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On the first night of his family trip to Asia this month, TPG Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig stayed at a tremendously popular Starwood property, the W Hong Kong.
I had originally booked the Sheraton for our one-night layover in Hong Kong, but with this stay immediately following 16 hours in
heaven Cathay Pacific first class, I decided we should spend the night at a slightly more upscale property. I started my search with the two hotels attached to the Elements mall, which is just above the fantastic Airport Express train. I had first considered the Ritz-Carlton, but with the property costing more than $700 or 70,000 Marriott points per night, I decided to look for something a bit more affordable, especially considering that I needed to book two rooms.
It wasn’t much of a compromise to stay at the W, which has 393 guest rooms and suites making up 28 floors in a Kowloon residential tower. The property is gorgeous, the beds are perfect for recovering from a long flight and the location can’t be beat.
While in the past I’ve found the staff to be snooty, on this trip most of the people I interacted with were friendly, with the exception of the shuttle driver who couldn’t be bothered to provide directions or advice on getting back to the hotel (the W offers a free one-way shuttle to Avenue of the Stars and Tsim Sha Tsui). In general, though, it was the perfect place to spend our 20-hour layover in Hong Kong.
Booking the W Hong Kong
I could have redeemed 20,000 Starpoints per night for our stay, but with rates below $400, I decided to pay cash instead. With the 10% tax, my rate came to $3,069 HKD for each room (about $396). This was my third stay at the hotel, and though I’ve always booked the entry-level “Wonderful Room,” each time I’ve ended up with an upgrade to a Fantastic Suite, though only after showing the staff that there were many suites to book at check-in. Expecting a similar experience this time, I reached out to my Starwood Ambassador after confirming that there were plenty of suites open just a couple of days before arrival, and she worked with the hotel to move me up.
As you’ll see below, even the entry-level Fantastic Suite is a big step up from the standard guest room. If you’re an SPG Platinum member, this is a good use of your Suite Night Awards — if you use those, Starwood handles your upgrade based on inventory five days before check-in, so it’s out of the hotel’s hands. Otherwise, I recommend pulling up availability on your phone and showing it to the agent at check-in (assuming your upgrade wasn’t processed automatically).
For my next W Hong Kong visit, I’ll probably stay four nights and book with Citi Prestige, so I can take advantage of the 4th Night Free benefit as I’ve done at the Sheraton on the Park in Sydney, the Sheraton Athlone in Ireland (review coming soon) and the Sheraton Maui. At roughly $400 per night, it’s definitely worth the effort of calling Citi to book, plus you earn points and night credit for the free night. Since I was only staying one night, I paid with my Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card from American Express, which now waives foreign transaction fees.
Wonderful Room – Twin
We landed at HKG a bit before 2pm and made it to the hotel around 3:30. I used the free Wi-Fi on the Airport Express to check the status of my SPG Keyless request, but the key hadn’t been activated yet, so I gave the hotel a ring, hoping to bypass the front desk. They explained that keyless wouldn’t work since I had booked two rooms, so that was that.
While there was a line at check-in when we arrived, I was through in only a couple of minutes. Our Wonderful Room with two beds was ready right away, so my mom, sister and I went up there first. I asked the agent to activate keyless on my phone when my room was ready, and she said she would try.
We decided that my mom and sister would stay in the smaller room with two beds and I would get the suite, which only had one bed. It was a very short stay, so that seemed to work well for everyone. The Wonderful Room was stylish and fairly spacious. I wouldn’t try to fit two couples in there, but it’s perfectly comfortable for two people. In addition to the two double beds, there’s a large desk and a chair by the window.
Nothing’s cheap in the mini-bar — liquor minis run $13 a pop, while snacks range from about $3 to $13. If you’re starving, the granola bar might not be a bad option ($3), but stay away from the small tin of cashews ($13).
The beside table doubled as an electronic controller for the lights and shades. You can open and close both the thin drape and the blackout curtain by tapping a button.
The W Hong Kong now offers a free smartphone that you can use during your stay, from a company called Handy. It has some local deals (ads) and info, but the highlight is the free 3G internet and local phone calls. You’ll save a ton on roaming.
The bathroom was quite nice, with a large bathtub, a standing shower and the standard Bliss amenities, plus regional add-ons like toothbrushes and shaving kits.
