LEFT for Buddha,” said the sign. But the one directly beneath it read: “Right for the discount outlets”. This is the visitor’s dilemma in Hong Kong, with its mix of spirituality and blatant consumerism. And how to combine the two with all the bars and restaurants? We chose to answer this question by opting for the luscious consumer option, via two of the city’s most glamorous hotels.
First up: the Langham Hong Kong – sister to the luxurious London hotel. Fragrance of Chinese ginger flower is wafted through the foyer to signal that you have arrived, in all senses of the word.
The second signal of your arrival in the world of the global elite – after the plush rooms, of course – is the Langham Club, a rather clever arrangement whereby for an additional payment of around £50 a day, you can breakfast, lunch, cocktail, work and socialise from 6.30am to 11pm.
After spending the day touring the city on the famous Star Ferry, with a quick dinner mainly consisting of peanuts in the stunning Mandarin Oriental bar, we slept like babies. The next morning began with a swim in the rooftop pool, breakfast of poached eggs and shrimp dumplings.
A morning of sight-seeing led to considerable hunger. After a quick change of wardrobe we settled in for a two-Michelin star lunch at the Langham’s T’ang Court restaurant. We had angelic dumplings with delicate flavours and spices; sliced lobster in hot and sour chilli soup and roasted suckling pig that wiped any memories of previous versions off the palette. And at £30 per head, it was excellent value.
No rest for the weary as the luxury safari continued with a visit to the Peninsula Hotel, where we went straight downstairs to the wonderfully eccentric Salon de Ning. First of all, to get in you have to knock on a big black heavy door, and a pair of electronic eyes decides whether they like the look of you.
Salon de Ning is a bar based around the life of the glamorous (although entirely fictitious) Madame Ning. Over a Ning Sling cocktail, we hopped from each room, looking at the original bottle of Chanel No. 5, her jewellery, clothes in Le Boudoir, her après-ski chalet area, the African hunting lodge and the Boiler Room where dancing is mandatory.
It was too early to get stuck into the dancing, so we went up to the top of the Peninsula, to the Felix restaurant and bar, not only offering outrageous cocktails but also views of the Hong Kong harbour lights.
We relished the idea of returning later that night, but ventured out for some city cuisine in the meantime. For the third time that day we went on the Star Ferry and took a taxi to Indochine 1929, a restaurant specialising in Vietnamese cuisine, styled in homage to the French colonial era. Salt and pepper soft-shelled crab, fried fish Hanoi style and stunning spring rolls soaked up some of those cocktails and we rolled into a taxi to our glorious beds at the Langham, once more to sleep like babies in the heaven-scented sheets.
The Leading Hotels of the World (www.lhw.com) offers stays at the Langham, Hong Kong from £174 per room per night based on two people sharing a double room. A Superior room at the Peninsula costs from £435. www.peninsula.com