The Western District of Hong Kong Island, generally defined as west of Aberdeen Street, was once referred to as an “old neighbourhood” in fast-growing Hong Kong. Whereas the adjacent Central District – the most historical commercial hub of the city - is constantly being renewed, areas such as Sheung Wan, Sai Ying Pun and Kennedy Town seemed to have stood still in time, with buildings looking considerably older and many businesses being decade-old family-run operations.
That remained true for almost two decades despite the opening of the Sheung Wan Mass Transit Railway (MTR) station in 1988. But as Central became saturated and increasingly unaffordable, new businesses began to move west in recent years. And with the MTR’s West Island Line extension set to be completed by 2015, gentrification of the district has accelerated.
That can be seen in the number of hotels opening in the area. Properties by major chains include four-star and 245-room Courtyard by Marriott Hong Kong, opened in 2008, and Traders Hotel Hong Kong (by Shangri-La), which took over a property that was once a Novotel in August last year. But what is more interesting is the growing number of boutique-style hotels in the district, especially Sheung Wan. We have inspected five of them:
CENTRAL PARK HOTEL
263 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan; +852 2850 8899; www.centralparkhotel.com.hk
When did it open? 2005
How many rooms? 142, in five categories, namely city view, garden view, executive city view, executive garden view and executive suite
How big are they? From 19 sqm to 38 sqm
How is it like? The lobby, although small, is quite posh with its big crystal lamp, red couch and modern art pieces. The décors of the rooms are very modern with neutral colour tones such as beige and grey. They all have flat-screen TVs, either 14-inch or 21-inch, depending on the room type. All but one of the rooms features only standing showers. Garden view rooms look out to the Hollywood Park, which is considerably nicer than looking at buildings close up.
Transport: Sheung Wan MTR station is 15 minutes' walk away. On Hollywood Road, you will have no problems getting a cab. There is a free shuttle service from 7am-7pm, dropping guests off at sister properties Lan Kwai Fong Hotel and The Mercer (see below), as well as Hong Kong Station for the Airport Express.
Rates: Standard rooms are HK$1,000 (US$128) and up and a suite starts from HK$2,000 (US$257)
- Décor rather swish for a small property, including many commissioned pieces in the lobby, and a “birdcage” created out of video projection
- 24 TV channels including BBC, CNN and CNBC
- The executive suite has a kitchenette and iPod docking
- You have to pay for breakfast (HK$99/US$13) and wifi (one-day package costs HK$120/US$15)
LAN KWAI FONG HOTEL
3 Kau U Fong, Central; +852 3650 0000; www.lankwaifonghotel.com.hk
When did it open? 2006
How many rooms? 162, in six categories called city view, mountain view, harbour view, deluxe city view, deluxe harbour view, and harbour view suite
How big are they? From 19 sqm to 39 sqm
How is it like? This incorporates Chinese elements into its interior. Chinese furnishing and a porcelain vase display mark the waiting area, and in the room you will find Chinese antique-style closet and doors, and jade plagues hanging by the bedsides, believed to help one sleep. All rooms have iPod docking and half of them have bathtubs, regardless of the room type. All of them have flat-screen TVs, some are connected to DVD players or equipped with ports to show photos or videos directly from your memory cards.
Transport: You are only 10 minutes walk from the heart of Central. But as this hotel is a sister hotel of Central Park, you can take the same shuttle bus to the Hong Kong Station for the Airport Express, which is a little far if you are with luggage.
Rates: City view rooms are HK$1,500 (US$193) and up and a harbour view suite starts from HK$4,000 (US$514).
- All rooms have rain shower and iPod docking
- The suites have balconies, one looking at the harbour on one side and the mountain
- BreeZe Lounge offers Italian cuisine and an outdoor ambiance, while Celebrity Cuisine offers Michelin-star Chinese cuisine
- A small gymnasium
- You have to pay for wifi (One-day package HK$120/US$15)
139 Bonham Strand, Sheung Wan; tel +852 2851 8818; www.sohotel.com.hk
When did it open? 2008
How many rooms? 37, in four categories: Standard, Superior Double Superior Twin and Junior Suite
How big are they? The standard room is about 10sqm, and a junior suite goes up to about 25 sqm.
