TESTED BY Dan Booth
HOW MANY ROOMS? 565 rooms and suites
PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Impeccably appointed rooms, amazing Hong Kong views and some of the best hotel dining in the world.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in January started at $500.
CONTACT Pacific Place, Supreme Court Road, Central, Hong Kong. Tel (852) 2877 3838. Visit shangri-la.com
BACKGROUND: First impressions count for a lot in the hospitality business, and my first impression of the Island Shangri-La was on four wheels; my host had arranged for the hotel’s Rolls Royce Phantom to pick me up at the airport. But I should begin at the beginning. From the moment I set foot in Hong Kong it seemed I was ever under the watchful care of someone from Shangri-La. The hotel’s dedicated airport concierge welcomed me as soon as I cleared customs. As the car glided up to the hotel (does this thing have tires or does it just levitate?), I was greeted by a doorman with a reserved eagerness, who directed toward an equally eager but reserved front desk.
Inside, the lobby is magnificent but inviting, decked out in marble and a cascade of sparkling chandeliers. To my right are the check-in desks and concierge, to the left is the lobby bar and straight ahead is the splendid grand staircase.
In the central atrium, soaring 16 stories up the inside of the building is a 250-panel silk mural – the largest in the world – entitled “The Great Motherland of China.” Any first-time visitor (like me) to the Island Shangri-La simply must ride the glass-fronted elevators several times just to enjoy this stunning masterpiece from top to bottom.
WHERE IS IT? The Island Shangri-La was opened in 1991, one of three luxury hotels that are part of Pacific Place, a multi-use complex that hugs the hillside in the Admiralty area of Hong Kong. It all sits atop the huge Pacific Place shopping mall and is directly connected to the Admiralty MTR station.
ROOMS: My Horizon Club room gave out onto a splendid view of Hong Kong’s harbor ringed by the city’s perpetual motion. At 475 square feet, the space was ample but not overwhelmingly cavernous. One thing that drew my attention was the scrupulous attention to detail throughout the room. Everything appeared flawless, from the quality of the finishes to the pleasing blend of East and West in the décor.
The bed was ample and luxurious, and seemed to be calling my name after my long haul across the Pacific. The well-appointed bathroom offered both a tub and an invigorating rain shower to wash away the hours of road fatigue with indulgent L’Occitane bath products.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS: Competition certainly sharpens the edge, and there’s a lot of restaurant competition in this little corner of Hong Kong. With two other high-end hotels and all their F&B offerings in the same complex, plus all the eateries in the mall below, it’s remarkable that the Island Shangri-La’s dining outlets are counted as among the best hotel dining options, not merely in the city, but in the world.
There’s the Michelin two-starred Summer Palace with its refreshing take Cantonese cuisine, the award-winning French flavors of Restaurant Petrus and the first Nadaman Restaurant to be opened outside Japan. My time in Hong Kong was limited, so I chose to sample from the seemingly endless options in Café Too with its 10 cooking theatres.
MEETING AND FITNESS FACILITIES: On the fifth floor, the hotel offers over 11,000 square feet of meeting and event space, including a ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,000 guests. Another 2,350 square feet occupies the Atrium on the 39th floor. This is all supported by a fully staffed business center and audio/visual technology.
The eighth floor is given over to the Health Club, which offers a 24-hour gym, outdoor pool, Jacuzzis (both indoor and outdoor), plus massage and beauty treatments, personal trainers and complimentary hatha yoga classes.
VERDICT: In a city loaded with luxury hotels, the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong stands out. It manages to combine grand scale with an intimate, welcome-home feeling that embodies hospitality in the most refined sense.