Fantastic Suite – King
After 15 minutes or so, my phone vibrated to let me know that my room was ready. Miraculously, the digital key worked, as well, and I was able to walk one room over and open my door right away. Unfortunately, my SPG Keyless was deactivated after that one use for some reason, but a few minutes after I went into my suite someone came up to my mom and sister’s room with a key card for me.
As you can see from the floor map above, my room (1901) was just about the largest on the floor. It looks like an odd shape on the map, but as you’ll see in the photos below, the layout works just fine.
There’s a long hallway when you come in — I caught a glimpse of the bay right away.
The living room is quite spacious, with a large sofa, coffee table, a stand-alone desk and chair.
There’s also a 52-inch TV and a Bose audio system. The L-shaped sofa is large enough for four or five people.
I had asked the hotel to place my welcome amenity (assuming there would be one) in the smaller room, but it ended up in my suite. I brought it next door a few minutes later — there was a lot of fruit!
I had the same “munchies” in my room, with the same high prices. The espresso (to the right) is free.
My suite had HDMI and other A/V hook-ups for the TV. Note the UK-style outlets — my room didn’t have an adapter, so it was a good thing I had brought mine along from a recent trip to Ireland.
While there was an Ethernet jack and cable in the living room, the Wi-Fi worked very well, which was great, since I had plenty of catching up to do after the 16-hour internet-free flight.
Moving on to the bedroom, there’s a second 52-inch TV and another high-end sound system. I didn’t turn either on during this trip, though I remember from my last stay that the fancy remote is incredibly unintuitive.
Like the living room, there’s a great view from the bed. Hotels facing Hong Kong Island (such as the Sheraton) have a skyline view, but this one wasn’t bad.
My bedside table had the same light and curtain controls as the other room. Along with two free bottles of water.
As expected, the bathroom was substantially larger in the suite. The layout is completely different, with the shower and tub in their own mini-room at the back.
Suites include larger bottles of the hotel’s Bliss amenities. I took mine with me to use in Bali, but they ended up being too large to bring through security at HKG.
Like the other room, mine had two toothbrushes, a shaving kit, vanity kit, face wash and lotion.
I also had a second pair of free water bottles in the bathroom. Having been dehydrated from the flight, I drank all four of the bottles in my room before leaving the next morning.
I usually try to have a dinner at a hotel restaurant and one room service lunch or dinner when I’m reviewing a hotel, but we didn’t have much time on this trip and I already had plans to meet a friend for dinner at the Tasty Congee & Noodle Wontun Shop at Elements mall (a very good, reasonably priced Cantonese restaurant). I’ve had breakfast at Kitchen in the past, however —it’s a great buffet, though SPG Platinum members need to pay a small fee to upgrade from the continental breakfast (which you’ll want to do).
Among the hotel’s public amenities is Wet — what W calls its pool. Only two elevators service the top floor and fitness center, so be prepared for a long wait in both directions.
The rooftop pool is fantastic, with excellent views of the city. It’s second only to the Marina Bay Sands infinity pool, which simply can’t be beat.
I mean, just look at that view in the photo above. There’s no better way to see the Hong Kong skyline on a hot summer day!
There’s plenty more to see just around the corner from the pool.
The gym — or “Sweat,” as W likes to call it — is located just below the pool. Views are spectacular there as well, and from high-end treadmills to elliptical machines, there’s plenty of equipment to go around.
In general, I choose to stay at a W because of the comfortable beds, excellent suite designs (I usually manage to get a Platinum upgrade) and location, as well as the ability to connect my laptop to the TV and stream my Verizon FiOS from back home via Slingbox. The W Hong Kong offers all of the above.
What I don’t love is the W brand’s generally high price tag (including overpriced food and beverage offerings), occasionally poor employee attitudes (W employees are referred to as “Talent,” with behavior that occasionally matches the title) and the obnoxiously loud lobbies (particularly on Friday and Saturday evenings). Unfortunately, the W Hong Kong doesn’t disappoint here, too.
That said, I’ll definitely be back. Located just a few minutes from the Airport Express train, the hotel has a fantastic location for short layovers, and the SPG Platinum benefits are decent — you just have to ask. There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.
There’s no telling how much longer these cards will be around and available for new applications because of the Marriott takeover, so now might just be the perfect time to apply. Apart from hotel redemptions, you can transfer Starpoints to over 30 airline partners, and now also transfer points from Starwood to Marriott Rewards at a 1:3 ratio, opening up even more redemption options.