Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Hotel Icon

30 May 2012 by Tom Otley

Background Open since May last year, this is an independent, design-conscious hotel, with Hong Kong-based Rocco Yim responsible for its architecture, William Lim of Hong Kong’s CL3 Architects designing the contemporary interiors, and Conran and Partners the restaurants.

What’s it like? The scene is set by an 18-metre vertical garden in the lobby and a swirling staircase with lots of modern art. What makes the place special, however, is that the hotel operates as a research and training facility for the School and Hotel of Tourism Management, and during the year many of the staff are students learning the hospitality trade. If this sounds like you will be part of some unsatisfactory experiment, don’t worry. The students are mentored by extremely well-trained staff, and it makes the hotel feel truly unique. It also means interaction between staff and guests is genuine and unscripted, partly because they have not yet lapsed into the rut of guest relations-speak. Past reception, you’ll find the corridors have extremely impressive artwork by Hong Kong Polytechnic University students on the walls.

Where is it? In east Kowloon, a ten-minute walk from the East Tsim Sha Tsui TR station, though the hotel runs a regular shuttle bus across to the station and onward to the Harbour City shopping area.

Room facilities The hotel has 262 rooms ranging in size from 36 sqm to 80 sqm, including 68 Club rooms, 26 suites and three Prototype rooms, which are used to try out new designs and concepts from the hotel school. Most have views across Victoria Harbour, and all are elegant and understated in design, with subdued colours that don’t compete with the views. Each has a complimentary minibar (with soft drinks in standard rooms and some beers in Club rooms), an iPod docking station, free wired and wifi internet access and a flatscreen high-definition LED TV. The rooms also have access to a cloud-based computing system, which means you can print documents from your laptop and have them delivered to your door.

Bathrooms have tubs and power showers and lighting on the side of the mirrors instead of overhead, which is far more flattering to anyone over the age of 30. If your room is not ready on check-in, or you have time to kill on check-out, the hotel has a sort of alternate Club lounge for guests to relax in comfy chairs, watch TV or enjoy soft drinks and snacks. A good idea.

Club rooms offer free local calls, discounts on dry cleaning and laundry, and in-room colour laser printers on request. The Club lounge is called Above and Beyond, which sounds like something one of the Incredibles would yell as they set off on a superhero mission. This top (28th) floor space is cleverly designed – the hotel’s fine-dining Chinese restaurant is also located on this level, giving the whole area a more lively feel than many Club lounges, not least since instead of guests mixing their own drinks there are several staff on hand to serve. It’s here that you receive personalised check-in and check-out, continental breakfast, all-day refreshments and evening cocktails with hors d’oeuvres.

Restaurants and bars There are three restaurants – the Above and Beyond Chinese restaurant, the Market, serving Asian and European cuisine on the second level, and Green on the ground floor, which is a “neighbourhood café” by day and bar by night.

Business and meeting facilities The Silverbox ballroom on the first floor can host 480 people, and the conference room in the basement, which the students use for term-time lessons, holds 320 delegates.

Leisure facilities The Angsana spa on the ninth floor is run by therapists from Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts and has four treatment rooms. Also on this level is a harbour-facing outdoor heated pool and a gym.

Verdict At the time of my stay the hotel had been open less than 12 months but the operation was polished, the physical product close to five-star, and the service among the best in the 30-plus hotels I have experienced in Hong Kong.

Fact file

  • How many rooms? There are 262 in total, with most rooms being either 36 sqm or 38 sqm, including the 68 Club rooms. There are also 26 suites and three Prototype rooms.
  • Room highlights Free wifi, and some impressive views across Victoria Harbour.
  • Price Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in July started from HK$2,400 (£195) for an Icon 36 City View room.
  • Contact Hotel Icon, 17 Science Museum Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, East Kowloon; tel +852 3400 1000; hotel-icon.com

Tom Otley

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