Tried & Tested

Hotel review: JW Marriott Hong Kong

22 Jan 2019 by Michael Allen

Background 

The JW Marriott Hong Kong, which first opened in February 1989, renovated all of its 608 guest rooms and suites between March and September 2018. The hotel also opened its new executive lounge in June 2018 and is planning to renovate its fitness centre in March 2019.

I decided to see what the new room renovations and executive lounge mean for guests by staying there myself for one night over the weekend.

Where is it? 

The hotel is one of four luxury hotels clustered around the Swire-owned Pacific Place shopping centre, which sits atop Admiralty MTR station. The others are the Conrad Hong Kong, The Upper House and The Island Shangri-La. To avoid having to lug your suitcase up a hill, you can access the hotel via the elevator inside Pacific Place.

Admiralty MTR station is great for connectivity, being on three different lines: the Island Line, Tsuen Wan Line and South Island Line. This makes it very easy to get around the city, whether your meetings are on Hong Kong Island or Kowloon side. If it’s raining, there’s no need to go outside as the hotel connects directly to the shopping centre and MTR station below.

What’s it like?

Guests arrive at a spacious fourth-floor lobby that is well-lit with natural light from the huge windows. Hong Kong is a cramped city, but at this hotel you don’t feel constricted, despite there easily being more than 600 guests staying there during peak occupancy.

From the lobby, a grand curving staircase leads down to the Man Ho Chinese Restaurant, JW Marriott Ballroom and Function Rooms. Or you can take a staircase up to the Executive Lounge and JW Cafe.

There was no wait for check-in. The receptionist offered to have three English-language newspapers posted to my room in the morning: The New York Times, USA Today and South China Morning Post.

The room

I stayed in an Executive Room with a king-sized bed and harbour view (guests can choose between harbour view, city view and mountain view). The Executive Rooms are located on levels 28 to 29 and 31 to 35, and measure between 33 to 37 sqm.

Within seconds of entering the room, a staff member arrived to pour my “welcome tea”, Iron Buddha. 

In addition, fruits (a banana, apple, orange and pear) were provided, as well as two snack dumplings and Chinese-style biscuits.

The welcome gift was a black JW Marriott-branded tablet case.

After being in the spacious lobby area, the room does not exactly feel huge – but this is Hong Kong, after all. Most hotel rooms in this city are smaller than their cousins in other countries. The room I stayed in earlier this month at The Sherwood Taipei, a considerably cheaper hotel than the JW Marriott Hong Kong, was bigger. For a few nights, this room size is perfectly adequate, but if you are planning to stay for, say, a week or more, you may want to consider whether you have enough points for an upgrade to the more spacious JW Suite, the hotel’s most junior class of suite.

The exquisite Sealy mattress makes up for the relatively small room size though. This is a very comfortable bed, with a soft but supporting mattress.

The pillows are equally comfortable, but if for whatever reason they aren’t to your liking, you can select a new one from a list of six from the “pillow menu”. I asked for all six pillows and the hotel staff obliging brought them all up. I ended up mostly preferring the standard pillow, but there’s a good selection for those who want a firmer, softer, or memory foam pillow.

Despite room 3307’s harbour view, the hotel is situated a fair way back from the harbour, so you get more of a mix of harbour and skyscrapers. To the left, I could see the tops of both the IFC and ICC, the tallest buildings on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon, respectively.

To the right, I could see Wan Chai’s Central Plaza. On this side, you can also peek down at the Hong Kong Police Headquarters’ rooftop recreation ground.

It was certainly fascinating to overlook one of the busiest thoroughfares in Hong Kong. However, it did mean that I could still hear sirens blaring and the nails-on-a-blackboard-esque screech of trams plying the route between Central and Wan Chai, despite being as high up as the 33rd floor. The noise was muted and infrequent, though, and I wouldn’t consider it a major disturbance.

There was also a scratch on the glass of my window. It did not really bother me, but in a five-star hotel of this calibre you do expect everything to be perfect, especially since the rooms have just been renovated. A small note in the room apologising for the damage to the glass would have been appropriate.

Perhaps because of the angular shape of the room, the 55-inch ultra-high-definition LED television has been placed at a roughly 45 degree angle to the bed, meaning if you want to laze in bed watching television you have to either lay at an angle or crane your neck somewhat.

