I hadn't been to Asia until 2014, when I went to Japan with my baby friend, Mark. Since then, I've visited Indonesia, traveled through several countries and spent a week in Hong Kong, where my final international stint of grad school landed me. (It's worth saying I'm hooked on Asia - I've already told my university I'm completing next summer quarter in HK, tacking on Singapore and, perhaps, Cambodia.)
I'd always heard HK was New York at another level. I had a different experience. While expansive and modern, Hong Kong lends a sort of coziness and warmth. Perhaps it's the climate. Perhaps it's Asian hospitality (that I love so much) combined with proper British influence. Either way, the lushness surrounding winding roads made even a trip to LKF surprisingly homey.
I stayed at Upper House for one night before checking into Le Meridien on the western end of HK Island along with the rest of my Booth crew. Upper House exceeded most hotel experiences I've had. There is no real reception lobby - check-in is conducted in your room via iPad while a bellman brings up your belongings. The person welcoming you explains the room's features in detail; the huge bathroom and closet/boudoir space captured my heart.
I spent the majority of the time on/by campus in the island's "Cyberport" development, where both the Booth HK campus and Le Meridien are located. While ultra-geeky sounding and a bit remote relative to HK Central, the tropical setting forced us to chill out (enough to battle the otherwise tenable anxiety of a microeconomics midterm). The hotel is conveniently located in the same complex as campus, making the morning after a late night (um, studying), easily navigable.
Nobu was followed by cocktails at the Peninsula.
A classmate who lives locally arranged for us to celebrate concluding a rough academic week by chartering a junk through the South China Sea. I learned this is a common weekend activity in HK (kind of like weekend brunch in SF :p ). We sailed out to near open water and spent the afternoon floating in the water, Asahis in hand. I did not anticipate the deep level of outdoor access and activities HK offers. I better understand the city's growing expat community!
My girl crew continued the post-school celebration with a proper Mandarin Oriental slumber party, complete with champagne brunch before heading to the airport.
Counterclockwise from top left: 1) the most stunning hotel/bar bathroom I've ever seen at the Peninsula Kowloon (marble! marble!); 2) Ruinart = a slumber party staple; 3) solo sushi dinner at Senryo in HK's IFC building; 4) trouble at HKG & and a lesson to arrive early to allow time for said trouble.
• • •
Stay. For Central: Upper House is exceptional. Book through AMEX FHR to secure comped breakfast, a credit for your stay and potential upgrade. Mandarin is optimally located and stunning. For Kowloon: Peninsula and Intercontinental are stellar options. Hong Kong is pricey. If you're able, treat yourself.
Shop. Pacific Place is in central, right near Upper House, and offers a variety of shops (which are economically organized, with the highest end shops on the top floor). Causeway Bay for anything you can imagine. HKG for those who can't get to the gift shopping in town!
Savor. Tsui Wah for late-night noodles in LKF (open 24/7! Thanks, Patricia <3). Senryo for stellar sushi. Nobu. 'Nuff said. (PSA: I was a terrible diner in HK, while my classmates went dumpling crazy.)