Hong Kong’s most talked-about new hotels

Hong Kong’s most talked-about new hotels

Tricky mirrors, weird locations and a bronze "dragon" make up the city's best new addresses

Picking a Hong Kong hotel can be daunting. There are 62,000 rooms in the city and counting.

The range is extreme. From the decadent to the downright disgraceful (windowless rooms for HK$80 -- US$10 -- a night), we've got it all.

A clutch of new boutique hotels in Hong Kong has managed to stand out from the crowd with attention to detail and buzz-worthy backstories.

Some of them haven't even opened yet.

There's converted colonial buildings, celebrity designers and an old public housing estate -- these are the Hong Kong hotels that have made it into power lunch small talk.

Hong Kong hotelThe art of compartmentalizing, demonstrated by The Jervois.

The Jervois

Christian Liaigre is behind the interior aesthetics at The Jervois. The design guru once did a loft in New York's Soho for Rupert Murdoch.

At his Hong Kong hotel apartments, The Jervois, Liaigre has used sparse furnishing and hidden storage areas in the sun-filled rooms to make the rooms feel bigger than they are.

Marble is a key element in the 49 suites, especially in the bathrooms, decked out from top to bottom in the material. 

The suites also have compact kitchens with complete cookware.

A touch of exclusivity is the private lift lobbies on each floor. 

The drawback: facilities are limited. There's a free laundry room and business center, but no gym. If you're staying a month or more, membership at a nearby gym is included in your room charge.

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There also aren't any restaurants -- which is perfect, as the namesake street for this Hong Kong hotel is one of the city's oldest and most colorful, full of local eateries.

One-bedroom suites begin at HK$1,800 and two-bedroom suites begin at HK$4,200. The Jervois, 89 Jervois St., +852 3994 9000, www.thejervois.com 

Hong Kong hotelOutside this room is Tai O, the quaint old fishing town to end all quaint old fishing towns.

Tai O Heritage Hotel

The best new hidden Hong Kong hotel is the Tai O Heritage Hotel.

Formerly a marine police station, the colonial structure was built in 1902 in Tai O, a fishing village on the western tip of Hong Kong's outlying Lantau Island.

Tai O hasn't changed much in the last century. With its stilt houses and worn wooden boats, the village takes you back to the days before the world discovered Hong Kong.

The historic building of the hotel is beautifully preserved. Under the steerage of the Hong Kong Heritage Conservation Foundation, the hotel operates as a non-profit social enterprise that supports the Tai O community.

From strategically placed cannons to guard towers and holding cells, vestiges of its authoritative past lie everywhere in the hotel.

Staff are quick to relate anecdotes of marine officers fighting off pirates in the neighboring waters. One of the metal shutters even has a smattering of bullet holes.

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With only nine rooms and a rooftop restaurant, the hotel has a bed-and-breakfast vibe.

Rooms are homely with luxurious finishes and a subtle nautical theme.

Expect restored fireplaces, Victorian-style bathroom fixtures and French windows. Ground floor rooms open out to a sea-facing veranda.

The location of this Hong Kong hotel is a boon for visitors who want to see sights on Lantau Island, including Disneyland and the Big Buddha.

But it can be up to 90 minutes' travel from Central. You may not want the stress of downtown Hong Kong though after experiencing the laid-back seaside charm of Tai O.

See hotel location details at its website.

Rooms begin at HK$1,380. Tai O Heritage Hotel, Shek Tsai Po Street, Tai O, Lantau Island, Hong Kong, +852 2985 8383, www.taioheritagehotel.com

Hong Kong hotelHotel ICON's small pool with big views.

Hotel ICON

Design buffs will tremble at the mention of the dream team behind Hotel ICON.

With interiors by the likes of Sir Terence Conran and Vivienne Tam, this is the kind of Hong Kong hotel destined for the cover of Wallpaper* Magazine.

The dramatic glass lobby sets the tone for the rest of the property.

A lush vertical garden by celebrity botanist Patrick Blanc unfurls across the walls.

Next to it is Green, the café by local designer William Lim who used folding metal shop gates typical of old Hong Kong in the design.

Starting at 36 square meters, the rooms at Hotel ICON are spacious and sleek. Bathrooms are hidden behind a movable wall of dark wood. 

Hong Kong hotelThe 230-square-meter vertical garden.Works by Hong Kong artists can be found in hallways. 

Aside from good design, expect five-star facilities including a spa, gym and terrace pool with bar.

Owned by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, this 262-room Hong Kong hotel doubles as a training hub for hospitality students.

Staff are supported by a team of interns so service is extra smiley.

Rooms begin at HK$2,200. Hotel ICON, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui East, Kowloon, +852 3400 1000 www.hotel-icon.com
Hong Kong hotelL'hotel élan, incongruous in this industrial neighborhood.

L’hotel élan

Set amid the gritty warehouses of the lesser-traveled Kwun Tong district, L’hotel élan’s location is atypical of Hong Kong business hotels.

Don’t be put off by the OTT lobby decor featuring fossils, faux rock walls and artwork. Rooms are tasteful and high-tech.