I was initially excited that the TV had on-demand movies, but then discovered they cost HK$98 ($12.49) each to watch, which seems a bit steep. You could watch a movie just downstairs in Pacific Place’s AMC Cinema for around HK$120 – and that would get you a full cinema experience.

Also, the curator of these movies was obviously not a cinephile. The “All Time Favourites” were, perplexingly, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. And that’s it.

Other movies were less carelessly categorised, and there were a few recent hits available including 2017’s Ladybird and Coco. 

Two power adaptors are provided in the room, handy if, like me, you usually forget yours. Most five-star hotels will provide adaptors on request, but it’s nice to have them already in the room to save the hassle of calling reception and waiting for them.

A nice feature is the JBL alarm clock and stereo, to which you can connect your phone or other device via Bluetooth and play your own music. Good for a post bath on-bed chill-out.

Like the bedroom, the bathroom isn’t enormous by international standards, but was certainly much bigger than my bathroom at home in Hong Kong. It comes with a nice selection of toiletries.

The size of the bath was adequate and it was comfortable to lie in.

The toilet was…well, a toilet. I don’t understand why Hong Kong luxury hotels can’t make bidet-style toilets with heated seats standard as they seem to be in their Taiwanese and Japanese counterparts.

The standalone shower had good water pressure, but fans of rainfall showers will have to go elsewhere as there was only a standard shower-head.

The hairdryer was powerful and got the job done quickly. I can’t stand the asthmatic varieties provided in some hotels that take 20 minutes or so to dry your hair.

In a nook to the right of the entrance door, there is a Nespresso machine and selection of TWG teas, as well as mineral water.

Executive lounge

First impression: it’s huge. After the 2016 merger of Marriott International and Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Marriott “basically doubled the size of members who can use the executive lounge”, says hotel spokesperson Xavier Ng, who gave me a tour of the property the morning after my stay.

Located on the fifth floor, the lounge used to be a steakhouse and seafood bar called Flint, and the new lounge has kept that name. The old lounge was on the 33rd and 34th floors, meaning that all food had to be made downstairs and brought up, but the new lounge has its own in-built kitchen.

“With the new lounge, the kitchen is right there, so everything is fresh,” Ng says.

I went to the executive lounge for afternoon tea around 4pm, which included a wide selection of cakes and soft drinks.

Then I came back for the so-called “hors d’oeuvres”, which turned out to be quite the understatement.

There was a wide selection of food, including salad, salmon, cheese, cold cuts, mini-burgers, satay and nachos. The hors d’oeuvres session runs almost parallel to the happy hour, meaning you can wash it all down with a generous selection of beers, wines and spirits.

Most of the good seats were already taken when I arrived just after 6pm, but I was shortly able to relocate to a very comfortable elevated sofa seat table with plush cushions.

The lounge staff promptly offered me a choice of wines. There were four to choose from: Merlot, Michel Lynch, France; Shiraz Cabernet, De Bortoli, Australia; Sauvignon Blanc, Michel Lynch, France; and Chardonnay, De Bortoli, Australia.

Spirits on offer included Absolut, Beefeater, Martell V.S.O.P., Aberlour 12 Years, Ballantine’s 12 Years, Chivas Regal 12 Years, Kahlúa, Malibu, Olmeca, Richard Classic, Jameson and Glenlivet 12 Years.

On the coffee machines, you can adjust the strength of your brew via a three-bean system, in case you need an extra jolt of caffeine (I chose three out of three beans on Sunday morning). Takeaway cups are available if you prefer to grab and go.

I never got a chance to try the old lounge, but I spoke to David Yu, an adjunct professor of finance at NYU Shanghai who has stayed at this Marriott around 10 times. He told me he “loved the cosiness and killer views of the old lounge in the clouds.”

“The new lounge has a different, roomier feel, and the possibility of rejection due to being at capacity is practically nil,” he says. Indeed, the lounge can cater up to 136 guests.

Breakfast in the executive lounge was also impressive, although some of the choices, such as the salad bar, are the same as during the hors d’oeuvres.

The lounge also has a meeting room that can be booked either in its entirety, or split into two separate rooms and booked individually.

