Where to Stay in Hong Kong
Located in the beating heart of Hong Kong Island, the postcolonial charm on offer at the legendary Mandarin Oriental hotel (5 Connaught Road, Central; +852 2522 0111) is hard to beat. Glamorous and gracious in equal measure, the island’s beloved “Mandarin” has won over decades of celebrities and dignitaries with its winning combination of old-school service and all-out luxury. Must-dos include taking afternoon tea with the tai tais and joining the jet set for some mixology at M Bar. Giorgio Armani is also said to be a huge fan of the MO’s stylish little sister, the nearby Landmark Mandarin Oriental (15 Queen's Road Central, Central; +852 2132 0188) which also happens to house one of the best spas in the city.
Tucked away in the buzzing back streets of Causeway Bay, the smaller and altogether more intimate JIA Hong Kong (1-5 Irving Street, Causeway Bay) attracts visiting MCs, DJs and Prada-clad PYTs. Philippe Stark designed this haute spot as his first Asian hotel venture, and a few years on it’s still a popular place for Hong Kong’s hipsters to hang out.
Where to Eat in Hong Kong
Hong Kong is a mega-metropolis and is very proud of its extensive and eclectic food scene. With over 11,000 restaurants and 249 Michelin stars, you’ll find every cuisine from the Med to Mongolia on offer. It would be utter madness, though, to miss out on the mouth-watering local delicacies. Sample delicious Chinese food at the American Peking Restaurant (Lockhart Road, Wan Chai; +852 2527-7770) in lively Wan Chai. It’s not fancy, but its unfailingly good food has been pulling in A-listers looking for dependable HK dining for over 40 years. At the opposite end of the gastronomic spectrum, dumplings are just one of the house specialities at Hong Kong’s latest foodie hotspot, Bo Innovation (Shop 13, 2/f, J Residence, 60 Johnston Road, Wan Chai; +852 2850 8371). A favourite spot for celebrities and food connoisseurs, Bo has been heralded as Hong Kong’s answer to El Bulli. Celebrity chef Alvin Leung Jnr. specialises in what he calls “X-treme Chinese cuisine”, a combination of centuries old recipes and innovative modern techniques – reservations are a must.
Where to Go Out in Hong Kong
If you want doors to open, velvet ropes to part and champagne to pour from the heavens then dressing to impress is a definite must in Hong Kong. Full-on glamour and a sense of fun will be richly rewarded on a night out in Asia’s most sensational city. Start the evening by joining the smart set on the amazing 360-degree rooftop terrace at Sevva (Prince’s Building 25th Floor, 10 Chater Road, Central; +852 2537 1388). The balcony affords incredible views of the harbour and city and is a magnet for visiting celebrities; recent VIP visitors include Bill Clinton and Robert De Niro for dinner, Damien Hirst dancing till dawn and Gwyneth Paltrow lounging around looking gorgeous.
As the midnight hour approaches, work your way over to Wyndham Street. Hong Kong’s clubbers are a fickle bunch but this is very much the hip spot du jour. There’s a real street party feel here, but if you can, try and squeeze in at the stupidly popular Solas (60 Wyndham Street, Central; +852 3162 3710) for some prime people-watching, then make the move upstairs to the luxe lantern-lit Dragon-i (+852 3110 1222). Incredibly exclusive, part shadowy den, part disco, the regular clientele is made up of the island’s many models and moneyed-moguls but every big¬-time celebrity in town (David Beckham, Michael Jordan, Sting, Rihanna, Jude Law and Prince) seems to make an appearance. Needless to say, it’s tough to get past the hawkeyed hostess so try and call ahead to get on the guest list.
Following a decadent evening at one of Hong Kong’s key clubs – Dragon-i, Volar or Yumla – nurse your hangover at the South Bay Beach Club (South Bay Beach, Repulse Bay, Hong Kong; +852 2812 6015). Sunday afternoon here sees pitchers of margaritas go round as DJs set up and the sun goes down.
Where to Shop in Hong Kong
Visiting Hong Kong is like hitting the shopping mother lode. Whether you’re after the latest gadgets or designer goods, the island’s tax-free status and relentless appetite for more, more, more means extraordinary savings can be made. Several designer labels are manufactured in nearby China, and as a result these same stores have outlet shops dotted around the island. Visit Pedder Street in Central for cut-price cashmere, savings on the finest silks and bargain basement buys from the likes of DKNY and Calvin Klein.
The Times Square mall is the best place for innovative electronics with international guarantees and savings of at least 20%. And bargain-hunters should put on some comfy shoes and hit the street markets. Ladies Market is a mile-long treasure trove of affordable accessories, while the Temple Street Night Market is awash with brightly lit stalls selling an astonishing array of clothing, crazy gismos and top-brand suitcases – which you’ll probably need to cart home all your swag.
What to Wear in Hong Kong
Summer in Hong Kong is hot and humid and hair tends to expand (think Diana Ross in the Chain Reaction video…) so either embrace it with a big beautiful blow-dry or slick it down. Apart from that, easy-glam is a simple code to follow. Shanghai Tang and Vivienne Tam are both popular local design houses but remember fashion-conscious Hong Kong is obsessed with finding accent pieces and accessories to illustrate their own style so whatever you go for be sure to make it your own.
Don’t Leave Without…
…a night at the races. Hong Kong’s second favourite hobby (after shopping) is horseracing. Wednesday night at Happy Valley racecourse is packed with passionate punters and those who just want to eat up the excitement. There’s also plenty of food and drink available, and best of all you can extend your evening with a trip to nearby, wicked Wan Chai (the former red-light district) where most of the bars offer free drinks for the ladies all night long.
Beauty SOS – Where to Go for Pampering in Hong Kong
You’ll see neon pictures of feet all over Hong Kong which advertise the incredibly popular pastime of foot massage. Pop in anywhere you see the sign – they’re all regulated – and blow away jetlag with an hour of Chinese reflexology. For a more upscale experience the Oriental Spa at the Landmark Mandarin Oriental offers a soothing ‘Time Ritual’ treatment which will more than fulfil all your Asian spa fantasies while resetting the body’s circadian rhythms.