To say that we’re fans of the Mandarin Oriental group of hotels would be an understatement. It is by far our favourite luxury hotel chain, and we’ve experienced their hotels across the world. What began at the erstwhile Mandarin Oriental Dhara Devi in Chiang Mai was then continued at the Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur, the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, the Mandarin Oriental Prague and most recently the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong.
While we were at the MO Bangkok, we discovered the interesting legacy of the Mandarin Oriental Group. The Mandarin (Hong Kong’s most luxurious and iconic hotel) joined hands with The Oriental (Bangkok’s most luxurious and iconic hotel) to form the Mandarin Oriental which spread across the world. We’d stayed at the Bangkok outpost, and now I couldn’t wait to discover the flagship, the queen of the chain at the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong. I knew I was in for something super special.
The special treatment began well before take off (but the Cathay Pacific Business Class experience is a story in itself). As soon as we stepped off the plane, we were flashed a dazzling smile by a liveried staff member toting the all too familiar fan of the MO and whisked away on a buggy ride through the airport. I’d never been on one of these, and I was grinning to myself as the crowds just seemed to part to let us through. We were through immigration in a jiffy and had our luggage collected by the staff. In under an hour, we were looking up at the beautiful Mandarin Oriental building, sitting in its place of pride on the harbour.
There’s a certain kind of old world luxury that no new hotel could ever carry off. The kind that emanates from the staff that’s been working here since forever. The pride they take in rushing to open doors for you, polishing every surface whenever they have a moment, it’s all part of the wonderful heritage of this old hotel. But old isn’t a term I’d use when it comes to the experience. They appeared to have all our details to a T at check-in, handing out our key cards and press kits, rooms at the ready, bellboys holding on to the bags, ready to escort us to our rooms. Stepping into one of the large gleaming elevators, there’s something I must tell you about the buttons. They were magic. Well used to having to jab buttons to get them to register my floor, I was stunned that these reacted even before my fingertips made contact. Voilá!
The room was surprisingly large! I stepped in and walked straight to the window. Like a living painting, I looked out at a fantastic view of Victoria Harbour, there certainly couldn’t have been a better room with a better view in all of HongKong. Right in front of me was the Hong Kong Observation Wheel, beyond which lay the shimmering waters of Victoria Harbour, studded with boats lazily drifting about. In the distance, Kowloon looked inviting, and I couldn’t wait to get out and start exploring. But I was tired. And I looked from the daybed on my verandah to the super comfy bed with its gigantic pillows to the bathtub, all three of them beckoning, vying for my undivided attention. I’m not going to tell you which one won, but needless to say I experienced all of them over the next few days, and enjoyed every single moment. Bath times ended with the whole place smelling wondrous with the Hermes Un Jardin sur le Nil shower gel and the double shower was among the most powerful I’ve experienced.
And that brings me to my favourite part of the Mandarin Oriental experience. The little things. The luxurious little indulgences they leave for you in the room at turn down. I’d return to my room each day, with a silly pitter patter of my heart, looking forward to discovering the turn down surprise of the day. Over the time that I stayed at the MO, I was spoilt rotten with all sorts of goodies. A relaxing foot mist on tiring sight-seeing days, an invigorating body scrub on the evening before my Michelin starred dinner at Pierre, a pillow mist for the night before I had an early start all accompanied by some delicious sweet treats each day.
There’s was always plenty to eat and drink in the room, and I definitely counted my blessings in the mornings. A major part of my routine back home is the daily Nespresso coffee that I need to completely wake up. And if there’s anything I dread about hotels its the insipid coffee in the room. To my utter surprise and sheer joy, my room had a Nespresso coffee machine and decaf capsules as well. Guess who indulged in quite a few coffees on this trip!
Drinking & Dining
The piece de resistance at the Mandarin Oriental however, wasn’t the room. No matter how fantastic it was. I was lucky to eat at several of the many restaurants they have here, and I can safely say, they are unparalleled. We began with lunch at the Michelin Starred ManWah where we had our first immersive experience in real Cantonese Cuisine. Several courses of dimsum later I found myself struggling to finish, and I’m currently sitting here, writing this and cursing myself for having some of the most delectable morsels I’ve ever eaten. We walked through the Chinnery (a Colonial style bar that was once a gentlemen’s club) and I could smell all the delicious curry as we got a private tour through the kitchen! At night, we headed over to the Captain’s Bar, and made our way through throngs of businessmen, lawyers and well-heeled locals who were enjoying a few after dinner drinks. Among the stiffest Martinis I’ve ever tasted, the curiously potent elixir of Vodka, Gin and Lillette Blanc was a fantastic way to end a long day, and ensure I’d sleep soundly. The mince samosas and Bombay pav were in equal part delicious and authentic. Breakfasts at the Clipper Lounge were to change my view on the world of hotel buffet breakfasts forever. I have literally NEVER seen such a vast array of options at any buffet. My favourite highlights were the Homemade Blueberry Air Yoghurt, Smoked Salmon, Incredibly Fluffy Omlette, a wide array of fruit and breads and, and… wait for it.. dim sums! There’s a first for everything, and I took to eating dim sum for breakfast like a Hong Kong local! My favourite restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong however, was the Pierre. I was hooked on to this Michelin starred chef when we ate at his restaurant in Dubai a couple of years ago, and this one had some heavy boots to fill. It did not disappoint. Every single course was designed and finished to perfection, the wine pairing delectable and the ambiance absolutely luxuriously French.
The rest of the property not to be outdone, featured stunning attractions in different corners. The beautiful view from the nail salon to the calming oasis of the spa, and the uber cool barber shop were beautifully designed (and you know just how excited I get about well-designed spaces). The entire hotel even with all of its contemporary updates was oozing old world charm, and I discovered something new about it’s history every single time I walked through it. Ming dynasty table? Check. John Lobb Shoe Shine Chair? Check.
If there’s one place that’s perfect for a stay in Hong Kong, it’s the Mandarin Oriental. There’s just nowhere else you should even be looking. The essential Hong Kong experience, delivering the best of old world luxury and contemporary cool. Every time we check out of a Mandarin Oriental, I can’t help but feel a little bit heartbroken, but also a little bit hopeful, for my next run in with the hotel chain that feels like home.
This post was made possible by the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong. Opinions as always, are our own.