Food and beverage

Man Ho Chinese Restaurant on level three offers Cantonese cuisine, including dim sum. The hotel is planning to renovate this restaurant in 2019, according to spokesman Ng, with the exact renovation date to be announced.

The restaurant has three private dining rooms that can be combined together or used separately, and can hold 40-50 people across the three rooms.

Man Ho also has a separate lounge area that can also be used as an events space. When I visited, it was being used by a Malaysian property developer.

The Lounge, also on level three, has a strong focus on its tea selection from Canton Tea Company.

It also offers Sunday lunch buffets, afternoon tea buffets, and supper buffets on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

The space is divided into upper and lower sections, with the lower section more suited to a relaxed afternoon tea, and the upper area more suited to dining. An array of tasty-looking cakes were on offer when I went to check out the space late Sunday morning.

Bar Q88, which reopened following a 2016 makeover, has a band playing every night except Sunday.

The bar has a buy one get one free happy hour from 5pm to 9pm (Monday to Thursday) and 5pm to 8pm (Friday to Saturday).

The Riedel Room, in partnership with Austrian glassware company Riedel Crystal, can be privatised as an event space.

JW Cafe is an all-day dining restaurant, somewhat more upscale than The Lounge.

“Seafood is one of our biggest selling points. Hong Kong people absolutely love buffet,” says spokesman Ng, while showing me the restaurant.

Apparently two of the dishes those guests really love are South African braised abalone and fish maw, the latter reportedly being good for your skin.

Outside by the pool on level seven is Fish Bar, which serves fresh fish and seafood, as well as cocktails and snacks.

“You don’t get this style very often in Hong Kong, especially in Admiralty. If you come here for lunch or dinner you are in a totally different world; all of a sudden you’re not in Admiralty anymore,” says Ng.

Fish Bar doesn’t have air conditioning, but Ng assures me that during Hong Kong’s hot and humid summers the proximity to the pool has a cooling effect.

There is also a poolside bar, where you can have a drink and smoke.

Dolce 88 is a cafe located just to the left of the main lobby. Here you can find a place for a tea or coffee, as well as a selection of cakes, pastries and sandwiches.

Leisure facilities

The Health Club on the lower ground floor is set to be renovated in March 2019 and will close for around two to three months for this “extensive upgrade”, Ng says.

There is a good amount of equipment…

…but it is packed into a little-too-small space. Especially these treadmills…

Sadly, the pool was closed for maintenance (between 2 to 25 January 2019), so I was unable to go for a swim. However, the hotel will escort guests to the Conrad Hong Kong or Island Shangri-La to use these pool facilities instead. This arrangement may be ok in the evenings, but I can imagine it would be a little inconvenient if you are trying to squeeze in an early morning swim before your morning meeting.

Meeting facilities

The business centre, also on the lower ground floor, offers four bookable meeting rooms: two 180 sq ft conference rooms (HK$450 per hour; HK$3,000 for eight hours; HK$6,000 for 24 hours), accommodating maximum eight people…

…one 245 sq ft Executive Conference Room (HK$600 per hour, HK$3,800 for eight hours, HK$7,600 for 24 hours), accommodating maximum 10 people…

…and the 315 sq ft JW Boardroom (HK$750 per hour; HK$5,000 for eight hours; HK$10,000 for 24 hours), accommodating maximum 16 people…

…a refreshment station is shared between the four meeting rooms…

Verdict

It’s difficult to find much to fault with this hotel. The refurbishment has given the guest rooms a fresher feel and the new executive lounge is truly excellent. The beds are really comfortable and I got a great night’s sleep. If this hotel is within your budget, you are going to want to weigh up staying here versus other similar properties of its calibre in the city, but if you do pick the JW Marriott Hong Kong, I doubt you will be disappointed.

  • Best for: Its spacious and well-catered new executive lounge
  • Don’t miss: Choosing from six different pillows from the hotel’s “pillow menu”
  • Price: HK$3,300 (US$420.67) per night for a king bed Executive Room with executive lounge access and “harbor view” on a high floor
  • Contact: (852) 2810 8366
Loading comments...
Business Traveller September 2019 edition
Business Traveller September 2019 edition
Be up-to-date
Magazine Subscription
To see our latest subscription offers for Business Traveller editions worldwide, click on the Subscribe & Save link below
Polls

×
Sign up for our newsletter