The grand old dame of Hong Kong and “the best hotel east of the Suez”.
When The Peninsula first opened in 1928, it was the culmination of a plan by the Hong Kong Hotel Company to build “the best hotel East of the Suez”. Today it still stands as the grand old dame of Hong Kong and is a slice of British colonial history in a city that is increasing less Anglophile since the province was handed back to the Chinese in 1997.
“The Pen”, as it is still referred to by the regulars, continues to serve afternoon tea (in best china cups of course) with cakes and cucumber sandwiches; the string quartet still plays on as butlers fuss and flit about the gilded corridors. But these days The Peninsula manages to pull off an even more impressive feat than when it first opened. For all the history and elegance that it manages to retain, The Peninsula also functions as a first-rate modern hotel and has all the latest technology and comforts you’d expect. Keeping a well-heeled foot in both worlds is no mean feat.
Guests are ferried from the international airport via a ten-minute helicopter ride to the hotel’s China Clipper Lounge – as featured in the Batman film, The Dark Knight. For those who prefer land-based travel, it also has one of the largest fleets of Rolls Royce cars in the world – all in Peninsula green. The rich (mostly old money) set still stay here and, as both hotel and inhabitants seemingly age together, the tide is periodically turned back with facelifts for both.
The most significant update for the hotel was an extra 30-floor tower, added to the original building in 1994. Rooms on the front-side of the hotel overlook Victoria Harbour and the stunning Hong Kong skyline, arguably one of the most impressive on the planet. Superior rooms come with a vintage telescope so you can watch the ferries come and go from the comfort of your sofa.
The hotel is located at the bottom of Nathan Road among the shopping district and next to the famous Golden Mile. For those who like to dip a toe into the seedier side, the (in)famous Chungking Mansions is 30 seconds away by foot, and for tailored suits, fabulous curries and other unnamed pleasures it’s worth ducking into.
For a more refined setting there are six restaurants and two bars within the hotel, including China Moon, with its Art Deco interiors and some of the best Cantonese food in the region, together with the award-winning 14-room spa run by ESPA. But while those things can also be found elsewhere, it’s the elegance and charm of The Peninsula that makes it stand out from its newly-built rivals nearby.
Among the heat and chaos of the Tsim Sha Tsui district, The Peninsula is as much a portal to the past as it is an oasis of calm and luxury. For the historians and old world romantics there are few hotels on Earth that can compete.
Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, Hong Kong. +2920-8888
Designed by Philippe Starck, this bar is not only one of the best in Hong Kong but also one of the finest in Asia. Set on the top two floors of the hotel, there are panoramic views
of Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Its Pacific Rim cuisine is good, but the cocktails are great and there are few better places to part with a lot of money. When you’ve had a few, you’ll discover that the urinals in the toilet are made from glass and overlook downtown Kowloon, so when you take a pee you symbolically do what critics say the rich do to the poor in this district.
The shopping arcade on the ground floor of the hotel — and linking out on to the streets — is the home of many top designer shops in the region. Chanel, Dior, Hermès, Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and the like all have flagship stores here a few steps (porter assisted, if you require) from your room.
For Esquire Magazine – click here for PDF – Peninsular