Wharf Hotels’ latest property, The Murray, Hong Kong, a Niccolo Hotel, officially soft-opened on Monday, January 15, marking the Niccolo Hotels brand’s first property in the city.
The Murray is the Hong Kong-based Wharf Hotels’ third Niccolo Hotels-branded property, joining the Niccolo Chengdu and the Niccolo Chongqing, which opened in September, 2017.
While a few of the hotels facilities are still to open, the property is now receiving guests as well as reservations at its dining outlets.
Business Traveller takes a first look inside the new hotel.
Unlike its counterparts in Chengdu and Chongqing, The Murray in Hong Kong’s Central district is unique in that it is not a new-build property, instead residing within the former Murray Building, one of eight historic landmarks under the Hong Kong government’s Conserving Central initiative.
Originally serving as a government building, the property dates back close to half a century, and when it first opened, was one of the tallest in the city. The new hotel retains this heritage namely in the exterior and grounds of the hotel, which remain largely unchanged. The old driveway concealed by the hotel’s iconic arches on the lower level has been adapted into an outdoor, covered events space, for instance. There’s even a tree, itself protected due to its old age, which has been left in place at the entrance of the hotel.
What’s it like?
Niccolo Hotels follows a simple, contemporary design aesthetic and British architecture firm Foster + Partners, whose previous work includes Hong Kong International Airport, has retained this style within the hotel. Black, white and gold are the key colours, with wooden floors in most of the rooms further providing a high-end feel.
The entrance of the property is, however, noticeably understated, such that it actually can be slightly tricky to find by car or by foot, owing to the winding roads and footpaths that lead to it. Guests are immediately met by a long corridor when they step through the lobby, with the hotel’s bar, Murray Lane, just off to the right-hand side (its selection of whiskies in particular is impressive).
The Murray has a total of 336 rooms and suites across located between the fifth and 23rd floors. Rooms are divided into three categories – Deluxe, Grand and Grand Deluxe – while suites are in six categories. More than 75 per cent of the rooms are 50sqm or above, a quite generous size for a Hong Kong hotel, and the large square windows provide ample natural light helping to enhance the feeling of spaciousness. There are also great views of Central landmarks such as St John’s Cathedral and the HSBC headquarters.
The most common room category is the 50sqm Grand room. A notable feature is the small, square-shaped alcove where the desk sits by one of the windows, offering a pleasantly secluded space for business travellers to work. A particularly interesting feature in all rooms is the way sockets and USB outlets are presented. Work desks have them hidden in a small compartment, while bedside outlets are available inside the top drawer of the bedside table.
Bath and rainfall shower facilities are separated in the Grand rooms. Guests also have access to a capsule coffee machine and TWG teas, a minibar, and a large Smart TV with Bluetooth sound system that you can connect your own devices to.
Not all of the hotel’s suites have opened yet, notably the largest Murray Suite, however the Explorer and Signature Suites are. Both are similar, occupying 75sqm and providing a larger living room space than the guestrooms. The left-hand side of the suite similarly features a work desk within its own square-shaped alcove, along with a living room, while the right-hand side features the bedroom and bathroom, which features amenities from Grown Alchemist in Australia along with a “magic window” that changes from transparent to opaque at the press of a button when privacy is wanted.
It’s worth noting that The Murray does not have executive rooms, nor does it offer an executive lounge.
Food and beverage
There are five F&B offerings at The Murray, though the rooftop restaurant, bar and terrace, Popinjays, has yet to open. The restaurant is currently slated for a second-quarter opening, at which point the hotel will have fully opened to the public.
The other four outlets are on the same lower level, including European restaurant The Tai Pan, the adjacent Garden Lounge and the aforementioned Murray Lane bar. The fourth, an upcoming Chinese restaurant called Guo Fu Lou run by the Fook Lam Moon Group, is set to open in February after moving to the hotel from its current location in Wan Chai district. This restaurant will be located in a separate, one-story building located above the main entrance.
A 24-hour gym, a pool and a spa are available at The Murray (the spa is set to open in February with two couples’ and three individuals’ rooms). Guests wanting to maintain a controlled diet during their stay can also consult the hotel’s in-house nutritionist, who can put together specialised menus, whether for dietary restrictions or wellness reasons.
Alongside the previously mentioned outdoor events space called The Arches, which covers about 635sqm, the hotel has its main Niccolo Room on the top floor. This can accommodate approximately 20 tables when at full size (425sqm), but can also be divided into nine separate spaces each able to house one or two tables. The hotel also has boardrooms ranging from 35-40sqm, and another outdoor space just outside the restaurants called Cotton Tree Terrace, which extends about 130sqm.
The hotel does not offer any in-room smartphones, such as a Handy device, however travellers to the city who don’t have a Hong Kong SIM card can pick up a pocket wifi device from the front desk at no cost.