By Rafael Ruiz Taboada
I found myself on a quick trip to Hong Kong for some quite time and to visit a dear friend. It was recommended I should stay at The Upper House for its eco-friendly and art-inspired hotel.
The Upper House is a prestigious member of the Swire Hotels group that manages unique luxurious urban hotels in Hong Kong, China and in the UK, and providing character in every room and dining experience for the discerning traveller who seeks style and personalised service.
As I got out of the car, “guest experience manager” Vinchi Chau greeted me in a well-harmonious lobby space, where the vision of simplicity was created using soft wood furnishings and smooth sculptures. Not what you would expect from any other busy hotel lobby, but a discreet entrance to “discover the upward journey” of my stay.
Vinchi explains the seamless approach of the hotel – not just its services the hotel has to offer but how the design was inspired by Hong Kong-based architect Andre Fu. Andre’s ethos of creating true living space with simple but beautiful detailing is compelling. You will see how the interiors are visually balanced and calm.
The hotel has three categories of rooms: standard, upper suite and penthouse. 117 rooms, 21 suites and two penthouses, with views of the scenic harbour or the serenity of the islands’ mountains.
Upon entering my room, I could not help but gaze out of the floor-to-ceiling corner windows; views of the harbour were breathtaking. Features extended complimentary in-room bar (or mini-bar to us locals), complimentary espresso machine, selection of teas, interactive hotel info via the iPod touch and complimentary WiFi.
But wait, there was more through the sliding door… at first I thought what a spacious room, with a L-shape lounge by the window, to reflect on the serenity of the hotel while sipping champagne to the outside world. It was the epic centre of all bathrooms and spacious dressing room area. Limestone finishes, enticing Italian freestanding marble spa bath, a spacious rain shower around the corner and double floating vanity.
Like the rest of the hotel, sense of “poetic discovery” was portrayed in all the furniture, lighting and the 350 pieces of art that were custom-made for The Upper House. From the pond below to the skylight above, wavy metallic lines on the walls were to emulate the rippling effects of water.
On level 49, a sky bridge crosses the atrium to one of the finest culinary experiences in Hong Kong – Cafe Gray Deluxe. With an open kitchen along one end and a bar along the other, this cosy restaurant also has a semi-private area and large round tables for groups, each with a dazzling view over Victoria Harbour.
It was a Saturday morning and a healthy breakfast was on the cards, but not too soon when another member of the guest experience team, Sashi Mahbubani, welcomed me to the restaurant and hotel. Sashi was a down-to-earth assistant who took care of my every inquiry. From ensuring my yoga sessions on the lawn were booked, arranging dinner at the restaurant with my friends, to providing self-guided tours and hot-spots in and around Hong Kong.
Dinner by chef de cuisine, Joseph Sergentakis, a Brooklyn-born chef with a passion for delicious and aromatic European classic cuisine. My guests and I had a drink in the bar before we sat down to a delicious meal that uses local organic produce. Seasonal oysters, lobster claw and shrimp to start, followed by a succulent tea-smoked organic chicken with mandarin orange and star anise glaze. Dessert of passionfruit omelette soufflé is the perfect prelude to a nightcap at the bar.
The Lawn, on level six, is the outdoor secret garden – to which I fell in love with. I did not get to experience this urban retreat with barista coffee in the morning to the late evening cocktails and lanterns, as shown on the brochure. Although I did meet Carrie Ni, yoga instructor on Saturday and Sunday mornings, “om shanti om”.
My favourite part of visiting the hotel for the first time is exploring the rooms and all its secrets. Whatever I needed was within reach or a phone call away. Who would have thought that I would find a ‘‘home away from home’’ from such a busy city.
Credit is due to Marcel Thoma, hotel manager for The Upper House and the team for a wonderful short weekend stay.
Details, bookings: The Upper House, Pacific Place, 88 Queensway, Hong Kong. +852 2918 1838, www.upperhouse.com
Pictures: © The Upper House, Hong Kong