How is it like? Although small, every one of the rooms is well equipped with a 29-inch LCD wide-screen TV, in-room safe, minibar and high-speed Internet access. There is a lot of contrasting of red and black, and the property’s signature floral motif is seen on the wall, as it is in the public areas. The junior suite is defined, other than the size, by a king-size bed, suede couches, black-and-white floral carpeting, a large impressionist painting, and more upscale bathroom amenities including bathrobes.
Transport: The Sheung MTR station is five to 10 minutes' walk away. Taxis are in abundance in this area, and a cab ride to Central takes about five minutes and costs about HK$25 (US$3.2)
Rates: Standard rooms start from HK$1,000 (US$128) and suites from HK$3,000 (US$385) per night.
- Complimentary breakfast of simple a-la-carte items such as noodles, sandwiches, omelettes and oatmeal
- 24-hour room service
- Free wifi throughout the building, with each password supporting multiple gadgets
- On 6/F, where breakfast is served, there is a small wood-decked outdoor space ideal for hanging out, especially among smokers
- Two free internet computers at the lobby for those who don’t have a laptop with them
- The air-conditioning system did not seem to ventilate very well and some of the rooms had odors
- Limited numbers of channels on TV, with CNBC, ESPN and National Geographic but no CNN and BBC.
29 Jervois Street, Sheung Wan; +852 2922 9988; http://themercer.com.hk
When did it open? April 2011
How many rooms? 55, including 10 deluxe rooms, five premium rooms and 40 one-bedroom suites
How big are they? From 32 sqm to 53sqm
How is it like? The décor throughout the hotel is swish and modern, with rooms showcasing luxury trimmings such as quilted leather headboards, Simmons mattresses, flatscreen TVs, DVD player, iPod/iPhone docking and Tarocco bathroom amenities from Italy.
Transport: This property is only a few minutes’ walk away from the Sheung Wan MTR station and within walking distance from Central.
Rates: Deluxe starts from HK$2,000 (US$257) and one-bedroom from HK$3,000 (US$385)
- Free breakfast (1/F)
- Free wifi with one password supporting multiple gadgets
- Free minibar (water, soft drinks and beer)
- Kitchenette with microwave and coffee machine (Premium and above)
- 24 hour gymnasium
- Outdoor swimming pool
- The couch in the living room of the suite looks posh but is rather uncomfortable
DORSETT REGENCY HONG KONG
18 Davis Street, Kennedy Town; +852 2655 5555; http://dorsettregency.com
When did it open? August 2011
How many rooms? 209, in seven categories from standard to executive harbourview suite
How big are they? From 21 sqm to 47 sqm
How is it like? This hotel boasts “Victorian style”, in a modern interpretation. The elevators, lined with black glass and tiles, pleasantly smell of pomegranates. Baroque-style chairs, sheer lampshades, leather-lined walls and soft textured furnishing in the room provide a soothing environment. On some floors, the room number plate, doorbell and “do not disturb” light are quirkily designed to look like the top of a vintage suitcase.
Transport: Kennedy Town is the westernmost district of Hong Kong Island, which is not yet reachable by the MTR. The hotel provides a complimentary shuttle bus service to the Hong Kong Macau Ferry Terminal, Hong Kong Station (Airport Express) and Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. To take a taxi to Central costs about HK$40 (US$5)-HK$50 (US$6)
Rates: Standard rates from US$150
- Free wifi
- Free buffet breakfast with usual items such as
- Twenty-four analog TV channels and 11 digital channels
- iPod/iPhone/iPad docking in all rooms
- Cellini features fine-dining, which is still lacking in this district
- Poolside lounge offers a great place to hang out
- Notebook/iPad rental service
- The view of this part of the harbour is still nice during the day, but at night you can’t really see anything