I decided last minute to take a trip to Hong Kong over Easter weekend after finding some award availability on The Cathay Pacific Airbus A350 in business class from Vancouver. As an added bonus, I found a return ticket on Air Canada in business class on their Boeing 777, which is an airline I’ve yet to fly in a premium cabin on a long-haul route. While finding flights was easy, hotels turned out to be the hard part. Hong Kong has an interesting hotel market, to say the least. There is no shortage of ultra-luxury properties, such as The Mandarin Oriental, Upper House, The Peninsula, and of course, The Four Seasons. Unfortunately, all of these properties regularly charge in the range of $700-$1000 per night, which is way out of my comfort zone. Alternatively, there is a good variety of Marriott and Starwood properties available on points, but I find most of these properties are well beyond their prime, or not in the best location. There was one property, however, which had been on my radar since I started researching the hotel market in Hong Kong a couple of years ago…
Currently the tallest hotel in the world, The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong occupies the top 16 floors of the International Commerce Centre in West Kowloon from floors 103-118, with the arrival lobby located on the 8th floor directly above the shopping mall and train station (which makes the hotel very conveniently located from the airport and great for a short stay). Being part of the Marriott family, I had the option to redeem 70,000 Marriott points, or 23,334 SPG points, for a one night stay in a Deluxe room.
The paid rate for my stay was roughly $800 per night, so I considered this fairly good value, though definitely a lot of points for one night. Hotel prices fluctuate a lot in Hong Kong, so I would also suggest people look into booking through American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts where rates are routinely in the $500 range including all the additional benefits.
My Flight from Vancouver was delayed about 30 minutes, and immigration took a little longer than usual. I arrived at the hotel just before 4pm after taking the airport express to Kowloon station, which is a super convenient transport option and very cost effective ($18). The train station is located about 10 floors below the hotel, so it’s a relatively short walk through a series of shopping levels with good signage. There is also a check-in counter directly in the train station where passengers can drop their heavy luggage prior to boarding the airport train.
The walk from the train to the hotel took about 15 minutes, but I was taking my time admiring all of the high-end shopping. It always blows my mind the size of Asian shopping malls with nothing but ultra-luxury retailers.
After climbing what felt like 1000 levels (probably more like 8), I arrived at the entrance to the Ritz Carlton. The exterior was actually quite discrete and could be easy to miss without the signage.
Up yet one more escalator brought me to the arrivals lobby, which was stunning to say the least. This is ground level for those arriving or departing by taxi, with a bunch of friendly bellman and concierge staff eager to assist.
I was welcomed by a friendly staff member who took my luggage and offered me a bottle of water. Before long, we were up to the 103rd floor for a more formal check in. The elevator ride took about 50 seconds, and my ears definitely popped on the way up. Check-in was done in a matter of a few minutes, and I opted to pay a supplement charge of $600HKD ($100CAD) to upgrade to a club floor room, which would also give me a view of the Victoria Harbour.
The common spaces in the hotel were…..fancy. Everything was stylish, extravagant, spotlessly clean, and a bit over the top. Not to say it was gaudy, but I feel my preference is for more discrete opulence (if that’s a thing). The hallways were arranged in a large square and my room was a couple of turns away from the elevator.
I was assigned room 11120, a Club Deluxe Victoria Harbour King View Room. It should be noted there are about 20 room categories at this hotel, which I found a bit much.
Thankfully the room was a little toned down in terms of opulence, though still very luxurious. The main entrance featured some artwork to the right, a mirrored wall to the left and opened up into the main space.
As you can see the floor is a large square of rooms, with my location facing the Victoria Harbour.
The foyer opened up into a very large main room with high ceilings and floor to ceiling windows. The bed was centred in the middle with a pair of side tables opposite a large television and built in storage.
The bed was incredibly comfortable and a bit on the firm side, which is the norm in Asia. The linens and pillows were high quality and it took all of my will to not crawl in and fall asleep after the long journey from Vancouver.
Beside the bed was a small seating area overlooking the Victoria Harbour. I decided to have a seat and take in the view while having a cup of coffee.
Although the view was obstructed by clouds on arrival, it cleared up a short while later. The views were incredible from 111 floors up, and almost didn’t seem real.
Admittedly, this may not be a good hotel choice for those afraid of heights or anyone who suffers from vertigo.
Beside the bed was an elegant night table with alarm clock, lamp, room controls (curtains/lights) and an iPod docking station.
In the corner of the room was a large office desk with comfortable leather chair.
There was a welcome letter explaining all of the club floor benefits (more on that later), along with meal service times and other notes such a dress code policy (though that was definitely not enforced). There was also a decorative paperweight, lamp, and a welcome card from the General Manager.
Beside the desk was a phone and notepad above a cabinet with power source and a drawer containing all of the guest services guides.
On the other side of the bed was a large bar area between the entrance hallway and bathroom. It was stocked with complimentary bottled water, a coffee maker, and a minibar complete with snacks, beverages, and alcohol.
Beside the bar heading into the bathroom was a large closet with plenty of space for hung items, along with the in-room safe, laundry supplies (which would be put out during turndown), and drawers.
My favourite area of the room (after the view) was the bathroom. Wow wow wow The Ritz Carlton knows how to do bathrooms! Featuring marble from floor to ceiling, the bathroom was just the right balance of luxury and function, with a large double vanity, huge soaking tub with built in television, separate water closet and large walk-in shower. The towels and bathrobes were as soft as they come, and amenities were by Asprey.
