Travellers have long idolised Hong Kong as a near-mythical place of urban adventure. It’s true that you can hardly avoid getting swept up in this intoxicating city, no matter how brief your stay. But these hostels and hotels offer something beyond the tourist experience, helping you get under the skin of the city. Whether you want to brush shoulders with movers and shakers or create a home-from-home, here’s where to go in Hong Kong for a local experience.
Local art is displayed alongside antique furniture reminiscent of old Hong Kong at this boutique hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s designed to help travellers meet like-minded people, with the lobby lounge inviting you to linger over help-yourself coffee, comfy armchairs and tables in the form of stacked vintage luggage. Keep an eye out for long-stay promotions if you want to book for 30 days or more.
This is where to go in Hong Kong for some incongruous Hollywood glamour – a theme that inspired the design of the 38 one-bedroom suites at the Madera. All have custom-made kitchenettes and living areas, which add to the feel of being in a living movie set. You’ll soon settle into this glamorous existence, especially when you’re handed welcome drinks and snacks or the knowledgeable staff help you plan your holiday.
In addition to the world-renowned hotel, the Rosewood offers 186 “residences” for those keen to slip into the rhythm of local life. Ranging between studios and three-bedroom duplexes, they have all the kitchen necessities (which may just inspire you to take a Hong Kong cookery lesson) and dramatic views of the waterfront and Kowloon Peak. The Rosewood deals in bespoke luxury, so they’re happy to tailor your stay, from welcome hampers to plans for your pet.
An imaginative use of heritage, this 1960s building has been transformed from government headquarters into 336 swish white, gold and black-themed rooms and a rooftop bar. Spa treatments in the comfort of your own room are a speciality at the Murray, while the wellness guide features everything to inspire a healthy stay, from leafy jogging routes to bespoke nutritional meals. Clever use of space, including window-facing desks, will make you feel like you’ve moved right in.
Monthly rates are available at the Hop Inn, should you find yourself attached to the social, laid-back atmosphere. Staff are dedicated to helping you explore like a local, and they’re known to host acoustic nights and relaxed get-togethers for guests. Use of the plant-filled workspace with plug sockets and free-flowing tea is possible for a small fee, but you get to stay the night in a dorm for free when you buy three hours.
Often credited with putting Hong Kong on the backpackers’ map, Urban Pack exudes style and personality, with down-to-earth prices. The communal spaces, the Chillout Room and Sky Lounge, are decked with a long working table and squashy seating with games and books. As well as dorms and private rooms, two swanky apartments are located two blocks away. Get to know the neighbours over burgers and beer on the latter’s shared rooftop patio and barbecue.
You may never want to leave the extraordinarily comfortable Upper House. The concept is to transport you up and away from the high-octane streets, into a world of sleek design and inspiring mountain and harbour views. An escalator and lift (there’s an in-room check-in instead of a lobby) enhance the feeling of ascending to your own personal space. To further help you feel at home, in-room spa treatments use the limestone bathtub – and there’s weekend yoga on the lawn.
The Eaton will have you eating like a local from the get-go, thanks to the in-house Hong Kong-style food court, with street food from 10 diverse international vendors. The affordable rooms range from ‘nooks’ to suites, but this place is about more than sleeping and eating. The addition of a co-working space along with frequent events, from film screenings and art exhibitions to free night-market tours and morning tai chi, keep a creative crowd flowing through.
The Otto is passionate about showing off its Tsim Sha Tsui neighbourhood, which has been a beating heart of Hong Kong since the 19th century. Take note of its favourite spots, which includes the best waffles in town: the Granville Uncle Waffles stall. If you fall in love with the place, book a long-term stint in the premium queen room, where two writing areas let you combine work with play.
Part of a growing trend of hotels with a social conscience, Eco Tree Hotel in Causeway Bay takes recycling seriously. Embrace this community spirit by browsing and adding to the book-sharing library, or arranging an insider’s tour of local highlights through the concierge. All the rooms come with sweeping skyscraper or harbour views, so you can enjoy the city even if you get a little too comfortable watching Netflix in bed.
If you’re won over by your peaceful, glass-fronted room at 99 Bonham, you can book it for as long as six months. The location provides glitzy views of Sheung Wan, meaning that that this is where to go to immerse yourself in the nooks of old Hong Kong, with the scent of incense wafting from the temples. And when you want a taste of home, the cafe next door serves a fry-up, eggs or pancakes each morning, on the house.
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