As you pass through its doors to the lobby and gaze upon the view through the ceiling-high windows at the distance, there is no doubt what the main attraction at the Intercontinental Hong Kong is. Sitting on a protruding promenade in Kowloon, the hotel is in a prime position to view Hong Kong Island as it is often seen in many a postcard. However, there is a deeper meaning behind the lobby’s design.
Hong Kong is a superstitious city: that much is obvious with a stroll through the streets and its buildings, many skipping floors numbered 4 (which in Chinese sounds similar to death), and the interiors and exteriors arranged and re-arranged following consultations with feng shui masters or adhering to common practices of good feng shui.
Further inquiry with the staff reveals that the lobby is spaced so as to allow the legend of the nine dragons of Kowloon (referring to the eight mountain peaks and the Emperor) to drink from the harbour, bringing good luck to the places through which they pass. The island reception desk is placed enroute the north-south direction from the peaks to the sea, allowing, according to legend, for the dragons to deposit money on their way for a sip – another sign of good luck.
Other buildings around Hong Kong employ the same tactic, allowing the dragons to pass through, in different measure – the nearby residential building, The Arch in West Kowloon, provides a gaping arch-shaped hole (rising about 40 storeys!).
The hotel was previously known as ‘The Regent Hong Kong’. But since the Intercontinental’s takeover in 2001, the property has become internationally acclaimed, most notably for its lavish Presidential Suite, the largest in Hong Kong.
After a very brisk and efficient check-in, I was escorted to my room – a 3rd floor Executive Suite with a private balcony/patio, overlooking the harbour. Of the 503 guest rooms at the hotel, 87 are suites – ranging from the Deluxe Junior Suite to the Presidential Suite.
The Executive Suite caters more to business travellers than families, but the view and balcony provide the perfect setting for a romantic adventure for a couple on a honeymoon. The room is spacious, with the sitting area extending into the bedroom, which featured a king sized bed positioned primarily to enjoy the seaview. The bathroom is cleverly connected to the main living area by a corridor that functions as a walk-in closet. The bathroom nearly matches the room itself for size and luxury – two sinks, a separate toilet, a rain shower, and a large jacuzzi/hot tub, all with toiletries complimentary of Salvatore Ferragamo.
Away from the rooms, the Intercontinental Hong Kong has all the amenities of a top hotel of its stature, including the world-class I-Spa, which provides a range of options including a detoxifying day spa which lasts 4 hours 30 minutes, and couples spa packages. As a guest, you are also welcome to join the morning traditional tai chi classes if you are an early bird (I am most certainly not!), to help rejuvenate both mind and body.
The gym is small and seemingly not too busy, though it does contain all of the machines, treadmills and weights one could possibly require. The health highlight at the Intercontinental is without doubt, their pool. While the main pool is large, it is the two infinity plunge spa-pools that attract the most attention, as they sit at the edge of the building structure, melding the pool with the water of Victoria Harbour seamlessly.
I was also presented with Club Intercontinental access, available at extra charge, enabling free WiFi in rooms and allowing me access to the Club Intercontinental Lounge – a private haven for breakfast and tea, away from the crowds at the lobby, or a more casual place away from the boardroom to conduct business, or simply to entertain guests!
The menu list for breakfast is extensive, though I ordered only the standard eggs and sausage. In addition to the usual Continental, Western and Chinese options available at the lounge or in-room, I-Spa also works closely with catering in producing a healthy menu, filled with options ranging from meals to energise you for your day ahead to meals to help you overcome jetlag.
Dining is a special treat at the Intercontinental. Towards the back of the lobby, cascading from the lower level to the second level, sit the six restaurants (including the Lobby Lounge), three of which have been awarded Michelin stars.
Yan Toh Heen (1-star) acts as a perfect gateway to the culinary delights of Cantonese cuisine, and is popular with locals and tourists alike. The STEAK HOUSE winebar + grill (1-star) has long been recognised as one of the finest steakhouses in the city, while SPOON by Alain Ducasse (2-stars) has become the talk of the town since its opening, serving contemporary French food, with favourites such as steamed duck foie gras and tender shoulder of rabbit on the menu.
For those having a hard time choosing, SPOON presents a degustation menu that is changed seasonally. The food is well-prepared and presented, sensuous on the palate, but light on the digestive system. For nearly every course we ordered, we were presented with a complimentary course of amuse bouche to satiate ourselves in between courses.
As the French are renowned for their lamb, my choice of rack of milk-fed lamb was well advised, with the lamb arriving cooked medium-rare to perfection, with a warm, red centre and a crisp outer layer. Service at SPOON was particularly exemplary, with everyone from the waiter to the sommelier ensuring that what was presented suited our tastes.
For post-dinner drinks to wind down, a trip back to the Lobby Lounge is suggested, as you sip Victoria Harbour- and Hong Kong skyline-inspired cocktails while watching the buzzing Hong Kong night pass by.