Yes, one can take the five-star route and stay at either of the two Mandarin hotels, the Four Seasons, the Grand Hyatt, Sheraton, Island Shangrila and Conrad or even the six-star extravagance of the Ritz Carlton in Kowloon whose busy lobby reminds us of Grand Central Station with the hotel leaving us stone cold, or you can aim a little lower and check in at the Excelsior (The Excelsior, Hong Kong – Luxury 4 Star Hotel 281 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, Hong Kong), or the Renaissance Harbourview (1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong).
The plus sides to staying in any of these hotels are that they’re one-stop everything- for dining in any of their many restaurants, easy access to anywhere via taxis or the MTR, and at the doorstep of all the shopping. But if on a budget, recommended is the fairly new Crowne Plaza Hotel- not really a “budget” hotel- and what was the quaintly named Wharney Guandong Hotel (57- 73 Lockhart Road, Wanchai / Tel: +852 2861 1000), which was always called something else that sounded similar to Wharney, and, apparently, is today a Best Western hotel.
The Crowne Plaza (8 Leighton Road, Causeway Bay / Tel: +852 3980 3980) is not known by too many who come out for HKIR week, but it should be.
It’s located within walking distance of Happy Valley Racecourse, and all the shopping in that area, especially down Leighton Road.
The Island Pacific (152 Connaught Rd West / Tel: +852 2131 1188)is located in the area where a buffet of new restaurants have sprung up, and a favourite for those who want somewhere without too many frills but offers you all the comforts needed at a very reasonable price.
For those who’ve never visited Hong Kong before what’s interesting to note is that even a three-star hotel here has better service that many five-star hotels in the UK and Europe, and with even the Standard Rooms being far more spacious than any of the suites offered at those grossly expensive “boutique hotels” in London’s upmarket Knightsbridge area.
Having said this, beware of anyone who recommends The Mini (38 Ice House Street, Ice House Street, Central / Tel: +852 2103 0999). Our very good friend Samuel Hyland, that well-known Trackwalker in Victoria, and former jockey, did the impossible by checking into The Mini last year- and managing to survive in this cubby hole along with his lovely partner Nicole upon the advice of another very good friend in former champion, and the consistently, well, cheap, former champion Macau jockey John Didham, below.
John “Cheapskate” Didham
We’re not saying that the Hylands were low balled and punked by “Cheapskate”, who insists that the recommendation was based purely on location, location, location, but, with the loo and bedroom sharing the same space, and not enough air to actually breathe, we’re pretty sure that Samuel and Nicole stayed for almost a week at a short-time motel catering to those who wish to simply get in and out as quickly as possible as there’s nothing to return to for sloppy seconds. Not even any bloody air!
1/F, The Peninsula Hong Kong, 19-21 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui
T: +852 26966769
Like Jimmy’s Kitchen and the Lok Yue Teahouse, Chesa is a Hong Kong institution having been around since 1965, and always known for its Fondue dishes and quality. This intimate Swiss chalet-type restaurant remains largely unchanged- why mess with what customers have come to expect?- and is the perfect venue for a romantic dinner for two (you expected six?). Of course, share the Fondue and try their variety of Swiss sausages and wines.
THE MO BAR
The Landmark, 15 Queen’s Road Central, Hong Kong
T: +852 2132 0077
An extremely convenient meeting place as it’s right there is the heart of Central and at the upmarket shopping centre that is The Landmark, regulars include a number of leading jockeys there to talk business with their owners. The Mo Bar is, especially recommended for lunch or afternoon tea.
The menu is standard fare- a Club Sandwich, Chicken Burger etc, and a daily Set Lunch. But it’s not the food that’s its USP. It’s all about convenience and being a good meeting place before heading off from there to wherever is your next stop.
We first went here around 4-5 years ago to see what all the fuss was about. We didn’t get it then- HK$600 for some battered and bruised Fish And Chips?- and, despite its “second coming” after either a change of ownership or renovations, we don’t get it now.
Its location in Wanchai is terrific and the building that houses it- the historic Woo Cheung Pawn Shop- is wonderful, but for the prices asked, the food is woefully average whereas Hong Kong’s pretentious fou fou crowd has moved to trendier venues in Kennedy Town and Sheung Wan where they can be regularly seen blowing air kisses across the room.
Still, if you wish to impress guests with superfluous airy fairy shee shee pretences, this, baby, is the place for you. Lady GaiGai will find it to be ABSOLUTELY fabulous and just so, well, so, OUTSTANDINGLY fantabulous and a real Group 1 winner. Or, perhaps, even the dear Lady will find it a to be an overpriced fashion plate.