Each of the 254 rooms is equipped with an iPad 2 that allows you to flick through television channels, order room service and review your room bill.

Bathrooms have a smart-glass feature that allows you to turn the mirror into a transparent window at the flick of a switch. 

The techie theme continues in Forte, the restaurant, with iPads in place of printed menus.

Meanwhile, the reception area has a large touch-screen computer that functions like an e-concierge listing restaurants, galleries and tourist attractions. 

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Most impressive at this Hong Kong hotel are the duplexes with loft-like designs. The bedroom is on the second floor while a cozy living room area is tucked below. 

On the 35th floor, the minimalist gym and swimming pool have sprawling city views.

Before checking out, you can explore the neighborhood’s artsy side. Live music venue Hidden Agenda and the warehouse art space Osage Kwun Tong are just a few streets away.

Rooms begin HK$988. L’hotel élan, 38 Chong Yip St., Kwun Tong, Kowloon, +852 3968 8666, lhotelelan.co

Hong Kong hotelMarcel Wanders takes on Chinese culture at the Mira Moon.

Mira Moon

Dutch design genius Marcel Wanders is the creative force behind Mira Moon, a Hong Kong hotel due to open next year.

The man took inspiration from the Mid-Autumn Festival -- a traditional celebration of the full moon and autumn harvest -- for the hotel's interiors.

This is the same guy that The New York Times dubs "the Lady Gaga of the design world," so we're expecting a literal take on the moon festival with a lot of dramatic moon-shaped things. Maybe staff uniforms made of mooncakes.  

What the Mira Moon will actually have is 90 rooms and a penthouse suite clad in traditional Chinese materials like ceramic and carved timber, as well as materials of the Chinese nouveau riche such as cut crystal.

A palette of oranges, browns and light greens keeps things upbeat.

Other facilities at this Hong Kong hotel include a gym, sky garden and restaurant.

Mira Moon is expected to open in the first quarter of 2013 at 388 Jaffe Road, 
Wanchai, Hong Kong; www.miramoonhotel.com

Hong Kong hotelAuberge, Discovery Bay: suburbia never looked this hip.

Auberge, Discovery Bay 

This is the closest you’ll get to a beach resort in Hong Kong. Set to open at the end of the year, expectations are high for the Auberge.

The property is located in Discovery Bay (also known as Disco Bay or DB), Hong Kong’s answer to suburbia, on Lantau Island.

DB is a child-friendly expat enclave known for its greenery, large marina and lack of cars. Residents cruise around in golf carts.

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A few minutes' walk from Sam Pak Wan Beach, the Auberge will have 325 sea-facing rooms. Facilities will include a restaurant with a sprawling outdoor terrace, a glass seaside chapel and a spa.

Guests can go hiking after a round of golf or take a spin around the harbor in the hotel’s boat. They will also have access to tennis courts, basketball courts, a bowling alley and climbing wall at a neighboring clubhouse.

Auberge, Discovery Bay will open in November 2012 at 88 Siena Ave., Discovery Bay, Lantau Island, www.aubergediscoverybay.com 

Hong Kong hotelThe sun won't set on Mei Ho House.

YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel 

At the moment, it looks like a sad abandoned building. But by early next year, it’ll be teeming with wide-eyed backpackers.

Known as Mei Ho House, this is a former 1950s public housing estate soon to be transformed into Hong Kong's most fascinating youth hostel.

As part of a government revitalization scheme, the Hong Kong Youth Hostels Association is converting the old flats into 129 rooms aimed at budget travelers.

The government built the six-story housing block in 1953 when thousands were left homeless after a devastating fire in Shek Kip Mei.

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YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel will run as a social enterprise. Some of the original 1950s residences will be kept intact to form a museum for the history of the working-class neighborhood.

Hostel facilities will include a convenience store, rooftop garden, restaurant, outdoor café, pantry and laundry room.

YHA Mei Ho House Youth Hostel will open in the first half of 2013 at Block 41, Shek Kip Mei Estate, Sham Shui Po, www.meihohouse.hk

Hong Kong hotelHotel Indigo to open soon in Hong Kong.

Hotel Indigo 

Hotel Indigo is known for bringing quality design to the masses. Following their Shanghai opening, the American import is due to open its Hong Kong hotel this December.

The 138-room hotel will be topped by a glass-bottomed infinity pool.

In keeping with the Indigo brand design philosophy, interiors are likely to reference local culture and history. The surrounding Wanchai area, filled with teahouses and pawnshops, will be a source of inspiration.

The coolest thing though is the burnished bronze "dragon" that will wrap around the facade of the building to act as a screen for shielding the interior from heat and harnessing solar power.

Other highlights at this Hong Kong hotel include an ornate Cantonese restaurant with a bar and courtyard.

Hotel Indigo will open in December 2012 at 242-246 Queen's Road East, Wanchai, www.ichotelsgroup.com 

Do you have a go-to Hong Kong hotel? Recommend it to visitors in the comments box below.

A freelance writer, Payal Uttam found her way back to Hong Kong after a prolonged stint in Chicago.

Read more about Payal Uttam