It starts the moment I step off the plane.
There at the end of the walkway I can see a young woman holding a sign with my name underneath the iconic Mandarin Oriental fan. At first I’m confused. I hadn’t requested the optional limo service and was planning to take a taxi to the hotel instead. Perhaps some confusion has led to the VIP treatment? But I can adapt to such situations easily and decide to go with it.
She greets me with a smile and offers to take my bags, then guides me towards immigration. After checking if I’ve already filled in my forms and whether I’d like to use the ladies room, she shows me which queue to join and says she’ll meet me on the other side.
As we’re waiting for my baggage she’s phoning the hotel to confirm that I’ve landed safely and will soon be on my way. Then she’s helping me with my bags through customs and introducing me to a colleague who escorts me to the taxi queue, puts my bags in the cab and tells the driver where I’m going.
Heading down the highway towards the city I’m feeling pretty spoilt. What I’ve just experienced is something many Mandarin Oriental guests have enjoyed before; a standard greeting for those who have booked the hotel’s car service, and depending on the day it’s also something that guests who are going with the taxi or train option can receive.
I haven’t even arrived at the hotel and I already know this is one stay I’m going to remember.
Mind you, I did have a feeling this would be a special one. That’s probably more to do with the fact that the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong is the flagship for one of the world’s best hotel brands, rather than my psychic powers. But yes, I did suspect I’d be in hotel heaven, and I was correct.
I was rather lucky to find that there was a spare room the night before and so I was able to check in even though I had arrived early. Very early. In fact I was in my room doing a happy dance at how beautiful it all was and how excited I was to be in Hong Kong before the sun had come up on a fun day.
Getting Cosy in a Harbour Room at the Mandarin Oriental
The Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong has 501 rooms and suites. I was in one of the Harbour Rooms, with a floor to ceiling window showing off those beautiful harbour views.
One of the first things to catch my eye was the ice bucket. That may seem strange, but I was soon imagining this beautiful dragon ice bucket in my own home and I wasn’t surprised to see it for sale in the gift shop later.
Other souvenir items you could add to your room tab include the sweet monogrammed slippers in both pink and black that were calling my name, and the two bathrobes that I was torn between wearing: the big white cosy cotton one and the slinky purple silk one.
As a bath fan I loved the little lavender bath oil with a note inviting me to have a relaxing bath, along with the salts in the bathroom. The double headed shower and Hermes products made a strong case for the shower option (clearly I’d be doing both and getting very clean during my stay), and the inclusion of a body loofah with the usual cotton buds, dental and shaving kits in the amenities box added to the pampering potential.
As someone who has been meaning to buy a travel steamer for ages now, I liked the fact that they had a large clothes steamer in one of the drawers rather than the old iron and ironing board. And regular readers will know I am a big fan of tea making facilities in a hotel room, and so it was thumbs up to both the kettle with Teavers Tea Poles (a fancy twist on a tea bag with perforated metal foil tubes) as well as a Nespresso machine.
There’s the sweet fan which you place closed on your bed if you’d like your towels and bedding replaced or leave opened if you’d prefer to be green and for them to stay the same. So much more elegant than leaving towels bunched on the bathroom floor.
And then there was something I wouldn’t have noticed if it hadn’t been pointed out by the nice lady on the front desk. The valet box , where they can leave any deliveries from love letters and invitations to glamorous parties to your newly shined shoes without entering the room. Sure, it may have been the latter waiting for me when I saw the green ‘Valet Delivery’ light lit up, but it was still fun to receive a little something and almost felt like a magician’s box. “See, there’s nothing in the box, I close the door and abracadabra! Now there’s a bunny!” (No bunnies were harmed in the writing of this post).
I was having so much fun in the room I decided to do something a little decadent for someone in a new city for the first time. I was going to spend the first half of the day just in the hotel. Hong Kong would still be outside waiting, and I wanted to soak up the luxury inside these walls rather than dashing straight out.
After an impressive breakfast buffet with so many choices I had to do about four laps to settle on my plan of attack (dim sum followed by freshly prepared omelette and fresh fruit), I came back to the room, used that lavender bath oil and soaked happily in the tub. Then it was onto the big soft bed to do a little work in the white robe, with some staring out the window at the view in the mix.
Before I knew it, it was time for lunch. And when your hotel has three Michelin starred restaurants under its roof there’s no need to go far.
Michelin Starred Man Wah in Mandarin Oriental
For my first lunch in Hong Kong I decided to go with Man Wah, the Cantonese restaurant which has been described as the most beautiful restaurant in Hong Kong.
Not only is it stunning inside with golden birdcage lamps and lacquered enamel and silk paintings, the views over Hong Kong from its position on the 25th floor are rather special. Then there’s the food.
As I was there for lunch I went with the dim sum option, and it’s fair to say it’s a little different to the yum cha I’m accustomed to. Standouts include the mushroom dumpling with black truffle, a scallop tart with red grain sauce that looked so sweet I mistook it for a strawberry tart when it arrived, and roast goose puff with yanmin sauce in the shape of a sweet little goose.
Every mouthful was divine, and the yum was definitely being put into the cha cha cha.
Considering the calibre of the food and the setting I was surprised to find the prices weren’t as high as I had expected. For example three of the crabmeat, shrimp, pumpkin and sweet corn dumplings that I adored were $88HK, or around $13 Aussie dollars. Of course we all know with dim sum it can add up, but I thought it would add up to a lot more somewhere like Man Wah.
No matter where you’re staying in Hong Kong, this is one to put on your foodie to do list.
Surviving the Peak Tram and Saying Goodbye
As tempting as it was to just stay in the hotel for days on end, I did actually leave and explore Hong Kong. I wandered the streets and took the long escalator to Hollywood Road. At night I had dinner with my wonderful friends Andrew and Rebecca at the American Restaurant in Wan Chai, and walked back to the hotel through the Umbrella Movement camp, stopping to watch and listen to their protest along the way.
I also braved the Peak Tram, although I foolishly didn’t take the hotel’s advice and go early to avoid the crowds. I was able to buy a ticket from the concierge to avoid at least one of the queues when I got there, but even then the pushing and shoving was enough to make me want to say Sod This and walk off.
I’m glad I stuck with it. Once you’re on and moving it’s all worth it, and the view from the top is something everyone visiting Hong Kong should see at least once. If it’s a nice day I also recommend you do what I did and say Sod That to getting the tram back down.
Instead, I decided to walk. I wasn’t sure how far it would be or how hard, but as I set off I heard dogs behind me and then found myself in the middle of the charity dog walk, Peak to Fong. I figured if a tiny chihuahua and a waddling bulldog could do it, so could I.
After some incredible views, walking through lush green forests and taking a pit stop to say hi to the monkeys in the Zoological garden, I found myself back in the city and then back at the Mandarin Oriental.
Sadly it was time to say goodbye. Fortunately I did have something to look forward to, seeing a different side of Hong Kong with a couple of days in Sai Kung, followed by a trip to China.
It’s lucky that I did or I might still be there at the Mandarin Oriental. Soaking in the tub, trying to decide which robe to wear and which Michelin starred restaurant to eat in that night.
Getting there was part of the fun. You can also check out my Cathay Pacific Business Class review here.