By John O’Ceallaigh
Visits to Hong Kong seem to be a bit like buses for me: due to protests in the city and then the pandemic, I wasn’t able to travel there for four years. Then I stayed there for a month in July to experience eight of the city’s most well-regarded luxury hotels (tough job, etc) before I unexpectedly was given the opportunity to return three months later to attend the long-awaited grand opening of the Regent Hong Kong hotel.
I felt it was well worth returning, even though I’d already stayed at the Regent in July and not just because I love Hong Kong as a city. This hotel is a really big deal. The original Regent was one of Hong Kong’s quintessential luxury hotels right from when it opened in 1980 to its closure in 2001. The building then became home to an InterContinental, but when IHG Hotels & Resorts bought the Regent brand a few years back they decided to close the InterContinental and reopen a revived Regent in its place to serve as the mark’s global flagship. Regent is meant to be IHG’s ultra-luxury hotel brand – a rival to the likes of Peninsula and Rosewood, which coincidentally have their own global flagships on either side of this building – so there’s a lot at play here.
As you’d expect, the gala was a glamorous affair – it’s something Hong Kong does well. Acrobats rappelled their way down the exterior of the building and danced against the glass in time to classical music as we quaffed champagne; hundreds of people gathered in the ballroom for dinner, with ballerinas dancing on tables between courses.
But the gala was a one-night thing and I think it’s more interesting to talk about the hotel itself. Forthcoming Regents are due to open in Bali, Jeddah, Santa Monica and elsewhere; recent openings have taken place in Cannes and Vietnam. Below are some of my observations following my two stays at the Hong Kong property.
The Best Views
Usually saying somewhere has ‘the best views’ is subjective, but in hospitality circles there’s a citywide consensus that the Regent Hong Kong does, indeed, have the best views going. The hotel is more or less cantilevered over Victoria Harbour – no other hotel gets closer – and it faces Hong Kong Island’s zig-zag silhouette of gleaming skyscrapers. At 8pm each night, they become a kilometres-wide neon canvas for a Sound and Light Show that sets the whole city alight. Watching the spectacle from a harbour-facing room is magical.
And another good thing is that you don’t need to book some upper-level signature suite to enjoy that vista. You get it when you walk into the lobby. It’s right there at breakfast. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, I’d recommend booking in for afternoon tea or a meal at posh buffet restaurant Harbourside to at least briefly enjoy it.
The Vintage Pool
Lots has changed since the original Regent opened its doors, but happily the original outdoor pool remains in place, to the back of the building on a third-floor outdoor terrace. From here the view faces the towers of Kowloon and again towards the eastern extension of Victoria Harbour. Not quite as impressive as the money-shot views out front, but atmospheric nonetheless, and there’s a chunky selection of loungers on standby. I also liked the terrace’s nearby cold and hot plunge pools, though you should be comfortable being observed as they’re near a viewing platform at the neighbouring K11 shopping centre. (A spa will open in this area in early- to mid-2024.)
Chic All You Can Eat
So, one of the Regent’s main restaurants is its buffet restaurant Harbourside. Americans and Europeans, like myself, need to drop preconceptions about buffets serving up hastily prepared cheap-and-cheerful student fodder. It’s a totally different experience in Hong Kong’s luxury hotels, which use top-quality ingredients and often serve as popular, prestigious places for special-occasion meals.
Here you’ll find a very credible breakfast offering, but it’s lunch and dinner that are really worth your time. Expect top-tier sushi, a good spread of healthy options, Indian curries, serious Chinese dishes like goose feet, and an overly tempting selection of desserts, including lots of homemade ice creams and massive tantalising cakes that might include fig frangipane or banoffee pie with each slice as big as a brick. (I wish I didn’t have such an addiction to sugar as it’s hard to hold back in environments like this…)
As Regent Hotels’ new global flagship, the Regent Hong Kong is meant to exemplify everything the Regent brand stands for. A few things you might notice are an emphasis on ‘framed views’. It’s not unusual for pricey hotels to offer beautiful panoramas, but in Regent’s case they’re going to go further to make sure their guests actually consciously notice these vistas and are given the opportunity to appreciate them at leisure.
So, harbour-view rooms in Hong Kong feature long, wide banquettes that line the window meaning you and your paramour can cuddle up directly against the glass and take it all in. Really the view in Hong Kong is so amazing there isn’t really much else you need to do there, but it’ll be interesting to see how they incorporate that brand value into other properties.
Regent’s also big on the idea of creating ‘personal havens’ – places where guests can take time to decompress, rest and reflect – and will look to provide opportunities to feel well. I liked the nightly ‘turndown ritual’, where guests are given wellness-minded products like face serum and hand cream by upmarket brand Perricone MD rather than chocolates.
Also commendable is a commitment to showing genuine hospitality. You get free up-to-date films on demand at the Regent Hong Kong, for example,though the offering’s stronger at the Regent Phu Quoc in Vietnam where a full minibar and decent selection of snacks are all free, as are daily laundry and garment pressing.
The Superlative Signature Suite
I’ve visited almost all the best suites of Hong Kong’s best hotels, the only notable exception being Rosewood Hong Kong’s Harbour House suite which was being refurbed – it’s on that hotel’s 57th floor and comes with its own pool and garden. Given it costs HKD880,000 (US$115,000) a night, it’s safe to say it’s incredibly special.
But apart, potentially, from that, the Regent’s presidential suite seems to have a strong claim to the title of Hong Kong’s best hotel suite. On the 16th and 17th floors of the building, it’s a colossal one-bed space (that can be connected to other rooms to four a five-bed suite) and it features its own little gym and wellness area, alongside a sprawling harbour-view terrace with majlis-style seating and a slate-grey infinity pool. It’s a really masculine, serious space, with lots of marble and granite. I haven’t seen the 50 Shades of Grey films, but I felt it’s the kind of place the protagonist might hunker down for a few days. Prices start from about HKD200,000.
Classic Harbourview Rooms at Regent Hong Kong cost from HK$6,600 per night. hongkong.regenthotels.com
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LUTE is a luxury-travel consultant and content agency that works with hotel groups, tour operators, tourist boards, airlines and more. You can learn more about LUTE here. For frequent luxury-travel updates, follow LUTE and LUTE founder John O’Ceallaigh on Instagram.