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Best Hong Kong bars with a view
Sipping a cocktail while ogling Victoria Harbour is the quintessential Hong Kong drinking experience
Hong Kong's famed Victoria Harbour lit up in bright lights makes for a ravishing view and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else in the world. The experience is enhanced by a well-made drink at some of the city's most glamorous addresses.
Here are our picks of the best Hong Kong bars with a view of Victoria Harbour:
Sugar: Best new perspective
Sugar is the most resourceful bar-with-a-view. It is located on the edge of a residential housing estate in Quarry Bay where it is rare to find a high-octane cocktail joint with a killer view to boot. Predictably, the joint is getting good business from the neighboring Taikoo Place offices.
While "harborview" typically conjures up the night view of Tsim Sha Tsui lit up by neon, Sugar offers a view of East Kowloon where there are fewer flourescent billboards. The scene is made up of ocean-going vessels serenely floating in the wide harbor with a backdrop of the old airport, Kai Tak.
It's best to visit the loungy outdoor deck before sunset to enjoy the coastline by the soft light of dusk. This way, you can also avoid Sugar's garish pink and purple lighting that becomes apparent once it's dark.
Open until 2 a.m. 32/F, EAST, 29 Taikoo Shing Road, Tai Koo, +852 3968 3738 www.sugar-hongkong.com
OZONE: Highest in Asia
Perched on the 118th floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, OZONE claims to be the highest bar in Asia, counting up from street-level.
That superlative alone is enough to attract throngs of thirsty thrill-seekers. But the bar is an over-achiever. OZONE stuns inside and out with a lavishly decorated interior of gold and marble.
Corner tables offer a wraparound view, while binoculars located on the terrace are a temptation for everyone's inner voyeur.
The menu is light Asian tapas heavy with Japanese influences. Cocktails are done with confidence here but Champagne from the extensive cellar is the default for the well-heeled customers.
No flip-flops, beach sandals and plastic footwear. Men are required to wear full-length trousers; sleeveless shirts are prohibited. 118/F, International Commerce Centre, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, +852 2263 2263.www.ritzcarlton.com
Felix: The godfather
Felix is the original Hong Kong harborview bar, where you can celebrate the neon-lit panorama of Victoria Harbour all the way to the men's bathroom (it has one of Hong Kong's best toilets).
It's become a bit of a tourist trap, with the restaurant serving so-so Pacific Rim cuisine, hit-and-miss service, and a clientele of short-stay visitors armed with cameras, but the place remains an icon and you have to at least know about Felix if you've set foot in the city.
Designed by Philippe Starck, the contemporary art feel of Felix contrasts with the colonial grandeur of the rest of the Peninsula Hotel.
The bar does decent drinks, although anybody who comes here doesn't bother with much other than Champagne. It's an old-school high roller place that bans kids and enforces a strict dress code, but get past the elitism and you're in Hong Kong's most classic harborview bar.
Drinks until 1:30 a.m. No flip-flops, beach sandals or plastic footwear. Men are not permitted to wear sleeveless shirts and are required to wear full-length trousers. Children under 12 are not permitted. The Felix elevators are located in the Peninsula Arcade entrance adjacent to Hankow Road. 28/F, The Peninsula Hotel, Salisbury Road, Kowloon, +852 2920 2888 www.peninsula.com/Hong_Kong
Aqua Luna: Be the harbor
You can't get much closer to Victoria Harbour than aboard the Aqua Luna, a beautifully refurbished traditional Hong Kong junk that turns into a bar at night.
This Oriental-chic floating bar is Hong Kong's ultimate booze cruise, taking guests for a Prosecco-fueled 45-minute voyage around Victoria Harbour. The sailing of choice is the 7:30 p.m. Symphony of Lights cruise. If you want to make a day of it, take the leisurely Aqua Luna 90-minute cruise to Stanley on weekends.
