China - Hong Kong
- location: it doesn't get any more iconic than this
- superlative restaurants
- location: if all your business is Hong Kong side
- harbour views from your room
- the 70s-tastic lobby lounge
Compared with most of Hong Kong's other high-end hotels, the InterContinental is located an unusual spot – rather than being smack in the middle of the HK hustle and bustle, it sits astride the Kowloon edge of Victoria Harbour and thus profits from some of the city's best hotel views.
Those views are one good reason to stay at the InterContinental, along with the brand's consistently high quality of service.
You'll have to forego the convenience of staying on the Hong Kong side, if you've got business in the Central or Admiralty districts or want the buzz of Causeway Bay. And we'll say up front that the InterContinental isn't as luxurious as some hotels of its class across the harbour.
But the ability to kick your feet up at the end of the day and watch the sunset over one of the world's iconic skylines turns even the most humdrum business trip into something special.
Location & Impressions
The nearest station on the Hong Kong metro is Tsim Sha Tsui East, which pops you up just outside the hotel's main gates, although given the very reasonable price of Hong Kong taxis, we expect most business travellers -- especially those toting checked luggage -- will arrive by car.
It's a brief stop at the (very feng shui) lobby counter (or straight up to the Club InterContinental if you've Club access), and then up to your room.
Outside and within, the hotel looks 70s -- from the pink granite exterior to the American Contemporary interior architecture -- but that's not as much of a drawback as you might think.
The public areas and rooms are attractive if not revolutionary, and it cleverly avoids the dripping-in-opulence of some other Hong Kong hotels.
And I rather liked the hubbub of the double-height, three-storey lobby-lounge-restaurant-club public area.
I stayed in a standard harbour-facing room, which was an average size for Hong Kong, and in an elegant, somewhat Chinese-inspired style.
The layout was hotel standard, with a relatively long hallway leading into the room.
Of note were the chaise longue by the window to let you really soak in the view, and a particularly decent curved work desk and a comfortable chair. Top marks for a flip-up connectivity panel with power points and Ethernet ports.
The bed was comfortable, and tended much more towards western levels of comfort and squashiness, rather than favouring the firm Chinese style found elsewhere in Hong Kong.
For Hong Kong, the bathroom was fairly large, with a sunken tub and separate shower. Toiletries were L'Occitane, which are fine for the hotel's price bracket, but nothing to write home about.
I appreciated both the large desk and comfortable work chair, which was good for a long day's work.
Internet was HK$156 for the day (A$20), but in the room it reached a reasonable 4.9 Mbps down and 4.8 Mbps up, with a ping of 8 ms. Speeds were only slightly slower in the club lounge and elsewhere in the hotel.
Speaking of the InterContinental's Club lounge, it's a gem, with fantastic staff who hit just the right balance of meeting your needs and leaving you alone. Top marks for sofas that are comfortable both for sitting and for working with a laptop.
Afternoon tea, evening canapés and a morning continental breakfast are also served in the club: all are extensive and delicious.
I tested out an evening meal in renowned chef Alain Ducasse's Hong Kong outlet SPOON, which was stunningly good French food and a stunningly good view of the harbour. I'm something of a gourmand, and Hong Kong's current obsession with cuisine traditionelle -- and in hotel restaurants, no less -- is a real pleasure.
Other signature restaurants include Nobu, Yan Toh Heen Cantonese restaurant, the Steak House, and the Harbourside restaurant.
On completely the other end of the scale, I had one of the best burgers in Hong Kong in the lobby lounge one evening, washed down with the perfect dry, dirty martini.
The lobby lounge is an overlooked Hong Kong gem -- and speaking of overlooking, it's the absolute best place to watch the Symphony of Lights. That's especially true if you're not overwhelmed by the laser show: just order another cocktail and you'll soon get over it.
(That's a shot from my iPhone, not a PR shot. It really is that spectacular.)
Room service was also fantastic, with a decent range of dishes and a notably elegant set of dishware and stemware.
Breakfast in the hotel's Harbourside restaurant was incredibly wide-ranging, with pan-Asian and multiple western options. Delicious.
Since it's over on Kowloon side, the InterContinental does feel a little removed from the Hong Kong hubbub -- but that's no bad thing.
I enjoyed chilling out by the infinity pool overlooking the western side of Victoria Harbour, which is definitely up there with the best pools in HK.
A well-rounded gym helps to burn off some of those calories, and if you're up for more of a retail-type exercise there's a number of shopping options within (underground, air-conditioned) reach.
Relax at the end of the day in the lovely spa if that's your thing -- or relax with a drink by the pool if it's not.
(Or set up a subtle videoconference with the Hong Kong skyline in the background.)
The concierge team at the InterConti are top-notch, too -- I picked up a couple of pairs of glasses on their recommendation and have been very pleased with them since. Their suggestions for bars and restaurants were also very useful.
Of the high-end hotels in Hong Kong, the InterContinental isn't the newest, nor is it the glitziest, nor the tallest, nor the most elegant -- so you might be tempted to give it a miss.
But you'd be missing an absolute gem in terms of picture-postcard location, world-class restaurants, concierge nous and 70s glam.
Every business traveller to Hong Kong with the budget (or points) to do so should stay here at least once -- or at the very least come for dinner. There's nothing quite like opening the curtains onto the Hong Kong skyline.
Would I stay here without a harbour view room? Absolutely. The lobby lounge is just downstairs, and the pool is right outside.
John Walton was a guest of the InterContinental Hong Kong.
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