Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
Most visitors to Hong Kong come on business but it is also a unique and vibrant cultural capital. 1,104 sq kilometres on 262 islands and the Kowloon peninsula. They work hard here, with 17 days holiday the norm and that includes 12 statutory days off! It is surprisingly green and mountainous. Inhabitants (other than the wealthy) generally live in very small homes because real estate prices are amongst the highest in the world. So the green spaces, especially Victoria Peak are precious and well used.
For the leisure visitor a trip on the Peak Tram to the recently opened viewing platform (think of a shopping Mall with a viewpoint on the roof) is a must but expect to queue for up to an hour unless you go really early. Another must is the Star Ferry across Victoria Harbour (one of the most important deep water facilities in the world) between Tsim Sha Tsui on the tip of Kowloon peninsula and Wanchai. The price had risen by 200% between my visits in 1996 and 2012 but it still costs a derisory c20 (US money). You cross one of the busiest waterways on the planet and there is always lots to see.
The Metro system is one of the better legacies of British Colonial rule; without it, Hong Kong really wouldn't function. Try it - it is safe, clean, efficient, cheap and runs on time. Oh, and you can use your cellphone in the tunnels as most teenagers do most of the time.
The food is worth travelling to Hong Kong for even if you have no other reason. If you like Dim Sum as I do, you will never tire of the artistry that goes into those tiny creations here.
Grand Club Lounge
The Grand Club Lounge is a large space on the (30/31st) top floors of the hotel. The reception is on the 30th where there is a small sitting area with self-serve Nespresso. Upstairs is the main lounge which is huge but divided into 4 separate areas with slightly differing style and furniture. There is a large central dining area with great views of Victoria Harbour, and the food station. There are two sections with easy chairs for relaxed dining/meeting.
Breakfast in the morning had a wide range of continental items (great fresh fruit) and an option of hot dishes including fried noodles, dim sum, congee, scrambled eggs, bacon and sausages. The offerings change daily.
Throughout the day wine (not champagne) and soft drinks were available. Then, in the evening, premium spirits and Ruinart champagne are offered, in addition to a good choice of buffet items including 2 hot dishes which change daily, such as quiche, chicken satay or vegetable samosas. The cold options included salads, fish, meats and canapés - our favourite was the king prawns with the sweetest mango we had ever tasted. Each day there was also fresh fruit and a few dessert options, such as apple crumble or mango pudding. Our one comment about the food would be that it would be great to see some more local specialities, especially with the hot buffet options. Quality overall both of ingredients, design and presentation were extremely high.
Service in the lounge was particularly good - on one occasion our champagne was lacking fizz and was whisked away and replaced before we could even comment.
Although we stayed in the Plateau Spa (click for review), we also viewed a Harbour View King room. These rooms are of a good size (38 square metres) and are great for a short stay or for a couple. One nice feature is the desk which faces the TV and the window, allowing someone to work but also interact with their surroundings or travelling partner. The bathroom is quite large with bath and separate shower, although the decor may not be to everyone's taste.
The hotel started a major renovation project in January 2013 which will last for 18 months. During this time around 30% of the rooms will be unavailable, as 2-3 floors will be renovated at a time and buffer floors will be blocked below and above. We were delighted to be shown the mock-up of the new rooms, but were sworn to secrecy so no photos. Suffice to say the new rooms are a great improvement and feel bigger, lighter and more modern than the current rooms thanks to the use of completely different materials and the employment of a different bathroom layout which may or may not still have 4 walls (probably not), whilst still maintaining some Asian influences.
The Grand Hyatt Hong Kong has a huge choice of quality dining venues. We enjoyed a spectacular lunch in One Harbour Road, the Cantonese restaurant with views over the harbour from the 8th floor of the hotel. The restaurant offers a range of traditional and more modern dim sum - we savoured mashed taro dumplings with scallop in curry sauce, steamed pork and shrimp dumplings, steamed garoupa dumplings, rice flour rolls with pork and black truffle, honey-roasted BBQ pork and desserts of lotus paste in a sesame crust and red mung bean soup. Each dish was delicious and tasted different - make sure you eat here on your visit. One particularly attractive feature of 1 Harbour Road is the private dining possibilities. This includes a rare opportunity to dine at the heart of the action at The Chef's Table, tucked away INSIDE the kitchen. There is also a more conventional but beautifully appointed private dining room at one corner of the restaurant, again with great views.
Other dining options in house include Italian from Grissini where Paulo and his team know how to make you feel welcome and serve you with flair. Then there is Japanese Kaetsu, the Grand Hyatt Steakhouse, the Grill, all-day dining at the Grand Cafe, or Tiffin, which offers beautiful confectionary and buffet menus plus Sunday brunch with bottomless champagne. For sweet treats, Chocolatier offers pastries, cakes and hampers.
In addition to these restaurants, there is an art deco champagne bar and the pool-side lounge, which offers a range of beverages - one note of caution, if you're a non-smoker, the pool-side lounge may not be the best place for you.
Overall, this is a fantastic hotel whether you spend time in Hong Kong for business or leisure. From meeting the Hyatt rep at the airport to our departure, we couldn't find anything significant to criticise. With the refit beginning in the new year, this will be in the top few hotels in Hong Kong for years to come.