When I lived in Hong Kong in the 1990′s, arriving into Hong Kong’s Kai Tak Airport involved a heart stopping landing that pilots navigated through the City’s sky scrapers. Although quite safe, the hair raising ride was a bit of a local talking piece and (for some) part of Hong Kong’s quirky charm.
The landing didn’t just frighten the pants off unsuspecting visitors, I was one of a number of Hong Kong old hands who never quite got used to the up-close and personal, steep skyline descent. The proximity to Kowloon’s skyline was so pronounced many claimed they could spy apartment dwellers watching TV in their living rooms during landing.
With the City’s rapid growth, it was inevitable that the airport would be moved (and expanded and streamlined) clearing the flight path corridor to Kai Tak on Kowloon side. The resulting “clear air” encouraged the development of a number of newer, higher skyscrapers – including the International Commerce Centre which is home to the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, the highest hotel in the world.
By high I am talking some 450+ meters above sea level, a reception which starts on the 103th floor and some 312 guest rooms and suites spanning levels 106 to 117. On level 118 you can get your fitness high with a fully-equipped fitness centre or dive into the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s indoor pool with floor to ceiling windows and a 28m x 7m LED screen on the ceiling. You are also sure to get a buzz at Ozone, the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s rooftop bar.
But the rush of adrenaline you get at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is as much from its fit-out as from its dizzying heights. Breaking with the chain’s traditional classic luxury style (think lots of Western style wood panelling, rich ice blue, dark navy and fawn colour palette) the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong has undoubtedly taken a completely new, but exciting direction.
International design firm, LTW Designworks are the creatives behind what is best described as classic modern Asian opulence.
Eastern influences are everywhere, from the dark wood entryway that leads guests through to the lift lobby to the rich raw silks and vivid orange onyx that cover the walls. The artwork throughout this hotel is nothing short of inspiring. On the 103rd floor lobby an abstract depiction of a classic Chinese watercolor of running horses is dissected into fragmented strips offering varied views of the artwork from different angles.
Even the hotel’s Spa by ESPA reception (located on 116th floor) is a design triumph with its Spaceship like ceiling, onyx reception desk and shell and bone mobile that is meant to mimic the clouds which are known to float by the windows of this hotel.
The view from my guest room offered a towering perspective of the Hong Kong harbour and skyline. For those wanting a closer look, telescopes are available in all of the suites. My room was alive with textures. With lacquer like marbled side boards, raw silk panelled walls and plush, soft thick carpeting. I absolutely adored the bathroom with its travertine marble floors and walls, Onyx bench-top and Japanese style shower-room. Oriental accents are everywhere from the floral motif of the carpet and the bright tangerine silk-lined interior of the ‘Chinese jewel box’ closet.
The restaurants at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong have already made their mark on the city with its signature Tin Lung Heen quick to secure a Michelin star. There is also Italian fine dining at Tosca headed by Chef de Cuisine Vittorio Lucariello. This weekend, Tosca will be featuring some of Italy’s best chefs including a Three-Star Michelin Chef from Enoteca Pinchiorri.
If you want to sample a range of delights from Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong’s kitchens, I advise you book a room with Club Lounge access. Located on the 116th floor the Club Lounge offers a very extensive spread of tempting dishes presented buffet style on the Club’s stunning white marble counter tops. I sampled everything from Chinese prawn dumplings, Singapore noodles, chicken steamed buns to a range of authentic French breads.
But the benefits of a Club room extend beyond just food. For example Club guests enjoy include 24-hour access to The Club Lounge, personalized “in residence” stationary, check-in and check-out service, dedicated Club concierge service and high-speed Wi-Fi Internet access.
The furnishings are so over the top at the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong, I did wonder whether the service would live up to the surrounds. Dressed in stylish white “uniforms” – which some of the ladies accessorised with single strand of classic pearls – the staff were incredibly attentive and were always one step ahead of guests.
For example I was delighted when the 103rd lobby attendant made a point of discreetly informing her 9th floor concierge colleagues (via her headset) where I was heading that morning – which she had picked up in our casual “waiting for the lift” chit chat. Without missing a beat the concierge opened the door of the taxi and gave him exact directions to my destination – I hadn’t even moved my lips. Wow……
You know there is so much more to tell about this hotel because there are a million little details that combine to make the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong an incredibly unique experience. And for those who lament the loss of “clear air” or the crazy corridor that once welcomed travellers to this city with an adrenaline rush – you have only to come to the Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong where no seat belt is required.