A key part of the origins of the Mandarin Oriental hotel group can be traced back to this specific hotel, formerly The Mandarin, back to 1963. Now a worldwide flagship for the brand, the hotel continues to deliver and find ways to improve to stand strong with the glitzy new hotels in the city.
Date of stay: July 2020 and February 2021
Room: Grand Harbour View Suite (#1126) and Lichfield Suite
Reviewed by: Chinmoy Lad and Aaron Yeung
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PHOTOS AND VIDEOS by CHINMOYLAD
WHAT WE LOVED
- Location. In the heart of Central, smackbang in the middle of downtown Hong Kong, there is absolutely no beating this location – infact, it couldn’t be any more centrally located. Travellers will appreciate the prime location: offering easy access to the Star Ferry and other ferry piers, the MTR, as well as a plethora of bus routes within walking distance. With the network of covered walkways connecting much of main Central area, the hotel also has multiple entrances (including via a covered walkway that takes you to connecting buildings) that can take you around downtown without much hassle or without feeling the elements of the outdoors.
- Views. Among the more unique views in the city, some rooms and suites offer views of the historic Statue Square, framed by HSBC Building, the old Bank of China building, Cheung Kong Center and the new Bank of China building. Harbour View Rooms offer views north through Victoria Harbour and beyond. The Harbour View Suite we enjoyed offers views of both – Statue Square through the living room, and harbour views through the unrivalled bathroom.
Because of the hotel’s location and relative lack of height (though upon opening it was actually the tallest building on the Island), not every room has the ideal view you would want.
- Suites and signature suites. While the rooms do pale in comparison to newer hotels in the city (detailed below), the suites and signature suites certainly hold their own, in their own timeless and classic manner. The regular suites are largely comfortable without being oversized, with the three main categories (City View, Statue Square View and Harbour View Suites all measuring 72 sqm/775 sqft). The bedroom within these is actually in an enclosed space (like a cave), which at first struck us as odd too, but also made for a very comfortable sleep! The bathroom in each is the real piece de resistance – the bedroom-connected walk-in wardrobe leads to the bathroom which features twin vanities on either side framing a beautiful white bath tub, and a separate glass shower just behind that. The Signature Suites are even more beautiful, with the presidential Mandarin Suite featuring a wraparound balcony.
Note that the names of the suites can be a bit confusing with regards to (ideal) views, sometimes the opposite of what you would expect, so contact us to ensure you are placed in the correct one!
- Design. While we do generally prefer minimalist tones, the accents of Asian styling at the hotel offers a good sense of place, and in this case, almost of time: there’s no mistaking that this is 2021 (everything else reminds you of it), but the lobbies and lift lobbies lined with chandeliers and artwork throughout are a reminder of the hotel’s history: this isn’t a hotel that just popped up a few years ago, it’s been here a while, and it’s a city darling. Interestingly, we found the suites to look a bit more dated in design than the rooms (and Signature Suites) many with a gorgeous walnut panelling which offers a beautiful warmth, and a touch of elegance.
- Maintenance. Despite the years, the hotel has aged like a fine wine. Whether or not you’re a fan of the design of the hotel which does show its time, the furnishings and the common spaces are spick and span, which can only be put down to excellent maintenance, refurbishments and repairs where necessary. Prior to the recent additions, the hotel last underwent a major refurbishment beginning 2005 with unveilings over the next year or two.
- Food and beverage. The hotel’s 9 F&B outlets offer quite a combination of possibilities, a little bit for everyone with a range of budgets. Our favourite is unquestionably Man Wah, a 1968 Cantonese cuisine icon that’s been recently revamped in a new location with a new look. Not far behind are Krug Room, an intimate (and ideally private) restaurant that offers a playful take on modern gastronomy, in partnership with the House of Krug and its prestigious champagnes, and Mandarin Grill + Bar, an elegant dining space that now offers classic meat and seafood dishes with a contemporary upgrade. The recent addition of The Aubrey, in partnership with Maximal Concepts, is unique within Hong Kong: an izakaya experience with different experiences within each of its three sections creating a journey from early evening to late night, and bringing a new buzz to the hotel’s scene. The classics The Chinnery and Captain’s Bar are much loved and favourites in town for food and drinks alike, and Cafe Causette offers a consistent all-day dining experience. We find its other all-day dining restaurant, Clipper Lounge, ironically a favourite for youngsters in town to enjoy afternoon tea, to be a relative weak point (go to Cafe Causette instead).
