Tried & Tested

Hotel check: W Hong Kong

26 Jan 2009 by Tom Otley

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Open since August last year, 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 Yasumichi Morita of Glamorous and Nic Graham of Nicholas Graham and Associates, is stunning – a giant “W” of illuminated bamboo hangs inside the eight-floor curtain window, greeting traffic emerging from Hong Kong Island’s West tunnel. In the ground-floor greeting lobby, chandeliers designed by Korean artist Lee Bul hang like stalactites. The lift floor is illuminated with a “good morning/afternoon/evening” message, depending on the time of day. A giant white mosquito sits on a column above the concierge desk, while 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.

WHERE IS IT? It’s in Cullinan Tower II in West Kowloon, a new district made from reclaimed land, next to the International Commerce Centre, which is still being built. The hotel connects directly to the 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 at Central station), so has easy connections to the AsiaWorld-Expo exhibition space and Kowloon station for the MTR Tung Chung line.

ROOM FACILITIES All rooms have a high level of technology built in (the 42 suites are Bang and Olufsen-equipped), 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, Munchie Box and large desk. Beds have 400 thread-count linens complemented by goose-down pillows and duvets.

RESTAURANTS AND BARS On the ground floor the fine-dining Fire restaurant offers “comfort cuisine” from 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 to the garage for celebrities wanting to avoid publicity (apparently there are some). From 6pm to 11pm, diners can sample dishes such as New Zealand Napier Valley olive oil-poached baby lamb, two-hour butter-poached Kobe rib-eye, and Iberian pancetta-wrapped organic chicken. On the sixth floor is the all-day bistro Kitchen (open 6.30am-11pm). There is also the Living Room, 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.

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.

LEISURE FACILITIES The Bliss Spa (open 9am-10pm) has more than 836 sqm of “tension-fighting facilities”, with spectacular views of Victoria Harbour and West Kowloon. There are separate men’s and women’s changing rooms, lounges with digital lockers, glass-tiled steam showers, saunas, steam rooms, sink-side Bliss products, a good selection of magazines, pyramids of green apples, damp face towels and bottles of water. The staff in this facility were friendly and helpful, as were those in the gym, which is open 24 hours a day.

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

Fact file

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 393 rooms in eight categories on floors 16-38, with the spa on floor 72, the gym on 73 and the rooftop pool on 76.

ROOM 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 February started from HK$2,000 (£177) for a Wonderful room.

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

Tom Otley

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