Hotel check: W Hotel Hong Kong

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Open since August, this is only the third W
hotel in Asia-Pacific after Seoul and the Maldives, and
the brand is clearly determined to make a splash. The design, by Yasimuchi
Morita of Glamorous Corp and Nic Graham of Nicholas Graham and Associates, is
stunning – a giant “W” of illuminated bamboo hangs inside the eight floors
of the curtain window of the building, greeting traffic emerging from the West
Tunnel from Hong Kong Island.

In the ground floor greeting lobby,
chandeliers designed by Korean artist Lee Bul hang like stalactites. If you
take the lift, you’ll notice the floor is illuminated with a “good
morning/afternoon/evening” message, depending on the time of day. On the sixth
floor and main reception area, a giant white mosquito sits on a central column
above the concierge desk, a picture of Chairman Mao holding up a W keycard
against a collaged Hong Kong cityscape (by Chinese artist Xue Song) leads you
into the bar, and, behind reception, a giant video screen offers a kaleidoscope
of colours.

WHERE IS IT? It’s in West Kowloon, a new
district made from reclaimed land, next to the International Commerce Centre,
which is still being built. The W Hotel is in Cullinan Tower II, along with the
Harbour View Place
serviced apartments and some Cullinan residences, while Cullinan Tower
I is 100 per cent residential. The hotel connects directly to the one million
square foot Elements luxury shopping mall and is close to the City Golf urban
driving range. It is also above the Airport Express station (with an airport
check-in like the one in Central station) and so has easy connections to the
AsiaWorld-Expo exhibition space by the airport and also Kowloon station for the MTR Tung Chung
line. 

ROOM FACILITIES All rooms have a high level of technology built in (the 42
suites are fitted with Bang and Olufsen gadgets) from 42-inch flatscreen TVs
and fast broadband wired and wifi internet access (HK$140/£12 per day) to iPod docking
stations, MP3 chargers and Tivoli clock radios with CD/DVD players. There is
also a bathtub LCD TV with pay-per-view movies, a safe, minibar and Munchie
Box, large desk and the W bed with its standard 400 thread-count linens
complemented by goose-down pillows and duvets.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS On the ground floor is the fine-dining Fire
restaurant, offering “comfort cuisine from the grill and wood-stove oven” under
culinary director Michael Poutawa. As well as the main dining area, there are
two glass-walled, semi-private rooms and a private table for up to 16 guests,
with an escape route down to the garage for celebrities wanting to avoid
publicity (apparently there are some). From 6pm to 11pm, diners can sample
dishes including New Zealand Napier Valley
olive oil-poached baby lamb, two-hour butter-poached Kobe rib-eye, and Iberian pancetta-wrapped
organic chicken. Upstairs on the sixth floor is the all-day bistro Kitchen
(open 6.30am-11pm), with a choice of seating including a large “social” table
looking on to the food preparation area and wall-to-wall bay windows. There is
also the Living Room, a bar on the sixth floor, which is like a high-end
nightclub with a good choice of cocktails and premium brand drinks, Liquid Bar
at Fire and the W Café, open throughout the
day.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES On floors seven and eight there are eight
meeting rooms (the largest of which offers 435 sqm of space), all fitted with
plasma screens, wifi and state-of-the-art audio-visual equipment. There is also
a business centre open from 7am to 11pm providing Mac and PC workstations, as
well as other office essentials.

LEISURE FACILITIES The Bliss Spa (open 9am-10pm) has more than
836 sqm of “tension-fighting facilities” with spectacular views of Victoria
Harbour and the spectacular architecture of West Kowloon, particularly at
night. There are separate men’s and women’s locker rooms, lounges with digital
lockers, glass-tiled steam showers, saunas, steam rooms, sink-side Bliss
products, a good selection of magazines and trademark pyramids of green apples,
as well as damp face towels and bottles of water ready and waiting in a
glass-fronted fridge in the changing room. The staff in this facility were
superb – both friendly and helpful – as were those in the gym, which is open 24
hours a day. (You need a keycard to gain access and it is staffed from 6am
onwards.)

VERDICT A really good five-star hotel with
intelligent yet quirky design.

PRICE Until 30 January 2009, the W Hong Kong
has a special opening offer of HK$1,650 (£143) for a Wonderful room.

CONTACT W Hong Kong; 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon Station; tel +852 3717 2222;
whotels.com/hongkong.

Tom Otley


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