One of the first W hotels to open in Asia – it debuted in 2008 – W Hong Kong is located next door to the West Kowloon Cultural District, and is a beacon of glamorous cool within this up-and-coming part of Kowloon.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
I first stayed in the W Hotel in early 2009 shortly after it had opened.
Designed by Yasumichi Morita of Glamorous, and Nic Graham of Nicholas Graham and Associates, the hotel still feels contemporary six years later, and a giant “W” of illuminated bamboo hangs inside the eight-floor curtain window to greet traffic emerging from Western Harbour Tunnel. In the intervening years, taxi drivers have actually learned where the place is (it was always a lot of fun trying to say “Hotel W” to them). In the ground-floor greeting lobby, chandeliers designed by Korean artist Lee Bul hang like stalactites. Depending on the time of day, the lift floor is illuminated with a “good morning/afternoon/evening” message.
WHERE IS IT?
The hotel is situated within luxury residential towerblock The Cullinan II in West Kowloon and connects directly to the million-square-foot Elements shopping mall. It sits above the Kowloon Station of the Airport Express line – there is an airline check-in area like the one at Central station – and Tung Chung line. There are good connections to the Asia World-Expo exhibition space on Lantau Island and the Central District across Victoria Harbour.
The hotel occupies floors 16-38, with the 393 rooms all having distinctive W-style names. Entry level 40 sqm Wonderful Rooms have city views and are equipped with 42-inch flatscreen TVs, fast broadband wired/wireless internet access, Tivoli clock radios and CD/DVD players. The wifi is free to SPG members and costs HK$115 (US$15) per day to non-members. Harbour View rooms are also 40 sqm but are termed Spectacular Rooms due to the impressive vistas, and are equipped with iPod docking stations. For a full ocean view, go for a Fabulous Room (also 40 sqm). You could also choose a Cool Corner Room at 45 sqm, or blow the budget on an Extreme Wow suite – though getting the expenses signed off afterwards might be a problem.
Several years on, the intuitive technology still impresses: the room temperature can be set and all the lights turned off without getting out of bed. A new addition is a Walkabout phone in all rooms that permits free local calls and can be taken out of the hotel. The 400-thread count bed linen is also very comfortable.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
On floors seven and eight there are 10 meeting rooms, the largest of which offers more than 587 sqm of space. All are fitted with plasma screens, wifi and audio-visual equipment. There is also a business centre on the eighth floor that’s equipped with Mac and PC workstations and open from 7am to 11pm.
The heated outdoor rooftop pool on the 76th floor is one of the hotel’s best features, though the high winds kept me out during late November. With stellar views over Victoria Harbour and West Kowloon, the 73rd floor gym is as good as ever with an attendant on duty from 6am-10pm. With nine treatment rooms, the Bliss Spa features a vitality pool, glass-tiled steam showers, saunas, steam rooms, and large Jacuzzi pools where you can while away the evening – it’s open until 11pm – if you can’t sleep.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
All-day bistro Kitchen is open 6.30am-11pm. I only ate breakfast here but the buffet is extensive and from the open kitchen, you can observe chefs preparing Asian and Western cuisine. Cantonese restaurant Sing Yin, which is decked out in a Colonial Shanghai style, is the place for dim sum. There is also Woo Bar, which is like a high-end nightclub with nightly DJs and a good choice of cocktails and premium-brand drinks. There were lots of events and happenings occurring during the week I stayed, and it’s a very social hotel – in fact there was even an event around the swimming pool at Wet Deck bar one evening, with guests all wrapped in big white towels having a wild time. It’s not to everyone’s taste, and the hotel in general seemed to be particularly popular with female business travellers. I think the design probably plays a part, but the welcoming feel of the hotel and young, friendly staff undoubtedly add to its charm.
A really good five-star hotel where the design hasn’t dated and the appeal seems to have grown since it first opened. Truly outstanding.
- HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 393 rooms in eight categories on floors 16-38, with the spa located on floor 72, the gym on 73 and the rooftop pool on the 76th floor.
- HIGHLIGHTS The superb sound system in each room, good soundproofing, iPod chargers, Tivoli clock radio with CD/DVD player, MP3 docking station and high-definition 42-inch TVs.
- PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in March start from US$383 for a Wonderful room.
- CONTACT W Hong Kong, 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon Station, Kowloon; tel +852 3717 2222; w-hongkong.com