houses the concierge desk, the Chinese restaurant and the W Store, though check-in reception is done on the 6th floor. The hotel has a main entrance porch which was minimalist yet cool at the same time, not unlike the stylish doors gracing the Park Hyatt in Shanghai. Inside the first floor lobby, a large wall with the big ‘W’ logo welcomes guests and an LCD screen at the floors of the elevators greets them with a ‘Good Morning, Afternoon or Evening’ based on the time. This welcome with concierge staff who are decked out in smart casual white clothes makes the hotel feel more friendly compared to the suited up receptionists one gets to meet on the front desk. The concierge staff were also well trained and provides a warm welcome to guests, making them feel at ease in arrival. However, upon checking in, I was offered a choice of an upgrade to a harbour view room at a charge since my room wasn’t ready at slightly past 11am. Considering the hotel doesn’t have any good harbour views to speak of, I declined to top up on the already expensive room charges, and I chose to wait at the nicely decorated ‘Living Room’ – as it is what W Hotels call its lobby area. One nice feature in all W Hotels worldwide was the free availability of wireless internet at their Living Rooms and I easily got myself a seat and a table at a corner near to the restaurant and was able to log into the internet while waiting for the room to be ready. Apparently, even when the room was ready, there wasn’t any word from the receptionist to look for me in their small lobby area. Instead I had to check with them around 50 minutes later on the status of my room. I was assigned a room on the 36th floor, and facing the garden between the numerous residential towers in the area. One interesting thing to note was that I actually managed to get a view of the Harbour with the Bank of China Tower and the ifc from the room. It was better than the full harbour view rooms which faces the small port area. Thus I do not suggest visitors pay extra for harbour view rooms in this property as the nicest harbour views aren’t obtained here due to the view being blocked by the tall International Commerce Center (ICC) just adjacent to the hotel.
The room I was assigned was a basic room, and had a layout similar to standard hotel rooms worldwide. What made it outstanding was the design factor and the stylish furnishings of the room. True to its W brand, the room had sliding doors around the bathroom and the corners of the bathroom could be opened up to make the room feel more spacious than it already is. The bathroom is decked out in a cool gray stone decor, which forms a nice contrast with the matte white oversized sink with 2 unique faucets. While small, the bathroom still manages to place a bathtub with a separate shower cubicle, and an enclosed toilet. A huge King-sized bed is positioned in the room and a comfortable Chaise lounge chair was located by the ceiling-to-floor windows providing a nice view, even allowing partial blocked views of the downtown skyline. The whole decor of the room was functional yet unique like a boutique hotel. It gives visitors that fresh ‘wow’ in decor as it defies mainstream cookie-cutter furnishings of the larger hotel chains, even when it is part of the Starwood Hotel Group. In fact the closest hotel I’ve been to with the same standard of furnishing is the SIDE Design Hotel in Hamburg.
After settling into the room and relaxing a bit, it was time for me to proceed for my lunch appointment with my ex-colleague who is a local and has moved back to her hometown. With a meeting venue decided on Wan Chai, it is time to go to take the MTR once again and the hotel’s location on top of the Kowloon MTR allowed me to head to the station without even leaving the building complex. When I reached Hong Kong MTR station, I had to disembark and walk across a vast underground walkway towards Central MTR. This huge cavern wasn’t in the least claustrophobic and natural skylight at certain places make it feel that pedestrians aren’t underground at all. In fact, the huge amount of pedestrians close to lunch time is a testament to the usability of this walkway between Hong Kong and Central MTR. From Central MTR station, it was just 2 stops away to Wan Chai. The venue for lunch that day was at a Thai Restaurant called Chili Club and it was a nice meal at a reasonable price for 2. After the short lunch as my ex-colleague had to return to her workplace, I took the opportunity to walk along Lockhart Road towards Causeway Bay. The street walkway was a hive of activity that afternoon since it was a work day and the area is home to a interior decor shops, and it is definitely the place to head to in Hong Kong if one wants to renovate their house. Along the way I passed by the Yee Shun Milk Company and went in for a bowl of coffee flavoured steamed milk pudding which served as a great dessert.
The stop also made it a halfway point so that I could make my way further to Causeway Bay and what is perhaps the most crowded pedestrian crossing junction outside of the Sogo Store in Causeway Bay. As expected in Hong Kong, there are several large shopping mall in the area, but what’s interesting here is the presence of individual fashion boutiques along with upscale fashion side by side. Trendy young designers market their wares here and there are also places for refreshments and food to ensure the complete shopping experience. Shopping in Causeway Bay is perhaps like a hybrid between Central and Tsim Sha Tsui. Fans of the Burberry Black Label could also find the second store selling this brand in the Fashion Walk Mall at the junction of Kingston and Paterson Street. I ended the tour of Causeway Bay at the Times Square shopping mall which is connected to the MTR station below from where I returned to the W at Kowloon.
It was already late afternoon by the time I returned to the hotel and I thought it was a great time to try out the rooftop swimming pool at the W. Indeed, with the glorious sunset looming across the horizon, I had a great swim by the poolside even though the cool air due to the wind at this altitude brought some chill. Luckily there was a hot tub just beside the pool for my use after the swim! The cool weather also meant I was the only one utilizing the relatively small pool with another couple using the hot tub. The location of the pool also provided guests with an excellent viewpoint over Tsim Sha Tsui, the ICC beside it and of course harbour views even when it is partially blocked. Needless to say I enjoyed the evening swim before returning to my room for more relaxation by the bathtub which had an LCD screen fitted across it. Bathtubs and TV screen does go hand in hand! Another amazing feature of the W Hotel that I really liked was the cool lift lobby which is decorated with faux shelves and books, and the individual room numbers were inscribed in an opened book! That’s what I call attention to design!
With that day being a special night of family reunion as it was Winter Solstice, I wasn’t able to meet up with my friends in Hong Kong for dinner. Thus it was dinner at the Elements mall, where I had the opportunity to try out Xi Yan. I had dessert at one of their branches in Causeway Bay some time back when I visited Hong Kong, and I wasn’t disappointed with the dinner this time round either. My dinner consisted of deep fried pork ribs in salt and pepper and a green bean dish as an appetizer. It was time to continue the catching up with my ex-colleague again after dinner as she had also finished her family dinner and was keen to check out W Hong Kong, and obviously we took this chance to lounge in the W Bar. Surprisingly the bar was quiet that night and maybe the server had the impression we wanted a place to chat and assigned us seats at a very private section where no one was there. Afterwards, with me mentioning of how much I like Hong Kong style desserts, she offered to bring me to a nice dessert store near where she lived. Since she lived close to the W Hotel, I obliged and walked in the direction of Jordan MTR to have more desserts as supper before sending her home for the night and me walking back the hotel. In the course I also discovered that guests staying at the W Hong Kong has the option to walk over to Jordan or Austin MTR, both of which serves different lines to conveniently reach various parts of Hong Kong. The walk is perhaps about 5-10 minutes away and is partially covered under an overhead bridge, though this isn’t recommended under rainy weather.
My third night stay at Hong Kong ended when I returned to the hotel as I played myself the music CD provided by W Hotel, and found myself enjoying this lounge music. My first stay in W Hotel made me realize why this hotel brand got so successful and understood the hype behind this hotel. In fact, I think the hotel made it one of my best hotel stays in 2010, even with the already fantastic St Regis Singapore stay. I guess I fit the demographic group that was targeted by the W Hotels concept since the abstract decor, cool grey tones and ‘industrial’ and bare-basic feel of the room decor made the hotel feels different and particularly hip.