The bath was the highlight of the room for me, and I wasted no time trying it out after a very long day of travel.
While I’m normally a bath guy in luxury hotels, the shower was hard to resist with oversized rainforest head, Asprey Purple Water amenities, and space to stretch out.
The Club Lounge:
Although my rewards booking didn’t come with lounge access, I decided to pay the supplemental fee (roughly $100 for just myself) to have access. I had read fantastic reviews and knew I would be spending a lot of time at the hotel for this short working trip and figured I could get enough value to justify the charge. The club has dedicated staff available for check-in/check-out, concierge services, and just about anything else you could think of. I found the service to be a bit overbearing at times, though very professional. As an example, when leaving the lounge, whoever was closest would stop what they were doing and personally escort you out to the elevator (and even press the call button…).
Lounge benefits are as follows:
Five (5!!!) culinary presentations per day:
- Breakfast from 6:30-10:30am
- Light Lunch from 11:30-2:00pm
- Afternoon Tea from 3:00-5:00pm
- Hors d’oeuvres from 5:00-8:00pm
- Desserts and Cordials from 8:30-10:30pm
Beverages and cocktails, including beer, wine, champagne and spirits were available all day, free of charge. In addition to all the food and beverages, club floor guests were entitled to:
- Complimentary pressing of two garments per day
- Complimentary in-room coffee/tea with wake-up call
- Complimentary coffee/tea services in-room 24 hours per day
- Business centre and private meeting room use, subject to availability
- Private check-in/out services
- Complimentary in-town limousine drop-off services (Tesla – restricted to Kowloon side)
For me, this was certainly worth the additional fee, especially since I was paying nothing for the room itself. Club Floor rooms regularly sell in the $1000+ range per night, so I was happy to experience it for a fraction of the cost. If visiting Hong Kong for leisure, I would likely skip the club floor in lieu of the amazing dining options all over the city (though I would likely be staying at a different hotel for non-work related trips anyway). One small criticism I had was that staff never enforced the dress code. While I can appreciate that not everyone wants to wear a suite and tie to have a beer, the Ritz only asks for a very easy to accommodate ‘smart casual’ dress code, which in my opinion includes nice jeans, casual shoes, etc. There was one man in the lounge every time I was there wearing cargo shorts and flip flops. Yuck.
The lounge was busy for most of my stay, but never overcrowded. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a lot of photos as I generally like to respect personal privacy in public spaces.
One of the big draws for me to this property was the hotel pool located on the 118th (top) floor overlooking the harbour. Featuring an outdoor patio with loungers and hot tub, two cold plunge pools, world-class fitness centre and huge infinity pool overlooking the city skyline and harbour, it’s easy to say this is one of the best indoor pools in the world.
The elevator lobby opened up to a space that I found a bit confusing. There was signage for the pool but the hallway didn’t seem to go anywhere.
I was definitely lost, and eventually found a door I though might lead to the pool area. I was wrong, and instead I ended up in the service area of the rooftop bar, OZONE. A friendly staff didn’t blink twice when she found me aimlessly walking around where I shouldn’t be, and dropped what she was doing to personally walk me to the pool.
I spent a good part of my day just lounging, and at no time was there more than a dozen people using the facilities, which was fantastic.
There was plenty of poolside seating, along with some loungers slightly submerged in a shallow part of the pool itself.
There was an outdoor patio with plenty of seating and a large jacuzzi tub. Just inside the patio were two ice cold plunge pools, which felt great after being in the sun for awhile.
The fitness centre was adjacent to the pool area with most machines sharing the same view of the Hong Kong mountains. The room was filled with state of the art equipment, though I wasn’t able to get many pictures since some of the machines were in use.
There were individual lockers for small items (phone, room key etc) along with room temperature bottled water, and a fridge with cold water and refreshing towels. Nice touch!
There were also locker rooms for men and women featuring full size lockers, amenities, showers, and steam room, though I was also unable to get pictures as most of the room was being used while I was there.
The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong is an amazing property from start to finish. The rooms are luxuriously appointed with a comfortable bed and top quality linens, spa-like marble bathroom and incredible views of the city skyline and Victoria Harbour. Amenities at the hotel were impressive with a full service spa, dedicated club floor, and one-of-a-kind infinity pool and fitness centre on the 118th floor overlooking the entire city. For some, the location won’t be ideal as it is a subway ride to Hong Kong island where most of the action is, but for a business traveler, or someone wanting a property conveniently located a short train ride from the airport, the location can’t be beat.
More than anything, however, was the service. True to the Ritz Carlton brand, service felt personalized and genuine, with most staff remembering my name even on a short one-night stay. Though sometimes overbearing, the staff were wonderful at anticipating needs and went above and beyond to any small requests.
Paying an additional supplement charge for club floor access was well worth the price for five unique culinary offerings, complimentary cocktails and champagne, and dedicated lounge staff and was easily justified since I was redeeming Marriott Rewards points for the room. Although 70,000 points is a lot for a one-night stay, keep in mind paid rates were in the $800 range and all taxes and fees were included. Currently American Express is offering 20,000 SPG points as a welcome bonus on their Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card and Starwood Preferred Guest Business Credit Card. Taking advantage of either of these offers would net nearly enough points for a complimentary night at this hotel, and most other Ritz Carlton properties.
I would certainly stay at this property again when in Hong Kong for the service, quality, and value in redeeming Marriott Reward points and can’t wait to return!