Courtesy of its location, the hotel is also within a stone’s throw of some of Hong Kong’s most renowned restaurants, at which the helpful concierge team on-site will help in securing a reservation.
- Service. Beyond its aged hard product, where the hotel really shines is in its service throughout: from the warm welcomes through check-in, to ensuring every little need is taken care of. Quite a number of staff of the hotel have worked there for decades, and their pride in working there shows.
Small touches, but we love the valet box in-room, convenient for the arrangement of lesser items with housekeeping or your butler etc where privacy can be maintained without being disturbed. Our suite was also thoughtfully stocked with his and hers robes and his and hers slippers, appropriately sized. Meanwhile, the Concierge team was extremely helpful in nearly every manner required in arranging reservations or for securing missing items.
- The Mandarin Salon and The Mandarin Barber. A one-stop-shop for those looking for a final touch up prior to a night at the city’s hottest restaurant or event, The Mandarin Salon and The Mandarin Barber are the perfect place to get them. As another of the hotel’s most unique offerings, it is a throwback to times gone by, but it is a beautifully nostalgic relic: some of the barbers have been serving local and international guests for decades. Overall, it makes up part of the holistic wellness experience the hotel provides in combination with The Mandarin Spa.
POINTS TO NOTE
- Rooms. Some concessions have to be given to the hotel considering its age, and some of the issues that may come into renovating a historic building with regards to layout. With that said, it is still important to know that the entry level rooms are certainly small compared to other hotels of its class in town, and not all have a bathtub or bathtub and separate shower. The relatively low ceiling also makes the rooms feel smaller. If you do go for the rooms instead of the suites, opt for Statue Square View or Harbour View Rooms to make the most of views. The latter also offers larger space with the semi-enclosed window area, which previously used to be a balcony.
Also note that there isn’t much of a difference between the main suites (the City View Suite, the Statue Square Suite, the Harbour View Suite) and the Lichfield Suite except in decor and styling. The Howarth and Meiji Suite are also not too dissimilar in size, but do differ in layout.
- The Mandarin Club. Another new addition to the hotel, the 6,200 square foot private club (accessible only to club room bookings and all suites) provides a welcome sense of seclusion for those navigating the busy hotel. The 400-plus room hotel can feel crowded at times even with the multiple spaces on offer. The Mandarin Club gives its guests a private check-in and check-out as well as food and beverage options throughout the day amid a private lounging space, away from the hassle of the front desk and the lobby. With that said, despite being a new addition, it does fall a bit short in matching the best clubs in the city’s top hotels. However, given the hotel’s room count and size, we do feel it was absolutely crucial for the hotel to add on a Club level to allow for this extra sense of privacy and luxury.
- Gym and pool. Given the age of the property when such fixtures weren’t common place even at luxury hotels, and owing to potential issues in redeveloping due to structural limitations, it is no surprise that both appear as cursory add-ons rather than full fledged stunning facilities (but is still a nice touch to have for those looking to keep up their fitness routine): the Health Centre (with a gym and spa) first opened in 1990 but underwent a major refurbishment with the pool added on in 2007. However, note that both the fitness centre and pool are also accessible to member residents of the city so it is not hotel exclusive.
Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong is located about a 40 minute drive from Chek Lap Kok, Hong Kong International Airport
HOTEL FACT SHEET
- LOCATION: Central
- OPENED: 1963
- HOTEL ROOMS: 494
- RESIDENCE SUITES: N/A
- RATES FROM: USD 460/night++
OFFICIAL HOTEL PHOTOS
© Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
Special thanks to Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong for hosting us