Eight daily sailings from 1:30 - 10:30 p.m.; noon cruise to Stanley Market on Saturday and Sunday only. Sailings depart from Pier 1 (Cultural Center) in Tsim Sha Tsui and Pier 9 in Central.
For reservations call +852 2116 8821 www.aqua.com.hk
Café Gray Bar: Unapologetically fancy
The crowd is very moneyed, very hip and unashamedly aware of how pretentious it can be. I mean, this is a place that serves gimlets in miniature martini glasses. But it is a six-star hotel bar and the staff are trained in the finer skills of hospitality -- they'll serve your gimlet in a paper cup if that's what you demand.
The design is understated and sophisticated, with tactile upholstery in warm woods, navy and not a touch of chrome or acrylic.
A seat by the windows gets a view of the tops of Admiralty's skyscrapers and Tsim Sha Tsui beyond. The best part though is that the bar food is actually pretty good, such as the polenta fries and crabmeat fritters, courtesy chef Gray Kunz.
Drinks until 1 a.m. 49/F, The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, +852 2918 1838 www.cafegrayhk.com
Aqua Spirit: Flirting with vertigo
Just being in Aqua Spirit makes us feel sexy. It's all dark reflective surfaces, really-difficult-to-get tables and politely aloof staff. Some regulars like to top off the experience with the signature Aquatini, a martini with gold flakes.
The harborview here is huge. A powerful panorama of Victoria Harbour is presented through floor-to-ceiling windows spanning two stories. Every little detail of northern Hong Kong Island can be seen. It's slightly vertiginous, causing a mild dizziness that goes well with gold flake cocktail-induced tipsiness.
Open until 2 a.m. 29-30/F, One Peking Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, +852 3427 2288
Sevva: Central hangout
Sevva's interior is straight out of Vogue Living and the view from the open terrace encompasses Kowloon, Victoria Harbour, Admiralty, and Central -- the neighboring HSBC building is so close you could almost touch it. All this makes Sevva the banker and corporate lawyer's hangout of choice for that magical social space that occurs post-dinner and pre-club.
Someone's closed a deal -- they'll head to Sevva to toast associates facing the champion view. Someone's lost a court case -- they'll head to Sevva and sink low in the outdoor couches, get drunk and angry on old Bordeaux then rant at the HSBC.
Watch out for disappointing food at Sevva's restaurant and avoid the below par service on ridiculously busy weekends.
Open until 2 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, and public holidays' eve; closed Sunday. 25/F, Prince's Building, 10 Chater Road, Central, +852 2537 1388 www.sevva.hk
Lobby Lounge: Place to be seen
The InterContinental's Lobby Lounge has an unnerving fish bowl effect. The large windows are the main feature and they look out onto the Avenue of the Stars at street level, so you know the tourists may be looking in at you, maybe they'll take a snapshot, maybe post you onto their travel blog. But tourists are an inherent part of Hong Kong's harborview and they make the Lobby Lounge a unique place to access Victoria Harbour.
The lounge itself has an impersonal business hotel feel to it, but visit at night and the view of Hong Kong's skyline looms large while the lounge decor recedes. See this video as proof of the Lobby Lounges' harborview credentials.
Drinks until 1 a.m. Hotel InterContinental Hong Kong, 18 Salisbury Road, +852 2721 1211 hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com
ToTT's: Most overlooked lookout
Causeway Bay has one swanky rooftop respite that isn't talked about much. Ironically, it's called ToTT's, which stands for Talk of The Town.
Perched on the top floor of the Excelsior, the restaurant is loved for its Champagne brunches (Sunday, 11:30 a.m. - 3 p.m.) and special occasion dinners, but we love it for its girly cocktails you can enjoy on the roof terrace during one of those clear Hong Kong summer nights.
No sandals, singlets, shorts, or sleeveless shirts. Open until 2 a.m., Friday, Saturday, and public holiday eves. 281 Gloucester Road, Causeway Bay, +852 2837 6786 www.mandarinoriental.com/excelsior