WHAT’S IT LIKE? Open since January, the latest property from Swire Hotels, which also has the high-end Upper House and Opposite House, is a modern, upper mid-scale property firmly targeting business travellers. The entrance is off Taikoo Shing Road through an understated doorway with a water feature on one side – now fenced off, doubtless because jet-lagged travellers tried to walk over it.
Check in is paperless – you simply sign your name on a tablet containing your reservation, and walk to the lift past an unusual “bird’s nest” designer staircase that leads to the first-floor restaurant. There is a lot of modern art and sculpture around the hotel, but unobtrusively displayed – I had been in the restaurant three times before I noticed the paper butterflies pinned all over the walls. More art will be installed over the coming months.
WHERE IS IT? Next to Tai Koo MTR station (exit D) towards the east of Hong Kong Island in the Quarry Bay area, which is home to more than 300 multinationals including luxury goods conglomerate LVMH, and the back-office operations of HSBC, Sony Ericsson and CNN. One Island East’s main tower and surrounding buildings offer more than 743,000 sqm of commercial accommodation, and across the road is Cityplaza shopping centre, which has more than 60 restaurants and cafés. Next summer a first-floor bridge will link the hotel to Cityplaza. East’s branded seven-seater Mercedes Vito 126L can be booked for airport transfers.
ROOM FACILITIES The 339 rooms and six suites are on floors five to 30 and range from 28sqm to 60 sqm. They come in various categories – Urban View rooms are 28 sqm with a choice of twin queen or king beds (although the view from rooms above floor 18 is more mountain than urban), while Harbour View rooms are the same size (with queen beds only) and are on floors 18-30 (any lower and the view would be blocked by the surrounding buildings). Urban Corner and Harbour Corner rooms are slightly larger, at 30 sqm, while the suites are all on the 30th floor and range from 44 sqm to 60 sqm.
The designers, CL3 Architects, have used limestone, wood and bamboo flooring, and the rooms seem larger than they are, partly because the bathroom is not separate from the bedroom – it has a free-standing sink and a mirror screening off the toilet and rainshower. Elemis toiletries come in large wall-mounted containers, which is environmentally friendly although it can be difficult to get enough out of them.
There is a 37-inch LCD TV, free wired and Wi-Fi internet (available throughout the hotel), and an iPod Touch containing information on the hotel, the room and the surrounding area, including jogging routes (it’s chained to the bedside table to prevent guests from taking it away). Amenities that come as standard include a kettle, an espresso machine, a well-stocked minibar with snacks, an iron and ironing board, and a safe, which was too small for my 15-inch laptop.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The all-day restaurant (open 6.30am-10.30pm) is called Feast (Food by East) and serves Western and Asian dishes. Takeaway service and room delivery are possible. A good business lunch costs HK$168 (US$21.5) for two courses or HK$188 (US$24) for three. The staff are young, friendly and slightly disorganised – dishes go to the wrong tables and you get coffee when you ask for tea – but the manager is good, greeting you by name, so perhaps these are teething problems. It’s a bustling place with two kitchens, one of which is open. On the top floor (32) there is an impressive rooftop bar, Sugar, which has harbour views and is open 5pm-2am.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Surprisingly, there are none, although the bar can be used during the day for lunches, team-building activities and parties.
LEISURE FACILITIES Beast (Body by East) comprises a 24-hour gym, outdoor pool and juice bar.
How many rooms? There are 345 in total – 213 Urban View rooms, 77 Harbour View rooms, 26 Urban Corner rooms, 23 Harbour Corner rooms and six suites.
Room highlights The stunning vista from the Harbour View rooms, the free Wi-Fi, lovely rainshower and Elemis amenities.
Price Internet rates for a midweek stay in June started from HK$1,320 (£113) for an Urban View room.
Contact East Hong Kong, 29 Taikoo Shing Road, Island East; tel 852 3968 3968; www.east-hongkong.com, www.swirehotels.com
VERDICT A great addition to the local scene. It’s well thought-out and offers everything a modern business traveller needs (apart from meeting rooms), with a real sense of style at an affordable price.